About the Author
Don Skinner
Don Skinner is editor of InterConnections and a member of the Shawnee Mission UU Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

Keep church history intact

Q. We are processing the papers of a longtime minister and we’re having a difference of opinion. One member thinks it would be prudent to black out a number of negative references this strong-minded minister made about other people in his correspondence. Others of us worry about losing part of our history if this happens. Could you give us advice?

A. InterConnections posed this question to members of the UU Historical Society’s Board of Trustees. Here are perspectives from three of them.

The Rev. Paul Sprecher of Hingham, Mass., recommends  separating out those papers with negative references and placing restrictions on them until some date in the future or until those referenced have died. An alternative would be to make copies of the originals and redact the copies, he says.

Kathleen Parker of Pittsburgh, Pa., says, “I would not recommend blacking out the negative references. We would forever lose whatever “truth” we might gain from those artifacts. I have found letters at the Andover Harvard Archives that reveal things that are not very flattering––but the fact that they are in the archives in uncensored form tells me that it was thought that these items should not be lost to history. Negative references to others may be a reflection of many things––and a good historian will take that into account.”

The Rev. Gordon Gibson of Knoxville, Tenn., suggests the possibility of interviewing key remaining witnesses or participants. “If a curmudgeonly minister’s papers––or his or her antagonist’s papers––vividly describe a church fight, is there anyone still alive whose testimony should be recorded? Of course, care should be taken not to reopen wide any congregational wounds that are nearly healed.”

The UU Historical Society sponsors the Dictionary of UU Biography, and offers an annual prize to a youth who writes about a historical subject. It also has information on creating congregational histories.

Keeping up with UUA blogs

UUA staff groups have recently created a number of blogs to help UUs keep up with what’s new with the various groups. Here’s a rundown.

Congregational Stewardship Services: Items on fundraising, how to start a book table at church, coping with difficult economic times, and presenting a budget to a congregation.

General Assembly: News items about the upcoming General Assembly 2010 in Minneapolis, including speakers, recycling at GA, and how the GA Planning Committee works.

UU Living Mosaic: This blog supports ministry to youth and young adults of color

New Media for Unitarian Universalists: Describes social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, podcasting, and how they can be used by Unitarian Universalists. Articles include: “Technology use, social isolation, and the implications for congregations,” and “9 ways to promote your UU congregation’s Twitter feed.”

Beacon Broadside: Blog posts largely by authors of Beacon Press books, commenting on social issues. Other posts about Beacon books.

Inspired Faith, Effective Action: Blog of the Washington Office for Advocacy about various social issues and the work of the office.

Standing on the Side of Love: Posts about the UUA’s Standing on the Side of Love social justice campaign.

Unitarian Universalists in the Media: A weekly blog about UUs and UU congregations that are featured in news articles across the world, collected by uuworld.org.

The Interdependent Web: A weekly roundup of blogs and other web content about Unitarian Universalism, collected by uuworld.org.

February 1 is certification deadline

Monday, February 1 is the deadline for congregations to file an annual Certification of Membership with the UUA. To do this, log into the Data Services Login Page for Congregations. When you are logged in you can certify your congregation’s membership and statistical data. Do this by selecting “Begin Certification of Membership 2010.” You can also update the congregation’s mailing and meeting addresses, phone number, email, etc. This congregational contact information appears on the UUA’s Find a Congregation page.

Although anyone at your congregation can be authorized to input the congregation’s membership number on the website, the number that is entered must be certified as accurate by a minister or officer of the congregation.

Certification is used by the UUA to determine the number of delegates each congregation may send to General Assembly. The deadline on February 1 is at 5 p.m. (Pacific Time).

When your annual meeting rolls around this spring (or next fall) remember that there’s a new, easier way for congregations to update their membership and leadership lists with the UUA. It’s called my.uua.org. Learn more about it here.

New at the UUA Bookstore

The following books and DVDs are available at the UUA Bookstore.

UU University 2009 –– This 3-disc DVD set includes 7.5 hours of the very best materials from UU University 2009 in Salt Lake City. Excerpts from more than 50 hours of programming include innovative ideas around multigenerational ministry, multicultural congregations, stewardship, governance, and theology—perfect for those interested in leadership development grounded in our faith. $45

Ministry in the Borderlands –– (DVD) Presentation at UU University 2008 by the Rev. Nick Carter, president of Andover Newton Theological Seminary, on communicating and working with “people who think differently and pray differently.” $8

A Ready Hope: Effective Disaster Ministry for Congregations –– A Ready Hope is described as “an initiation for people of faith who are new to the ministry of disaster preparedness and response. By the Rev. Kathryn Hauelsen and Carol Flores, Lutherans who have been active in disaster recovery work. Published 2009.  $18

Designing Contemporary Congregations: How to Attract Those Under Fifty –– The author, the Rev. Lauren Beth Bowers, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Randolph, Mass., identifies strategies to develop contemporary worship, fellowship, evangelism, social justice, and rituals, and to train leaders to lead contemporary congregations. Published 2008.  $14

The Power of Stories: A Guide for Leading Multiracial and Multicultural Congregations –– The Rev. Jacqueline Lewis, senior minister for Vision, Worship, and the Arts, at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City, shares examples of congregational leaders who have successfully overcome the challenges of leading multicultural congregations through telling stories about who they are and what the communities they lead are about, and the lessons that can be learned from them. Published 2009.  $16

Heart to Heart: Fourteen Gatherings for Reflection and Sharing –– Resources for 14 small group gatherings on topics such as forgiveness, loss, nature, money, and friendship. Heart to Heart, by the Rev. Christine Robinson, senior minister of First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, N. Mex., and Alicia Hawkins, member of the board of the UU Small Group Ministry Network, offers readings, journaling suggestions, and exercises to help participants prepare for the spiritual practice of sharing in community. Promotes listening rather than back-and-forth discussion. Published in 2009.  $14

Haiti earthquake relief fund

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the UUA have created a fund to support Haiti relief efforts following the January 12 earthquake. Dick Campbell, the UUSC’s Media and Public Affairs coordinator, said details of how the money will be used by the UUSC will appear on the website when they are determined, but that it would likely go to help those “who are the least likely to have access to aid, those who are at greatest risk of being overlooked.”

Information on contributing is at uusc.org/haitiearthquake. Contributions may also be sent by mail to UUSC/UUA Haiti Earthquake Fund, PO Box 844001, Boston, MA 02284-4001.

Read more at uuworld.org: UUSC, UUA create Haitian relief fund

Growth Summit book published

A dozen ministers of some of the fastest-growing Unitarian Universalist congregations gathered in Louisville, Ky., in November 2007 at the UUA Growth Summit to share some common threads about their growth. Parts of those conversations have been gathered into a book, The Growing Church: Keys to Congregational Vitality, published by Skinner House this month. The book is available at the UUA Bookstore for $12.

The book’s editor, the Rev. Thom Belote of the Shawnee Mission UU Church in Overland Park, Kans., participated in the summit. He cautions that there is no “magic secret,” but there are principles that will lead to growth. He says congregations need to have a saving message, a purpose, a balance between “looking in” and “going out,” excellent worship, a “moving, energetic spirit” (also known as “buzz”), seeing welcoming as a moral imperative, leadership from the minister, and a willingness to try new things and fail.

The UUA Growth Summit has also been featured at a workshop at General Assembly and in a DVD (available to watch online). There is an online study guide for the DVD (which will also work with the book).

Contributors to The Growing Church include the Revs. Ken Beldon, John Crestwell, Liz Lerner, UUA President Peter Morales, Christine Robinson, Victoria Safford, Michael Schuler, and Marilyn Sewell. The book features a foreword by Alice Mann of the Alban Institute, who facilitated the gathering in Louisville.

Newsletter supports small group ministry

An article in the October issue of Covenant Group News, a publication of the UU Small Group Ministry Network, notes the power of moments of silence during small group ministry gatherings. Diana Dorroh, editor of Covenant Group News and program director at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, La., writes:

Silence is a powerful tool for any facilitator. It can be used after a particularly moving sharing occurs. For example, if one member tells a story about the death of a family member, the facilitator can call for a moment of silence. This honors the sharing that just occurred and prepares the way for the next member, who may have been planning to share something joyful.

Some groups routinely allow 15 seconds of silence after each sharing. This honors each person and creates a clean finish of one sharing before the next begins, similar to passing a talking object. It’s also like a small silent prayer after each person’s sharing.

Silence can also be used when a difficult situation occurs (such as an inappropriate comment.) Calling for a moment of silence may . . . allow you to think of something gentle to say, something beginning with “I” and followed by a loving statement to call everyone back to the model and the covenant.

Copies of Covenant Group News are available online. You can also sign up to receive each new issue by email. The UU Small Group Ministry Network also has an email discussion group that supports leaders of small groups.

Addictions Ministry website created

An Addictions Ministry website has been created to assist congregations in creating their own such ministries. It includes useful books, supportive organizations, and help with dealing with disruptive behaviors and creating safe congregation policies.

More than 100 congregations have addictions ministries. Available resources include the book The Addiction Ministry Handbook by UU minister the Rev. Denis Meacham, which is available from the UUA Bookstore. There is also a UUA-sponsored email list, Addictions-Ministry, which you can subscribe to at uua.org/lists to communicate with other congregational leaders who either have, or are creating, addictions ministries.

A UU World article about addiction ministries can be found here. An InterConnections article is here.

Recent articles for lay leaders on uuworld.org

Congregational leaders may find the following recent articles on uuworld.org useful.

Chalica, a new weeklong UU holiday in December, slowly gains adherents. Chalica, first envisioned in 2005, devotes a day to each of Unitarian Universalism’s Seven Principles and invites families to conduct simple rituals at home. 12.7.09

Restoring a Gilded Age church. Restoration of the historic Channing Memorial Church in Newport, R.I. 11.1.09

UUA health plan blends insurance with social justice. The plan now covers 745 employees of UU congregations and organizations.  The article includes a history of the plan’s evolution and stories from those it has helped. 11.16.09

Morales plans comprehensive review of UU ministry. UUA President Peter Morales announced a year-long review of ministry, to include recommendations about where it needs to head in the next twenty years. 10.26.09

New system announced for choosing GA 2010 workshops. General Assembly planners have adopted UU University’s track system and are offering three GA tracks in the areas of growing congregations, evolving ministries, and building just communities. There will be no UU University at this GA. 10.19.09

Youth, adults bond through service trips. Involving youth in social justice work. UU World Fall 2009

New articles are posted weekly on uuworld.org. Sign up to receive a weekly email letting you know what’s new.

‘What Moves Us’ adult curriculum ready

A new adult curriculum, “What Moves Us: Unitarian Universalist Theology,” by the Rev. Dr. Thandeka, is available online through the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Lifespan Faith Development staff group’s Tapestry of Faith program.

The curriculum uses ten 90-minute sessions (expandable to two hours) to explore the life experiences and theological writings of historic and contemporary UU theologians, highlighting those moments that caused them to have a change of heart, a new hope, or a deeper understanding of their faith. What Moves Us invites UUs to engage in their own theological reflections through examining their own experiences.

Theologians included in the What Moves Us curriculum are William Ellery Channing, Hosea Ballou, Margaret Fuller, George deBenneville, Charles Chauncy, James Luther Adams, Sophia Lyon Fahs, Forrest Church, William F. Schulz, and Thandeka. It is being field tested by 12 congregations and cluster groups, but is available for other congregations as well.

Thandeka has taught at Meadville Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago, San Francisco State University, Harvard Divinity School, Brandeis University, and others. She is the founder of Affect Theology, which investigates the links between religion and emotions, and the author of several books and articles including Learning to Be White: Money, Race and God in America.

Find out more about What Moves Us here.