Technology expands learning opportunities

From July’s InterConnections feature story, now online at

Technology is changing the way congregations acquire information. There was a time not so long ago when a congregation interested in learning how to do a better annual stewardship drive or develop its leadership might invite a consultant in for a day or a weekend.

That can still be the best way to go, but more and more—because our lives are busier and because the economy has shrunk our resources—congregations are gathering information through online “webinars” and other electronic learning formats.

Take the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada in Reno. When it wanted to update its mission and vision statements last winter it knew that an outside consultant would be helpful in that process. It also knew that its budget probably wouldn’t stand the strain of bringing one in for a face-to-face workshop.

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Book table group offers discussions, solutions

An online community for congregational book table folks has been created at

The UU Book Table Forum provides a place to discuss problems and solutions, make book recommendations, hear about new titles, get new ideas, and support each other, says Jim Davenport, cochair of the bookstore at First UU Church in Columbus, Ohio, and creator of the online forum.

All bookstore managers, volunteers, authors, and other book enthusiasts are invited to contribute to the discussions, he says. “One of the hallmarks of a Unitarian Universalist community is the openness with which it embraces a diversity of thought and a diversity of people. To serve this questioning community, books covering UU thought, UU history, world religions, spiritualism, social justice, racial justice, GLBT justice, and much more are out there to be found. A UU book table finds these titles and gets them in front of the members of its community for their benefit.”

Davenport explains that, for people new to a UU church or community, the bookstore or book table can be “an inviting refuge amid the sea of well meaning but often daunting post-service fellowship. Visitors can explore the ideas represented by the books on the table, talk with other book-lovers, or just browse in peace.”

He adds, “Book tables are run by volunteers following their own ideas of what books to order and how to run the table. Sometimes they hope to contribute monies to their community from the book sales or at least not run at a deficit. There hasn’t been a good way for these book table managers to talk with their counterparts across the country and the world until now.”

An earlier InterConnections article on bookstores is here. Contact the UUA Bookstore for information on starting a book table.