Emerging Ministries Lab at General Assembly

emerging_ministries_logoImagine walking into a room of experts of various kinds — fundraisers, generosity, membership, faith formation, staff finance, church planting, multi-site, and more, and you have access to them for a whole three hours.

#330 Emerging Ministries Lab

Friday, 6/26/2015     3:00:00 PM — 6:00:00 PM

OCC – Portland Ballroom 256-257

This is how the lab works… As a leader, or group of leaders, you come through the door and a guide greets up and then escorts you through the 3 parts:

  • Part 1. Setting an Intention. A table of tea lights with the invitation for you to name your group’s forming purpose and your intention for the Emerging Ministries Lab.
  • Part 2. Held and Witnessed by Experts. Your guide will walk with you to whatever table of experts you’d like to access.  We’ll have people from outreach (websites, social media and such), church finance, law, membership professionals, LREDA, UUMA entrepreneurs, and more.) It may be that you simply want to sit with a guide at an empty table and tell them your story and receive wondering, going deeper questions.  That’s totally fine, too!
  • Part 3. Adding a Prayer to the Circle. A big hoop loom with strips of paper will invite you to write “What unique way is your group going to change the world?” on one side and “What do you need to make this happen?” on the other side.  You may then weave your prayer into the loom.

What questions will you bring?  We look forward to being part of your Emerging Ministries convoy.

Faithify Tips a Quarter Million

Faithify The following is an interview with the FAITHIFY entrepreneurs Rev. Sue Phillips and Hilary Allen.

 

Over $250,000 has been pledged on faithify.org!  Congratulations, thank you, and did you see that coming?

H: Thanks! We’re jazzed about it! And it probably means the next $250,000 is out there too. Honestly, we didn’t quite know what to expect. We were pretty sure if we built FAITHIFY, the people would come. There’s still more work to do for folks to know that FAITHIFY is an option for them, and for the day when our people no longer have to say to each other, “we don’t have money for that.”

 

Give us the latest stats…

Total pledges ($): $258,315$2500000

Total pledges (#): 2,417

Total people who have pledged: 1,935

Project success rate: 77%

Projects exceeding their goal: 71%

Projects to date: 67

Average $ raised: $5,834

 

How did the idea for FAITHIFY come about?

S: Crowdfunding hit the mainstream about three or four years ago. Around that same time, folks began thinking about how our UUA might act more like an App Store-type platform than the center of a traditional hub-and-spoke denominational model. Starting a crowdfunding site felt like an awesome experiment in carving out a different role for our UUA. As field staff we were uniquely able to access a wide range of resources, and the Mass Bay District board jumped at the chance to help support a movement-wide project.

 

H: Crowdfunding puts people directly in touch with each other. They don’t need an institution to disburse resources. They don’t have to wait until a funding cycle is announced. What FAITHIFY provides is the structure for people to be in relationship, and then it gets out of the way for us to do what we naturally do, which is support each other.

 

What has surprised you?

S: I’ve been surprised that crowdfunding sites don’t actually have crowds. The vast majority of traffic to all crowdfunding sites is driven there by project owners. The FAITHIFY crowd — the people who browse the site without arriving with a specific project in mind — is growing. But slowly.

 

What has challenged you?

H: Turns out, it’s incredibly challenging to have a great website that is easy to use. We have had a heck of a time finding a good technical partner for site design and development. I have a lot more respect for amazon.com and even my local library’s website than I did before FAITHIFY. It takes a lot.

 

What has been most satisfying?

S: Seeing the boldness and aspiration of 66 projects, most of whom have raised a lot of money to see their ideas come to life. The videos, the pictures, and the stories on the site are so cool. Those people and projects just knock my socks off. Also, working with Hilary. We have a great time thinking, planning, dreaming, and laughing together. This whole project has been a blast except for the (rare) moments when we have to breathe into paper bags because we think the site is going explode.

 

H: People frequently convey their gratitude that FAITHIFY exists and that they can be a part of it. I find it satisfying when I can help people connect to something larger than themselves.

 

What makes this platform uniquely UU?

H: When people post their projects on FAITHIFY, they have to speak to how they claimed and are claimed by Unitarian Universalism. This includes things like reflecting UU values or being affiliated with a congregation or UU organization. It’s exciting that this way of talking about associational and covenantal relationship has caught on within Unitarian Universalism – showing up most recently in the new Covenanting Communities status.

 

What is next? What can people expect at General Assembly? How can people get involved if they aren’t going to General Assembly?

S: FAITHIFY will be all over General Assembly.  Our goal for GA is to keep spreading the word that this marvelous platform exists where folks can go check out creative, interesting, and fun ideas in the world of Unitarian Universalism. Plus we’ve got major swag, people!

 

H: Though, being in Portland is not essential because most of the FAITHIFY action will be happening right on faithify.org, so folks can stay informed them about how projects are doing on their goals. We’ll also be sharing highlights through our Facebook and Twitter accounts (like/follow us!).

 

 

Sue & Hilary SelfieYou two have other jobs besides Faithify — what are they?

Rev. Sue Phillips is always dreaming and scheming about architectures of interdependence. She is also our UUA’s New England Regional Lead.

 

When she’s not working on FAITHIFY, singing sea-shanties, or rooting for the last remnants of House Stark, Hilary serves as staff of the New England Region with a focus on Innovation and Growth.

 

UUA/Regional Staff Dedicated to Emerging Ministries

emerging_ministries_logoHave you caught the Emerging Ministries buzz?  Did you pass on the links to the most recent blog posts on to your congregational leadership teammates?  You know the posts —  the announcement Emerging Ministries support and the other blog post of the Emerging Ministries website overview. And now are you wondering “What’s next?!”

 

It may be time to call your Regional Emerging Ministries Coach.  These are Congregational Life staff dedicated helping coach, connect, and co-learn with you and your teammates. They meet regularly as their own learning community in order to better serve you, and they facilitate Innovative Learning Circles with leaders pioneering these powerful and emerging forms of innovative impact and community. Additionally they are available to help you discern your community’s path and help connect you to other resources, including other congregations.

 

Co-Coordinators

 

GonzalezMilliken_AnnieRev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken is a lifelong UU from the midwest and serves our faith as Young Adult and Campus Ministry Associate for the Unitarian Universalist Association.  She has lived in 7 different states and been part of 8 different UU communities throughout her life. A firm believer in both established and new ministries, she is a member of First Parish Dorchester, founded in 1630, and The Sanctuary Boston, created a few years ago.  Supporting the emerging ministries initiative at the UUA has already been one of the best learning experiences of her life and she is so thrilled to be working with our people all over the country to help spread, grow and deepen our faith through new groups and projects. agonzalez@uua.org 

 

Rev Tandi clappingRev. Tandi Rogers currently serves as the Innovation and Network Specialist.  Prior to that she was the Growth Specialist and before that the Program Specialist serving congregations in the Pacific Northwest. She finds congregations and UU groups collaborating together very exciting and promising (that was a covenant pun, get it?) Helping leaders see abundance and possibilities is what gets her up in the morning. trogers@uua.org

 

New England Region

 

HilaryAllen-newHilary Allen’s focus on the New England Regional Staff is Innovation & Growth. She’s continuously fascinated by the way emergent ministries in Unitarian Universalism tend to organize around ancient needs for community. She brings patience and awe to emergence and innovation work, and is also glad to think strategically with folks about their structures and systems – and their funding! hallen@uua.org

 

neil-barron_seanSean Neil-Barron is the Ministerial Intern at the New England Region of the UUA. Sean loves emerging ministries because they reflect our faith adapting to our context and sowing seeds of love. SNeil-Barron@uua.org

 

 

 

Central East Regional Group

 

Raziq-BrownRaziq Brown newly joined the CERG team to support the youth ministry portfolio and in addition emerging with young adult ministries. He hasn’t even started work yet, so we’ll hold off on publishing contact information.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

EvinThe Rev. Evin Carvill-Ziemer is the Congregational Life Consultant for the St. Lawrence District and part-time program coordinator for the Ohio-Meadville District. She is well-known for her passion around youth and young adult ministries, especially GoldMine Leadership School. eziemer@uua.org

 

 

Southern Region

 

Kathy this oneKathy McGowan, Congregational Life Staff, is one of seven field staff on the Southern Region team. She lives in the triangle area of North Carolina with her son and two cats. She has been a Unitarian Universalist since the mid-eighties and has a deep love of this faith tradition. In addition to her work with new and emerging congregations, she focuses on intercultural sensitivity and is the primary contact for the congregations in Virginia and North Carolina in the Southern Region of the UUA. She is excited to be coaching groups on how to live out their Unitarian Universalist faith in a deep and covenantal way. KMcGowan@uua.org

 

MidAmerica Region

 

Phil LundThe Rev. Phil Lund is a Congregational Life Consultant working with new and emerging ministries in the MidAmerica Region of the UUA. He’s excited about engaging with UUs who are exploring creative and innovative ways of being in religious community. In addition to focusing on digital ministry, he’s also interested in is helping groups bring a spiritual formation focus to the work they do. PLund@uua.org

 

DoriDori Thexton has been serving Unitarian Universalism for over 30 years – in two congregations before becoming part of the field staff team. She is passionate about growing our faith and anything that will help congregations do that.  dthexton@uua.org

 

 

 

Pacific West Region

 

JeanelyseThe Rev. Jeanelyse Doran Adams serves the Pacific Western Region as Congregational Life Staff.  Jeanelyse believes new expressions of Unitarian Universalist emerging ministries offer hope in a fractured world, provide opportunities to liberate our faith, and invite shared ministry at its best. JAdams@uua.org

 

 

jonipher thisThe Rev. Dr. Jonipher Kwong just joined the Congregational Life staff team in the Pacific Western Region. He brings with him a wealth of experience from planting a new congregation for the Metropolitan Community Churches and new UU religious communities that turned into a multi-site partnership. He is an innovative entrepreneur and we’re grateful to have his spark on our team. JKwong@uua.org

 

Call them early, and call them often.  This team is here for you, wherever you are on your Emerging Ministry journey!

Packing (and Other) Advice for General Assembly in Portland, OR

uua_ga2015_logoHi friends –

Just wanted to remind you to keep your eye on the long-range forecast for Portland GA. If the weather holds, we should be in for the high 70’s to mid-80’s and mostly sunny. But it’ll still be cool at night – between 50-60, likely.

Portland, like the NW in general, is a casual-dress place. You can go pretty much anywhere in jeans or shorts and not be out of place. If you are used to heat, you’re definitely going to want warmer clothes for evenings out, including a pair of long pants, a warmer sweater or jacket, and maybe even a pair of close-toed shoes (or socks to go with your Birkenstocks or Keenes, which is considered normal in the NW).

Might not be a bad idea to throw a folding umbrella or rain jacket in the suitcase, too, just in case the NW starts to act like the NW.

If it’s hot during the day (we in the Northwest consider it hot if it’s above 70), prepare yourself to find no relief ducking into a café or store. It’s not yet the norm in the NW to have air conditioning, though as climate change is keeping the summers hotter, there are more places that have installed AC.

And remember your Butt Butter if you’re going to join the naked cyclists. You don’t want to chafe your tender bits if you’re without your Lycra and chamois.

Speaking of streets, Northwesterners tend to actually stand at the corner and wait for the light to change. Police do ticket here for jay-walking, though it’s true that everyone’s more relaxed about that in Portland than in Seattle. An exception in Portland are the hipsters on their fixies, who tend not to stop for anything – beware.

Do make a visit to Burgerville, a sustainable business featuring locally sourced fast-ish food (including a couple of good vegan/ veggie burgers – my fave is the Spicy Anasazi Bean Burger; gluten-free buns available on request). BV seasonal specials in June are fried asparagus with aioli, and local strawberries in milkshakes, smoothies, lemonade and sundaes. Expect to recycle or compost nearly everything.

Though you can find Starbucks in Portland, self-respecting Portlandians will sneer if you ask them directions to one. Don’t hesitate to try the local coffee shops. It’s all good, and you can find one, oh, every 50 feet or so.

Pretty much every place in Portland has vegan and gluten-free menu items. Probably even the bike shops. And yes, you can count on a lot of kale and quinoa. Don’t hesitate to try the vegan fare – it’s nearly always fabulous. One of the best in town is Blossoming Lotus, which is pretty fancy and full of the trendarati more thanBird on it hipsters these days, but outstanding.

Food trucks, yes, all over. BrewCycle, three routes plus walking & barge options. Great restaurants & cafes, too numerous to mention. Closest to the convention center are probably those on Broadway, just a couple blocks north of the DoubleTree, and east of 13th. A little further out are Pine State Biscuits (“biscuit focused Southern eatery”) and Nicholas (Lebanese). Wings? Fire on the Mountain – oh, mama.

There’s a Voodoo Donuts less than a mile from the convention center (I think they are overrated, but it’s hard to leave Portland without making a pilgrimage). Better is Sweetpea Bakery – all vegan, as are Food Fight! Grocery and the Herbivore Clothing Co. next door.

For those who aren’t into Thursday evening at GA, there is Last Thursday on Alberta, a street fair 6-9:30. Take the bus. And, there’s Saturday Market, 10-5 Saturday and 11-4:30 Sunday (yeah, I know, that’s not Saturday. But it is Portland). Take the Max. I won’t go into all the amazing parks and field trips.

All for now – if you have never been to Portland, you are in for a treat. Try to leave the convention center at least once, okay? And remember, if in doubt, put a bird on it!

 

______________________________

JanineJanine Larsen is a Congregational Life Staff member in the UUA’s Pacific Western Region and a Pacific Northwest native. Really. She lives outside Seattle, WA (known to Portlandians as the warning land of “how not to be”). When working with UU congregations in the Portland area, Janine enjoys allowing extra time to discover new ways to Keep Portland Weird.

#Sustainministry in St. Louis

sustainability roomLast week I had attended a summit on the Economic Sustainability of Ministry, and my thoughts are still swirling from the conversation. I was one of three panelists laying out the possibilities and challenges in finding sustainable models for
professional religious leadership, given the changes going on in American religion (Rev. Tom Schade and Rev. Lisa Greenwood were my fellow panelists). Twitter posts with #sustainministry were flying fast with interesting quotes shared by attendees. And though clergy often have the worst financial stresses because of the cost of seminary and training, the understanding of “ministry” as inclusive of all religious leaders enriched the group’s conversation.

 

For a day and half, we gave a hard-nosed look at the realities religious leaders face. Paralleling the trend towards a “none of the above” religious identity and away from traditional religious communities, we noted that donations to churches and religious institutions have fallen from over 50% of US charitable giving in 1956 to barely 30% today. Lisa helped us see that, across the board, religious groups are relying on fewer and fewer people giving more and more money, and these folks are getting older and older. This is clearly NOT a sustainable model.

 

But, of course, with every challenge comes an opportunity. Since the meeting was held in St. Louis, we were joined by local ministers who had been deeply involved in grassroots responses to the shooting of Michael Brown and the #blacklivesmatter movement. It was so inspiring to hear Rev. Barbara Gadon tell us that, though the past year’s reactions and conversations had been hard, members of Eliot Unitarian Chapel were on fire with passion for the issue. This, I thought, is what it looks like when we fulfill our potential to be a truly transformative spiritual community. Tom reminded us that St. Louis is just one example of an emerging social movement that UUs are called to join to make our nation a more just and compassionate place. Could we use this time of transition to help us refocus on what’s most important?

 

In fact, the sense of calling to the wider world and to a greater purpose was found throughout the meeting. Even though we started by talking about financial pressure, we kept turning to the need to be clear about why we exist at all: to help people lead better lives and create a better world. Institutional maintenance, while always necessary, hardly inspires the kind of stewardship and commitment that is required for achieving our core purpose.

 

Everyone in the room seemed to grasp the scale of the challenge and opportunity we face, recognizing that we all have a role to play. It was a institutional sort of meeting with senior leadership from UU organizations including the UUA staff, both UU seminaries, professional groups, major UUA boards and committees, and more. As such, discussions were grounded in the day-to-day realities of leading and managing institutions. But I also saw the spark of imagination that allows people to dream of a different way forward. Break-out groups honed in on projects to pursue in the coming months, which ranged from fundraising training to shared services to peer support for innovative ministry projects.

 

The summit was only the latest round of a conversation that needs to continue. I hope more and more UUs find a way to join this conversation, since harnessing the creativity and inspiration of our thousands of committed leaders is the key for finding our way to a new and sustainable way of doing church.

________________________

Sustainabiliy CareyCarey McDonald is the UUA Director of Outreach, total data geek and trend-spotter, as seen his presentation Future of Faith.

 

Emerging Ministries Quick Map

emerging_ministries_logoQuick, where can you go to find a glossary of terms for all different kinds of Unitarian Universalist ministries, a “Buzzfeed” style quiz about which kind of emerging ministry you should create and a fascinating report put out by a Methodist organization on what real change looks like?

 

If you answered www.uua.org/emerging, you’re correct!

 

As you may have heard, the Unitarian Universalist Association is rolling out a new support system for emerging ministries. Maybe you’ve been reading up on how this support relates to the new Covenanting Communities designation or seen how this initiative can support our outreach to millennials. You’ve probably seen this video that highlights some different styles of emerging ministries.

 

 

Emerging Ministries final

 

But have you taken the time to explore our homepage on the UUA website?

 

Here are the Top 6 Reasons you should go check out www.uua.org/emerging.

 

6. Take a fun quiz
. Come on, admit it, you’ve totally clicked on one of those “Which Harry Potter character will you be during the zombie apocalypse?” quizzes your friend posted on Facebook, haven’t you? On the right-hand sidebar of our webpage you can find a fun quiz that let’s you know which lane of the road to covenanted UU living is right for you! Of course the quiz is partially silly, but it was also designed to be useful and informative. The results might surprise you…

 

5. Read some serious case studies
. On the other hand, maybe you’re wanting to delve deep and get serious about the nitty gritty details of starting an emerging ministry. Scroll down to the “Learn more” section of our webpage and check out our case studies. Right now we have profiled three groups and we will be expanding with additional groups as we go. You can learn about their discernment processes, their financial strategies, how their ministries got off the ground or why they didn’t make it.

 

4. Get perspectives beyond Unitarian Universalism. 
Learning from our fellow UUs is crucial, but so is learning from both secular and non-UU religious groups. After all, UUs are certainly not the only ones looking at our changing religious landscape and trying to figure out how to respond faithfully. Right now we have pieces written by Methodists, a United Church of Christ minister and some Harvard Divinity School students focusing on secular groups. It’s all under “Learn more” and we’ll keep adding to the resources, keeping you up to date on how other folks are thinking about new religious and/or spiritual projects.

 

3. Figure out what we’re talking about.  Confused by “Covenanting Communities”? Mystified by “multisite ministry?” Wondering what it even means to be a member congregation? We use a lot of specific terms when we talk about emerging ministries, and while we try to avoid jargon and speak clearly, it can be difficult to follow along. Check out the glossary page that supplements our emerging ministries page, and you’ll be in the know in no time!

 

2. Start receiving support
. So you’ve got an idea or you’ve been working on a project for awhile and you want to get plugged into this support you keep hearing about. Well look no further. Scroll all the way down on our webpage and you’ll find the Emerging Ministries Inquiry Form. Fill it out and we’ll be in touch with you. We get to know more about who’s working on what in the emerging ministries field and you get regular check ins from national and regional staff and the opportunity to apply for project grants and join learning communities. It’s a win, win!

 

1. Be inspired. Do you ever feel disillusioned about our world and the future of our faith? This webpage is a great place to find hope and maybe even the spark of your own creative idea. In the sidebar you’ll find videos including “GA Talks” (short TED Talks style presentations from our UUA General Assembly) that explore new forms of ministry. Under “Learn more” you’ll find blogposts from the BlueBoat “Spotlight Series” that highlight how emerging ministries are working with young adults. And throughout the page you’ll see our bold life-giving faith reflected back in words, pictures and videos. The possibilities are endless!

 

Of course as this endeavor develops over time our webpage will change and grow. Check back regularly to see what’s new at www.uua.org/emerging and you can have fun, get serious, learn from others, clear up confusion, find support and be inspired all at once.

 

_________________________

GonzalezMilliken_AnnieRev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken is a lifelong UU from the midwest and serves our faith as Young Adult and Campus Ministry Associate for the Unitarian Universalist Association.  She has lived in 7 different states and been part of 8 different UU communities throughout her life.  She currently lives in Boston with her partner Lucas and some lovely housemates.  A firm believer in both established and new ministries, she is a member of First Parish Dorchester, founded in 1630, and The Sanctuary Boston, created a few years ago

 

Analysis of The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

2015RLSpromo640x320Religion data geeks everywhere rejoiced this month when the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released its newest study of the American religious landscape. Pew made waves a few years ago when it published a sweeping report that pointed to the rise of the “nones,” the increasing numbers of American adults who have no religious connection. This year’s study updates Pew’s massive 2007 study, and gives us valuable trend information.

So what does Pew report? Well, for starters, the “nones” are still rising. Since 2007, 19 million Americans have joined the ranks of the nonreligious. 19 million! That’s 23% of adults, trending up from 16% in 2007. And, as before, the increase of nonreligious adults comes from the losses of traditional Catholic and Mainline Protestant faiths. Pew is pretty much the gold standard for this kind of data, but for what it’s worth the decline of religious affiliation is a trend so robust that it shows up in every other similar survey.

Younger generations continue to lead the bleed away from traditional religious practices, with about 35% of Millennials claiming no affiliation. But, and this is one of my favorite parts of the new study, every generation has seen an increase in the number of unaffiliated adults since 2007! Baby Boomer unaffiliateds, for example, have gone from 14 to 17% of their peers. Friends, the waters are still churning amidst this sea change in American religion, and there’s no sign of them slowing down.

The researchers at Pew thoughtfully included a breakdown just for Unitarian Universalists (there’s actually one for every faith tradition they track, but I’m still appreciative). Compared to eight years ago, we are getting younger and less wealthy. In self-identification, or the number of people who tell researchers they are UU, we are overall holding steady at 0.3% of the adult population which, given the increases in the US population, implies we’ve grown by 54,000 in the last few years to 735,000. However, keep in mind that we’re not seeing this growth in self-identification reflected in our congregational membership reports. Maybe someone should dig into that intriguing divergence

Check out the Pew data for yourself! I’ve only made it through the summary so far, but the full report looks worth a read. Pew also says they are going to publish more detailed reports on religious affiliation soon (hopefully great stuff like this gem), and I can’t wait to see what insights emerge.

What else do you see in this research? Add your thoughts in the comments.

__________________

cmcdonald_headshotCarey McDonald is the UUA Director of Outreach, total data geek and trend-spotter.

Covenanting Communities

cropped-lucy-stone-0077-copy
Lucy Stone welcome table, a Covenanting Community

 

During the last year, the UUA Board of Trustees and UUA staff have been up to something pretty cool. Though historically the only way to become an official part of the UUA is through a congregation, we’ve been working on a new way for independent groups of Unitarian Universalists to be in relationship with the wider movement. In March, the Board created a flexible new status for those groups called “covenanting communities.”

What is a “covenanting community?” It’s a community that claims and is claimed by Unitarian Universalism, borrowing a turn of phrase from our friends at Faithify. A covenanting community is NOT a member congregation of the UUA, nor is it an interest or affinity group of UUs who are already members of congregations. Covenanting communities are the primary ways that their members or participants connect to Unitarian Universalism.

Covenanting communities can look and feel very different. That’s actually the point. We want people to imagine new ways of living out their UU faith and values, and to feel like they can do that while still being a recognized part of the UU family. Covenanting communities may look like Sacred Path, which used to be an emerging congregation before deciding that the covenanting community status suited them better.  Or they could look like Lucy Stone Cooperative, an intentional living community grounded in UU values that is exploring the covenanting community status to see if it fits with their mission.

The development of the covenanting community status started out with a pilot project last fall. This pilot project reached out to UU groups who might be interested in the covenanting communities status see what might be a good way of structuring this relationship. Through those conversations, we learned what’s really important to uphold (connection to UU principles and the wider movement) and what’s ok to leave to full-fledged congregations (bylaws, voting at General Assembly, size requirements).

It also turned out that, even though some of the groups we approached about the covenanting communities status weren’t interested, just having a conversation with local leaders about their goals and their UU identity was valuable. Some even decided to restart the process to become full member congregations. This just highlights the need for supportive, ongoing relationship between all levels of the UU faith movement.

The best part about the covenanting communities status is that it is a part of an entire system of support for emerging ministries. Not every group connected to Unitarian Universalism will want to become a covenanting community, and that’s ok. What’s important is that there are now more ways than ever for people to express their faith in covenant with the wider UU movement.

The first round of covenanting communities will hopefully be recognized at General Assembly this year, so stay tuned! And check out other articles on emerging ministries on this blog.

 

 Application and more information: Covenanting Communities Fact Sheet.

______________________________

cmcdonald_headshotCarey McDonald is the UUA Director of Outreach and has been working closely with the UU Board on the development of this new status. He is also known as the Future of Faith Guy.

Announcing (new and improved!) UUA Support for Emerging Ministries

emerging_ministries_logoThere are so many ways to be a Unitarian Universalist religious community today! And these diverse communities provide more possibilities than ever to live our faith in the world.

 

Emerging Ministries are any new group or project that is grounded in Unitarian Universalism and brings people together in covenanted and intentional ways.  New congregations are emerging ministries and so are campus ministries, multi-site ministries, intentional housing cooperatives, missional communities, prison ministries, military ministries and more.  They are emerging within congregations, beyond congregations and in between congregations.

 

These new ministries are all moving in the same direction: toward covenanted UU living. These groups and projects are like diverse vehicles – cars, bikes, scooters, vans, and skateboards – moving in different lanes depending on the form and function of their ministry.

 

However, there is no magic road map or GPS that can chart the perfect path for these groups. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) knows we need versatile responsive support systems to get these new endeavors ready for the journey.  A cross-department, cross-regional team of UUA staff is ready to maintain this multi-lane highway toward UU living and is set to staff the tune up stations and rest areas along the way. We can help vehicles figure out which lane is right for them, connect them with experts who have made similar journeys before, and support them in raising the money they need to make this trip.  We’re also working on making it easier to get on this road by adding on-ramps such as contacting your regional staff or checking out our Emerging Ministries webpage.

 

For example, a skateboard might ramp on through the Church of the Larger Fellowship and get into the Meeting Group lane and then through experience with an on-line group coaching webinar realize they want to switch lanes to explore MultiSite options. The highway is about resourcing projects and groups in their early development and getting them the connections, perspective, community of pioneers (convoys, if you will,) and tools the need to realize their vision and answer the call of their wider community.  An integrated, dynamic support system will make it easier for innovators to get what they need. We will live into a refreshed expression of our congregational polity and covenant in the way these ministries will be connected through learning communities and peer support.

 

In the short term, the Congregational Life, Outreach, and Ministries & Faith Development staff groups of the UUA have joined together to inspire, support and sustain emerging ministry efforts.  By mid-fall of 2015, this comprehensive network of support will include programming such as: Innovative Learning Circles, online material sharing systems, a centralized online “hub” for UU emerging ministry efforts, and a Congregational Life Emerging Ministries Coaching Team. In the initiative’s second year a Mentor Program will connect established ministries to emerging ministries to amplify synergistic learning, connection, and sustainability. We will also add lanes to the highway and improve capacity.  In the third year our attention turns to a proactive ministry-planting strategy for the UUA.

 

Over the course of the next couple weeks we will feature different aspects of Emerging Ministries Highway on this blog: overview of preliminary UUA.org resources, introduction to the Emerging Ministries Regional Coaches, preview of the General Assembly Emerging Ministries Laboratory.

 

Support for Emerging Ministries is made possible through generous gifts from UUA President’s Council members and friends like you. Thank you!

Emerging Ministries final
Video about UU Emerging Ministries by Rev. Erik Martinez Resly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multi-site Pioneers

sheshmapThe idea of congregations coming together to gain strength, support and resources from one another is not a new concept. Witness the experience of the Sheshequin congregation and its congregational neighbors.

Founded in 1808, the “Old Sheshequin Church”, located in Northeastern Pennsylvania, just south of the New York border, was an early pioneer of Universalism in this rural and conservative region, said by some historians to be the “mother church” to six other Universalist congregations it helped to plant in the area.

But beginning in the great depression of 1870, the church began to struggle. In fact, church records from 1884 lament that “the society is dead and has not enough vitality left to get up a respectable funeral.”

But just a few years later, the church began collaborating with other congregations in the area, most notably Athens and Towanda. From 1895: “There has been quite an awakening from the Rip Van Winkle sleep of the Society, and some young blood has been added, which it is hoped will redound to its good. Bro. G. A. King, aided by Rev. G B Russell of Athens and Rev. Leonidas Polk of Towanda, held a series of meetings during the winter which resulted in increasing membership and interest. Twenty nine persons were baptized and received into full membership in January.”

Whatever came out of those meetings helped to revive the Sheshequin Society and, in 1896, the church record indicates that “our prospects are favorable for success.” The congregations in this area continued to collaborate and share ministers over the years, as part of an alliance called the “North Branch Association.”

Today, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Athens and Sheshequin, located in Athens, PA, stands as a proud religious community “dedicated to service, spiritual growth, and ethical living.” It is also a testament to the power of congregational collaboration.

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Historical information provided by Rev. Darcey Laine.

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markMark Bernstein is a member of the Multi-Site Midwife Team and believes that in an earlier life, he attended several meetings of the North Branch Association.