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.

Planning for emergencies and the unthinkable

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

Is it possible to imagine that an armed intruder could show up on Sunday morning at one of our congregations, inflamed about our inclusiveness or a particular justice stance we’ve taken in the community, and proceed to do us harm?

It happened in 2008 at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tenn. Then the Newtown shootings made us think about it again. However, given everything else we have to worry about, is this something we really need to spend time considering? Or is the possibility of this kind of mayhem so remote that it will never rise to the top of our list of things to be concerned about?

The Rev. Aaron Payson votes for remote—and he votes for planning for it. That’s because he understands that safeguarding against armed intruders should simply be a part of a much broader safety plan that every congregation should have. He estimates that less than 20 percent of UU congregations have such a plan.

Go to the full article.

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.

Socially responsible investing benefits everyone

New on is Ten Things All UUs Should Know About Socially Responsible Investing. The article, from the UUA’s Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, will be useful to congregations and individuals interested in using their money to change the world in positive ways.

The article notes that socially responsible investing has been instrumental in getting McDonald’s to reduce its use of Styrofoam packaging and in persuading Procter & Gamble to sell Fair Trade Certified coffee. It has also influenced companies to adopt nondiscrimination policies around sexual orientation and gender identity.

The article makes the following points:

• Socially responsible investing is more than avoiding bad companies. It means supporting responsible ones as well. It also focuses on investing in low-income communities that may have difficulty obtaining loans from more conventional sources.  Socially responsible investing also supports struggling small businesses and entrepreneurs around the world with microloans.

• Studies have shown that responsible investing does as well as conventional investing.

• Congregations can participate in socially responsible investing through the UUA’s Common Endowment Fund.

UUA Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Tim Brennan recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post on socially responsible investing and climate change.




UU bumper stickers

Q. A committee at our fellowship is interested in bumper stickers, either designing our own or getting one from the Unitarian Universalist Association. I see no way of seeing what the UUA bumper sticker looks like. Can you send us a visual?

A. The UUA no longer sells bumper stickers or other marketing materials, says Kiki Giatis, administrator of the UUA’s Congregational Life staff group. However, graphics are available so that congregations can print their own, if they wish. Graphics for bumper stickers and other marketing materials, in the form of EPS [Encapsulated PostScript] files, are here.

Giatis said, “We have learned that people with strong graphics design backgrounds at local printing companies are able to produce great quality graphics with the EPS files. To view EPS files you will need an EPS viewer. Several free programs are available on the Internet to help with that. The UUA offers these materials to any congregation that wishes to use them without qualifiers or release forms; however, we are unable to provide technical or marketing support for them.”

There are two other sources for UU-themed bumper stickers. They are available from UniUni (formerly Uni-Uniques). You can see them here. The UUA’s Standing on the Side of Love campaign also sells a LOVE bumper sticker.

The Café Press website also has at least one UU bumper sticker.

Live-streaming services draws in stay-at-homes

UUA Growth Strategist Tandi Rogers couldn’t make it to church one recent Sunday because of a sick child, so she looked around for the next best alternative. She found around a dozen congregations that were live-streaming their services in a time frame that worked for her.

She notes, “I hope more congregations will consider using this technology as a way to lower their walls and to connect to members who are unable to attend for a variety of reasons.” Read her full post on the Growing Unitarian Universalism blog.

The UUA’s website has resources for congregations considering live-streaming. To livestream a service you need a video camera, microphone (sound quality is more important than video quality), and the ability to upload to a free service like Ustream or Livestream.

Rogers notes that some congregations post their Order of Service. Some pan out to show the congregation and choir in addition to focusing on the speakers, and some allow online participants to engage in a real-time chat about the service.

New books from Janamanchi, Tyger, and Owen-Towle

Three new books with meditative and inspirational qualities are available at the UUA Bookstore.

Falling into the Sky ($8) is the 2013 UUA meditation manual, edited by the Rev. Abhi Janamanchi and his son Abhimanyu Janamanchi, a leader in Unitarian Universalist youth and adult leadership circles. Falling into the Sky compiles forty writings from UU ministers, leaders, and lay people. These meditations evoke “vivid vistas of imagination and reflection,” according to promotional materials for the book.

Also newly available is War Zone Faith: An Army Chaplain’s Reflections from Afghanistan ($8) by Army Chaplain Capt. George Tyger, a UU minister, who served in parish ministry before entering the Army Chaplain Corps. Here’s the marketing copy: As an Army chaplain deployed to Afghanistan, George Tyger has seen and experienced things that many of us cannot fathom: naked children throwing rocks at him in the street, a playground in the middle of a Taliban graveyard, and incredible violence, anger, loneliness, and fear. Determined to find meaning in the midst of it all, Tyger reflects on his faith, his prejudices, and his privilege, and shares the unique perspective he has gained while serving and ministering in a war zone.

Both of these books are published by Skinner House.

The Rev. Tom Owen-Towle has self-published a new book, Wake Up! Daily Lessons for a More Liberated and Living Life ($18). The book is aimed at individuals and families. It could also be useful for spiritual-practice groups, for covenant and meditation groups, and for worship readings.

Writes Owen-Towle: “We will probably choose, on any given day, to accomplish at least one thing we truly enjoy. We always find time for the ‘must’ jobs too. We may even set aside moments for accomplishing a radically new or different task. However, most of us will do everything imaginable to circumvent quietude. We’re too busy filling up when we need to empty out. We need moments of plain, unadorned, unremitting stillness.”

How to update member information online

When someone formally joins your congregation, how soon can their name be sent to the UUA so they can begin receiving UU World magazine? Immediately.

All the information to change your membership list is at Someone in the congregation will need to be registered on the site. Each congregation may have up to four Data Services Updaters. You can print out a membership list if you wish, add and delete individuals, change marital status and addresses, and perform other membership functions.



Archived webinars new source of information for leaders

Ever need advice on a congregational issue at 11 p.m.? Or 4 a.m.? Or on a weekend? That’s when the Central Midwest District’s archive of webinars on common issues that confront congregations can come in handy (as well as in the middle of the day).

These are webinars that were held in the past several years, then archived for posterity. Most feature a UUA staff member or lay leader making a presentation which is followed by a period of discussion including the people who participated in the live presentation of the webinar. Topics include: running board meetings, committees on ministry, digital-spiritual literacy, tips for new youth advisors, religious education curricula, volunteer practices, and much more. Around 30 presentations are in the archive.

The UUA’s Central East Regional Group (CERG) also has a collection of on-demand webinars. Check the website of your own district, as well. Registration is required to view the CERG webinars.

UPDATE 2.20.13 – There is a third collection of archived webinars on the UUA’s Vital Leaders blog edited by the Rev. Renee Ruchotzke. In addition, there is a list of upcoming webinars on Growing Unitarian Universalism’s Facebook page. Click on the Webinars icon at the top of the page.


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.