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.

Go to the full article.

TIAA-CREF new UU retirement recordkeeper

The UUA Board of Trustees made TIAA-CREF the new recordkeeper of the UU Organizations Retirement Plan at its meeting May 20, replacing Fidelity Investments. The decision was made on the recommendation of the UUA Compensation, Benefits, and Pension Committee. Both groups voted unanimously for the new recordkeeper.

The Rev. Richard Nugent, director of the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances, and Joyce Stewart, UUA Retirement Plan director, noted that plan participants will not have to take any action as a result of this change. Retirement investments will be transferred to funds that mirror ones they are already invested in.

Information packets will be sent to all 2,800 plan participants, including many staff of UU congregations. The conversion will be made around November 1.* The change was spurred by a growing commitment by the UUA to genocide-free investing, coupled with its disappointment in Fidelity’s refusal to move out of that area.

*This sentence has been corrected. It originally stated erroneously that the conversion would be complete by June 30. InterConnections apologizes for the error.

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.

Videos showcase congregational projects

A new series of short videos, titled “A Religion for Our Time” and highlighting inspiring work in Unitarian Universalist congregations, is being released between now and General Assembly in June. The first video, featuring the UU Church of Ogden, Utah’s OUTreach Center, a drop-in program for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender youth and young adults, is available now on the front page of Other videos will be posted in weeks to come. Look for them either on the front page or on’s Religion for Our Time page.

The videos are being funded by a donation to the UUA for this purpose. They are being created by a Denver, Colo., production company using images supplied by the congregations involved.

UUA President Peter Morales, who commissioned the project, said the videos will cover a range of topics. “One of the best ways we learn is by seeing what other people are doing. I am truly excited about this new way of sharing some of the wonderful work our congregations are doing. I hope these short videos inspire creativity across our movement.”

No APF Increase for FY11

The UUA’s Annual Program Fund Fair Share request from congregations will not change in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2010. The amount requested will remain at $56 per member. Likewise, the “percent of budget” option for large congregations will also remain at the 2009-2010 level of 4.2 percent.

Laurel Amabile, director of the Annual Program Fund, said the UUA is taking that step in response to concerns voiced by many congregational leaders who continue to feel the impact of the economic downturn. She noted that congregations annually provide almost half of the UUA’s unrestricted income.

Denominational Affairs committees strengthen connections

Q. Our church does not presently have a Denominational Affairs committee, and I am interested in developing one. Could you tell me how we might make it as effective as possible?

A. InterConnections wrote about this topic here. Beyond that, contact your district staff for guidance about how to go about this. Also, consider signing up for the Unitarian Universalist Association-sponsored email list UU-LEADERS, where other congregational leaders will be happy to share their stories about successful Denominational Affairs (also known as Denominational Connections) committees.

Susanna Whitman, the UUA’s growth services program manager, recommends the following:  “If I were on such a committee I would find out what is new that the UUA is doing (read the news pages and the main page and UUWorld online, as well as InterConnections.) Keep an eye out for initiatives and programs that could be interesting or useful to your congregation. Check the Events page on and check out events and trainings through your district office. Make an effort to keep the congregation informed of key issues from the UUA and affiliated organizations, including the UU Service Committee, so that members know what the wider movement is doing.

Also, attend any national and district events that you can where you can meet people from other congregations and share ideas. Learn about how congregations support the UUA through the Annual Program Fund so that when people in your congregation ask why it’s important to support the UUA you will have answers. After General Assembly organize a Taking GA Home Sunday service to share some of what went on. And be sure to share all of this information with new members so they understand what they are a part of.