A Case for Evangelism

beach beaconI woke up this morning and my first thought was, I just don’t get it. I don’t get any reluctance to evangelize our faith. Remember proselytizing is different from evangelizing. Proselytizing is trying to get someone from another faith to change theirs to yours, evangelizing is just spreading the word about your faith so others are informed and can know. The world is at such a perilous place.


We have come so far in so many ways but unless we take great strides in making bigger advances to help the planet and unless we all can somehow turn the tide of fundamentalism and fear, we are in danger of the future that not only faces seven generations but maybe even ours.


That is why I don’t get it. If we truly believe in the power of this faith to change lives, if we truly try to practice the principles listed on our hymnals and websites, if we truly feel that our historical and theological lineage of love infused with reason, deeds over creeds and a desire for a just, kinder and more compassionate world, why is there anyone not wanting to grow and sing Unitarian Universalism from the highest mountains and the tallest peaks.


I say this in part those in our congregations struggling with growth. People who in their lives are clearly working for a better world but in their congregation don’t want to lose that “feeling of community.” That comment always sounds the same way to me, “now that I have found it, and it works for me, I want it to keep working for me the way that I like it.” This comment always strikes me the same way, well if you have found it and it is so important to you, how could you not want that for others who need it too?



And others need it. Others need to feel a part of a community that stands up, on the side of love, against the forces of marginalization and oppression of otherness. Others need to feel a part of a community that examines their own tendencies toward privilege and oppression as difficult as that can be. Others need to stop being others and belong to a community that encourages wholeness and bringing your full self to the table even when that challenges our own liberal understandings of tolerance, acceptance and unconditional love.


So that is what I woke up and just couldn’t understand this morning as I face this start of another congregational year. If your congregation is starting your year this week, next week or you will be starting soon, I wish you the best as we all navigate these tensions and as we work together, constantly and sometimes it seems, endlessly, to balance our own desires for the community that wraps us in the comforting blanket of familiarity, verses the loud, visible and vital proclamation of what this faith does and can do to help us all build a better world.



David Miller for blogThe Reverend David A. Miller is the minster of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito in Solana Beach, California.  Reverend Miller is a graduate of the Claremont School of Theology receiving a Master of Divinity degree with an emphasis in Social Transformation.


He participated in one of the Innovative Learning Circles this past year, exploring Congregations & Beyond experiments.

General Assembly: making it contagious

UUA General Assembly  2014Right about now <insert a glance at my wrist watch here> is when those of us who attended General Assembly finally catch up on our sleep and look up from our GA-Induced stupor.  Can I get an amen?  A week of intense, amazing worship services and new-idea-packed workshops and networking that even exhausts extroverts will do that to a person.  It takes us a good rest to re-acclimate.


And now it is time to strategize how to bring this GA awesome-goodness to our congregations and to keep those connections, energy, and sparky ideas going.  It’s time to make all that goodness contagious to your siblings-in-faith in your home congregation who did not attend.


Look through your notes.  Who could you invite for coffee to share what you learned and experienced?   Who did you network with that you could make a video-conference appointment with to keep the learning and support going?


What parts of General Assembly on-line could you share on your congregation’s FB page?  The UUWorld coverage could easily be shared via FB pages.  Perhaps there are pieces of GA that are so provocative and timely for your community that you want to gather folks to watch highlights together and then strategize how to use the message where you are.  Here are some of the highlights:


Event ID Event Title Smallscreen Video Library Page Page on UUA.org
107 Opening Celebration and General Session I http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-107-opening-ceremony http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/295401.shtml
107 Banner Parade http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/banner-parade
107 General Session I http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-107-business-session http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/295401.shtml
107 Opening Worship http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/295401.shtml
202 Thursday AM Worship http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-202-worship http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/worship/295424.shtml
202 General Session II http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-202-general-session–2 http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/295402.shtml
273 Synergy Worship http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/worship/295425.shtml
302 General Session III and Worship http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iii/index.shtml
302w Friday Morning Worship http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/worship/296057.shtml
302a President’s Report https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-302-presidents-report http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iii/296120.shtml
302b Moderator’s Report https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-302-moderators-report http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iii/296122.shtml
302c Board of Trustees’ Report http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-302-trustees-report http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iii/296123.shtml
302d Budget Report https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-302-budget-report http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iii/296121.shtml
338 General Session IV http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iv/index.shtml
338a Debate and vote on Congregational Study/Action Issues http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-338-general-session-iv–2 http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iv/296128.shtml
338b GA Talk – Fossil Fuel Divestment http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-338-general-session-iv http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iv/296130.shtml
338c Beacon Press Report https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-338-general-session-iv–4 http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iv/296131.shtml
338d Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Team report http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-338-general-sessioin-iv http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iv/296129.shtml
338e Financial Advisor Report https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-338-general-session-iv–3 http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/iv/296127.shtml
357 SLT http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-357-service-of-the-living-tradition http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/worship/295426.shtml
402 General Session V and Worship http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/v/index.shtml
402w Saturday Morning Worship http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/worship/296069.shtml
402b Statements and voting to admit potential Actions of Immediate Witness to the Agenda https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-402-immediate-witness http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/v/296135.shtml
402d Introduction: Coalition of UU International Organizations https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-402-coalition-of-international-organizations http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/v/296139.shtml
402e Celebration: Holdeen india Program’s 30th Anniversary https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014 (must sign in to see it)
402f Presentation: Distinguished Service Award http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-402-distinguished-service-award http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/v/296138.shtml
434 General Session VI http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vi/index.shtml
434a Debate and vote on business Resolution on fossil fuel divestment https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/event-434-debate-vote-on-fossil-fuel-divestment http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vi/296143.shtml
434c GA Talk – Humanism and Theism in Conversation http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/event-434-ga-talk-on-humanism-and-theism http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vi/296182.shtml
434d Presentation: Angus Mclean Award https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/event-434-angus-mclean-award http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vi/296183.shtml
434e UU Women’s Federation Report http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/event-434-uu-womens-federation-report http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vi/296184.shtml
434f GA Talk – Living our witness@Waterfire https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/event-434-ga-talk-living-our-witness http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vi/296186.shtml
435 Ware Lecture http://www.uua.org/economic/ga/295423.shtml
436 Worship b4 Waterfire http://www.uua.org/love/ga/295863.shtml
436 WaterFire – live streaming http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-waterfire-live-coverage
503 General Session VII http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vii/
503b UU Service Committee Report https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-503-uu-service-committee-report http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vii/296198.shtml
503c UU College of social Justice Report https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/event-503-uu-college-of-social-justice-report http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vii/296197.shtml
503d Debate and vote on Actions of immediate witness https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/event-503-debate-and-vote-on-actions-of-immediate-witness http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vii/296201.shtml
503e Presentation: Presidential Award for volunteer service http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/event-503-presidential-award-for-volunteer-service http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vii/296200.shtml
503f Debate and vote on proposed amendments to C-2.3 regarding inclusion http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2013-event-503-debate-and-vote-on-proposed-amendments-to-c-2-3 http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vii/296147.shtml
503g GA Talk – YA@GA https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-503-ga-talk-ya-ga http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vii/296199.shtml
503h GA Talk – Gathering for Purpose: The Future of GA http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-503-gathering-for-purpose-and-future-of-ga http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/vii/296202.shtml
504 Sunday Morning Worship http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/worship/295428.shtml
505 General Session VIII http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/viii/index.shtml
505a Debate and vote on proposed amendments to C-10.6 and C-10.7 regarding provisions concerning investments http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-505-proposed-amendments-to-c-10-6-and-c-10-7 http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/viii/296204.shtml
505b Debate and vote on proposed amendments to C-3.6 to enable regions http://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-505-debate-and-vote-on-proposed-amendments-to-c-3-6-to-enable-regions http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/viii/296205.shtml
505c Congratulations to the Current Delegate by Former Moderators https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-505-congratulations-to-current-moderator http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/viii/296152.shtml
505d Invitation to GA 2015 in Portland https://smallscreen.uua.org/videos/ga-2014-event-505-invitation-to-ga-2015 http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/business/viii/296203.shtml
506 Closing Ceremony http://www.uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/worship/295429.shtml


Audio recordings of General Assembly (GA) programs are available for purchase as CDs or downloadable files at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Events CenterAnd for those of us who are very visual and want to relive the energy, the UUWorld captured beautiful pictures.


Keep General Assembly going. Make it contagious!


Tandi smilingRev. Tandi Rogers is keeping General Assembly going by “Follow, Share, Funding” innovative ministries through Faithify, which debuted at GA.

Become an Outreach Beta-Tester

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-beta-image8735071We’re looking for a few brave Unitarian Universalist congregations for a little project – and by little, I mean potentially transformative for the future of our faith movement (not to oversell it or anything). Intrigued? Then you might want to join our team of beta-testers for the UUA’s new outreach efforts.


In the Spring issue of the UU World magazine, Rev. Terasa Cooley explained the new branding and outreach efforts of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Recognizing the shifting landscape of religion in America, religious leaders of all kinds have realized it’s not enough to preach to the choir anymore. For the UUA, outreach started with a new look and feel, including an updated logo and some better ways of explaining what is so powerful about our faith to those who aren’t already “in the know.” A study guide has also been in the works, which will be made available to the beta-testers. These outreach efforts have uncovered some invaluable insights about our faith and its potential to reach new audiences, but much of this potential still remains in theory. It’s time to take the next step and to put that theory it into practice.


Over the next six months our beta-testers will explore how the UUA’s new outreach approaches can help congregations learn about the signals they send off, find their niche in their community, and represent an emerging shared identity of the wider faith. And the exciting part is… we don’t know exactly how this will turn out. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got some pretty good guesses, but the truth is that our beta-testers will be co-creating, playing, discovering and experimenting with us to figure out how to leverage the key insights of the UUA’s outreach efforts to grow our faith and its impact in the world.


Click here to sign up to become a beta tester congregation. Beta-testers will attend a kick-off webinar at the end of the summer, receive a three-session study guide and get connected to other beta testers to form a learning circle. Congregations will learn about the UUA’s branding and outreach efforts and then identify one area of their congregation to apply those outreach strategies. Any UU congregations (or other UU groups, if you’re interested!) are welcome to join, as long as they can commit to the process.


Join us in the lab of faithful experimentation! For questions, email outreach@uua.org.



cmcdonald_headshotCarey McDonald is the new UUA Director of Outreach starting July 1, 2014. The Growth Office could not be more excited to be working with him in this new way! 


StoryNetI am a story junkie.


More of a listener than a talker, I am happiest when my friends and family are telling me a bit of their past or an anecdote from their day.


I’m voracious reader of books and articles. The feel of turning pages is yummy! Fiction to Biography. Travelogue to Rhyming Couplets. Anthology to Annotated Version. Give me the details. Paint pictures in my mind. Layer on the backstory – or don’t – I’ll make it up for myself…


I gobble up rich television dramas and documentaries. I get pulled into the characters lives as though they are my neighbors. But even more, I love podcasts.


I love hearing from the household names and the forgotten folks. Real stories. Tell me what matters to you, what shaped you, what pulls on your heart, and what has given your soul wings. Stop me in my tracks. Make me drive past my exit, cause I am lost in your words.


Who’s with me? Snap Judgement, The Moth, 99% Invisible, Story Corps, and Fresh Air. RadioLab, Welcome to Nightvale, and of course, TED Talks! We love us some stories, because stories tell us who we are. Stories let us see ourselves in new ways and let us try on adventures. We are hard wired to make meaning from these stories – to make meaning in our lives.


How do we make meaning in our Unitarian Universalist story? How do we make sure everyone gets to add their perspective and memories to the record? All folks have a story to tell, and we want to hear YOUR stories!


StoryNet is a story collecting and sharing project from The Fahs Collaborative and Meadville Lombard Theological School that is launching at General Assembly!

Share a powerful story of when your participation in our faith has let you to think, love, or act in new and bold ways.

We have a portable recording studio ready to gather Unitarian Universalist stories of faith and witness. Individual stories will be archived and shared on an interactive online timeline of our collective UU journey. So add your voice!


How can you take part?


  1. Check out more information on our website.
  2. Think about the stories you want to tell.

3. Come to the StoryNet at Booth 400 in Exhibit Hall during General Assembly.

4. Sign up for a time and show up for it.

5. Start talking!


Special Star Interviewers will be there! We want to hear from all sorts of UU’s – so invite people who you know have a great story to share.


Not going to GA this year? No Worries! StoryNet is an ongoing project that will travel. This summer StoryNet will be at Ferry Beach RE Week and Star Island LRE Week. Look for announcements of where StoryNet is traveling in the Fall and beyond.


I can’t wait to hear your stories!



HalcyonRaised on Betsy Tacy, Car Talk, blank journals, and The A Team, Halcyon Westall looks for a story in just about everything. This led to a passion for history and a search for patterns everywhere which have been a perfect fit in her work as a religious educator, most currently as Assistant Director of The Fahs Collaborative. You will find her at Booth 400 during General Assembly – where an iced coffee would be greatly appreciated.

How Do We Compare?

How do we compare?

Stefan Jonasson and I tracked down the membership data for five other comparable liberal and mainline denominations and compared it with ours over a fifteen-year period.  For those faith families with several denominational bodies, we selected the more liberal representative groups for comparison — i.e., Evangelical Lutheran Church of America for the Lutherans, United Methodist Church for the Methodists, and Presbyterian Church USA for the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition.


Stefan and Tandi  Stefan and Tandi love to geek out over numbers and graphs.  Don’t judge.

Flipped: Hybrid Leadership Training

H-UULTI GRAPHIC with new uua logo and colorsLay leadership in a UU congregation can be a lonely journey.  Often leaders have to find their own way through the maze of challenges and obstacles that confront those who are out front and in charge.  But leaders don’t have to go it alone.  Both regionally and nationally, UUA staff are developing innovative ways to get leaders the information, inspiration and skill building they need to be successful in their roles.

One such effort in the Central East Region is H-UULTI, a year round community for leaders.  A brainchild of the Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, Leadership Development Consultant for CERG (Central East Regional Group), this comprehensive program includes online seminars, on-demand resources, virtual peer learning groups (called Process Circles) and local on-site in-person get-togethers (known as Communities of Practice.)  This combination of virtual and in person experiential learning results in a “flipped classroom” experience where participants learn online and then share their learning in person with other Unitarian Universalist leaders.

2014-02-08 10.22.11

This fall, H-UULTI (which stands for Hybrid – Unitarian Universalist Leadership Training Institute) will offer a variety of courses facilitated by experienced regional staff.  Courses include Healthy Leadership, Leading Change, Trends in American Religion, UU Identity, Theological Plurality and Marketing and Communication, among others.  The goal of H-UULTI is to help liberal religious leaders deepen connections, grow innovations and enhance their communities’ impact on the world.  And, with H-UULTI, leaders don’t have to do this alone.

For more information about H-UULTI, and to register, follow this link: http://www.cerguua.org/HUULTI/


mark bernsteinMark Bernstein is the Regional Consultant for Growth Development with the Central East Regional Group. He never likes to go it alone and believes that the H-UULTI Leadership School will transform the world as we currently know it.  He is also not prone to exaggeration.

CERG offers many excellent growth resources. Please check them out! Thank you, Mark, for so generously serving our faith.

Claiming Emma

We love our Famous Unitarian Universalist Lists, don’t we?  Alcott, Dickens, Potter, Revere all have United States postage stamps, and that can feel like a stamp of approval.

Stefan Jonasson says on his personal blog: “Emma Watson set Unitarian Universalist hearts aflutter with hope and speculation (a couple months ago) when she came out as a Universalist, leaving people to wonder whether she had been quietly lingering in one of our congregations. Goodness knows, we like to imprint the names of famous Unitarian Universalists on our t-shirtsperhaps even tattoo them on our torsos, if we’re into that sort of thing — so I braced myself for a new wave of name-dropping and celebrity admiration in our congregations.
“Now perhaps you’ve been living in a bubble on the edge of the known universe and have no idea who I’m talking about. Emma Watson is the gifted young actress who came to fame as the character Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies. As Hermione, she was the smartest character in both the books and the movies who wasn’t actually on the faculty of Hogwarts Academy — and she seems equally intelligent, thoughtful and charming in real life.
Interviewed before the release of the movie Noah, in which she portrays Noah’s adopted daughter, Emma Watson said, “I already, before I did the movie, had a sense that I was someone that was more spiritual, than specifically religious.” She then continued, “I had a sense that I believed in a higher power, but that I was more of a Universalist, I see that there are these unifying tenets between so many religions.
“Well, as it happens, these sentiments are commonly found in Unitarian Universalist congregations — and the sense that there are values that cross the traditional boundaries of religion, values that we might call universals, is strong among us. So strong, in fact, that many people today mistakenly imagine that that was what Universalism was always about. But as it turns out, that notion of universalism is a later development that emerged as an earlier understanding of Universalism — one that was concerned with the Christian doctrine of salvation, but little concerned with other religions at all — grew and prospered and, for all intents and purposes, won the argument … and therefore came to dominate most of the mainline and liberal churches, whether they called themselves Universalist or not. If you want to find an old-line Universalist today, you’re more likely to come across them in the United Church of Canada or an Anglican parish — or even a Lutheran congregation. But there was a day when an accusation of Universalism could have caused a scandal in any of these churches.”

So what if we claimed Emma as a sibling in faith?   This was discussed at some length on some of the UU Facebook laboratory groups like the UU Social Media Lab, UU Bloggers Workshop, and UU Growth Lab.  Many felt that the approach to claiming someone as Unitarian Universalist when they public espouse universalist spirituality or identify as universalist is a misappropriation. It is a violation of religious freedom, a violation of the claimed individual’s religious freedom to do so. One lab member said, “It is worse than offensive to say that someone was a UU but didn’t know it.”

What is that urge to claim about? Another lab member said, “I think it’s basically an attempt to aggrandize and justify ourselves by identifying ourselves with well-known people, as if to share in their reflected glory… It’s one manifestation of a regrettable attitude of self-celebration and self-congratulation that I think is too present in much of UU culture. I think it both inhibits our personal spiritual growth and makes us look shallow and self-absorbed to outsiders.” Ouch. And yes.  I wonder where might be better find an authentic source of self esteem?

Stefan is less harsh on us as a people, and chalks it up to the human craving to reassure ourselves that we are not such a peculiar religious minority after all.   We often undermine ourselves by getting caught up in esoteric history.  Again, Stefan:

“Historic Universalism is misrepresented when those who study our history superficially—even our ministers and scholars—then manufacture a revisionist story based largely on wild speculations emanating from reading the dictionary definition of Universalism with a few pithy anecdotes added for texture.  We are then too often left with a story that is divorced from history and mostly sentimental in nature, while missing the core teachings of our Universalist heritage: (1) that whatever else God may be or not be, God is love — and that even if we reject belief in God at all, we can still believe in the power of love; (2) that no individual or tradition possesses the whole truth, but that each grasps a piece of what is true, perhaps several such pieces; (3) that all people are somehow sacred, whether we call this an inner divinity or simply human dignity; (4) and that the same fate—whatever it may be—awaits us all.”
There are a number of celebrities articulating core universalist teachings (Pharrel Williams and Emma Watson), but I’m not adding them to our ranks until they claim us. And they probably won’t in the near future, if at all. However, I take this as a healthy indication there is a powerful universalism bubbling up in the greater culture – a reminder that out faith lives so much larger than self-identified-UUs or the walls of our institutions. The work of our tradition/ our people is to be in relevant, authentic relationship with the rising up of universalism.

Where do you see universalism rising up in your wider community? How could you/we be in a more dynamic relationship with universalism?


Tandi smilingRev. Tandi Rogers is starting a campaign to invite Pharrel Williams to be a future Ware Lecturer.  She doesn’t want to claim him so much as partner with him and continue to be inspired.  He makes her happy.

Perhaps the Most Important Bridging Step

SynergyIt’s the season of Bridging Ceremonies.  Bridging is the milestone launching youth in (young) adulthood.

One of the most important things we can do for our youth is to support them into adulthood, to keep them connected to Unitarian Universalism, and continue to minister to them as they become adults. Resources for Bridging from Youth to Young Adulthood can help you succeed in this ministry. There’s a Bridging: A Handbook for Congregations by Gail Forsyth-Vail and Jessica York. A Bridging Handbookway to find new young adults who have moved to your area is through Bridge Connections, which is an information Hub of who is transferring where.

I randomly called 10 congregations and asked if they offer membership to youth when they become adults either when they turn 18 or at the congregation’s Bridging Ceremony.  The 10th call affirmed that they did. The ones prior to that did not. I stopped my survey there, because of the despair.  Really?!  I think I found one of our leaks!

It’s personal for me, because I have young adults in my family. One of them is Bridging in June, both at our home congregation and at the General Assembly Synergy Worship Service.

My son’s awesome youth advisor asked me for suggestions for his Bridging gift.  He already has UU swag. He has a couple Layout 1chalices.  He has a chalice necklace.  He has plenty of books (many swiped from my library.)  Standing on the Side of Love wear is part of his wardrobe.  You know what I want him to have when he launches?  An enthusiastic invitation to full membership into our congregation.  I want a UUWorld subscription* to follow him to his next residence and the knowledge that even though he is going to be “away” for some years, his home congregations anchors him, is there for him.  I want our congregation to send him a card or care package every so often.  Or to check in periodically so an update can be posted in the congregational newsletter or pastoral care e-blast.

I want that for my child. I want that for all our newly launched adults.



*A note about UU World subscriptions.  Every household that has a UU member gets a subscription to this fine magazine, IF their name and contact information is passed on to the UUA. When someone moves from a UU household (i.e. young adults who may move away to the military, a job, school) they can receive the UU World if they are a member of a congregation and their contact information is updated.  Or that congregation can simply buy them a year’s subscription.

When I’ve explained this to congregations I sometimes get push back with how difficult it is to keep addresses updated.  Yes. Religious community, striving toward wholeness and inclusivity is mighty hard, and sometimes tedious work.  And it matters. Surely someone in your congregation will see this as the ministry it is.


Tandi Headshot GARev. Tandi Rogers wonders — what if this is the year. What if there is an unexplainable, joyful spike in membership due to us actually inviting our Bridgers into full congregational membership?


Restorative Circles

I love circles.  They are my favorite shape, with spirals coming in a close second.  I write important notes on circle-shaped paper.

I also love community. And strong, healthy community can often be found in circles.  Restoration can be found in circles.

The San Francisco Unified School District created a manual with the Center for Restorative Processes:  Teaching  Restorative Practices with Classroom Circles, which I highly recommend to you.  For two reasons:

  1. Although this manual was written for youth, consider what your congregation could be like if the adults participated in such circles. (If you really want your mind blown, imagine a new congregation planted using these circles! UU Community of Restoration…)
  2. Let it sink in that many of our youth and young adults participate in such programs at school and in other venues. They often come to our congregations equipped with mad skills that older adults didn’t have access to growing up.  But we can if we turn to our youth and young adults to teach us and lead us.  Make way for these gifts to be given and received.

The manual explains “Restorative Practices build community and can help set things right when the integrity of the community is challenged by harmful behaviors.”  Who doesn’t want that in our religious communities? Now, the manual was written for school classrooms.  It needs translation.  If you are at all interested in translating this manual (and other such resources) into an explicitly Unitarian Universalist resource, please let me know: trogers@uua.org!

Circle Guidelines

Page 16 of the manual unpacks these guidelines.

Couldn’t your religious community use some restoration? Some tools for hard conversations?  Counter-intuitively, I get excited when a hard, authentic conversation is about to be had, because if we remain open to that potential transformation, deep faith formation will happen. Please, go there.  Release that power.


Circle NoteGrowth Strategist Rev. Tandi Rogers now has Harry Chapin’s song All My Life’s a Circle playing in her head. And she doesn’t mind.




Spiritual Care of Religious Leaders

Last week was the Unitarian Universalist Association staff’s last All-Staff Meeting at 25 Beacon Street. We’d been wrapping up final details of our big move across town and ramping up for General Assembly in Providence. A combination of excitement and weeriness was pervasive.  In those moments it is good to remember that we are people of faith and free-fall into spiritual care.  Rev. Harlan Limpert, the Chief Operating Officer of the UUA offered up this prayer at the end of our meeting, sending us out into the world to grow this good faith.





Hilary Allen

Hilary Allen is Director of Congregational Development for the Northern New England District. She believes in the power of prayer, and while she’s delighted to offer this one to community, she really needed it herself. She is Project Manager for FAITHIFY, a crowdfunding site for UU ministries and continuously works to keep her eyes on the long now. Come fall she will be the New England staff lead for Growth & Innovation.