How congregations can respond to hate crimes

From February’s InterConnections feature story, now online at

If you’re fortunate, you’ll never arrive at your meetinghouse to find your rainbow flag or marriage equality banner ripped, defaced with swastikas, burned, or simply stolen. But what if you do? How should you respond?

Late one Saturday afternoon in 2001, at First Parish of Sudbury, Mass., a passerby noticed that swastikas had been spray-painted onto rainbow flag symbols on two street-side church signs. He notified police, who contacted the congregation. That same day members of the congregation removed the swastikas, but the perpetrators returned and drew them again. This time they also stole a rainbow flag flying at the entrance to the meetinghouse.

The congregation spoke out immediately, notifying local and state officials, other clergy, and the school district. On Monday, two days after the defacement, the congregation held an emergency meeting. It concluded the swastikas and the flag theft were acts of hate and that it was a problem that belonged to the whole community, not just First Parish.

Go to full article.

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.


Ministerial mentoring survey participants sought

Three groups focused on ministerial development are inviting all members of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association to complete a brief survey, which is designed to improve the chances for successful ministries, especially for members of historically marginalized communities, and bolster the culture of ministerial mentoring.

The seven-question survey about mentoring can be found here. It is sponsored by the UUA’s Professional Development and Credentialing Offices; the UUMA’s Committee on Ministry for Antiracism, Antioppression, and Multiculturalism; and the UUA’s Diversity of Ministry Team. Information about the UUA’s Diversity of Ministry Initiative is here.

February 1 petition deadline for UUA office-seekers

The Nominating Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association has adopted a slate of candidates for positions ranging from Board of Trustees to the Commission on Social Witness. The slate can be found here.

Beyond those nominees, applications are being taken until February 1 from people who wish to run by petition for any of these positions, plus those of moderator and president of the UUA. To run by petition a candidate must:

  • Be a voting member of a UU congregation
  • Secure signatures of at least 50 members of certified UU congregations with no more than 10 from any single congregation
  • File the requisite papers with the UUA board secretary by February 1. Contact Nancy Lawrence with questions: or 617-948-4303.

Membership certification deadline is February 1

Congregations are required to certify their membership numbers with the Unitarian Universalist Association by Friday, February 1 at 5 p.m. Pacific time. The membership number a congregation certifies is the basis for determining the number of voting delegates for the congregation at General Assembly 2013 and for calculating the congregation’s Annual Program Fund Fair Share contribution to the UUA.

Certification can be accomplished online by logging into your congregation’s Data Services account with your congregation’s four-digit identification number and a password.

Complete information about this process is here. If your congregation prefers to certify with a paper form and postal mail, contact Nick Rafael in the UUA’s Information Technology Services office as soon as possible: 617-948-4654 or

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.

Ministerial Fellowship Committee solicits feedback

The Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association is beginning a review of the competencies required of candidates seeking fellowship as UU ministers. This review follows several years of study by the UUA Board of Trustees and the UUA administration as part of the Excellence in Ministry initiative begun by the Board.

In the first stage of the review the MFC will be seeking the advice of the many parties and organizations that have a stake in ministerial excellence. They include the UUA Board, the administration, professional ministry organizations, seminaries, candidates themselves, and various other UU groups. The Rev. Wayne Arnason, chair of the MFC, also invites comments from individual members of congregations about areas of ministerial competency that are important to them. The MFC can be reached at

Season’s greetings from InterConnections. Our offices will be closed for the holidays December 24 to January 2. The InterConnections TipSheet will return on January 4. See you next year!

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.