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The hymnal (English translation is Voices on the Journey) was first introduced a year ago, then withdrawn due to errors in translation.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.

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.

Skinner House books support lay leadership, multigenerational worship

Two books, Serving with Grace: Lay Leadership as a Spiritual Practice by the Rev. Erik Walker Wikstrom, the worship and music resources director for the UUA, and Story, Song and Spirit: Fun and Creative Worship Services for All Ages by the Rev. Erika Hewitt, minister of the Live Oak UU Congregation in Goleta, Calif., are available from Skinner House Books.

Serving with Grace includes chapters about learning to say no, mindful meetings, mission and community, relationships with other leaders, and spirituality of service. Wikstrom writes, “Imagine church not as a place led by a few overly taxed people, but one where leadership is a broadly shared ministry that members of the community undertake for the deep joy of it.” This small 90-page book will no doubt be given to many new lay leaders as an introduction to leadership. It is $12 from the UUA Bookstore.

In Story, Song and Spirit, Hewitt notes a “collective anxiety” about doing multigenerational worship because we’re mostly used to sitting and listening. She has created services that call for active participation, including storytelling, music, and acting, that will engage children and adults.

The book includes requirements for nine services, including one for Water Communion and one for Christmas. The book is $12 at the UUA Bookstore.

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.

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.

Worship with a small group focus

Many smaller congregations served by part-time ministers are faced with the sometimes daunting task of filling the pulpit while not having the funds to secure professional ministers. This task, while challenging, has the potential of generating new and innovative styles of worship, says the Rev. Marguerite Sheehan, of  First Parish Unitarian in Northfield, Mass.

First Parish has begun hosting a monthly “Chalice Sunday Service,” which combines a traditional service with a “small group ministry” model. The service includes all the elements of a meaningful worship service, including opening words, hymns, a children’s time, an offering, and a prayer or meditation. In place of the sermon, a lay member chooses a centering topic (reflected in the hymns and a reading) that is offered for reflection.

The congregation is invited to gather in a circle, listen to the reading and a few thought-provoking questions, and then each person has the opportunity to share a short response (without interruptions or cross conversation.)

There is also time built in for the participants to offer gratitude to other people in the circle who may have stimulated their hearts and minds or offered a divergent response, thereby challenging their own thinking. This model encourages reflection on a broad range of spiritual and religious concerns and reinforces deep listening and fellowship.

The “template” is easy for lay leaders to plug into, says Sheehan, “which means that a wide spectrum of the congregation feels confident in stepping up to the plate to facilitate the services. Visitors to the church report that they feel welcomed into Chalice Sundays.” For more information, email Sheehan.

Making worship part of kids’ lives

From March’s InterConnections feature story, now online at

The Rev. Krista Taves believes children belong in worship. With adults. For more than 15 minutes.

And for the past three years that’s what has happened at the 100-member Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel in Ellisville, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. For fully the first half of every service, all children are in attendance. They take part in singing and candle lighting and are there for a prayer, the offertory, and a story before being sung out to their own children’s chapel.

Having children in the service for this long has been nothing short of transformational for Emerson, says Taves. But change didn’t happen without hard work.

Go to the full article.

FCC prohibits some wireless mics

Some churches will have to stop using their present wireless microphones because the spectrum those microphones operate in has been sold by the Federal Communications Commission, according to an article in Your Church, an online publication of Christianity Today.

Microphones that operate in the 700 MHz band (698–806 MHz) cannot be used after June 12, says the FCC, which auctioned off the rights to that band in 2008 to (among others) Verizon and AT&T.  Some emergency service providers also operate in that band, says the FCC. After June 12 all other users are subject to fines and will likely suffer interference from the new traffic, and may themselves cause interference, according to the article. The 700 band was formerly between the frequencies used by television stations. With the transition to digital television last June 12 the 700 band began to be used by public safety entities and commercial providers of wireless services.

Another article, by the FCC, is here. The FCC estimates that 25 percent of wireless mics operate in the 700 spectrum. A list of the affected devices, compiled by the FCC, can be found here. You can also call the FCC’s Consumer Center at 1-888-225-5322 (voice) and 1-888-835-5322 (TTY) for more information. The FCC says a small portion of affected microphones can be retuned to another frequency, but most cannot.

Worship resources office is more than WorshipWeb

From December’s InterConnections feature story, now online at

A small congregation in Wisconsin reached out to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Public Information Office earlier this year with a very specific question: Are there any CDs of accompaniment for our hymnals when we don’t have anyone to play on Sunday mornings?

In the past that question might have gotten a short answer—no, unfortunately, there are not. Yet thanks to a three-year grant in 2008 from the Barrett Foundation, there is now an office within the Department of Ministry and Professional Leadership that is dedicated to “discovering, developing, and disseminating the resources needed to deepen the worship experiences in our congregations,” as its mission statement says.

Go to the full article.

Recent 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

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