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

Tips for recruiting volunteers

The UU Growth Lab in Facebook recently featured an article by Karin Hurt titled “How to Recruit Leaders in Your Volunteer Organization.”

Among Hurt’s tips:

• Create “bite-size” roles so volunteers won’t feel overwhelmed.

• Set term limits so people know when their service ends.

• Don’t micromanage once someone has accepted a role.

• Communicate volunteer opportunities widely, not just among a select few.

There are also useful observations in the many reader comments to the article. The article, dated January 13, 2014, also can be found on Hurt’s blog, Let’s Grow Leaders.

The UU Growth Lab is a useful place to find and discuss a range of topics relating to growth issues in congregations. There is also a UU Young Adult Growth Lab. Both can be found by searching for “UU Growth” in Facebook.

RE spiritual preparation webinars offered

The UUA’s Faith Development Office is launching a monthly series of free webinars in late January for religious educators, other religious professionals, and lay leaders who plan, lead, or support programs with a faith development component aspect.

The webinars will be presented by the UUA Faith Development Office, which is directed by Jessica York. The first webinar, “Why and How to Do Spiritual Preparation for Leading RE,” will be Monday, January 27 at 9 pm Eastern time and then repeated on Wednesday, January 29 at 4 pm Eastern time.

Email Faith Development Editor Susan Lawrence for call-in information. Indicate which session you wish to attend.

Lawrence says, “Many religious educators and others who lead programs with a faith development component recognize the benefit of taking even a few moments to spiritually prepare for a session, workshop, or meeting. Yet we often feel we do not have time. The UUA’s Tapestry of Faith curricula support a regular practice of spiritual preparation with unique, reflective exercise for leaders/facilitators to do before every session or workshop. The January webinar will present theory, examples, and an experiential exercise to encourage and guide participants to make spiritual preparation a practice of their own. FDO staff will also solicit suggestions for future webinar topics.”

Certification deadline is February 3

The UUA’s online system for annual certification of membership for UU congregations is now open. All congregations are required to log in to their online accounts and submit this report before the deadline on Monday, February 3 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Congregations must submit their certified number of members and financial statistics from their recently ended fiscal year, including total operating expenditures. Learn more and review the certification process online, or contact data_services@uua.org with questions.

Congregations that do not certify by the deadline are not eligible to send voting delegates to General Assembly 2014.

Congregations can use their online accounts throughout the year to update their lists of member names and addresses to ensure delivery of UU World magazine. Changes in leadership can also be recorded throughout the year using the my.UUA.org account system.

Building Bridges, new youth world religions curriculum

Building Bridges, a new free, online UUA curriculum for grades eight and nine, is designed to help youth understand the varied histories and expressions of many of the world’s religions. It also includes a strong sense of what our own faith offers, according to the author, Mary K. Isaacs.

The goals of Building Bridges include increasing knowledge of world religions, understanding how religion addresses basic human needs, building awareness of the diversity of followers within each faith, and empowering youth to respectfully discuss religious matters with people with whom they disagree.

Isaacs is a lifelong UU who has been director of religious education at congregations in Texas. She currently lives in Austin. Building Bridges is part of the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith curricula series. Susan Dana Lawrence, Managing Editor for the UUA’s Ministries and Faith Development staff group, says, “This is an unusually rich and deep curriculum containing solid information about many faiths and belief systems. We’d like to see congregations adopt it for individual learning as well as a resource for teaching RE groups.”

RE program on money created

A new Tapestry of Faith adult religious education program has been created, focusing on the intersection of peoples’ financial lives with their religious, spiritual, and community lives.

Written by Patricia Hall Infante and David H. Messner, with editor Gail Forsyth-Vail, the curriculum is titled The Wisdom Path: Money, Spirit, and Life. Says Forsyth-Vail, the UUA’s Director of Adult Programs, “How can we have a relationship with earning, spending, giving, and investing that is spiritually healthy and grounded in our deepest values? While money is a pervasive part of our day-to-day existence, it often receives little attention in our religious lives.

“As religious people, we have much to gain by making money a part of an intentional, covenanted and faithful conversation together. This program helps participants understand how decisions and attitudes about money can be a more effective force for living lives of meaning and value, and for creating positive change in themselves, their congregations and groups, our society and the world.”

The Wisdom Path is available online. It consists of twelve 90-minute workshops. Each one suggests an activity that can be done outside of the workshop period.

Thirty Days of Love campaign set

The calendar of activities for Standing on the Side of Love’s annual 30 Days of Love program is now available on the SSL website. The program, designed as a month-long spiritual journey and commitment to sustained social action and service, begins January 18 and culminates February 16.

This is the third year for the campaign, which invites and encourages congregations and individual UUs to engage in a different act of social justice for each of the thirty days. Congregations are invited to sign up and to share their activities on the website during the campaign. The campaign will also include opportunities for personal transformation.

The campaign will send an email about each day’s theme, but congregations and individuals can also plan ahead to identify or develop activities in their own areas that fit that theme.

Letter: What to do about lack of volunteers

My name is Dan Kirchoff and I’m a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast, Maine. I’ve been enjoying the Interconnections e-mail newsletter, especially a recent article (or perhaps I should say chain of articles) about the digital congregation. I’ve been working with others to form a Communications Committee in our church and we’ve been studying the initial article as well as all the blogs, tip sheets and such with great interest. I very much appreciate you folks providing us with that.

One issue I’ve see come up in our church, as well as my previous UU church in Rockland, Maine, is volunteer overload. Perhaps you’ve already had articles on this subject that I’ve missed, but it might be well worth re-running. All too often the need for volunteers at church outstrips the available manpower and a new member who is willing to do something gets overloaded with requests to join multiple committees, special tasks forces and councils. I’ve seen others (and felt the urge myself) pull back from participating in church as a result of this overload of requests. It’s as if the church “powers that be” discover “we’ve got a live one” and it’s all downhill from there.
Not too long ago, I was part of a cooperative art gallery in our area of Maine and while things can be hectic with 30 artists all trying to work together, they had some very good ideas. One exceptional requirement for membership in the gallery was that everyone was expected to participate on ONE committee or take on ONE task in the gallery’s function. We had full participation, lots of diversity of ideas, and complete ownership of what was happening there. I’ve often thought of how this might be extended to the functioning of our church in Belfast.
My thought is if everyone in the church’s congregation was encouraged to do just one thing—even if it’s just to join the choir—then we would have an abundance of participation and the diversity of thought and ideas and action would be rich indeed. The idea is not to have one person do five or six things (although since there are members with lots of time and energy on their hands, it also would not necessarily be discouraged) but to have five or six people all doing one thing each. Is it impossible? I wonder if other UU churches have been able to do this, thereby breaking the chain of overuse of a few qualified but very tired people.
I have yet to convince our church council to embark on such a mission, but I’m still working on it. We could even have entry-level, new-member participation slots such as greeters, hospitality and the choir (I’ve found that you make more friends in church just by joining the choir). Then these now-seasoned participators can move up to committees and task forces, eventually ascending to leadership positions. So far, I’ve heard of no such UUA church volunteer initiative, but perhaps it’s time we had one.
Perhaps if you have information on this topic, it could be shared.
Thanks for your attention and I appreciate any feedback you folks might have.
Dan Kirchoff
UU Belfast, Maine


Editor’s Note: Dan, many congregations make it clear to new members that the congregation can only function if everyone helps out in some way. They point out that giving of one’s time is an important aspect of membership. Often this happens in new-member orientation courses, but there are other ways to make this point as well. InterConnections will be happy to publish responses to Dan’s question.



UUAMP supports membership professionals

When Marie Murton became responsible for membership functions at Fox Valley UU Fellowship at Appleton, Wisc., in 2005––her title is now Congregational Life Coordinator––she spent months combing the UUA website searching for membership resources. It wasn’t long before she began compiling those resources on Fox Valley’s website.

They have since been moved to UUAMP.org, the website of the UU Association of Membership Professionals. The association was founded in 2011 to help paid and volunteer membership professionals in UU congregations find the resources and other support they need.

The mission of the organization is to develop and support the ministry of membership through professional development and collaboration. Said Murton, “We want to help grow Unitarian Universalism––not only through numbers, but through spiritual depth and connection.”

The organization meets annually at General Assembly and has smaller gatherings around the country. It also brings members together through webinars, book discussions, a monthly newsletter, mentoring, and an email list. Membership in UUAMP is $40.


Morning Watch, by Pescan, reissued

Skinner House has reissued Morning Watch, the book of meditations from the Rev. Barbara Pescan, first published in 1999 as a UUA meditation manual. The book has thirty-four poems and prayers on love, spirit, and the extraordinary significance of daily life, and is suitable for both personal reflection and public worship.

Morning Watch is $8 from the UUA Bookstore.