Ministerial Fellowship Committee solicits feedback

The Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association is beginning a review of the competencies required of candidates seeking fellowship as UU ministers. This review follows several years of study by the UUA Board of Trustees and the UUA administration as part of the Excellence in Ministry initiative begun by the Board.

In the first stage of the review the MFC will be seeking the advice of the many parties and organizations that have a stake in ministerial excellence. They include the UUA Board, the administration, professional ministry organizations, seminaries, candidates themselves, and various other UU groups. The Rev. Wayne Arnason, chair of the MFC, also invites comments from individual members of congregations about areas of ministerial competency that are important to them. The MFC can be reached at

Season’s greetings from InterConnections. Our offices will be closed for the holidays December 24 to January 2. The InterConnections TipSheet will return on January 4. See you next year!

Mental health ministries thrive

From November’s InterConnections feature story, online at

When the Rev. Barbara Meyers began a mental health ministry at the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Fremont, Calif., in 2005 it was the only one. Not anymore. Now there are several others, including Quimper UU Fellowship in Port Townsend, Wash., and Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colo.

Establishment of a mental health ministry generally requires one committed person within a congregation or a small, dedicated group to make it happen, says Meyers. That’s the case at both Port Townsend and Golden. Meyers has written a curriculum, The Caring Congregation Handbook, about educating a congregation about how to be intentionally supportive of people with mental disorders and their families.

At the Quimper fellowship Judy Tough had been a volunteer with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). That work grew out of the fact she has family members with bipolar disorder.

What would happen, she wondered, if congregations could become a place where mentally ill people, as well as families of those with a mental illness, could feel safe talking about it?

Go to the full article.

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

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.”

Moving into the community with ministry

The blog Ministrare, written by UU minister the Rev. Sean Dennison, has a message about making our congregations and our ministries more visible by moving out into the communities we live in.

Quoting from the Episcopalian website, and adding his own thoughts, he notes: “So much of good ministry is being visible in the community. And that doesn’t mean having well-lit signage. It means not just name recognition––not just being known––but being known for the right things.”

He continues: “Can people in our cities, towns, and neighborhoods tell what we believe by our actions? I’m proud that many Unitarian Universalists went to Arizona to protest SB 1070 because they believed it to be racist, unjust, and cruel.  But I want to know what the people next door to our churches know about us.”

The website he drew from makes reference to a church in Georgia that sold its buildings and is using the proceeds to work out in the community, using the slogan, “The Church has left the building.”

Skinner House offers new military resource

Skinner House Books has published Bless All Who Serve: Sources of Hope, Courage and Faith for Military Personnel and Their Families, a pocket-sized book of readings and songs from many faith traditions. Free copies are available to military chaplains and enlisted personnel of all faiths. Chaplains and ministers should contact Julie Shaw for those copies. Other service personnel may contact Lorraine Dennis at the Church of the Larger Fellowship.

Copies may also be purchased through the UUA Bookstore for $8. An article about the book, edited by the Revs. Matthew and Gail Tittle, both military veterans, is here. The book is similar to one published in 1941 by Beacon Press.

Unintended consequences of small group ministry

The April 2010 issue of Covenant Group News, for leaders and members of small groups, includes an essay by the Rev. Steve Crump of the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, La., about some of the “unintended consequences” of small group ministry.

He notes that small group ministry “encourages right relationship and diminishes acting-out behavior in the larger church community because the modeling of right relationship in small groups extends to right relationship in other areas of our lives as well.” Small groups also teach the art of hospitality and encourage good communication, he says.

Subscribe to Covenant Groups News and find out about small group ministry here.

Music ministry resources at WorshipWeb

InterConnections articles published in recent years about music ministry have been collected at the UUA’s online WorshipWeb. The information includes articles about certifying, supporting, and paying music directors, and building and sustaining music programs.

WorshipWeb is a growing collection of resources about the many facets of worship, including music, technology, and lay leadership, plus readings, sermons, and chalice lightings.

Other music resources at WorshipWeb include a listing of songbooks and hymnals used by congregations, music CDs recorded by congregations, and links to organizations like the UU Musicians Network and a database of new music by UU composers.

Multisite ministry resources

The Rev. Christine Robinson, First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, N.Mex., has created a “multisite bibliography” for congregations interested in exploring the world of multiple-site churches. Read it on her blog, iMinister. Resources listed include news articles from the popular press and Christian publications as well as books.

There is also a UUA-sponsored email list, Multisite-UU, and an InterConnections article, Multisite Ministry Another Way to Grow and Serve. Both First Unitarian and First UU Church in San Diego have multisite ministries.

Growth Summit book published

A dozen ministers of some of the fastest-growing Unitarian Universalist congregations gathered in Louisville, Ky., in November 2007 at the UUA Growth Summit to share some common threads about their growth. Parts of those conversations have been gathered into a book, The Growing Church: Keys to Congregational Vitality, published by Skinner House this month. The book is available at the UUA Bookstore for $12.

The book’s editor, the Rev. Thom Belote of the Shawnee Mission UU Church in Overland Park, Kans., participated in the summit. He cautions that there is no “magic secret,” but there are principles that will lead to growth. He says congregations need to have a saving message, a purpose, a balance between “looking in” and “going out,” excellent worship, a “moving, energetic spirit” (also known as “buzz”), seeing welcoming as a moral imperative, leadership from the minister, and a willingness to try new things and fail.

The UUA Growth Summit has also been featured at a workshop at General Assembly and in a DVD (available to watch online). There is an online study guide for the DVD (which will also work with the book).

Contributors to The Growing Church include the Revs. Ken Beldon, John Crestwell, Liz Lerner, UUA President Peter Morales, Christine Robinson, Victoria Safford, Michael Schuler, and Marilyn Sewell. The book features a foreword by Alice Mann of the Alban Institute, who facilitated the gathering in Louisville.

Addictions Ministry website created

An Addictions Ministry website has been created to assist congregations in creating their own such ministries. It includes useful books, supportive organizations, and help with dealing with disruptive behaviors and creating safe congregation policies.

More than 100 congregations have addictions ministries. Available resources include the book The Addiction Ministry Handbook by UU minister the Rev. Denis Meacham, which is available from the UUA Bookstore. There is also a UUA-sponsored email list, Addictions-Ministry, which you can subscribe to at to communicate with other congregational leaders who either have, or are creating, addictions ministries.

A UU World article about addiction ministries can be found here. An InterConnections article is here.