Gingerbread and Engaging Space

Boston Towers Gingerbread Boston Society of Architechture Imagine No traffic Boston Small

On my way to work in Boston I walk past the Boston Society of Architecture.  Its storefront is attractive, but hasn’t been overtly noticeable to me until this holiday season.  I do see people through their big windows meeting or gathering on their ground floor during mornings or evenings. They make this room available for free for use by the public. And people seem to take them up on their offer. And in the process learn a bit about the Boston Society of Architecture.

 

One night on my way home, I noticed a line forming down the block to get in to an event there. The event was the 4th Annual Gingerbread House Design Competition.

 

Every year the Boston Society of Architecture develops a theme, a competition, a reception, opportunity for positive press, and new traffic through their public space on the ground floor. Do you see where I’m going with this?… What if your congregation opened up your public space during the holiday season–

 

Oh, what?  You don’t have a space made available to the public to drop in?  Let’s start there. What if your congregation had a public space where people could drop in for quiet sanctuary from the bustling world?  You know, like other traditions do. Especially in these violent times, people crave a designated holy place to go and light a candle and just “be” in a space where other people of faith gather. I just ask that you consider this. If this makes you nervous, I encourage you to engage your local Catholic church and ask them how they do it.

 

Back to gingerbread competitions. The connection to architecture and gingerbread is playful and relevant. What could that be for your UU community? And maybe it’s not for winter holidays. Perhaps a celebration featuring Peeps sculptures in spring is your thing.

  • Playful, idea-connecting, values-promoting competition
  • Reception for the public
  • Press releases that weave in the mission of your UU community
  • Intentional community engagement

Bottom line, reimagine space you have access to and how it can be in proactive, relevant engagement with your wider community while promoting your values and mission.  Be playful, playful is so attractive! If you need a thought partner for this kind of adventure, count me in!

 

________________________

Tandi red shinglesRev. Tandi Rogers is the Innovative & Network Specialist for the UUA. Exploring the streets of Boston during the winter holiday season has been an unexpected joy.

 

 

 

Covenanting Community Highlight: Commitment Ceremony

Sacred Path is a UU religious community in Indianapolis, Indiana that was welcomed into relationship with the Unitarian Universalist Association as a Covenanting Community.

 

“Love, above all things, is a commitment to your choice.” ―Rob Liano

 

commitment-sacredpath brighterAs we enter our fourth year together, Sacred Path held a ritual of commitment over Labor Day weekend. Sitting in a circle, we began by naming and honoring our ancestors: those who helped bring us to this place and time.

 

Our prayers were silent, spoken, and sung.

 

We lit candles and honored the ministers who have served faith communities we have been a part of in the past.

 

We lit candles for each of the Unitarian Universalist congregations in the central Indiana area.

 

We lit candles for our individual spiritual guides and teachers, sometimes speaking their names into the space, sometimes silently honoring their influence in our lives.

 

We named parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles. We named ministers, nuns, teachers, and entire congregations. Some of us named authors, philosophers, and theologians as well as familiar intimates. We named those who lovingly guided us as well as those whose lessons came through difficulty and hardship, all of whom helped us to grow.

 

Before the ritual, each adult, young adult, and youth was invited to bring with them a small token symbolizing their commitment to the community to be left on the altar. People brought stuffed animals, books, cds of music they had recorded, stones, geodes, beads, feathers, pinecones, shiny boxes, poems they had written, and even glitter glue!

 

When the time came, one-by-one we approached the altar in the center of the room and shared our commitments with the community. Sometimes our commitments were named confidently others more softly. Sometimes they were silently placed on the altar along with the tokens.

 

In the next round, we honored our commitment to self for the next year. One-by-one we approached the altar again, sharing our commitments to self-care and growth. Each person received an item from the altar that spoke to them in a special way, while the community bore witness to these commitments and agreed to gently hold one another accountable to them.

 

Finally we honored the joys and sorrows the community had shared over the past year, embodied in the strings of many colors wrapped around a prayer stick made of rosewood that a member had offered for this purpose shortly after last year’s ingathering.  We sang in gratitude then processed outside to burn the stick in a sacred fire, sending its prayers skyward. We concluded by singing, “Spirit of Life.”

 

Afterward, we held a feast outdoors under the stars and the canopy of trees that rises over the land we hold sacred in this time, knowing it is made so by the many who have walked and worshipped here in past generations.

 

We invite everyone in the larger Unitarian Universalist community to keep Sacred Path in your thoughts and prayers this next year. We know all too well the inherent risk in starting something new. It would mean so much to us to feel the supportive energy of others enveloping this emerging ministry!

 

_________________________

lori-photo-squareLori Stone Sirtosky has served as a lay leader with Sacred Path since its inception in 2012. For her day job, she wrangles the technology needs of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, Unitarian Universalism’s congregation without walls. The biggest lesson she has learned in working with innovative and emerging ministries is to breathe. Whatever you are dealing with today, rest assured, another seemingly big scary thing is coming down the pike, and you will survive it, too.

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!

#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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circle of Life

Innovative Learning Circle logoOnce a month for the last several months, six ministers and one lay leader from the states of Tennessee, New Jersey, Illinois, New York and Wisconsin have been meeting to talk about congregational collaborations. They meet virtually, of course, as part of the Multi-site Innovative Learning Circle initiative. Each participant has shared a challenge story related to their work with other congregations and listened as their colleagues offered wise and gentle thoughts and suggestions in response. The conversations have been enlightening, informative and instructional, both to the person who shared the challenge story and the people who responded. In the process, these seven Unitarian Universalist leaders from different parts of the country have bonded and formed a loving and supported community.

 

Rev. Emilie Boggis, Minister of Congregational Life at the Unitarian Church in Summit, NJ, spoke for all the participants when she wrote, “I really look forward to our time together, to hearing your stories, and grappling with the issues. And I am amazed (I don’t know why) at how much movement there is in my own “project” from hearing your stories and coming to a deeper understanding of what we are trying to do. I’m very, very grateful for you all.”

 

Are you involved in multi-site work or even just thinking about it? Sign up for the next round of Innovative Learning Circles and join us. For more information, contact Tandi Rogers, trogers@uua.org.

___________________

mark bernsteinMark Bernstein is a member of the Congregational Life Staff of the Central East Region of the UUA. He is also a member of the Multi-Site Midwife Team and had the honor of facilitating the Innovative Learning Circle that he wrote about.

Regional Staff Dedicated to MultiSite

MSM webpageHave you caught the MultiSite Ministry buzz?  Did you pass on the links to the most recent blog posts on to your congregational leadership teammates?  You know the posts —  the theological grounding and context and the other blog post of the MultiSite Ministries website overview. And now are you wondering “What’s next?!”

 

It may be time to call your Regional MultiSite Ministry Coach.  These are Congregational Life staff dedicated helping midwife new connections and possibilities. They meet regularly as their own learning community in order to better serve you, and they facilitate Innovative Learning Circles with leaders pioneering this powerful and emerging form of religious community and connection. Additionally they are available to help you discern your community’s path and help connect you to other resources, including other congregations.

 

 

New England Region

 

KBGKaren Bellavance-Grace
I served multiple roles as a lay leader, and as a professional religious educator where I cherished finding ways to connect families with our faith. Now as a regional field staffer, I find such hope in working with congregations answering the deep call to collaboration.
(413) 388-4737 kbellavancegrace@uua.org

 

 

JoeJoe Sullivan
I am a member of the New England Region staff team and currently serving through June 2015 as Northern New England District Executive. Multi-site ministries offers creative options for living our covenantal faith adaptively, vitally and sustainably in the 21st Century.
(603) 228-8704, jsullivan@uua.org

 

Central East Regional Group

 

markMark Bernstein
I am member of the Congregational Life Staff of the Central East Region (CERG) of the UUA.  I believe that we are “better together” and am excited about the prospect of congregations collaborating to strengthen our Unitarian Universalist faith and its influence in the world.
(610) 639-3389, mbernstein@uua.org.

 

joanRev. Joan Van Becelaere
I am a member of the Central Eastern Regional Group (CERG) Congregational Life Staff Team.  I have a passion for helping congregations and Unitarian Universalist groups of all sizes,  realize their full potential and ability to be a force for good in the world. And I strongly believe this happens best when we are working together as teams of congregations – collaborating with one another, inspiring one another, supporting one another – so we might all thrive in the midst of changing times.
303-641-5896    jvanbecelaere@uua.org

 

Southern Region

 

kennThe Reverend Kenneth (Kenn) Gordon Hurto
I am a member and Lead Executive of the Southern Region – UUA Congregational Life staff. I have served our ministries for over 40 years, in congregations small and large. I am deeply committed to the “second half” of the Cambridge Platform which reminds us that free, autonomous congregations are also accountable to each other for guidance and support. Multisite ministries recognize this in full: we are indeed stronger together than we are apart. If we hope to transform the culture, we need to build on each other’s strengths to be both efficient and effective.  (239) 560-5628 , khurto@uua.org

 

carltonRev. Carlton Smith
I serve our UUA’s Southern Region on the Congregational Life Staff Team. I live in my hometown in Northwestern Mississippi. Most of the past 20 years I have been a parish minister, serving congregations in Greater New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Boston and Northern Virginia. I see multi-site ministries as vital components of our tradition’s evolution.
csmith@uua.org

 

Mid-America Region

 

doriDori Thexton
I have been serving Unitarian Universalism for over 30 years – in two congregations before becoming part of the field staff team. I am passionate about growing our faith and anything that will help congregations do that.  I believe that multi-site ministry models offer an endless variety of options for congregations seeking partnership, diversity, strength and vitality. Engaging congregations in exploring multi-site opportunities is an exciting next step in my efforts to support growth.
(414) 774-4199 , dthexton@uua.org

 

Pacific West Region

 

kenRev. Ken Brown
I have been on the Congregational Life Staff team for 15 years, and a Unitarian Universalist minister for over 40 years.  I serve the Pacific Southwest District in the Pacific Western region.  I have been working with the multi-site model for at least a dozen years because I see it as the best way to spread our Unitarian Universalist Faith.
(818) 370-2390, kbrown@uua.org

 

Director of Congregational Life

ScottRev. Scott Tayler
I have seen firsthand how congregational partnerships create stronger staff teams, increase program impact and take advantage of economies of scale. But ultimately this is about more than organizational efficiency. It is a way of finally having our organizational systems reflect our theology. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe that a holy creativity and power arises from deep interdependence. Breaking out of our congregational silos and staff isolation makes us not only more efficient, but more imaginative. And what the church of the 21st century needs most is imagination. Watching us shift from an “association of independent congregations” to an “association of networked congregations” not only gives me hope, but also has renewed my call.
stayler@uua.org

 

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

 

Growing in Spiritual Practices

Fahs collaborativeThe Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School chooses 3 Fahs Fellows every year to explore innovative areas of faith formation.  This year one of the Fellows is Jamil Scott.  In addition to being the Director of Lifespan Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, California, he is attending seminary at Naropa University, a Buddhist inspired contemplative University in Boulder, Colorado and is in the Religious Educator Credentialing program.

Jamil has 17 years of meditation experience in the Zen, Vajrayana, and Dzogchen traditions, and jamilleads contemplative practice and meditation workshops, including a Dharma Camp for young people. It is no surprise that his area of study as a Fahs Fellow is transformative contemplative practices in the religious education setting.  To that end, Jamil is conducting a research study.

Please take 10 minutes to answer 10 questions by clicking here.  We will report back on Jamil’s findings here on this blog.

Alsos part of his Fahs fellowship research, Jamil is collecting information regarding current usage and sentiment of/about current meditation and contemplative offerings in adult and youth religious education. By contemplative he means any practices that integrate mind/reason with body awareness and heart opening practices. This could be in the form of sitting meditation, yoga, Coming of Age retreats and more. The results of this survey will be used in development of his Fahs Fellowship project and made available to the public. If you would like to speak with him further about this research, please feel free to email him at dlre@uufresno.org.

 

 

May Be Even Better Than “Minister of Abundance & Possibilities”

Superwoman lunchboxIf you saw Scott Tayler’s announcement yesterday for my new job, you will understand why I am giddy like a schoolgirl on the first day of school. I even considered getting a new lunch box just to celebrate the transition. I thought “Growth Strategist” was a pretty awesome title, but “Innovation & Network Specialist”? Come on! It’s sparky and spicy.  I think it may be even better than “Minister of Abundance & Possibilities,” which I’ve been lobbying for for years.

 

And have you noticed the new mission of Congregational Life: “Serving Interconnection, Innovation, and Impact”?   I find it irresistible. I think it captures how we’re in a time where surrendering to the greater co-conspiracy of creativity and new models of church is essential to faithful work. As I think about how my new job will support this mission, here are some of the things I’m most excited about:

 

Interconnection

 

I have been so happy with the evolution of Innovative Learning Circles. For those of you who have not participated in one, they are on-line learning communities of leaders exploring adaptive challenges in a covenanted format that provides safe space to bring one’s whole self – the questions, doubts, vulnerabilities, passion and innovative ideas. I took the feedback from participants seriously and kept massaging the process and trying new things. It’s now ready to hand off to new facilitators (Congregational Life and Headquarters staff.) I will move into a coaching role to support the spin off of multiple learning circles.

 

I will also devote new attention to connecting leaders through digital media, looking at redundant and duplicated systems, and how we can best coordinate and compliment what is working. This will include social media, web presence and on-line learning. For much of this work I will be joined at the hip to Carey McDonald, Outreach Director and Sarah Millspaugh, Faith Outreach Strategist. They are very focused on UUA-wide web-presence branding and alignment, and it just makes sense to join forces!

 

Innovation

 

Innovative and new models of doing church is another area of my work that has my heart. I will support our regional multisite support staff team, as well as be on a Congregational Life and Outreach collaborative team effort to develop more comprehensive and robust support services for our emerging congregations and emerging “beyond” communities. I have been so impressed with the open imaginations, commitment, and passion of Congregational Life staff to create cultures and capacities of permission-giving and experimentation and authentic hospitality and dare I say, evangelism. The possibilities are endless and this team knows it and is ready to grow it. Holy “Yes!” is swirling all around!

 

Impact

 

I will still be conducting data gathering and research projects for our UUA departments, as well as the UUA Board in their discernment to create policies and pathways easier for the next generation of Unitarian Universalist leaders. I am increasing my attention to data gathering and research for your Congregational Life staff team. Scott and the Congregational Life staff are committed to impact assessment. Does the data check our assumptions so we can plan better and do better? Are we doing what we intend to do, making the impact we intend to make?

 

What a time to be doing this ministry! What are you willing to surrender in order to embrace innovation and experimentation? How can we refresh our embodiment of congregational polity? How are you living out congregational interconnection in a radical and creative way? I am incredibly thankful to join hands with all of you as we leap into these important questions and new possibilities!

 

 

______________________________

Tandi close up brick wallRev. Tandi Rogers has been playing J. Cole’s’ song Coming Home loudly as she color-codes (virtual) file folders for her new job. She feels great coming home to the staff team in which she started at such an ground-breaking time in our institutional ministry.

Report Out from the FACT People Gathering, part 2

FACTStefan Jonasson and I attended the annual meeting of he Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership last week. (for highlights from that gathering see part 1 of this 2-part series.) CCSPis the body that conducts and publishes Faith Communities Today/ FACT Reports. The common core questionnaire of the survey replicates over 150 questions from the 2000, 2005 and 2008 surveys, plus a special section on the 2008 recession.

 

These are the resulting reports from those surveys:

 

  • Faith Communities Today 2000: A Report on Religion in the United States. This research project was the largest survey of congregations ever conducted in the United States. It also is the most inclusive, denominationally decade
    sanctioned program of interfaith cooperation.

The Faith Communities Today data brought together 26 individual surveys of congregations representing 41 denominations and faith groups.
  • American Congregations 2005
 The FACT2005 national survey of congregations profiles religious life based on the 2005 national survey of congregations. This 30 page report presents a comprehensive look at the FACT2005 findings, including trend comparisons to FACT 2000 survey findings, and new perspectives on worship, conflict, leadership, interfaith involvement, vitality, the prevalence of strong
    beliefs (both on the right and the left) and the greatest challenges congregations
  • Faith Communities Today 2008 A First Look FACT2008 is the preliminary report of the recent 2008 national survey of churches, mosques and synagogues in the U.S. This report looks at tgrowth2010he story of change over eight years and demonstrates considerable congregational decline but also a pattern o hope and lessons to be learned to grow a healthy and vital congregational life
  • American Congregations 2008 This report of the FACT2008 national survey of churches and other religious communities is the most recent p
    rofiling of congregational life in the United States. The 38 page report presents a comprehensive look at the findings, including trend comparisons to FACT 2000 and FACT 2005 survey findings, and new perspectives on worship, conflict, leadership, interfaith involvement, vitality, economic hardships and other challenges churches, mosques and synagogues tell us they face.
  • Facts on Growth: 2010 Congregations that are spiritually vital and alive, have strong, permanent leadership, and enjoy joyful, innovative and inspirational worship are more likely to experience growth,
    a new study has found.  Other factors that support growth are being located in the South; having more weekly worship services; and having a clear sense of mission and purposeInternet-cover
  • A Decade of Change in American Congregations 2000-2010 The health of America’s congregations remains a challenging situation, according to a newly released report from Faith Communities Today.  The findings that show that despite efforts at innovation, bursts of vitality and increased civic participation, faith communities are entering this decade less healthy than they were at the turn of the century.
  • Virtually Religious: Technology and Internet Use in American Congregations  Religious congregations are making dramatic strides in adapting to the contemporary Internet technological reality. This report describes the level of technological use by religious groups, identifies the factors that either aid or hinder its use, and highlights the positive outcomes for the congregation that embraces the use of technology. The report also speculates beyond the data to offer several reasons why all congregations should intentionally develop their technological ministry capabilities, no matter how large or small, technologically adept or unsophisticated.worship
  • FACTS on Worship in 2010 Worship is the central, quintessential act of religion.  The worship gathering is the major setting in which people congregate to grow in their faith. This Faith Communities Today report provides a snapshot of the United States at worship across churches, denominations
    and faith groups. The picture of worship that emerges from this research report is one of both variety and similarity.

 

What survey is on the horizon? We’re studying young adult ministries! That made you perk up, didn’t it? This late fall each congregation in the Association will be taking the same survey that interfaith communities across the country will be taking. This blog will report out both our internal Unitarian Universalist findings and the larger FACT reporting.

 

According to the FACT website: The emerging consensus of research shows a growing percentage of young adults are not connected with any religion, although many younger Americans express an interest in spirituality. This reality raises concern about young adult participation in religious communities.

What is the involvement of young adults in local congregations of all faiths across the United States? And how are faith communities with significant proportion of young adults distinctive?

For these resources, a congregation is considered to have significant young adult participation if 21% or more of its participants were 18 to 34 years of age.  Across all faiths, a total of only 16% of all congregations were in this category.

 

So watch for the next FACT survey coming from the UUA. Make sure you’re faith community is represented!

 

_______________________________________________

Stefan and Tandiat CCSPStefan Jonasson and Tandi Rogers read these reports not just for fun but as a blue print for priorities and strategy.  Drop Tandi a line with stories as to how your congregation changed a direction, strategy, program or behavior due to inspiration from one of these reports. She can be reached at trogers@uua.org.