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 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













Multicultural Leadership School

HitchhikingOnce, I hitchhiked to the UU Fellowship of Falmouth. I was 20, living in Woods Hole, MA for a winter where I fell in love with snow-covered beaches in January and I learned that a hankering to go to worship can land you in a stranger’s car, mug of tea balanced on your knees, speeding toward church.


When I walk into UU congregations, whether it’s First Parish in Cambridge where I am the Affiliate Community Minister or the UU Fellowship of Falmouth on that random, cold, Sunday morning, I feel instantly at home and also almost as instantly, alone. I’m at home because this is the faith that raised me – I know the hymns and rituals and the rhythms. I know that whether I’m a second grader in floral bike shorts and matching socks or a twenty-something hitchhiker, I am welcome.


I also felt alone because I hold identities that are minorities within our movement – I’m a young adult, a millennial and I’m a person of color. When I sit in churches, I feel the gift and weight of those identities – the blessings of my ancestors, the strength and resilience of my heritage, and also the expectation that I might help our faith move be transformed and transformative. It can feel like an honor and a loneliness, a charge and a burden.


This year summer, for the fifth year, the UUA will host Multicultural Leadership School, a gathering for UU youth and young adults of color from July 10th-July 14th, 2015 at the Walker Center outside of Boston. MLS is place for UU youth and young adults of African Descent, Caribbean, Native/American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latina/o and Hispanic, Middle Eastern/Arab, Multiracial and Multiethnic to deepen our faith, lift our spirits, and build critical skills for leadership in the face of our uncertain, broken and beautiful world.


Because we are so often alone, even when we are at home, we must find ways to be together. To grow our vibrant Unitarian Universalist faith, we must carve out communities of support and connection for those of us who so often hold identities alone.

Help spread the word to UU youth and young adults of color in your community! Application deadline is April 15th. Registration is $275 and includes transportation, housing, meals and all materials – no need to hitchhike to this one 🙂


ElizabethRev. Elizabeth Nguyen is the UUA Leadership Development Associate for Youth and Young Adults of Color and in this picture her socks match her bike shorts.

Professional and Lay Leadership Development Weekend

Playful props from a Renaissance Module training in the New England Region.
Playful props from a Renaissance Module training in the New England Region.

Looking for a mini-Leadership School experience on a specific topic filled with practical tools, perspective, inspiration and camaraderie?  A Renaissance module may be for you and your team (it’s always more fun and more effective to go with a team!)

Renaissance modules are not just for religious educators! Ministers, seminarians, and lay leaders are welcome to attend. Please note that the
(newly revised) Worship modules are intentionally co-led by a religious educator and a minister.

And several Renaissance modules have been added to the UUA calendar. Info about the module reader and how to register is posted on the calendar listing.

Here are modules starting in January and February so that you don’t miss the registration deadlines.



Feb 6-8 (Tampa, FL) Led by Pat Ellenwood and Anna Bethea

Mar 25-26 (Portsmouth, NH)  Led by Pat Ellenwood and Jenn McAdoo

Adult Faith Development

Feb 27-Mar 1 (Roswell, GA) Led by Erin Reid and Anna Bethea


July 5-10 (Ferry Beach) Led by Gail Forsyth-Vail and Jeanette Ruyle

Ministry with Youth

Jan 8-10 (Santee UU Church, CA) Led by Mr. Barb Greve and Liz Jones

Multicultural RE

Aug 21-23 (Seattle area) Led by Aisha Hauser and Rev. Samaya Oakley

Philosophy of RE

Mar 26-28 (Memphis TN) Led by Rev. Tandy Scheffler and Leia Durland-Jones

Teacher Development

May 5-7 (Walker Center MA) Led by Cindy Beal and Halcyon Westall

UU History (online)

Jan 15-Apr 23 (Online) Led by Annie Scott and Sadie Kahn-Greene


Apr 7-9 (Camp DeBenneville Pines, CA) Led by Catherine Farmer-Loya and Rev. Tamara Casnova-Suzuki


Ren mod chalice croppedIf you are interested in sponsoring a module in your area, please contact Pat Kahn, Children and Families Program Director of the UUA Ministries and Faith Development.  The Planning Guide and module descriptions are easily available to you, as well.

Please share this info widely – in your congregations, clusters, districts, regions and chapters!

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:


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.

Discussion Guide for Congregations & Beyond

Is your congregation interested in exploring changing trends in the American religious landscape?  Are you hoping to broaden the community that you serve?  Are you curious about the concept of “Congregations and Beyond” that Peter Morales has introduced to us?  There is a new discussion guide designed to help structure your congregational conversations on these subjects and more.

It’s available for downloading at

It contains three sessions that will allow you to

  1. explore the UUA’s rationale and set of initiatives we are developing,
  2. investigate the new technologies that allow us to create new kinds of connections, and
  3. learn about examples of congregational initiatives that help them “lower their walls.”

We are interested in learning from your conversations!  Please join the Facebook page, “Unitarian Universalists Exploring Congregations and Beyond” and post the things you have been talking about.

Study Guide for UUWorld Article: Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, UT

Congratulations to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden (UUCO), Utah, for being the newest Breakthrough Congregation! Each year the UUA’s Office of Growth Strategies recognizes a handful of congregations that have “broken through” barriers to achieve exemplary goals. UUCO’s embrace of multigenerational worship and religious education for all ages has drawn attention from across the UUA. UUCO has also become a sanctuary for LGBT youth and a community hub for social justice work.

UUCO is highlighted in the summer edition of the UUWorld, which will be hitting Unitarian Universalist members’ mailboxes at any moment.  The following study guide is intended to accompany the article about the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, Utah.  We hope that this enables lively discussions for your congregational leaders.

Cora Webb passes a collection basket at UUCO.

UUCO prides itself on having truly multigenerational worship, with children and youth participating in multiple roles throughout the entire worship service. (more…)