Congregational resources profiled on

The following articles, which appeared on in recent months, contain information useful to congregational leaders.

Long Strange Trip, a new video history of Unitarian Universalist history has been created by Ron Cordes, UU history buff from Bedford, Mass. The six DVDs of one hour each are available individually or as a boxed set from the UUA Bookstore. The set has high production values and Cordes presents much of the dialogue from the locations in Europe and elsewhere where significant events in our history occurred. The DVD set will be useful for new-member sessions and for adult education courses. The six hours can easily be divided into half-hour segments followed by discussion. As yet there is no study guide. The full article is here.

An article detailing how several congregations are pursuing social justice initiatives related to the Doctrine of Discovery, appeared on October 14. Delegates at General Assembly 2012 voted to repudiate the doctrine, a centuries-old principle of international law that sanctions and promotes the conquest and exploitation of non-Christian territories and peoples.

An article describing how a Florida UU congregation welcomed Boy Scout troops that had been turned out by a Baptist church after the Boy Scouts of America decided to permit gay youth to join troops, appeared on Sept. 16.

The work of the UU Funding Program, which accepts applications from congregations and others for social justice and other projects, was also highlighted Sept. 16. In 2012 the program gave out more than $1 million in grants ranging from $300 for a voter registration volunteer training, to $20,000 to help organize interfaith support for homeless people in California. Grants Administrator Susan Adams noted that many UUs she meets are still “astonished” that money might be available to support their dreams.

The UUA’s Leap of Faith congregational mentoring program was profiled Sept. 2. Now in its third year, the program brings together congregations that want to learn from each other.

UUA offers grants for Doctrine of Discovery projects

Grants of $500 to $1,000 are available from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Resource Development office for congregations interested in pursuing projects that teach about, repudiate, and mitigate the current effects of the Doctrine of Discovery.

The Doctrine of Discovery is the premise that European Christian explorers who “discovered” other lands had the authority to claim those lands and subdue, and even enslave, the people of those lands simply because they were not Christian. The Doctrine was introduced to UU congregations at General Assembly 2012 in Phoenix and through a article last spring. The doctrine continues to be the basis for many contemporary laws that serve to oppress indigenous peoples.

UUA Adult Programs Director Gail Forsyth-Vail said that projects can include “education, reflection, and action,” and should also include outreach to partners in indigenous and/or interfaith communities and demonstrate the prospects for broad or long-range impact.

Information about why the Doctrine continues to be problematic, and what congregations can do about it in their own communities is here. Information on the grant process is here. The application deadline is April 15. Applications and questions should be sent to Recipients will be notified May 1.

Forsyth-Vail said, “We’ve already had some inquiries about the grants and there has been some tentative work on projects. I’m excited about the possibilities.” She noted that the Doctrine of Discovery touches many social justice areas. “Working to undo colonization can mean doing something as simple as working with a local group on a land rights issue or an environmental justice project. Every congregation could do something.”



New immigration study resources available

New resources are available from the UUA to help congregations prepare for the “Justice General Assembly,” June 20–24 in Phoenix, and to engage with immigration justice work in their home communities.

  • United States Immigration: Theological Reflection and Discussion is a collection of twenty-two brief excerpts from sermons and writings about the topic of immigration offered for UU congregations. Each excerpt is followed by questions for discussion. Download a copy of the resource, and find out more about it by listening to reflection authors Susan Karlson, Michael Tino, and Colin Bossen on The Journey Toward Phoenix, an internet-based radio blog hosted by the Rev. Carlton Elliot Smith of the UU Church of Arlington, Va.

For more information, contact Gail Forsyth-Vail, Adult Programs director, Ministries and Faith Development, Unitarian Universalist Association.