Monthly call helps UU campus ministries connect

All those involved in UU campus ministries are invited to participate in a monthly campus ministry community call at 9 p.m. Eastern on the first Sunday of every month. The next call will be December 2.

The call is facilitated by Kayla Parker, the UUA’s campus ministry associate. She notes, “Whether you have been doing this work for years, have just begun, or are overwhelmed by the idea of beginning, we welcome you. We are student leaders, lay leaders, and religious professionals and all others involved in UU campus ministry.”

Parker said nine campus programs were represented on the November call. Each call has a specific topic and includes time for questions from participants. Information on accessing the call can be found on the UUA’s youth and young adult ministries blog, Blue Boat, and on the Young Adult Campus Ministry email list.

 

Making room for introverts

A good leader makes room for introverts to be heard, the Rev. Renee Ruchotzke reminds. In a recent post on the UUA blog Growing Vital Leaders, in an essay titled “Making Space for the Quiet Voices,” she argues for making sure that everyone in a meeting is invited to speak.

She writes, “I’ve learned from experience that some of the best ideas and reflections come from the introverts or the people who might be at the margins of the conversation because of age or culture.”

The blog entry also includes a brief video from the Rev. Erik Walker Wikstrom, author of the book Serving With Grace: Lay Leadership as a Spiritual Practice. In the video, Wikstrom advises leaders to speak last:

If you are usually one of the first ones to speak make it a discipline to hold your tongue for a while. Hold back. Let others talk first. Nine times out of ten you’ll find your really good ideas coming out of other people’s mouths. Since this really isn’t about showing how smart you are, is it, but about furthering the work of the church in a way that also deepens your spiritual life, you can rejoice that the important ideas got out there and you got to practice humility. And of course if anything has been unsaid, you can say it at the end.

 

UUA offers eBooks focused on Phoenix experiences

Two resources, which have grown out of Unitarian Universalists’ witness in Arizona in support of migrant communities, are available from the UUA Bookstore. Both are only available as eBooks.

The first is Assembled 2012: Select Sermons and Lectures from the 2012 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association (held in Phoenix). It includes the Berry Street Essay by the Rev. Fredric Muir, the Sophia Lyon Fahs lecture by Louise Derman-Sparks, the Ware lecture by Maria Hinojosa, and sermons from the Service of the Living Tradition by the Rev. Karen Tse and the Sunday morning worship service by the Rev. John Crestwell.

Also available is Annette Marquis’ Resistance: A Memoir of Civil Disobedience in Maricopa County. Marquis, LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager for the UUA, was arrested and spent a night in the Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix in July 2010, along with a number of other UUs, as she protested the implementation of Arizona’s anti-immigration measure SB 1070. In her 48-page book she reflects on what compelled her to act and what she learned about the struggles of migrants and people of color.

Marquis’ book is available free with purchase of Assembled 2012. Each can be purchased separately.

Discussion guide for New Jim Crow ready

A discussion guide for The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, selected as the 2012–2013 Unitarian Universalist Association Common Read, is now available. Created by UUA staff, the guide is intended to help groups reflect on the book and consider how to respond to author Michelle Alexander’s call for awareness and action. The discussion guide is adaptable for congregational, cluster, or district programming for adults of all ages. Two formats are offered: A single 90-minute session and three 90-minute sessions. Download a free copy.

The UUA Bookstore is supporting this Common Read with a 10 percent discount on orders of 5–9 books and 20 percent off of orders of 10 or more books. The New Jim Crow is also available online as an e-book and in public libraries.

New articles focus on sustainability, youth service, and more

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

InterConnections is not the only source of useful information for lay leaders. Check out uuworld.org for stories about innovative congregational projects and new resources from the UUA. Here are some articles on sustainability, youth service, social justice, and outreach published between May and September 2012.

Go to full article.

 

Publisher seeks meditations from congregation members

Skinner House Books, the imprint of the Unitarian Universalist Association, is inviting members of UU congregations to submit original poems, prayers, or short prose pieces for consideration in a collection of meditations for congregational leaders. Editor Marshall Hawkins said, “We imagine a collection that fosters the understanding of congregational leadership as an avenue for spiritual growth rather than an administrative chore. The ideal meditations would be both inspirational for, and affirming of, the work of all kinds of leaders—both professional and volunteer, lay and ordained.”

He added, “They would help support our leaders through a kind of ‘literary ministry,’ addressing issues common to many in leadership positions, and acknowledging some of the challenges as well. Overall, this collection will hold up the role of church leader as vital to healthy congregational life and honor those who serve in this capacity.”

UUA Executive Vice President Kay Montgomery will edit the collection. Pieces may be serious or 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. In a cover letter, identify your affiliation with Unitarian Universalism. If your work has been published, give details.

Email submissions are preferred. Send them to bmartin@uua.org, with “Meditations for Leaders” in the subject line. Send each meditation in a separate attachment. Submissions may also be sent by ground mail, to Betsy Martin, Skinner House Books, Unitarian Universalist Association, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108. The deadline is November 15. Successful applicants will be notified after Jan. 7, 2013. Address any questions to mhawkins@uua.org.

Guides outline political activity rules for religious organizations

The Pew Forum has issued its 2012 Guide to IRS Rules on Political Activity by Religious Organizations.  The Unitarian Universalist Association’s own guide, The Real Rules, has additional information. 

John Hurley, the UUA’s director of Communications, notes, “Over the years I’ve seen far more of our congregations shy away from political activity due to misunderstanding what is acceptable than to overstep the limits. The IRS regulations for political activity by non-profits afford a great deal of latitude for congregations: voter registration drives, candidate forums, and advocacy for or against ballot amendments are all acceptable practices. Engagement in the political process is an excellent way for our congregations to put our faith into action.”

Online guide helps assess sexual health of congregations

An online guide to help congregations assess their sexual health policies and procedures has been created by the Rev. Debra W. Haffner, president of the Religious Institute, a multifaith organization formed to advocate for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society.

Haffner, a UU minister, said Assessing Sexual Health: An Online Guide has nine checklists based on a congregation’s size and capabilities. Areas included in the checklists include whether bylaws address sexual orientation inclusion and sexual harassment, whether sexuality issues are addressed in worship, the ways in which sexuality education is offered for children, youth, and adults, and whether sexuality issues are included in a congregation’s social justice advocacy work. The nine areas covered by the guide are Policies and Environment, Religious Professionals, Worship and Preaching, Pastoral Care, Sex Ed for Children and Youth, Sex Ed for Adults, Welcome and Full Inclusion, Safe Congregations, and Social Justice.

Congregations and Beyond discussion guide available

A new discussion guide is available for Congregations and Beyond, the concept introduced by the Rev. Peter Morales that our congregations can take other forms besides that of a group of people that meet at a fixed location each week. Congregations and other groups of UUs are invited to use the guide to explore trends in the American religious landscape, to consider how a congregation might reach out into its larger community to invite people to participate in an established UU group, or how “unconventional” congregations might be created.

Since being introduced by Morales in February 2012, Congregations and Beyond has become a UUA initiative. As Morales noted, “The central conviction driving [Congregations and Beyond] is that our core values appeal to far more people than are attracted to (or likely to be attracted to) our congregations . . . the reality of today’s world is that not everyone who shares our core values will want to become part of a traditional congregation. The future relevance of our faith may well depend on whether we can create a religious movement beyond, as well as within, the parish.”

The guide contains three sessions that will allow groups to 1) explore the UUA’s rationale and set of initiatives for Congregations and Beyond, 2) investigate new technologies (including social media) that allow for the creation of new kinds of connections, and 3) learn about examples of congregational initiatives that help “lower the walls” of conventional institutions.

The guide also includes Morales’ initial introduction to Congregations and Beyond.

Illuminations app ready for android use

The Unitarian Universalist mobile app, Illuminations, is now available for android phones. The app was created last spring and has been available for iPhone, iPads, and the iPod Touch since then. It is free to download from the iTunes App store and the Google Play store. Both sites also include user reviews.

The app provides more than 350 daily inspirational quotes, which can also be used for worship readings and to open and close meetings. The app also lists and describes the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism and has five different chalices that can be “lit” and then extinguished by blowing on the phone. Larry Stritof, Information Technology Systems analyst for the UUA and one of the developers of the app, said it has been downloaded more than 3,000 times.

Illuminations works offline and does not require an Internet connection unless the sharing feature is used. More functions will be created for it. More information can be found on the Illuminations Facebook page. Email app.support at uua.org with questions.