Congregations and Beyond discussion guide available

A new discussion guide is available for Congregations and Beyond, the concept introduced by the Rev. Peter Morales that our congregations can take other forms besides that of a group of people that meet at a fixed location each week. Congregations and other groups of UUs are invited to use the guide to explore trends in the American religious landscape, to consider how a congregation might reach out into its larger community to invite people to participate in an established UU group, or how “unconventional” congregations might be created.

Since being introduced by Morales in February 2012, Congregations and Beyond has become a UUA initiative. As Morales noted, “The central conviction driving [Congregations and Beyond] is that our core values appeal to far more people than are attracted to (or likely to be attracted to) our congregations . . . the reality of today’s world is that not everyone who shares our core values will want to become part of a traditional congregation. The future relevance of our faith may well depend on whether we can create a religious movement beyond, as well as within, the parish.”

The guide contains three sessions that will allow groups to 1) explore the UUA’s rationale and set of initiatives for Congregations and Beyond, 2) investigate new technologies (including social media) that allow for the creation of new kinds of connections, and 3) learn about examples of congregational initiatives that help “lower the walls” of conventional institutions.

The guide also includes Morales’ initial introduction to Congregations and Beyond.

Task force report on professional ministry available

UUA President Peter Morales commissioned a task force after he was elected in 2009 to study the area of professional ministry and make recommendations. The task force’s final report is available as a PDF on UUA.org.

Its recommendations include:

• developing formal systems for recruiting strong, diverse leaders who are committed to transforming Unitarian Universalism

• supporting seminarians and religious professionals in multicultural learning experiences

• rethinking the ministerial credentialing system, described as “overwhelming, bureaucratic, and complex”

• considering expanding the Transitions system, including extending interim ministries to 18 to 24 months to allow time for change to take place.

Morales has said he believes that Unitarian Universalism can be “the religion for our time.” He adds, “If we are to live up to this challenge, we must equip our religious professionals to become deeply grounded in theology, cross-culturally competent, strategic about the use of technology, entrepreneurial as leaders, and resilient in the face of new challenges.”