Association Sunday 2011 focuses on excellence in ministry

From a September InterConnections feature story, now online at

Excellence in Ministry is the theme for the fifth Association Sunday, which gets under way October 2. Funds collected this year will be used to support Unitarian Universalis ministries in a variety of ways, including providing scholarships and continuing education grants for UU religious professionals and conducting a comprehensive assessment of UU ministries.

Association Sunday is an annual fundraising campaign of the Unitarian Universalist Association to promote growth and to reaffirm our connections as an Association of congregations. Congregations are invited to set aside a Sunday to focus on their connections to one another and to the Unitarian Universalist Association. They are also asked to take a collection to support special UUA projects.

Funds raised by Association Sunday in previous years were used, in part, to fund scholarships for UU ministerial students. Gretchen Haley received a $17,000 scholarship in 2010 through Association Sunday.

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Fourth annual Association Sunday events to begin

The fourth annual Association Sunday fund drive and celebration of Unitarian Universalism begins this fall. Many congregations will hold Association Sunday worship services on October 3, but congregations are free to pick other dates as well, said Katrina Bergmann, director of donor relations and individual giving for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Stewardship and Development staff group.

Bergmann said more than 520 congregations have signed up to hold events this year, a number consistent with previous years. Funds raised this year will support the UUA’s new Leap of Faith Initiative, a plan that gets underway in November to encourage numerical growth by developing mentoring relationships among congregations. The money will also support events in 2011 in honor of the UUA’s 50th anniversary. The Association Sunday theme is “Celebrating 50 Years and the Future of Our Faith.”

Association Sunday resources, including tips for organizing a service, and promotional materials, are available at the Association Sunday website. Questions may be sent to In an effort to conserve resources, information on Association Sunday will not be mailed to congregations this year.

In encouraging congregations to participate, the Rev. Stephan Papa, special assistant to the president for growth funding, said in a letter, “Our fiftieth anniversary is an opportunity to express our gratitude for the religion we have been given and to deepen our faith in its transforming power. The consolidation of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America is a success. We have developed the gifts of both traditions and brought them into a balance of head and heart, social action and spirituality, individual freedom and community responsibility. We are coming together this year to honor the past and to grow our faith into the future.”

Regional Association Sundays strengthen church connections

From June’s InterConnections feature story, now online at

Association Sunday was begun three years ago to provide an opportunity for individual congregations to think about, celebrate, and support their connections with the larger world of Unitarian Universalism and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

More than 500 congregations take part each year, holding a Sunday worship service focused on associational ties. But what do you do if you’re a small congregation and your denominational ties simply aren’t as apparent or as numerous as they might be in larger congregations? Or if you simply want to get to know your UU neighbors better?

For some congregations the answer to those questions is to gather with each other to create a combined Association Sunday event that is bigger than any of them could manage alone.

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Association Sunday set for October 3

The fourth annual Association Sunday event this fall will mark the start of activities surrounding the 50th anniversary of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Congregations are invited to hold an Association Sunday service on October 3, or another date. Proceeds of the special collections that are a part of each Association Sunday will go to support growth initiatives that are being developed this spring.

Congregations that sign up will be entered into a drawing to receive a visit from UUA President the Rev. Peter Morales on the date of their Association Sunday service.

More information will be available in the months to come at the Association Sunday website. More than 500 congregations participated in the third Association Sunday in 2009. Previous Association Sunday collections have gone to support lay theological education, excellence in ministry, marketing, diversity in ministry, and growth grants to districts and congregations.

Association Sunday is intended to be an annual day when congregations can focus on denominational connections. Check out Association Sunday’s Facebook page where you can share your thoughts and learn what others are doing.