Ministry and Authority report available

A report, “Who’s in Charge Here? The Complex Relationship Between Ministry and Authority,” was recently released by the UUA’s Commission on Appraisal after several years of work. It is available for $12 through the UUA Bookstore.

The 98-page report discusses both lay and professional ministry and makes the observation that many of the “struggles and stresses” around ministry in UU congregations stem from issues of authority. It includes the following chapters: “What is Ministry,” “What is Authority?” “Who Has Authority and Who Does Not?” and “Conflicts about Ministry and Authority.”

The Rev. Erica Baron, who serves congregations in Rutland and Bennington, Vt., was project manager for the report. Chair of the commission is Megan Dowdall, a ministerial candidate and an adjunct professor at Starr King School for the Ministry.

The report was presented at General Assembly in June. A 13-minute video of that presentation is here at the 1 hour 41 minutes mark. A report of that presentation is here.

New guide for emergency preparations

The Department of Homeland Security has developed a new resource for preparing for and responding to emergency situations in church buildings. The Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship was released in June.

It includes information on developing response plans for natural disasters, and it also has a section on responding to “active shooter” situations. DHS also has a webinar, Conducting Security Assessments: A Guide for Schools and Houses of Worship.

See also the InterConnections article from April 2013, Planning for Emergencies and the Unthinkable.

Building dedication hymn

After InterConnections published an article on ways to hold a dedication ceremony for a new or remodeled building, the Rev. John Corrado contacted us to make us aware of a dedication hymn he had written in 1993 for the UU Fellowship of Athens, Ga.

The hymn, “Ever New,” has five verses and speaks about how a new building can lead to “beauty of the souls we grow” and can inspire congregants to “deeds of courage, mercy, right.” Here’s the first verse:

“The eye delights in beauty here. Of glass and beam and stone. A deeper beauty we invite, by what we can become. Ever new, ever new. By beauty of the souls we grow, our church is ever new. Ever new, ever new. By beauty of the souls we grow, our church is ever new.”

“Ever New” can be obtained from Corrado at He has written other music, including “Voice Still and Small” in Singing the Living Tradition.

Small group ministry resources from the UUA Bookstore

Five resources are available from the UUA Bookstore for small group ministry programs and other spiritual sharing groups:

  • Soul to Soul, a 174-page book published in 2011, is the second collection of small group offerings by Christine Robinson and Alicia Hawkins. From the bookstore website: “Covering wide-ranging topics such as addiction, grieving, and personal resilience, Soul to Soul offers new opportunities to explore life issues with others.” $14.
  • The Pen and the Bell, published in 2012, is available as an eBook and includes both meditative and writing exercises. “The Pen and the Bell is about how to achieve mindfulness and creative fulfillment in spite of long to-do lists. It’s about gaining access to our deeper selves in the workaday world, and bringing forth this authentic self in our writing.” $15.
  • The Sustainable Soul by Rebecca James Hecking, was published in 2011. It is a “guide for a journey toward ecological spirituality and sustainable culture,” according to the website description. It includes guided meditations, art projects, and ideas for actions. $14.

A comprehensive list of small group ministry resources, including information on how to form such programs within congregations, can be found at the website of The UU Small Group Ministry Network.

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.

Successful share-the-plate program supports Denver nonprofits

From one of our May feature stories, now available online at

When the offering plate comes around on Sunday morning at First Universalist Church of Denver, Colo., many nonprofit groups in the community feel the earth move just a little. This is the third year that the congregation has given its entire offering—every Sunday—to local groups or to support the work of the congregation’s own Social Justice Council task forces.

Associate Minister the Rev. Jeannie Shero said nearly $150,000 has been collected so far through the program, called Compassion in Action. “The first year we collected $44,000, then $56,000,” she said. “This year, which ends in June, will be close to $60,000. Prior to the program the offering would bring in around $25,000, much of which was largely used to support the operating budget.”

“This program represented a major shift for us,” Shero noted. “Was it a hard sell to the congregation? No. Did it make the board of trustees nervous? Yes. Giving up $20,000 for the operating budget was no small thing since the board has fiduciary responsibility.”

Go to full article.


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.