Whiteness’ Supremacy and Reaching Out

White supremacy. Patriarchy. These are hard words to hear fully, even more difficult forces to challenge, and yet we cannot be the Unitarian Universalist faith that we want to be without confronting them. Our liberal religious tradition — proud, historic, vibrant, ever-evolving, and deeply flawed — is right now wrestling with the roots of white supremacy and patriarchy in our faith. On that, our tradition is surely not alone. Yet the power of our faith’s principles also calls each of us, and particularly those who are religious leaders and those who identify as white, to not flinch from that reality. In this time in the United States, we can only be a beacon for hope and justice if we demonstrate the integrity of our principles through our actions. Inspired by our friends in the UUA Youth and Young Adult Ministry office, our team wants to tell you the ways we have fallen short of this integrity so that we can act differently in the future.

Our team is three Unitarian Universalists – two people of color: one man who is the staff supervisor, and one woman who is a religious educator; and one white woman who is an ordained minister. We help Unitarian Universalists build new relationships with people, and make it as easy possible to share the gifts of our faith in the wider world. Some of our jobs include overseeing the content and design of UUA.org, curating the site’s WorshipWeb section, editing the weekly Braver/Wiser message, managing creative and digital strategies at the UUA, leading workshops and trainings for congregational leaders through our Outreach Revolution network, and publishing this blog.

The face of Unitarian Universalism

In many ways, we are responsible for defining the face of Unitarian Universalism. Who do you see when you land on the UUA homepage? What text do you read? What information do you encounter? We try to balance the reality of who we are as UU’s – older, whiter, more liberal and more educated than our neighbors – with our aspiration for who we want to be – multicultural, multigenerational faith communities. We neither want to whitewash the diversity we do have, nor do we want to fall into the “college brochure” trap of showcasing a diversity that exists only in our fantasies.

We know we get this balance wrong sometimes. We’d like to hear from you when we do. But more importantly, we have been making these decisions in a vacuum, relying on our own best judgement. In the future, we commit to working in ways to do this more honestly, openly, and accountably.

The voices of worship and inspiration

Sunday morning worship is at the heart of our faith, and it is interwoven with a culture of white supremacy — not only its content, but its shape, its patterns, its sights and sounds, and its unstated rules. Our theology compels us to create experiences in which, to quote Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout,  “there’s a larger ‘we’ each time we worship,” but few worship services live up to that standard. Our congregations are filled with white folks who, despite their best intentions, often fail to recognize that when they approach people of color, they are attempting, again quoting Dr. Rideout, “to partner with people for whom love is not an automatic privilege.”

WorshipWeb and Braver/Wiser are widely-used tools for planning worshipful spaces, and we can and will do more to use them to de-center whiteness in Unitarian Universalist worship life, lifting up the voices of people of color and reconsidering our basic assumptions about what feels most spiritual and profound.

The “growth” mindset

We describe our work as helping Unitarian Universalists build relationships with new audiences, to help our saving message reach more people. We are careful to say that, yes, this relationship does not necessarily translate into membership, that it may take place outside your congregation, and that we can do ministry at many levels no matter who we are. But the truth is that we have also allowed the UU’s we train and advise to believe that, really, it’s about getting more members on the books and more pledges in the bank. We need more of “them” to join “us,” more brown and young people in the pews. We as a team sidestep this assumption which separates “us” and “them” even before we welcome newcomers through our doors. We allow it to persist, choosing to believe in good intentions rather than leaning into our discomfort and the higher calling of our covenants.  We have avoided interrupting conversations that perpetuate both conscious and unconscious beliefs in the white experience as primary, normative, “better than,” and dominant (just look at the title of this blog).

Our churches often hide the best parts of our faith inside our congregations, and use it as a lure to become a member. We do this knowing that, as a predominantly and culturally white faith, people of color must make ourselves uncomfortable and endure our own marginalization to access the Unitarian Universalist spiritual wellspring. The UU need to grow, to prove our value by claiming others, can be traced to a Puritanical, colonial impulse to control.

Do we have the spiritual strength to give away the best that we have? At the recent Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism gathering, all main events were livestreamed for everyone. How many UU spaces and congregations would be willing to do the same? How many would be able to liberate their principles from the membership growth mindset? We as the outreach team have failed to bring this multicultural strength and value forward, fearing being seen as “too radical” or feeling that such changes were beyond the realm of possibility.  We can and will name this truth in our work going forward.

 

Who do we serve: our mission and our principles, or our institutions? This is not an intellectual exercise for our team. It is physical and emotional and visceral, and our livelihoods are connected to it. When we whitespeak to pass as educated, competent and respectable, and center white audiences in our writing, we are not living up to our calling. And we say now, publicly, that we are committed to doing better, because we believe our faith depends on it.

We applaud and support the work Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) and Diverse & Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM) are doing for our collective liberation. We urge you to support the #UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn by signing up here and donating to BLUU and DRUUMM.

 

With love,

Anna Bethea, Erika Hewitt & Carey McDonald

Water Communion Offering

water-communionA few years ago, our community was impacted by floods.  We learned quickly how devastating floods can be, especially to the most vulnerable in our community.  Though we are not near the ocean, we are surrounded by rivers, lakes, reservoirs and ponds, and know both water’s capacity to bring life, as well as destruction.  This is one of many reasons we were moved this past Sunday to use our water communion service – where we ritualize water’s healing grace – to acknowledge and hopefully offer some of that grace to our friends in Baton Rouge.  Our entire offering plate will be shared with the UU Church in Baton Rouge.  They will use it to support whatever they may need as they support their community, including directing it towards a local community organization they as they see fit.  We will be sending over $2100 from this one Sunday – a Sunday where we were honoring the gifts possible when we join together in shared community, and the ways we come into community so that we can go out and bring more love into the world.

If you haven’t yet celebrated your Water Ceremony or ingathering service, or even if you have, maybe you and your congregation will join us in taking an offering and sending it their way.   It is one small yet powerful way we can bring our water communion to life.

Unitarian Universalists from outside greater Baton Rouge want to know how to help from afar.

1.  “UCBR Flood Fund” is receiving funds to assist Members and Friends of our church in flood recovery, especially those without flood insurance coverage.   Send to Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, 8470 Goodwood Blvd., Baton Rouge LA 70806.

2.   Send contact information if you are available to make a trip to this region and assist in the actual cleanup of homes.  Local persons can send contact information if you have space to host a volunteer.

3.   Financial contributions to the Together Baton Rouge fund will help anyone who has been affected by floodwaters and who completes the survey.

 

___________________
GretchenRev. Gretchen Haley loves serving, praying, laughing, creating, discovering and collaborating with her congregation, the Foothills Unitarian Church, in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she began as senior minister in July, at the start of her fifth year with them (work that out….).  She was lucky to join them in what they called their “3rd year of a 5 year culture shift from scarcity to generosity.”  She looks forward to being a part of growing and strengthening this vision with them as they live into their new mission statement of unleashing courageous love in Northern Colorado, and beyond.

A Big Night for a Small Church

Peter & Joe
UUA President Rev. Peter Morales and Rev. Joe Cherry

Last week we invited the group Repairers of the Moral Breach to the UU Society in Cleveland, and it was a wild ride.

 

So often we UUs talk about interfaith work, and I do believe we try our hardest, but there so often feels like so many barriers to doing the work. So many questions about how we can engage authentically and without laying our own agenda over the work that we often stop ourselves before we begin.

 

I, too, have this concern.

 

But, when I was approached by the Repairers group I took a deep breath, I did a quick check by email with the Board of the congregation I serve and we were a go!

 

UU Society Entrance
UU Society of Cleveland, OH

The UU Society of Cleveland is a small church, about 60 people, and having this big, national movement come to us was daunting. We had about 300 people in our church last Monday, and it was definitely not church as usual.

 

The Repairers of the Breach Team is a well-oiled machine that knows what it needs to put on a good program, and they used their own social media and contacts in media to bring folks from at least 15 different congregations to our church. The result: Historic Black Churches in Cleveland, Historic Liberal Churches in Cleveland, all coming together in a church that had to rent chairs to fit everybody.

 

As minister, I try to greet every person who comes through our church door with a handshake and a how-do-you-do? I ask for everyone’s name and tell them mine as I welcome them in. It was such a joy to meet so many new people who walked through our “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Are Precious” signs as they approached our front door.

 

The service was loud and lively. I welcomed everyone to our church, and gave a short history of our ritual of lighting the chalice. I ended our chalice lighting with these words:

 

This is the 50th Anniversary of the Hough Rebellion/Hough Uprising, and our congregation was there, at 82nd and Euclid. This weekend our Black Lives Matter banner was stolen from the front of our church. Again, we find ourselves in a world in the process of giving birth to a new way of living.

 

They may steal the sign from the front of our church, but they cannot steal our determination to work for a world more fair and more just.

 

As we light our chalice this evening, symbol of freedom, assistance and faith, let our hearts become and remain open to one another.

 

After the lighting of our chalice, I stepped back and stepped out of the way.

 

The experience of having so many world-class preachers in our sanctuary was electrifying. For an evening, it didn’t matter that we hadn’t had enough chairs. It didn’t matter that people had to sit in Fellowship Hall (the basement) watching the events upstairs via live feed. It didn’t matter that our air conditioning wasn’t up to the task of 300 people alive together.

 

What mattered was that we were alive, together.

 

Photo Gallery of the Event:

James Forbes
Rev. Dr. James Forbes
Traci Blackmon UCC
Traci Blackman, United Church of Christ
Stories of Witness
Stories of witness
William Barber II Telling Truth
Rev. Dr. William Barber II
closing prayer
Closing prayer

 

_____________________

RevJosephMCherryphoto2Rev. Joe Cherry is a giant history nerd and unapologetic evangelist for Unitarian Universalism. When he’s not out sharing our good news, you can find him engrossed in research at the Western Reserve Historical Society, practicing his clarinet, or in his basement quilting studio.

 

Tops Picks for Growth at General Assembly

uua_ga2016_logoAre you looking for new ideas to grow your congregation? General Assembly is just around the corner, and there are a dozen workshops on growth to choose from.

Here’s a list, sorted by topic for you to mark in your Program Book or Mobile App.

Small Congregations

  • LEGACY OR RENAISSANCE: SMALL CONGREGATIONS ON THE EDGE
    #210 Thursday, 10:45am – 12:00pm E160
    Some small congregations are realizing that the way they’ve been operating is no longer sustainable. What’s next? Is it time to move towards a holy death? Or are you ready to make a vibrant new start with radical re-envisioning? How can you decide which choice is your congregation’s? This workshop will provide a framework and examples for both paths.
    Megan Foley & Rev. Mary Grigolia
  • SUCCESS IN SMALL CHURCHES: HOPE IN UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISM’S HEARTLAND
    #410 Saturday 3:00pm – 4:15pm CC C226
    Small churches, the heartbeat of our faith, are uniquely positioned to innovate and experiment with new ways of being healthy, vibrant, and relevant – if they put mission and covenant first. Learn to identify your small congregation’s gifts and plan strategically for innovations to grow new possibilities for our faith.
    Rev. Megan Foley & Karen Bellavance-Grace

Hospitality

  • THE SPIRITUAL PRACTICE OF WELCOMING ALL
    #228 Thursday 1:15pm – 2:30pm CC E162
    Many congregations have mastered the process involved in opening their doors for newcomers but are they opening their hearts? What would that welcome look like in our greeting, programs, and emerging ministries? We will consider together how our spiritual baggage could be preventing us from truly being welcoming to all.
    Marie Blohowiak, Rev. Tandi Rogers & Tina Lewis
  • BRINGING ACCESSIBILITY AND INCLUSION MINISTRY TO YOUR CONGREGATION
    #330 Friday 3:00pm – 4:15pm CC C223-225
    Heard the buzz about the Accessibility & Inclusion Ministry (AIM) Program for congregations? Wondering how to bring this new ministry to your congregation? Learn how to form an AIM Team to widen the welcome to people with disabilities. Become an AIM Congregation – moving ever closer to the beloved community.
    Michelle Avery Ferguson, Rev. Barbara Meyers, Michael Sallwasser & Suzanne Fast
  • WE MET ONLINE! GREAT VISITOR EXPERIENCES START WITH GOOGLE
    #432 Saturday 4:45pm – 6:00pm CC Union Station Ballroom A
    From the first online search to an in-person visit, emotions are a key part of what makes a visitor stay or go. User Experience (UX) approaches uncover the emotions we’re evoking to create positive and integrated experiences. Learn how to apply UX to your congregation to improve the visitor experience.
    Sarah Gibb Millspaugh & Carey McDonald

 Outreach

  • OUTREACH 101: JOIN OUR CAUSE, NOT OUR CLUB
    #317 Friday 1:15pm – 2:30pm CC C223-225
    Religion is changing, and just preaching to the choir ain’t gonna cut it. Learn how to reach out to your community as an extension of your congregation’s mission, get the tools you need to move forward, and hear inspiring outreach stories from congregations like yours.
    Carey McDonald
  • INNOVATING IN COVENANT: EMERGING MINISTRIES REACH OUT
    #422 4:45pm – 6:00pm CC E161
    Emerging ministries are new endeavors that are grounded in our faith and formed by covenant.
    How do some of these innovative ministries fulfill our UU mission in the world? Come learn
    from the stories of a new campus ministry, a network of interdependent communities and a forming congregation.
    Kevin Lowry, Rev. Nathan Hollister &Lori Stone Sirtosky

Innovative Ministries

  • UU MODELS OF PARTNERSHIP AND MULTI-SITE MINISTRIES
    #328 Friday 3:00pm – 4:15pm HR Union E
    We’ve featured various models of congregational Partnership & Multi-site over the years: branches, yoked, mergers, etc. This year we’re highlighting Clusters and Partnerships just starting their covenantal relationships, at the beginning of the continuum of collaboration. Especially useful for lay leaders discerning deeply partnering with other UU communities.
    Joan Van Becelaere & Rev. David Pyle
  • LIVING THE PRINCIPLES: THEME-BASED PROGRAMMING FOR ALL AGES
    #352 Friday 4:45pm – 6:00pm CC Hall E
    Many of us are seeking new ways to support multigenerational faith formation in our congregations. Living the Principles is an engaging full-year, theme-based program for congregation-wide exploration of the Unitarian Universalist Principles. This workshop equips professional and lay leaders to use this program, with free online materials, in your congregation.
    Ellen Quaadgras, Ann Kadlecek & Halcyon Westall
  • INNOVATION AND INSPIRATION FOR UU STEWARDSHIP
    #358 Friday 4:45pm – 6:00pm HR Delaware CD
    This workshop will equip lay and ordained leadership for effective stewardship in our congregations and our Association. This will be a “flash” presentation of the most innovative and successful fundraising ideas. We will close with an inspiring word from Peter Morales.
    Mary Katherine Morn
  • ANNUAL GIVING: THE BACKBONE OF CONGREGATIONAL STEWARDSHIP
    #420 Saturday 3:00pm – 4:15pm HR Delaware CD
    This workshop will equip lay and ordained leadership for effective stewardship in our congregations and our Association. This panel of on-the-ground congregational staff and volunteers will discuss their greatest successes in annual fundraising.
    Dr. Marlin Lavanhar, Rev. Trisha Hart & Rev. Peter Friedrichs

 

ReneeRev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) has served as a Congregational Life Consultant in the Central East Region since September of 2010. As program manager for Leadership Development, she is responsible for providing consultation, programming and training material (including webinars and videos) on various aspects of congregational growth, leadership and congregational dynamics. She writes for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Blog Growing Vital Leaders and tweets at @Vitalleaders.

Road Trip! We’re better together!

road-trip-sign-285x190We’re better together.  You’ve heard this before. And often it is in the context of pooling resources to create something larger than we could offer as a separate entity.

I’m hear to tell you that we’re better together also in the opening of imagination that happens when we experience other religious communities.  I was working with a stuck congregation years ago.  Let’s call them UU Society of East Cupcake. Every suggestion I had was met with “we’ve already tried that” or “that just won’t work here.”  Those are signs that people need to get out of their heads and into new experiences, out of their congregation and into the streets.  I gave East Cupcake an assignment to visit a congregation 3 hours away to freshen their views.  I will cut to the chase — they came back fresher and bonded and ready to try some new ideas.

 

Characteristics of a Better Together Road Trip

  • First things first.  Unless you are already the president or minister, pull them into this idea from the get-go. Please don’t surprise them after the fact and say, “Tandi suggested this idea.”  Really.
  • What are we searching for?  Possibilities, my friend.  How do other UU communities do stuff? What do they feel like?  How do they treat each other? How are they alive and awake outside their walls?
  • Pre-Trip Connections.  Call ahead and let your sibling congregation know you’re coming. Arrange to meet with and perhaps share a meal with their leadership. If there is a specific piece of this congregation’s ministry that captures your attention, ask to learn about that while you’re there.  Visit their website ahead of time and start crafting some questions and things to pay attention to.
  • Innovation-adoptionRoad trippers. You know that bellcurve of change? Consider that curve when choosing your road trip mates: “2 Innovators, 3 Early Adopters, and 2 Early Majority”. (This comes from the Diffusion of Innovation Theory.)  You want folks who generally see possibilities and adopt them quickly along with some who are a little slower in convincing and adapting.
  • Magic Vehicle. Borrow a 7 person van.  You want to keep people together.  That van is actually a Fresh idea Incubator on wheels.
  • Van Conversation, there.  What brought you to East Cupcake? What brought you to Unitarian Universalism/ what makes you choose to stay in Unitarian Universalism? When do you feel most Unitarian Universalist?  How does East Cupcake help grow your soul?
  • Paying Attention. Come open and curious. There are various tools from Mystery Greeters programs that may be useful to help you organize your thoughts.  Participate fully. if asked let your siblings in faith know who you are, where you’re from and why you are visiting.
    • What felt familiar?
    • What was new?
    • What was surprising?
    • What was delightful?
    • What gives you holy envy?
    • What challenged you?
    • What grew your soul?
    • What stretched you further into Unitarian Universalism?
    • What might you like to experiment with at home? And who from this congregation might be able to give you some guidance?
  • Van Conversation, back. See questions above.  Make sure someone is recording.  What was challenging? What was sparky? What might you try in your own UU community and who do you need to talk to when you return?
  • Leadership Check In. Gather again over coffee with your leadership to share what you learned.
  • Next Road Trip.  Keep heading out there. Find another congregation to visit. Rotate people so eyes and conversations stay fresh.  Pass around the fun.

My last advice.  Wear your seat belts.  Literally and metaphorically.  Happy travels!

 

_________________________________

Tandi Feb 2012Rev. Tandi Rogers is the Congregational Life’s Innovation & Network Specialist and loves most everything about road trips and visiting new congregations.  She’s usually in charge of games and bad road trip food.

 

Reflection on Moving, Wisdom, Humility, and Reaching Out

Last week I took a quick trip to Boston to attend Terasa Cooley’s good-bye party and to meet, in person, with several colleagues who normally are only in my zoom room on my computer screen.  The weather was beautiful – cold, clear and crisp – which prompted me to spend time doing what I love best to do in Boston, walk around the city.

One morning I walked up to our old UUA headquarters at 25 Beacon Street to see what was going on.  “25” and the other two buildings that the UUA sold on Mt. Vernon Street and the former Eliot-Pickett Houses, were covered with giant “tents” out front, with a back hoe digging dirt and many construction workers scurrying around.  I took a peek inside 25 and saw that the main staircase has been torn down and much of the ground floor, as I remembered it, had been cleared away.  As I walked across town to our new headquarters at 24 Farnsworth Street, I remembered with fondness walking up those stairs to see the MFC in 2000 and imagined all the lives that were touched and changed in the place the UUA used to call home.

24_Farnsworth

It has been less than two years since the UUA headquarters have moved.  The area has changed a lot and the many cranes and construction workers in our new neighborhood predict more change is on the way.  I love the modern feel of our new headquarters and the opportunities they provide for easier collaboration, more productive meetings and new ways to connect today while remembering our yesterdays.

“24” and 25 provide a metaphor for the work we must do as ministers in the future; a future that has virtual cranes digging up many of the practices and foundations of our past, while building up new expressions of community and spiritual practice all around us.   Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that my walk through the streets of Boston and UUA office history prompted my ponderings about the future of our work and our faith.  The weekend before my trip I was at the third intensive of our Beyond the Call – Entrepreneurial Ministry program learning new ways to finance and market innovation; and the importance, practices and “how tos” of cultivating and nurturing the eco-systems to sustain innovators and the organizations they lead.

We’ll be sharing the highlights of our third intensive in a webinar sometime in March.  Our guest speakers inspired and challenged us in many ways but one phrase stuck with me, especially while I was walking around the streets of Boston.  Greg Jones, the former Dean of the Duke Divinity School who worked closely with Greg Dees the “father” of social entrepreneurship, talked about “traditioned innovation” (https://www.faithandleadership.com/content/traditioned-innovation) as a practice for those of us in religious leadership.  The cranes of sociological, cultural and religious change are all around us digging up the old and building the new.  We stand, hopefully, with one foot in tradition and one foot in innovation dancing back and forth as fast as we can.

In these days of change, challenge and opportunity I pray we each have the wisdom and humility to continue to learn how/when to stand in each stream knowing that our spirits and our people need both waters to thrive.  And, most importantly, we reach out to each other so we don’t need to swim in these choppy waters alone.

______________________

DonRev. Don Southworth is the founding Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association. He lived in the corporate world before ministry where he spent ten years in parish life before joining the UUMA in 2009.  He’s a bit on the old side of life but fights through his crumedgeony ways as much as he can looking for pockets of innovation and radical change that provide the main hope for religion in the 21st century.

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.

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!

 

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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.

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