Changes to UUA’s youth ministry programs explained

Youth ministry programs within Unitarian Universalism have undergone many changes in the past few years, with some parts disappearing and others being created. If you’d like to get up to date on how they are currently structured and how they can be useful to your congregation, or simply get an idea of what ministry to youth encompasses, there’s a new tool to help you do that.

All of the youth programs are presented as part of a “Prezi” called The Big Picture of Unitarian Universalist Youth Ministry. A Prezi is a single interactive screen of comprehensive information showing the various youth ministry elements and how they are related. A more traditional way of showing such information would be in a PowerPoint presentation with multiple slides. With a Prezi, users can click on the various parts for more information.

Check out The Big Picture of Unitarian Universalist Youth Ministry on the website of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. The information includes names of many books currently used in youth ministry. Most are available through the UUA Bookstore.

The Big Picture of Unitarian Universalist Youth Ministry is one of many items featured on Blue Boat, the blog of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries.

Resources for dealing with aftermath of Newtown shooting

To help Unitarian Universalists and their communities in the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., on December 14, the Unitarian Universalist Association has collected a variety of pastoral resources.

These resources include a Tapestry of Faith workshop on Making Meaning after Disaster, selected meditations and readings, several blog posts and articles, tips and fact sheets, a video Q&A, and book recommendations. Get the full list of resources from

Church turns minister’s installation into day of service

From December’s InterConnections feature story, now online at

When the Rev. Barnaby Feder was helping to plan his installation at the Champlain Valley UU Society in Middlebury, Vt., he decided he wanted the day to include more than just a meaningful ceremony. Which is how paintbrushes, baking pans, and a Japanese maple on the town green came to be part of the day.

He explains: “In addition to the ceremony itself, I wanted us to think about doing something for the community. Installations naturally center on celebrating the commitment of the new minister and the congregation to each other, but I wanted the day to also reflect our commitment to being part of the larger community.”

Go to full article.

CLF offers online worship, other services

The Church of the Larger Fellowship presents an online worship service three times a week, not only for the benefit of its members but also for members of other congregations who can’t make it to church because of distance, illness, disability, or other reasons. The services are Sundays at 8 p.m. and Mondays at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. All times are Eastern. Go to and click on the Live Worship link at the top of the page.

The CLF is also having a 20 percent off sale through December on all of its pewter and enamel pendants and lapel pins. Go to for a flyer describing the sale.

The CLF offers ways to connect with others, including joining a small group online, meeting other members locally, and participating in classes and in social justice work.

Update storm precautions as weather patterns change

The recent storm damage along the East Coast is an unfortunate reminder that we seem to have entered a period of “superstorms.” Congregations would be well-served by updating their storm preparation procedures, including a review of their insurance policies.

The following article from the InterConnections archive outlines practices that are useful in advance of, during, and following a storm. They include keeping the institution’s insurance policy some place other than the congregation’s building, checking the limits on your policies, and considering flood insurance, since areas are being flooded that haven’t been before. Read the full article,  With Wilder Weather, Check Your Insurance, for more information.

Organizing caring committees for small congregations

Small congregations often struggle to develop an effective caring committee or caring group. There’s the usual problem of too few volunteers, for one thing. But some congregations have found ways to respond to caring without developing the large caring structures that bigger congregations might have.

Here are several articles from InterConnections that look at the caring needs of smaller congregations and how to address them:

Beyond Casseroles: Caring Committees That Work

A Three-Person Membership Committee for Small Congregations

Membership Job Description (including Caring Committee functions)

‘Remembership’ Calls Help Keep Track of Members

Among the tips offered in these articles: Consider the entire congregation part of the caring team. Let people know you’ll be calling on them when a need arises. Remember that most people are generally happy to do a specific caring task, such as delivering a meal or giving a ride, if asked. We probably don’t ask people to do things for others enough. This way even if there is only one person interested in being “on” a caring committee, that person can keep track of caring needs and then call on others to do the actual caring tasks. This works best if that person is skilled at delegating.



Skinner House Books seeks meditation submissions

Skinner House Books, the imprint of the Unitarian Universalist Association, plans to issue a collection of meditations written by lay members of congregations. Deadline for submission of pieces for the collection is December 14.

Submitted pieces must be original poems, prayers, or short prose pieces. They can be serious, funny, tender, or frank. They should be suitable for both private reflection and public worship. Prose meditations should be between 200 and 650 words. Poems should be no longer than 54 lines. Full details are on the Skinner House website.

What not to say to young adults

So, you know that it’s the right thing to do to talk to young adults when you see them on Sunday morning, correct? But what should you say? To help with that, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries has created a list of what not to say.

Don’t ask “How old are you?” “What do you do?” “What year are you in school?” or  “Are you new here?” says Carey McDonald, office director. “Age is just not important,” he adds. “Asking about work is also tricky because so many people are unemployed or underemployed. And asking about school implies that someone is a certain age.”

Instead, ask “What did you think of the service?” Or give them an opening like “I don’t think we’ve met, my name is . . .”

Rather than saying, “We need more young people,” say, “Great to meet you!” says McDonald. “Like everyone else, young adults want to be seen for who they are rather than as a token for their age group. And rather than asking, ‘Have you met our other young adult?’ say ,’May I introduce you to my friend?’ Don’t assume they only want to know other young adults.”

These questions and others are on a flyer, Coffee Hour Caution, which can be posted at your congregation. It might even serve as an opening for conversation. McDonald discusses the flyer further on the Youth and Young Adult Ministries blog Blue Boat.


Eliminating financial barriers to participation

Does your congregation impose unspoken financial barriers to membership, leadership, or simply to participation? That is, if you want to have a social life within the congregation do you have to buy it at the annual auction? What about those who can’t afford to do so?

If you want to be on the governing board, does that require taking time off from work for meetings? If someone takes on a volunteer task, are they expected to pay for any needed materials themselves? In a blog post, the Rev. Renee Ruchotzke notes, “For those who don’t have much—or any—disposable income, some norms can create a financial barrier against potential involvement.”

The full post, “Financial Barriers to Leadership,” is on the UUA’s Growing Vital Leaders blog, for which Ruchotzke is one of the primary authors.

Email lists, Facebook labs facilitate discussions

Need a place to engage in in-depth discussions of UU topics or simply pose a question that’s on your mind about church management, growth, worship, etc.? In addition to UUA-sponsored email lists, UUs on Facebook have recently created more than a dozen “labs” for such discussions. Topics include growth, use of social media, religious education, evangelism, stewardship, small group ministry, and governance. Find them all here, or below.