Tips from Facebook on doing church

Congregationally-relevant articles that people like you have posted on Facebook in recent weeks include the following:

How Many Staff Do You Need, from the Ministry Matters website.

Why Worship Shouldn’t Feel Like Family, Ministry Matters

Why Are Fewer People in Church? It’s the Economy, Stupid, from the website Gestating a Church.

• Cabaret Church – On The VUU, a weekly webcast discussion sponsored by the Church of the Larger Fellowship, the Rev. Sean Parker Dennison explains his proposal for “Cabaret Church,” (Aug. 29 webcast) which would be centered around music, art, resistance, and community. He notes that cabarets were a response in the thirties to Fascism and they might well be useful tools today in bringing a religious perspective to contemporary culture and world politics. Cabaret Church also has its own page on Facebook and on Tumblr.

The Facebook page Growing Unitarian Universalism recommends the article “Are Your Church Facilities an Obstacle to Growth? about the ways first-time guests see your building.

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 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 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.

UUA supports alternative congregations

Delegates at the 2012 General Assembly in Phoenix, held June 20–24, approved a change to the UUA bylaws that was requested by the UUA Board of Trustees. The change relates to how congregations are referred to, and it opens the way for the creation of congregations that are not tied to a particular location.

Delegates approved changing all bylaw references to “churches and fellowships.” That phrase will be replaced throughout the bylaws with “congregations.” In addition, the word “local” will be dropped in bylaws in reference to congregations.

The Rev. Dr. Susan Ritchie, the UUA trustee who introduced the amendment at GA, said that removing “local” will support the creation of congregations that are not based in a particular building or location, such as the Church of the Larger Fellowship, which meets online and at GA. “We can gather as intentional religious community with people we do not share a particular geography with,” Ritchie said. “The board believes it serves the cause of justice to expand the definition of congregations.”

The term “congregation” is also more welcoming to many Jewish UUs than “church.” Congregations may, of course, continue to use whatever name they choose. The bylaws change simply changes how the UUA refers to congregations and provides space for the creation of other types of congregations. Youth and young adults have been especially supportive of the creation of non-traditional congregations.


CLF offers new online worship service

Congregants of “conventional” UU congregations who are unable to attend Sunday services because of work schedules, disabilities, or other reasons, have an alternative now in the new twice-weekly online worship service of the Church of the Larger Fellowship.

The CLF, a congregation that serves the needs of many isolated UUs through the Internet and by mail, is conducting online worship at 7 p.m. on Sundays and 1:30 p.m. on Mondays. Both are Eastern Daylight Time. The Monday service is a repeat of Sunday’s. For information go to, click on “Reflecting” and then on “Worship.”

Prison ministry needs letter writers

The Church of the Larger Fellowship’s Letter-Writing Ministry is seeking UUs who are willing to correspond with other UUs who are in prison. The Rev. Patty Franz, coordinator of this ministry, says that while UUs of all ages are encouraged to apply, there is a special need for people from 25 to 50. Franz said more than 400 prisoners have joined CLF and about half of them are participating in the letter-writing program. Others are on a waiting list.

The ministry consists of sending and receiving letters on paper rather than email. All letters from prisoners are forwarded through CLF Prison Ministry’s office in Boston. The CLF’s prison ministry staff matches the pen pal pairs and remains available for advice and support. Pen pals are asked to write for at least six months, and may continue longer. Franz noted that prisoners are told only the first name or nickname of those they are paired with. A UUA-sponsored email list, uu-prison-justice is also available, providing a way to connect with other UUs engaged in this ministry and other prison-related social justice issues.

See the CLF’s website, to review the Guidelines and Notes for the CLF’s Letter Writing Ministry and to request information or an application packet, or write to the CLF Prison Ministry, 25 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108 (


CLF resources for small congregations

Lay-led congregations seeking to stretch their budgets might consider a group membership in the Church of the Larger Fellowship’s Church OnLine program.

For an annual fee of $299 a congregation can access worship and religious education resources online. Congregations may enroll at any time.

Worship resources include sermons and a children’s story and suggested discussion questions. RE resources include RE Express Plus, a special program for small RE programs.

CLF also has an email list, CLF Starting Small, for leaders of small congregations. More information is available on the CLF website.

Small groups use special practices

The November issue of Covenant Group News, the monthly newsletter of the UU Small Group Ministry Network, includes an article on using Skype to connect people who can’t attend a meeting because of distance. Skype is software that can be used to connect two computers so that a distant person can be seen as well as heard.

“It was a great experience,” said a facilitator from Hamilton, Ontario. “I believe it has tons of potential applications for all kinds of ministry.”

Another article explores a group at High Plains UU Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., created for parents with small children. The group includes childcare. It has two trained facilitators, who, if enough people attend, hold two sessions. The groups sometimes have a choice of child-centered or spiritual growth topics.

The Church of the Larger Fellowship, a congregation that serves isolated UUs through the Internet and by mail, holds online small group sessions that can last three to four weeks. The facilitator sends out an opening reading and invites members to check in by email over the next few days. Then a topic is posed and more time is allowed for receiving responses. Then a few more days are provided for closing and evaluation and then there’s a final week for informal chatting. The Rev. Lynn Ungar, CLF minister for Lifespan Learning, said these groups work especially well for people who are shy or need time to process.

More information on the UU Small Group Ministry Network, including how to join and sign up for Covenant Group News is here. The network also collects discussion topics and makes them available to members.

CLF prisoner pen pal program

Through the UU Church of the Larger Fellowship’s Letter-Writing Ministry, around 140 Unitarian Universalists are writing to other UUs who are in prison. The Rev. Patty Franz, coordinator of this effort, says that prisoners have now been offered the opportunity to have a second pen pal.

That means more pen pals on the “outside” are needed. Being a pen pal for a prisoner-member of the CLF is a social justice project that individuals can take on at their convenience, wherever they live. All letters are sent by U.S. Postal Service. Prisoners are told only the first name or nickname of those they are paired with. CLF staff are available for advice and support. Read the guidelines and notes for CLF’s Letter Writing Ministry and request an application packet at, or write to the CLF Prison Ministry, 25 Beacon St, Boston, MA  02108.

A UUA-sponsored email list, uu-prison-justice is also available, providing a way to connect with other UUs engaged in this ministry and other prison-related social justice issues.

CLF has new themed worship resource

The Church of the Larger Fellowship has created a “Make Your Own Sunday” resource where congregations can choose a worship topic, then select opening words, a chalice lighting, meditation, a children’s story, sermon, and closing words, all on that topic.

The cost to subscribe is $129 annually. For more information visit the CLF’s “Make Your Own Sunday” page, email Beth Murray, or call 617-948-6150.

CLF will help you welcome seekers

Congregations can get help in presenting themselves to seekers through a new service provided by the Church of the Larger Fellowship.

For $250 the CLF will prepare a five-session “Welcome In” online class explaining Unitarian Universalism, how the congregation works, UU spirituality, the larger world of Unitarian Universalism, and the history of Unitarian Universalism and the congregation.

The CLF will create the class using text, photos, and video specific to the congregation, host the class on its server, provide technical support for three months, and offer resources for promoting the class.

Learn more and view a sample online class here. Contact the Rev. Lynn Ungar, CLF’s minister for Lifespan Learning, at