Guide to youth group report available

Congregations interested in nurturing youth groups are invited to use a new guide that will help them explore the UUA’s Youth Ministry Working Group Report.

The Youth Ministry Working Group was established in 2008 and charged with recommending a framework for youth ministry in congregations and across the Association. The Working Group report is the culmination of a multiyear process involving thousands of UUs at every level of the Association.

The 24-page report offers both specific suggestions and a call for a broad culture change in congregations in order to nurture youth ministry. Said Erik Kesting, the UUA’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries director, “The goal is for congregations to discuss the report and recommendations and make some changes in their youth programs and/or adopt new programs.”

CLF will help you welcome seekers

Congregations can get help in presenting themselves to seekers through a new service provided by the Church of the Larger Fellowship.

For $250 the CLF will prepare a five-session “Welcome In” online class explaining Unitarian Universalism, how the congregation works, UU spirituality, the larger world of Unitarian Universalism, and the history of Unitarian Universalism and the congregation.

The CLF will create the class using text, photos, and video specific to the congregation, host the class on its server, provide technical support for three months, and offer resources for promoting the class.

Learn more and view a sample online class here. Contact the Rev. Lynn Ungar, CLF’s minister for Lifespan Learning, at lungar@uua.org.

Music ministry resources at WorshipWeb

InterConnections articles published in recent years about music ministry have been collected at the UUA’s online WorshipWeb. The information includes articles about certifying, supporting, and paying music directors, and building and sustaining music programs.

WorshipWeb is a growing collection of resources about the many facets of worship, including music, technology, and lay leadership, plus readings, sermons, and chalice lightings.

Other music resources at WorshipWeb include a listing of songbooks and hymnals used by congregations, music CDs recorded by congregations, and links to organizations like the UU Musicians Network and a database of new music by UU composers.

‘Faith and Web’ blog guides web designers

Looking to improve your congregational website? Check out Faith and Web, the blog of Anna Belle Leiserson of the First UU Church of Nashville, Tenn. She is a professional web coordinator and says she is committed to “web standards, accessibility, handsome design, elegant code, and deep dark chocolate.”

She writes about all types of web issues. A recent article explains how to “Launch a Church Email Newsletter in 9 Simple Steps.” Other articles: “Top 10 Tips for Church Blogging,” “Content Audits Are a Beautiful Thing,” and “Finding Stock Art for Your Website.”

UU World accepting intern applications

Do you know a young person who is interested in Unitarian Universalism and journalism? UU World is now accepting applications for its summer internship program in Boston. This is a great opportunity to gain valuable experience working on both print and online publications at UUA headquarters.

Ideally a summer intern would be available to start in mid to late May, but dates and hours are negotiable. Read more at uuworld.org or email Assistant Editor Sonja L. Cohen for more information.

Leadership tools come in many forms

From April’s InterConnections feature story, now online at UUA.org:

Leadership development happens in many ways in our congregations. A book makes us think in a new way. A speaker at a workshop gives us an “Aha!” moment. We watch someone flawlessly lead a meeting or execute a project. We’re talked into taking on a task that’s different from anything we’ve done before.

Since most of us can use all of the help we can get in honing our leadership skills, InterConnections asked several staff members of UUA districts to tell us about their favorite leadership development tools. Not all will be right for you, but we hope some will. And sometimes it’s simply useful to see what tools others find helpful.

Go to the full article.

Facebook can be your friend

The Rev. Christine Robinson, senior minister at the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, N.Mex., has written on her blog, iMinister, and on her Facebook page about the ways that Facebook can be useful to ministers. Lay leaders will also find the information helpful.

She notes that “friending” one’s minister on Facebook is different from being a friend of the minister. “Facebook friendship is to real friendship what coffee hour is to an encounter group. Facebook is a way of keeping in touch, briefly and pleasantly, with aspects of people’s lives in one sentence, one picture, one ‘read this that I’ve linked to’ bites.”

Robinson also explains ways ministers (and by extension lay people) can keep Facebook from becoming a “time sink,” including “hiding” people who continually post trivia. One can also click “like” to acknowledge a post, rather than writing a response.

She notes: “Like all new technologies, Facebook has a learning curve. This one is a little less user-friendly to newbies than, say, Google products are. Be patient with yourself, and ask questions of your Facebook friends. After you’ve learned, Facebook is much more manageable and much more fun than email.”

Beyond Robinson’s comments, it is worth noting that lay leaders can use Facebook to maintain relationships with other lay leaders and leaders in other congregations. And since many congregations have Facebook “fan” pages, one can become a fan of other churches and learn about their programs and practices. Facebook can also be a tool to expose nonchurch friends to Unitarian Universalism in a nonthreatening way.

To find InterConnections on Facebook visit facebook.com/InterConnections.

Update: The Rev. Cynthia Landrum offers advice on her blog, Rev. Cyn, about the value in creating different “friend groups” on Facebook (and how to do this) to separate people from the various parts of life––work, church, high school, etc. (3.31.10)

Multisite ministry resources

The Rev. Christine Robinson, First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, N.Mex., has created a “multisite bibliography” for congregations interested in exploring the world of multiple-site churches. Read it on her blog, iMinister. Resources listed include news articles from the popular press and Christian publications as well as books.

There is also a UUA-sponsored email list, Multisite-UU, and an InterConnections article, Multisite Ministry Another Way to Grow and Serve. Both First Unitarian and First UU Church in San Diego have multisite ministries.

Videos showcase congregational projects

A new series of short videos, titled “A Religion for Our Time” and highlighting inspiring work in Unitarian Universalist congregations, is being released between now and General Assembly in June. The first video, featuring the UU Church of Ogden, Utah’s OUTreach Center, a drop-in program for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender youth and young adults, is available now on the front page of UUA.org. Other videos will be posted in weeks to come. Look for them either on the front page or on UUA.org’s Religion for Our Time page.

The videos are being funded by a donation to the UUA for this purpose. They are being created by a Denver, Colo., production company using images supplied by the congregations involved.

UUA President Peter Morales, who commissioned the project, said the videos will cover a range of topics. “One of the best ways we learn is by seeing what other people are doing. I am truly excited about this new way of sharing some of the wonderful work our congregations are doing. I hope these short videos inspire creativity across our movement.”

Earth Day resources available

For congregations planning events around the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in April, the UU Ministry for Earth has developed an Earth Day resource packet. Earth Day itself is Thursday, April 22, and many congregations will hold events that week or the weekend before or after.

The resource packet includes information on the UUA’s current Congregational Study Action Issue “Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice,” fair trade products, labor issues, and organic food. It also has an Earth Day order of service cover and insert, and a certificate to honor your Congregational Eco-Hero.

There is also information on what other congregations are doing and ways to engage your own community. You can share what your congregation is doing for Earth Day by registering the event and by emailing the UU Ministry for Earth photos and information about how the event went.

The Ministry for Earth is also encouraging congregations to hold a special collection to support its ongoing work.