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 questformeaning.org 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 questformeaning.org/page/sale 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.

Being open to other points of view

The Rev. Renee Ruchotzke has posted an article on the UUA blog Growing Vital Leaders, about the dangers of running congregations from within a bubble. A bubble happens, she notes, when leaders aren’t receptive to ideas from others or simply don’t take the time to look beyond their own congregation for solutions.

Ruchotzke says, “Congregational leaders often don’t think to look beyond their congregation’s walls for ideas or answers. They may believe that their own congregation is unique in its situation, but there is likely a congregation down the road (or in another district) that has similar challenges. Part of the goal of cluster-building and regionalization is to help congregations connect to one another and access the wisdom of the wider UU movement.”

The full article is here.

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.

 

Dental plan deadline December 14

Friday, December 14 is the deadline for Dental Open Enrollment for congregational employees. This is the first time in two years that the dental plan has had an Open opportunity for those who did not elect to enroll when they were hired.

Eligible employees are those working a minimum of 750 hours annually. The maximum annual benefit has been increased from $1,500 to $1,750 per person. Beginning January 1, 2013, monthly dental premiums will be $49.75 per month for an employee, $99.50 for an employee plus one dependent, and $120.75 for a family. Full details are on the UUA Dental Plan page of UUA.org. Employees already participating in the dental plan are not required to re-enroll.

 

Why is their budget drive successful?

The blog Congregational Stewardship, produced by the UUA’s Congregational Stewardship Services staff group, currently features a two-part series titled “So Why is Their Budget Drive Always So Successful?” It’s a good primer or refresher on how to approach a stewardship event, whether it’s an annual fund drive or a capital campaign. The articles, by Bill Clontz, a UUA stewardship consultant, include the following advice: that stewardship is ministry, that the best campaigns are “continuous yearlong open discussions and references to resourcing our values,” and that people give not to “keep the lights on,” but to realize their values.

Other articles currently on the stewardship blog include one on a group of workers from the Unitarian Church in Harrisburg, Pa., that repairs houses, and another on “changing ourselves” before asking others to change.

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.