June 30 deadline for retirement plan

For congregations and other UU organizations already participating in the UU Organizations Retirement Plan, June 30 is the deadline to submit the 2014 Employer Participation Agreement form to the UUA’s Office of Church Staff Finances.

Congregations and other eligible employers that have not been participating in the plan are not required to join by the June 30 deadline.

A new participation agreement is required of each participating employer because, after more than a year of work by the UUA Retirement Plan Committee, last year the UUA Board of Trustees approved a comprehensive revision of the plan, also referred to as “restatement” of the plan. Restatement means the plan was updated to include all of the changes that have been made to federal regulations affecting retirement plans since the last restatement of the UU plan, which occurred in 1999, and to reflect current best practices of defined contribution retirement plans.

The restated plan gives congregations and other participating employers greater flexibility in retirement benefits offered and encourages participants to contribute more toward retirement.

New options include allowing employers to match employee contributions rather than simply making a base employer contribution. Fair compensation guidelines remain the same. Another key change is that employees who are not eligible to receive employer contributions are able to elect to make their own voluntary pre-tax salary reduction contributions. See the Employee Contributions Form here.

In order to continue to be a participating employer with the plan, employers/congregations must pass a motion to adopt the restated plan, submit the 2014 Employer Participation Agreement, and receive confirmation from the UUA Retirement Plan Committee. This process must be completed by June 30. A sample adoption motion can be found here.

Failure to act may mean that organizations may not be able to continue to submit contributions on behalf of their employees to TIAA-CREF. Congregations that are not yet participating in the plan are invited to view detailed information online and direct specific inquiries to retirementplan@uua.org. Employees who are already enrolled participants in the plan do not need to re-enroll.

Participants in the plan as of last November received a packet of materials regarding the restatement as well, and are encouraged to engage their employers in conversation about the benefit and any changes the employer may be considering.

Survey looks at needs of marginalized people

In an effort to learn more about the needs of people who are marginalized around issues that include ability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, the UUA’s Multicultural Ministries Sharing Project has launched a survey intended for individuals in those groups.

The survey, which is online and may be taken until October 31, is open to anyone in the above groups who is at least 13 years old and has a UU affiliation. It is being conducted through the Multicultural Growth and Witness staff group in the Office for Congregational Advocacy and Witness. The survey will be followed by focus groups, to be held October through December to help UU leaders and UUA staff “understand where we are now and what we need to be well-equipped to meet the ministry needs of UUs in the 21st century,” according to the news release announcing the sharing project.

Those who do not fit the target categories are invited to share information about the survey with those for whom it is intended. If you have questions, contact Alex Kapitan, LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs administrator in the Multicultural Growth and Witness staff group.

Changes coming to UUA Retirement Plan

Congregations and other UU groups participating in the UUA Retirement Plan are invited to submit comments by June 12 on proposed changes to the plan. After that date the UUA Retirement Plan Committee will revise the plan. When it is approved by the UUA Board of Trustees all participating employers must adopt it by December 31 in order to remain in the plan.

Work on the revisions has been underway for about a year, including attorneys, consultants, and UUA staff.  A mailing to congregations, describing the proposed changes, went out in mid-May. The mailing can also be found on UUA.org.

Changes to the plan include allowing new employees to immediately contribute to the plan rather than waiting a year and changes in the amount employers contribute. All of the changes can be found on the UUA’s website.

To receive periodic updates on the proposed changes and the implementation of the revised plan send an email with your name and role in the congregation to retirement@uua.org.


Deadlines near for GA financial aid, certification

The following deadlines apply to the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly 2013, which will be June 19-23 in Louisville, Ky.

February 1: All congregations must certify a membership number. The number determines the number of GA delegates  a congregation can have.

March 31: The deadline for the GA Planning Committee’s Matching Grant Program and the Youth and Young Adult Scholarship Program. The GAPC will pay registration costs and pay up to $250 (if matched by a congregation) to send a delegate to GA. Priority is given to congregational leaders, delegates from new congregations, and congregations that have not recently sent delegates. Grants for youth and young adults will pay registration plus up to $500. Applications will be available March 1.

March 31: Applications to be volunteers at GA are due. Adult volunteers are required to work 24 hours over GA. Youth and those who qualify for reduced registration rates are required to work 14 hours. Online applications will be available March 1.

April 30:  Applications are due to the UUA’s Stewardship and Development group for scholarships from the Davidoff Fund, which subsidizes the attendance at GA of lay leaders who have not been to GA in the past three years.

The Guide for the Frugal Attendee demonstrates other ways to attend GA as inexpensively as possible.


February 1 petition deadline for UUA office-seekers

The Nominating Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association has adopted a slate of candidates for positions ranging from Board of Trustees to the Commission on Social Witness. The slate can be found here.

Beyond those nominees, applications are being taken until February 1 from people who wish to run by petition for any of these positions, plus those of moderator and president of the UUA. To run by petition a candidate must:

  • Be a voting member of a UU congregation
  • Secure signatures of at least 50 members of certified UU congregations with no more than 10 from any single congregation
  • File the requisite papers with the UUA board secretary by February 1. Contact Nancy Lawrence with questions: administration@uua.org or 617-948-4303.

Membership certification deadline is February 1

Congregations are required to certify their membership numbers with the Unitarian Universalist Association by Friday, February 1 at 5 p.m. Pacific time. The membership number a congregation certifies is the basis for determining the number of voting delegates for the congregation at General Assembly 2013 and for calculating the congregation’s Annual Program Fund Fair Share contribution to the UUA.

Certification can be accomplished online by logging into your congregation’s Data Services account with your congregation’s four-digit identification number and a password.

Complete information about this process is here. If your congregation prefers to certify with a paper form and postal mail, contact Nick Rafael in the UUA’s Information Technology Services office as soon as possible: 617-948-4654 or nrafeal@uua.org.

UUA Health Plan enrollment open to November 30

Enrollment is open until November 30 for the Unitarian Universalist Association Health Plan. The plan is available to staff of congregations and UUA staff working 750 or more hours annually. More than 300 UU congregations participate in the plan. The plan becomes effective January 1.

Changes being made in the 2013 plan include: a lower office visit co-pay, lower co-pay for generic drugs, and an increase in the emergency room co-pay. There will also be increases in individual and family deductible and out-of-pocket payments, the first increases since 2007 in those categories.

Complete information is here. Questions can be directed to Jim Sargent, UUA Health Plan director.

Deadline approaching for environmental fellowships

June 15 is the deadline for applying to become a GreenFaith Fellow through the group GreenFaith, Interfaith Partners in Action for the Earth. Lay and professional leaders who are accepted take part in programming over 18 months designed to help them address environmental issues in religious settings.

Several Unitarian Universalists—the Rev. Alison Cornish, Shelley Dennis, Dr. Cheryl Larsen, and Susanne Novak—are current GreenFaith Fellows. Up to four more UUs will be selected in June. Applicants must pay $750 in tuition fees. The fee is normally $1,500, but that has been halved for UU participants for the first three years of the program. The second year of the program begins this summer. Coursework is accomplished through retreats, field trips, and monthly seminars.

Cornish, minister of the UU Congregation of the South Fork in Bridgehampton, N.Y., is halfway through her GreenFaith fellowship. She said, “The first gathering we had—an environmental justice tour of Newark, New Jersey—was sobering and deeply moving. Sometimes, as Unitarian Universalists, we are better versed in the injustices on other continents than in our own backyards. It was good to . . . witness to this and to imagine what we saw as religious issues.”

Certification deadline is February 1

Unitarian Universalist Association congregations are required to submit their annual Certification of Membership reports by February 1 at 5 p.m. PST. Congregations can log in to their Data Services Account to complete the Certification report and access a printer-friendly Certification worksheet in order to review the questionnaire.

Please see a list of Frequently Asked Questions about Certification of Membership for more information.

Annual congregational certification process open

The Unitarian Universalist Association is asking for a new piece of information from congregations this year as part of the annual Certification of Membership process. For the first time the UUA is requesting the number of non-member UUs in a congregation. Congregational leaders have until February 1 to complete this form online.

One other change is that the time period for which financial information is requested is different this year. Leaders are asked to submit the actual operating expenses of their congregation for the most recently ended fiscal year rather than the budgeted amount for the current fiscal year.

The certification process opened November 15. To complete the form 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 2011.” You can also update the congregation’s mailing and meeting addresses, phone number, email, etc.

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 numbers are used by the UUA to determine the number of delegates each congregation may send to General Assembly.