Books focus on church leadership

From November’s InterConnections feature story, now online at

As congregations head into the challenges of another church year, here are books that can help in areas of leadership and administration. All are available from the UUA Bookstore. Some have been around for several years and others are relatively new.

“These are books that congregational leaders continue to order,” said Bookstore Manager Rose Hanig, “They are among the most useful books we carry on congregational topics.”

Go to the full article.

More resources from Skinner House

Skinner House Books, a publishing arm of the UUA, has a new page on the UUA website called “Companion Resources.” There’s also a link in the left-hand menu on the front page of the Skinner House website.

The page offers links to free and practical resources, including bonus chapters, discussion questions, small group sessions, and webinars that can help readers and congregations get more out of Skinner House titles.

Users of the page are also invited to suggest additional resources, such as videos, sermons, worship readings, and website links, and to tell Skinner House staff how they’re using the existing resources. Contact Editorial Director Mary Benard at Benard adds, “We’d also love to know about resources that congregations have created themselves.”

UUA Bookstore offers fundraising book suggestions

A list of books useful to congregational leaders engaged with giving and stewardship is available from the UUA Bookstore (PDF). The books include the UUA’s primary stewardship guide, Beyond Fundraising: The Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship, by Dr. Wayne B. Clark, the UUA’s director of Congregational Stewardship Services.

Other books include two by church consultant Michael Durall, Beyond the Collection Plate: Overcoming Obstacles to Faithful Giving and Creating Congregations of Generous People.

The bookstore also has The Abundance of Our Faith, a collection of award-winning sermons about stewardship, edited by the Rev. Terry Sweetser and the Rev. Susan Milnor. Also on the list is Offerings: Remarks on Passing the Plate, by the Rev. Robert Thayer, collected anecdotes and reflections for use before the offering plate is passed.

Immigration book suggested as congregational ‘Common Read’

From a special InterConnections feature story, now online at

Congregations are being invited this fall to engage in a “Common Read” of the new Beacon Press book on immigration issues, The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands.

Gail Forsyth-Vail, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Adult Programs director, says the hope is that all types of small groups within congregations—lifespan education programs, small group ministry groups, book groups, etc.—will read the book and discuss it between now and next spring.

Go to the full article.

Top-selling books at GA 2010

The top-selling books at General Assembly 2010 in June, in order of sales, were the following, says Rose Hanig, director of the UUA Bookstore.

House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century, by the Revs. John Buehrens and Rebecca Parker. Necessity of Virtue, by Nancy Sherman. Serving with Grace: Lay Leadership as a Spiritual Practice, by the Rev. Erik Walker Wikstrom.

Story, Song, and Spirit: Fun and Creative Worship Services for All Ages, the Rev. Erika Hewitt. People So Bold, Theology and Ministry for Unitarian Universalists, by the Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh. All Our Relations, Winona LaDuke

The Growing Church: Keys to Congregational Vitality, edited by the Rev. Thom Belote. Information from a conference of leaders of growing UU congregations.

Bless All Who Serve: Sources of Hope, Courage, and Faith for Military Personnel and their Families, by the Rev. Matthew and Gail Tittle. Cathedral of the World, the Rev. Dr. Forest Church. Stone Blessings: a Meditation Anthology, the Rev. Robert Walsh. Sunday and Every Day: My Little Book of Unitarian Universalism, by Patricia Frevert (for children).

All except Necessity of Virtue and All Our Relations continue to be available at the UUA Bookstore.

Spanish-language hymnal ready

The Spanish-language hymnal, Las voces del camino: Un complemento de Singing the Living Tradition, is available from the UUA Bookstore for $18. It presents more than 70 songs in Spanish, including songs from Singing the Living Tradition, plus other selections from Spanish-speaking cultures the world over. There are discounts for orders of 10 or more.

The hymnal (English translation is Voices on the Journey) was first introduced a year ago, then withdrawn due to errors in translation. The hymnal was proposed in 2003 by a member of the First Unitarian Church of San Jose, Calif., and is a joint production between the UU Musicians Network and the UUA.

Skinner House offers new military resource

Skinner House Books has published Bless All Who Serve: Sources of Hope, Courage and Faith for Military Personnel and Their Families, a pocket-sized book of readings and songs from many faith traditions. Free copies are available to military chaplains and enlisted personnel of all faiths. Chaplains and ministers should contact Julie Shaw for those copies. Other service personnel may contact Lorraine Dennis at the Church of the Larger Fellowship.

Copies may also be purchased through the UUA Bookstore for $8. An article about the book, edited by the Revs. Matthew and Gail Tittle, both military veterans, is here. The book is similar to one published in 1941 by Beacon Press.

How your church can appeal to a younger crowd

In the introduction to her book, Designing Contemporary Congregations: Strategies to Attract Those Under 50, the Rev. Laurene Beth Bowers, pastor of the First Congregational Church in Randolph, Mass., describes some of the people in the congregations she has served over the years:

They are people I love and care about, but they are also a stubborn and stagnant people who have sacrificed for too long at the altar of “everything must stay the same” and who need gentle encouragement and caring confrontation by passionate leaders who will love them enough not to let them remain there.

Bowers suggest ways to lead congregations into change that can be more inviting to a younger generation. Among her suggestions: Create worship that moves. Add nontraditional music, dance, drama, and personal witnessing, with elements no longer than three minutes each, plus a 10-minute sermon. And yes, it’s OK if it goes more than an hour. “It moves, so you don’t notice the time,” one congregant told her.

She includes chapters on worship, social justice, life-cycle rituals, and evangelism. Her 128-page book is available at the UUA Bookstore for $14.

New at the UUA Bookstore

The following books and DVDs are available at the UUA Bookstore.

UU University 2009 –– This 3-disc DVD set includes 7.5 hours of the very best materials from UU University 2009 in Salt Lake City. Excerpts from more than 50 hours of programming include innovative ideas around multigenerational ministry, multicultural congregations, stewardship, governance, and theology—perfect for those interested in leadership development grounded in our faith. $45

Ministry in the Borderlands –– (DVD) Presentation at UU University 2008 by the Rev. Nick Carter, president of Andover Newton Theological Seminary, on communicating and working with “people who think differently and pray differently.” $8

A Ready Hope: Effective Disaster Ministry for Congregations –– A Ready Hope is described as “an initiation for people of faith who are new to the ministry of disaster preparedness and response. By the Rev. Kathryn Hauelsen and Carol Flores, Lutherans who have been active in disaster recovery work. Published 2009.  $18

Designing Contemporary Congregations: How to Attract Those Under Fifty –– The author, the Rev. Lauren Beth Bowers, pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Randolph, Mass., identifies strategies to develop contemporary worship, fellowship, evangelism, social justice, and rituals, and to train leaders to lead contemporary congregations. Published 2008.  $14

The Power of Stories: A Guide for Leading Multiracial and Multicultural Congregations –– The Rev. Jacqueline Lewis, senior minister for Vision, Worship, and the Arts, at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City, shares examples of congregational leaders who have successfully overcome the challenges of leading multicultural congregations through telling stories about who they are and what the communities they lead are about, and the lessons that can be learned from them. Published 2009.  $16

Heart to Heart: Fourteen Gatherings for Reflection and Sharing –– Resources for 14 small group gatherings on topics such as forgiveness, loss, nature, money, and friendship. Heart to Heart, by the Rev. Christine Robinson, senior minister of First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, N. Mex., and Alicia Hawkins, member of the board of the UU Small Group Ministry Network, offers readings, journaling suggestions, and exercises to help participants prepare for the spiritual practice of sharing in community. Promotes listening rather than back-and-forth discussion. Published in 2009.  $14

Growth Summit book published

A dozen ministers of some of the fastest-growing Unitarian Universalist congregations gathered in Louisville, Ky., in November 2007 at the UUA Growth Summit to share some common threads about their growth. Parts of those conversations have been gathered into a book, The Growing Church: Keys to Congregational Vitality, published by Skinner House this month. The book is available at the UUA Bookstore for $12.

The book’s editor, the Rev. Thom Belote of the Shawnee Mission UU Church in Overland Park, Kans., participated in the summit. He cautions that there is no “magic secret,” but there are principles that will lead to growth. He says congregations need to have a saving message, a purpose, a balance between “looking in” and “going out,” excellent worship, a “moving, energetic spirit” (also known as “buzz”), seeing welcoming as a moral imperative, leadership from the minister, and a willingness to try new things and fail.

The UUA Growth Summit has also been featured at a workshop at General Assembly and in a DVD (available to watch online). There is an online study guide for the DVD (which will also work with the book).

Contributors to The Growing Church include the Revs. Ken Beldon, John Crestwell, Liz Lerner, UUA President Peter Morales, Christine Robinson, Victoria Safford, Michael Schuler, and Marilyn Sewell. The book features a foreword by Alice Mann of the Alban Institute, who facilitated the gathering in Louisville.