Choosing vendors for your church using UU values

From our June InterConnections feature, now online at UUA.org:

Congregations traditionally promote and encourage Unitarian Universalist values through sermons, religious education, and social justice work. Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, Minn., is taking its values to a new level—applying them to the companies that it buys products from.

Unity Church leaders refer to this as holding “values conversations” with those vendors. Here’s how it works: Any company that the church buys $2,500 in products or services from annually will be evaluated as to how well it meets certain social justice criteria—minority hiring, environmental sustainability, community engagement, fair treatment of workers—and whether its fees are competitive.

This practice, which gets underway this summer, had its genesis in the renovation of Unity Unitarian’s building, which was completed in November and dedicated May 19. Going back farther, said Barbara Hubbard, Unity Church’s executive director, the congregation has had an active antiracist and antioppression effort for at least ten years, and that work is becoming woven into the fabric of congregational life.

Go to full article.

UUA seeks compensation consultants

The UUA is seeking volunteers to serve as Compensation Consultants. Individuals with experience in UU leadership, human resources, accounting, employment law, church administration, tax law, mediation, and the like are invited to volunteer their time and skills working with the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances (OCSF).

Consultants help congregations address issues involving compensation, benefits, hiring, performance evaluation, taxes, and bookkeeping. Experience is helpful but not necessary because the OCSF will provide training. Email Betsy Gabriel, Compensation Programs manager, by July 1 to express interest or request information.

Building dedication hymn

After InterConnections published an article on ways to hold a dedication ceremony for a new or remodeled building, the Rev. John Corrado contacted us to make us aware of a dedication hymn he had written in 1993 for the UU Fellowship of Athens, Ga.

The hymn, “Ever New,” has five verses and speaks about how a new building can lead to “beauty of the souls we grow” and can inspire congregants to “deeds of courage, mercy, right.” Here’s the first verse:

“The eye delights in beauty here. Of glass and beam and stone. A deeper beauty we invite, by what we can become. Ever new, ever new. By beauty of the souls we grow, our church is ever new. Ever new, ever new. By beauty of the souls we grow, our church is ever new.”

“Ever New” can be obtained from Corrado at revjc@juno.com. He has written other music, including “Voice Still and Small” in Singing the Living Tradition.

Small group ministry resources from the UUA Bookstore

Five resources are available from the UUA Bookstore for small group ministry programs and other spiritual sharing groups:

  • Soul to Soul, a 174-page book published in 2011, is the second collection of small group offerings by Christine Robinson and Alicia Hawkins. From the bookstore website: “Covering wide-ranging topics such as addiction, grieving, and personal resilience, Soul to Soul offers new opportunities to explore life issues with others.” $14.
  • The Pen and the Bell, published in 2012, is available as an eBook and includes both meditative and writing exercises. “The Pen and the Bell is about how to achieve mindfulness and creative fulfillment in spite of long to-do lists. It’s about gaining access to our deeper selves in the workaday world, and bringing forth this authentic self in our writing.” $15.
  • The Sustainable Soul by Rebecca James Hecking, was published in 2011. It is a “guide for a journey toward ecological spirituality and sustainable culture,” according to the website description. It includes guided meditations, art projects, and ideas for actions. $14.

A comprehensive list of small group ministry resources, including information on how to form such programs within congregations, can be found at the website of The UU Small Group Ministry Network.

Changes coming to UUA Retirement Plan

Congregations and other UU groups participating in the UUA Retirement Plan are invited to submit comments by June 12 on proposed changes to the plan. After that date the UUA Retirement Plan Committee will revise the plan. When it is approved by the UUA Board of Trustees all participating employers must adopt it by December 31 in order to remain in the plan.

Work on the revisions has been underway for about a year, including attorneys, consultants, and UUA staff.  A mailing to congregations, describing the proposed changes, went out in mid-May. The mailing can also be found on UUA.org.

Changes to the plan include allowing new employees to immediately contribute to the plan rather than waiting a year and changes in the amount employers contribute. All of the changes can be found on the UUA’s website.

To receive periodic updates on the proposed changes and the implementation of the revised plan send an email with your name and role in the congregation to retirement@uua.org.

 

UUA moderator candidate forum June 6 online

Delegates to this year’s General Assembly in Louisville, Ky., will be electing a new UUA moderator to serve a six-year term as the Association’s chief governance officer. The two candidates are Jim Key and Tamara Payne-Alex. So that UUs can learn more about the candidates and the issues, the UUA is sponsoring an online moderator candidates’ forum on Thursday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m. EST. The forum will be moderated by the Rev. Ken Sawyer, minister emeritus of First Parish in Wayland, Mass., and chair of the UUA’s Election Campaign Practices Committee.

You are invited to view the forum at forum2013.uua.org. Each candidate will present an opening statement and then respond to questions presented by Sawyer. If you would like to submit questions to be considered for use in the forum, please send them to forum2013@uua.org. The deadline for submitting proposed questions is 12 p.m. EST on Monday, June 3.

Following the live forum, the video will be posted as soon as possible on UUA.org.

Sign up for health-care alerts

The UUA Office of Church Staff Finances has begun sending out monthly emails to keep congregational leaders informed about the federal Affordable Care Act,  which will be nearly fully implemented in January 2014.

Emails are being sent to board presidents and/or board chairs who have a my.uua.org account. Others may also receive the emails by sending their name, congregation name, job title, and email address to Patti Angelina, Insurance Plans coordinator.

You do not need to have employees enrolled in the UUA Health Plan to receive these emails. Previous monthly email alerts will be archived on UUA.org. Linda Rose, of the Church Staff Finances office, advises, “It is the responsibility of all employers, including congregations, to learn about the ACA and to fully prepare themselves to make thoughtful decisions regarding employee benefits, including health insurance.”

When to check in on InterConnections

InterConnections sends an email out to readers on the 15th of each month informing them of new articles on InterConnections and its blog, InterConnections Tipsheet. But please do check back more often than monthly. While longer articles are always published by the 15th, there are shorter articles posted weekly on the Tipsheet, including some that include approaching deadlines on matters that are important to congregational leaders.

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Why your congregation needs a digital ministry

From one of our May feature stories, now available online at UUA.org:

For fifteen years, as an executive with AOL and other companies, June Herold helped create some of the digital tools and toys that the world uses today, including instant messaging, online games, mobile applications, and an online billing system. She holds six patents on her electronic work.

In 2009 she joined the UU Church of Arlington, Va., where she created a top-of-the-line interactive website for the church that includes a self-contained social network.

All of that is only a prelude to what she hopes to accomplish—bringing every UU congregation fully into the digital world. She believes strongly that without an active and engaging digital presence, congregations will not be fully present in the world.

Go to full article.

‘Bidder 70’ environmental film available to congregations

Bidder 70, the documentary film about Utah Unitarian Universalist Tim DeChristopher and his arrest for disrupting a federal oil and gas lease auction in 2008, is available for viewing by congregations. DeChristopher served two years in federal prisons and a halfway house for disrupting the auction, an act of civil disobedience that drew international attention to the climate change crisis. He was released April 21 and is now speaking out about the need for climate change activism. He will be enrolling in Harvard Divinity School this fall.

The 72-minute film, by Gage and Gage Productions, is available to congregations from UU Ministry for Earth. Congregations with fewer than 150 members pay $75 for rights to show the film. Those with more than 150 members pay $100. Congregations that wish to partner with other groups to show the film in a more public setting will be required to pay a higher fee.

Email UUMFE Office Manager Sabrina Louise Harle, or call (503) 595-9392 for more information.