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

When to check in on InterConnections

InterConnections sends an email out to readers on the 15th of each month informing them of new articles on InterConnections and its blog, InterConnections Tipsheet. But please do check back more often than monthly. While longer articles are always published by the 15th, there are shorter articles posted weekly on the Tipsheet, including some that include approaching deadlines on matters that are important to congregational leaders.

If you’d like to receive updates when something new is posted to this blog, sign up for the RSS feed (see sidebar on right), or follow us on Facebook.

‘Bidder 70’ environmental film available to congregations

Bidder 70, the documentary film about Utah Unitarian Universalist Tim DeChristopher and his arrest for disrupting a federal oil and gas lease auction in 2008, is available for viewing by congregations. DeChristopher served two years in federal prisons and a halfway house for disrupting the auction, an act of civil disobedience that drew international attention to the climate change crisis. He was released April 21 and is now speaking out about the need for climate change activism. He will be enrolling in Harvard Divinity School this fall.

The 72-minute film, by Gage and Gage Productions, is available to congregations from UU Ministry for Earth. Congregations with fewer than 150 members pay $75 for rights to show the film. Those with more than 150 members pay $100. Congregations that wish to partner with other groups to show the film in a more public setting will be required to pay a higher fee.

Email UUMFE Office Manager Sabrina Louise Harle, or call (503) 595-9392 for more information.

Multigenerational service resources on WorshipWeb

If you are looking for ways to develop multigenerational worship services then look no further than the UUA’s WorshipWeb. Engaging a wide spectrum of ages in one service can be challenging, but WorshipWeb offers lots of resources to help make it happen.

WorshipWeb has drawn together articles on multigenerational worship from the Alban Institute and other sources. One useful article is the staff group of the MidAmerica Region’s “Ten Good Ideas About Multi-Generational Worship,” which include “keep it simple,” “keep it moving,” “think homily rather than sermon,” and “use multiple learning styles, engaging all five senses.”

WorshipWeb also includes a compilation of InterConnections articles about multigenerational worship and has a list of anthologies of stories and sermons for children. There are also book suggestions, such as Come Into the Circle: Worshipping with Children by Michelle Richards, and Story, Song, and Spirit: Fun and Creative Worship Services for all Ages by the Rev. Erika Hewitt.

Transitions training moves to online format for educators, musicians

An online training has been developed for religious educators and music leaders who wish to serve as interim educators or music leaders. The course is also open to educators and musicians who simply want to understand the dynamics of their jobs better.

The training replaces a two-and-a-half-day in-person training that cost significantly more. Jan Gartner, UUA professional development associate for religious education and music leaders, said the online training takes place over six weeks. It has been called Interim Religious Educator Training, but the name may be changed to Transitions Training to highlight its broader applicability.

The training begins with a webinar to introduce participants and explain the technology that will be used. Then for four weeks participants have reading assignments that they also discuss among themselves through blogs and other means. Week five is devoted to case studies. The final week includes a closing webinar, when presentations on the case studies are made. There are also course evaluations and reflections on the training experience.

Gartner said four online trainings have been conducted, including the pilot training in the spring of 2012. Thirty people have taken the trainings, including two music leaders. The online version of the course was developed and has been facilitated by Michele Grove, a Credentialed Religious Educator-Master Level and an interim training facilitator.

The fee for the online training has been $100. Gartner said the fee would increase modestly for future trainings. She noted the cost will still be substantially less than the in-person training that cost $350 to $400 plus travel expenses. The online course will be offered again sometime this summer. Contact Gartner for more information.

Gartner said she was initially concerned whether participants would bond online. “When we did these classes in person . . . participants spent four times more money to come together, learned a lot of information in a short time, and left with their heads spinning and the fear that most of the information would not be remembered. Now there is time to talk with each other, reflect on the learning, and continue the conversation over a six-week period. By the end of this period, everyone has had the opportunity to truly integrate the material and develop a supportive community where they can continue the conversation.”

Gartner said it’s possible that another in-person version of the course may be offered at some point, but one has not been scheduled.

UU blogs help guide, inspire, and educate

In addition to the InterConnections Tipsheet, UUA staff groups have a number of other blogs with useful information for lay leaders. The newest one is Call and Response, created by religious education professionals in the Ministry and Faith Development staff group. The blog promotes reflection and dialogue on UU faith development among educators, ministers, lay leaders, parents, and others.

The first article on Call and Response is about how to explain the Boston Marathon bombings to children. Susan Lawrence, managing editor in the Ministries and Faith Development staff group, explains the purpose of the blog: “We’ll offer useful stories of faith transformations, felt and witnessed. We’ll share concrete suggestions and best practices. With your help, we’ll cull from the collective wisdom and expertise of the UU religious education world we serve. Here we’ll exchange ideas, energy, and practical help to invite others–and yourself–to grow in spirit.”

Here are some other UUA blogs:

Beacon Broadside – Profiles of Beacon Press books and authors. Currently profiled are books about America’s first Muslim college, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Holocaust, and educational testing.

Blue Boat – The best source of information for all things related to youth and young adults.

Standing on the Side of Love – Features inspirational stories of social justice work in our congregations, as well as calls to action.

There are also blogs on Growing Unitarian Universalism; Growing Vital Leaders; Unitarian Universalist Living Mosaic, for youth and young adults of color; Faith Without Borders, for the UUA’s international programs; Learn Out Loud, religious education; and the UUA Board of Trustees.

UU World has four blogs: the Interdependent Web, a weekly roundup of posts on a variety of topics by Unitarian Universalist bloggers; UUs in the Media, which features news items that mention Unitarian Universalism; UU Parenting, and General Assembly Coverage from UU World, a blog that is only active during General Assembly.

Youth, young adults encouraged to attend UUA General Assembly

Youth and young adults planning on attending General Assembly 2013 can find helpful information on the Blue Boat blog of the UUA’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries office. GA will be June 19-23 in Louisville, Ky.

The blog includes information on programming,  the Youth Caucus, and travel and housing. There is also a section on raising funds to pay for a trip to GA or to fund service trips. See the online guide: Young Adult Service Trip Fundraising ManualGrants and scholarships are also available.  In addition, check to see if your congregation will pay part of the expense to send youth and young adults to GA. Unlike conferences, youth must make their own arrangements for housing at GA. There is no single “youth hotel” this year. Registration for youth is $80 if paid by April 30 and $95 thereafter. Adults pay $330/$380.

Youth are encouraged to attend programming at GA in addition to that specifically provided for youth. Check the program schedule for workshops of interest. Each youth under 18 must have an adult sponsor.

Advice on interim ministry

A new book on practicing interim ministry is available at the UUA bookstore. In the Interim: Strategies for Interim Ministers and Congregations was edited by the Rev. Barbara Child and the Rev. Keith Kron. Child, a longtime UU minister, has served several congregations an an interim minister. Kron is director of transitions for the UUA.

The book is a compilation of advice from more than 20 experienced interim ministers. Chapter headings include “Why Have an Interim Minister?” “The Interim Minister as Systems Analyst,” “Working with Staff,” “Predictable Roadblocks,” and “The Temptation to Rush the Search.”

The authors note: “A period of interim ministry poses unique challenges and opportunities for both congregations and ministers. Much more than a ‘caretaker’ ministry, an interim ministry can help a congregation navigate and get the most out of a time of transition. In this practical and insightful volume, interim ministers and other congregational leaders provide a road map for a transformative and fulfilling interim period.”

The 280-page book is $17, with discounts for multiple copies.

New fundraising, governance books available

The UUA Bookstore has two new books on fundraising and two on governing board practices.

  • Asking, by Jerold Panas, is billed as “a 59-minute guide to everything board members, volunteers, and staff must know to secure the gift.” Chapter headings include “Donors Give to the Magic of an Idea” and “It’s Amazing What You Don’t Raise When You Don’t Ask.”

All four books are $24.95 each.

Summer 2013 youth social justice experiences

High school youth are invited to participate this summer in three social justice experiences through the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice.

The first is the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, a trip through civil rights sites in the South, July 6-13. Second is the Boston Youth Justice Training, June 30-July 21. Third is the New Orleans Youth Justice Training, at the Center for Ethical Living and Justice Renewal, August 3-10. The pilgrimage is $975, the Boston training is $3,300, and the New Orleans training is $800. Fee reductions are available. Application deadline for all events is April 15.

The Rev. Kathleen McTigue, director of the College of Social Justice, said the programs are designed for youth who are “newly inspired to take action against the injustices of our world and for seasoned social justice youth leaders.”

Avoid acronyms on Sunday morning

When you make announcements on Sunday morning, do abbreviations come out of your mouth before you know it? Do you speak of “RE” and “UUA” and “GA”?

Do you roll past “CUUPS” and “CLF” and “SRI?” It’s easy to do. But keep in mind that every Sunday there are guests who won’t have any idea what you’re talking about. The use of UU acronyms and abbreviations is insider language that is not as welcoming as it could be. So even though it takes longer, try to remember to speak of “religious education,” the “Unitarian Universalist Association,” “General Assembly,” the “Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans,” “Church of the Larger Fellowship,” and “socially responsible investing.” It’s the inclusive thing to do.

And if you are ever confused about UU abbreviations, there’s a page on UUA.org with a complete listing of UU programs, resources, and organizations.