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 UUA.org 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 UUA.org 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.

Recent uuworld.org articles useful to congregational leaders

The gospel of inclusion – Article about the experience of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., when it welcomed about 200 Pentecostal Christians. By Kimberly French. Fall 2009

UUA staff restructuring – Announcement of a new organizational structure in which staff will be divided into two groups: Ministries and Congregational Support, headed by the Rev. Harlan Limpert, and Administration, led by UUA Executive Vice President Kay Montgomery and Tim Brennan, UUA treasurer and vice president of Finance. By Jane Greer. 9.14.09

Morales and Hallman reflect on UUA presidential race – UUA President Peter Morales, the Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, and their campaign chiefs talk about their recent presidential campaigns, including travel, technology, the challenges of identifying delegates, and how congregations might help the next UUA election go more smoothly. By Donald E. Skinner. 9.21.09

Reach out to become a public church. Argues that a Unitarian Universalist church should see the greater good as its primary purpose. By Michael Durall, church consultant 9.7.09

Youth, adults bond through service trips. Service trips are a great way to help people in need. By Donald E. Skinner. 8.31.09

Sign up for a weekly email alert about new articles at uuworld.org, including information useful for adult study groups and worship, food for thought for lay leaders, and other stories about acts of social justice, UU history, and inspirational UUs and congregations.

New website streamlines information updating

There’s a new, easier way for congregations to update their membership and leadership lists with the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Until now, congregations were asked annually to fill out a paper form listing new members, as well as members who had died or departed, and to indicate changes in leadership.

The UUA uses the membership list for purposes of mailing the UU World magazine and the leaders and staff list for keeping a record of congregational leaders, including key committee chairs, who appear in the annual UUA Directory.

Now these changes can all be done electronically at a new website, my.UUA.org. One person from a congregation (or up to three, if desired) can be authorized to change a congregation’s list of members. They can do the following:

• Add and delete people to/from the membership list

• Change addresses and edit other contact information for member households

• Print a copy of the membership list

• Edit the congregation’s list of leaders and staff

Congregations are asked to update leadership data at least annually so that new leaders appear in the UUA Directory. In the past, the UUA Data Services Office sent a paper form listing elected leaders, committee chairs, and board members during the month of a congregation’s annual meeting. Now leaders can update this information continually so that new members receive the UU World as soon as possible.  Congregations will be reminded by email annually to update their information. Paper forms will still be sent to those congregations that do not have an email address on file with the UUA.

For more information look at the my.UUA.org Accounts FAQ pages, including a 14-page instruction manual that explains the steps for viewing and editing information. To authorize someone to use the system for your congregation, email Nick Rafeal with the person’s name, email address, and mailing address, and the name and title of the congregational leader who gives authorization. Only the person(s) designated by your congregation, plus district staff and certain UUA staff members, have access to this data. This new procedure is separate from the process used by congregations to update their  annual Certification of Membership, to be done by February 1 of each year.

UUA halts sale of Spanish-language hymnal

Sales and distribution of the UUA’s new Spanish-language hymnal, Las Voces del Camino (Voices on the Journey), which was introduced at General Assembly in June, have been halted due to a number of serious errors.

The errors will be corrected and a new edition published, said new UUA President the Rev. Peter Morales. He also promised that there will be a review of the process that lead to publication of the flawed hymnal.

Anyone who has purchased the current edition will receive a replacement when a new edition is published.

For more details read “Sales of new UU Spanish hymnal halted” at uuworld.org.