MultiSite Ministries: Setting the Table of Context

Q: The box: Is it for thinking outside?

  1. Box? What box? I don’t see a box.
  2. I like knowing where the parameters are, thanks. It’s cozy in here.
  3. The box can be a safe place, but I can think inside other boxes, maybe….
  4. I’m pretty comfortable outside the box, or even expanding the box to a bigger box.
  5. I can think out of the box. As long as I can keep my box for later.


MSM webpageBelieve it or not, your answer might provide insight into how prepared your congregation might be to enter the interconnected, interdependent world of Multisite Ministry.


The question comes from a playful quiz you will find on Unitarian Universalist Multisite, our new website chock full of helpful information for congregations (and beyond!) considering intentional collaboration and deep connection.


Just what kind of information might you find there? I am so glad you asked. Allow me to set out a Table of Context for you.


Where In The World, homepage

Wondering where you might find some real life UU congregations working together to magnify their ministries? For a quick peek, look at the map on the home page – it’s an up-to-date list of existing and emerging multisite locations. Click on one of the markers to learn who is involved and where they are located.


What in the World, part one, Our Theological Grounding

What is this thing called Multisite Ministry? Surf on over to “Our Theological Grounding” for a quick explanation of Multisite Ministry as an expression of our interdependence. Want to dive deeper? We’ve got you covered. Continue on to Our Unitarian Universalist Vision of Multisite to learn more about our core assumptions and guiding vision.


What in the World, part two, Variety is the Spice of Life

Ready to move from theory to practice? Visit this page to learn about some broad categories of multisites – merge/network, partners, branch/campus, and yoked. Could you see your congregation in any of these scenarios?


Who in the World, True Stories

If you want to know more about who is living into this interdependence, check out real examples of each type of multisite model on the Variety is the Spice of Life page. And if you’re wondering if you could see your congregation joining the club, click on the buttons that say “You might be ready to….if” – and invite others in your congregation to do the same – we’re pretty sure it will lead to great conversations!


How in the World, Resources and Readiness

We’ve lined up great resources for you – books, videos, websites, learning communities, funding resources – we’ve tried to think of everything. Oh, and of course, our Multisite UU Facebook page (please, please, go there now and join us!!!).


Who in the World, part two, Your Multisite Support Team

These good folks are your regional connection to multisite ministry support. From sea to shining sea, we’re here for you, and want to hear from you.


Why in the World?

Why ‘Multisite Ministry’? Three words:

Interdependence. On Purpose.


This post is the second in a series. Yesterday, Scott Tayler posted The Gift of MultiSite, which explained the opportunities and UU theological grounding of MultiSite Ministries.


KBGKaren Bellavance-Grace serves the Multisite Ministry Support Team from her home base of western Massachusetts. Her inner English major is very grateful for Tandi Rogers’ great phrase, ‘Table of Context.’ She had way too much fun learning how to make internet quizzes, and hopes to have more chances to put that knowledge to use.

The Gift of Multisite!

MSM webpageIt’s my honor to announce a new resource from our UUA: The UU multisite webpage. For those of us new to the multisite movement, a quick definition is in order. Multisite, to put it simply, involves multiple congregations or covenanted communities sharing staff, programming and mission to have greater impact and reach than any of them could have on their own. Over the next couple of days, members of our UUA’s Multisite Support Team will lift up various aspects of the new website to tease out that definition in greater complexity. Today, I have the wonderful job of simply saying thanks.


First of all, thanks goes out to the growing number of adventurous UU congregational leaders who are currently doing multisite ministry. Their creativity, boldness and bravery is rightly celebrated on the website. What may not be as apparent is the fact that these trailblazers have now made a UU learning community possible. In the past, we UU’s had to go outside of our faith to learn about multisite models. Now, with over a dozen UU multisite experiments in place, we can now turn to each other for wisdom, support and inspiration. That is a tremendous gift. And through this website and our UUA’s multisite support team, we are making that gift more widely available.


Second, I want to say thanks for the compassion of this effort. Again, this may not be readily apparent as you search through the site, but I don’t want us to miss it. Our current way of doing church leaves many religious professionals serving in greater isolation than any of us would wish. When you are a singular parish minister or RE leader, you must play to weaknesses not only your strengths. Think of that old line: “Having to be everything to everyone.” Additionally, many of our congregations can only offer part-time positions. This leads to frequent turnover as staff leave for full-time work elsewhere. More worrisome, it leaves staff working under the economic stress of insufficient income. Multisite models allow congregations to address all of these challenges. Isolation and playing to your weakness are eliminated when two or three congregations combine resources to enable larger, more versatile teams that can share the work more strategically. Part-time positions are eliminated as congregations join to create more attractive and sustainable full-time positions. This is not just about institutional effectiveness. It is also about us taking the burdens on our staff more seriously. It may sound odd, but I see multisite as not only a more efficient model of church, but also a kinder model. And this most surely is a great gift.


MSM ball networkFinally, I want to give thanks for the way multisite invites us to embody our theology more deeply. Interdependence lies at the heart of our faith tradition. Regardless of how each of us articulates the holy, all of us share the belief that the holy arises when disconnection is healed. Power, impact, grace, creativity, genius: these all emerge as the ties between us grow stronger, as the web of connections among us increase. Our faith movement excels at applying this insight to personal relationships. But when it comes to applying it to our organizational relationships, we’ve got some work to do. Institutionally, we exist largely as a sea of siloed congregations and covenanted communities, rather than a web of networked communities. The pioneering leaders experimenting with multisite congregational models see this clearly. At the heart of their work lies a profound desire for our congregational systems to finally reflect—and tap into the power of—our theology of interdependence. It is a desire I know all of us share.


Indeed, there’s a phrase that I am hearing used more and more: “building the architecture of our interdependence.” I love that phrase. There is something wonderfully and uniquely Unitarian Universalist about it. It boldly suggests that what makes a congregation a Unitarian Universalist congregation is not the size or beauty of its building’s architecture, but the richness of the architecture between it and its sister congregations. Multisite is not the only way to build this sacred architecture, but it is prophetically challenging each and every one of us to find our own way to contribute to the work. It is shining a new light on the holy space between us. And for that, we can all be grateful!



Scott TaylerRev. Scott Tayler is the Director of Congregational Life of our UUA. Prior to that he served as Co-Senior Minster to the yoked multisite of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canandaigua, NY.

UUA Publications Update, December 2014

New Titles


OWLOur Whole Lives Sexuality Education for Grades 7-9 Second Edition

By Pamela M. Wilson (UUA Faith Development Office),

A sexuality education program for youth that models and teaches caring, compassion, respect, and justice. A holistic program that moves beyond the intellect to address the attitudes, values, and feelings that youth have about themselves and the world.

Maintaining the OWL values and assumptions established in the first edition, the second edition introduces new content, activities, perspectives, language, and resources for today’s young teens. New topics include body image, social media/internet, bullying/bystander responsibilities, and consent education. Popular activities and discussion topics remain, and users have more options for alternate activities and multi-media resources to accommodate their participants’ specific needs and interests. A new chapter offers suggestions for including youth with special needs in OWL programs. The second edition is comprised of twenty-five ninety-minute workshops in a new order that will make it easier to plan OWL programs that suit participants’ increasing comfort and schedules.

Pamela wilsonPamela M. Wilson has taught sexuality courses in several universities, staffed national sexuality training initiatives, and written or co-authored more than sixteen curricula. She served on the Board of Director for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S., and Answer at Rutgers University.





Assembled, 2014 Select Sermons and Lectures from the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association (Skinner HouseGA sermons Books),

The theme of this year’s GA was “Love Reaches Out,” inviting Unitarian Universalists to consider ways that we can carry our faith beyond the walls of our bricks-and-mortar congregations and engage in new ways of sharing our beliefs and values with the wider world. We gathered in Providence, Rhode Island, to talk about the future of Unitarian Universalism and the opportunities of challenges of liberal religion in the twenty-first century.

This eBook includes the Berry Street Essay by Rev. Lindi Ramsden, the Fahs lecture by Rev. Mark Morrison-Reed, the Ware Lecture by Sister Simone Campbell, and sermons from the Service of the Living Tradition (Rev. Rebekah Montgomery) and the Sunday morning worship service (Rev. Mark Stringer).



Anne FrankAnne Frank and the Remembering Tree by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.

Illustrated by Erika Steiskal (Skinner House Books)

Bestselling children’s author Sandy Eisenberg Sasso tells the story of Anne Frank and her sister Margot and their time in hiding from Nazis in the Secret Annex. By narrating the story from the perspective of the tree outside the Annex window, Sasso offers an age-appropriate way to open a conversation with even young children about hate and persecution. “Nature gently conveys how life continues despite loss. I wanted little ones to find hope in the possibilities of new beginnings without being afraid,” Sasso, winner of the National Jewish Book Award, explains. The book, written for ages 6-9, is co-published by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Skinner House Books. The museum, the largest children’s museum in the world, is the first U.S. recipient of a sapling from the tree and houses a permanent exhibit called “The Power of Children,” about Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White.

Here is a video about the Secret Annex.

sandy SassoRabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is an award-winning author of thirteen books for children, including God’s Paintbrush, The Shema in the Mezuzah (winner of a National Jewish Book Award), and Creation’s First Light. There are more than half a million copies of her books in print throughout the world.

Erika Steiskal grew up in Ohio and received a BFA in illustration from the Columbus College of Arts and Erika SteiskalDesign. Her book and editorial illustrations have appeared in Spectrum, 3×3, and Communication Arts, and her work received a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles. She lives in Seattle.


Recent Reviews


where two worldsWhere Two Words Touch: A Spiritual Journey Through Alzheimer’s Disease

By Jade C. Angelica. Reviewed in Tikkun Daily on November 3, 2014.

Where Two Worlds Touch has earned glowing reviews in ForeWord Reviews, Science of Mind Magazine, Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling, U.S. Review of Books, National Catholic Reporter, Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy, and Dementia.




Trending in the UUA Bookstore


The following have been particularly popular in the month of November:





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:




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!




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!




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.

New Position Supports Innovation and Collaboration

Tandi close up brick wallI am pleased to welcome Rev. Tandi Rogers to the Congregational Life staff. Her new role will be Innovation & Network Specialist. This comes in the midst of reorganization at our UUA to enhance our support for growth, outreach and innovation. Rev. Terasa Cooley, our UUA’s Program & Strategy Officer, will soon share more details about the changes we are pursuing in a follow-up blog post. Today, I want to focus on Tandi’s new role.


Previously, Tandi served as our UUA’s Growth Strategies Specialist, partnering with Rev. Stefan Jonasson, Director of Growth Strategies and Large Congregations, to make up our UUA Growth Office. Together, they have given our congregations and our UUA many gifts. As researchers, they have helped us understand and adapt to current and coming trends. They’ve brought a new rigor to assessing the impact of our services. And most importantly, they’ve inspired and equipped us to be more bold in pursuing new models of doing church.


Although we face tightened budgets and the retirement of Stefan Jonasson, we are committed to continuing this emphasis on research, rigorous assessment and innovation. To accomplish this, we are pursuing a networked approach to our growth services. Instead of continuing a Growth Office with a new director, growth strategies and support systems will now be developed and implemented through cross-departmental teams. Tandi’s work will focus on these systems of heightened collaboration. In particular, she will help us:

  • develop deeper partnerships between field staff and headquarters departments,
  • ensure an expanded and more integrated approach to supporting “Congregations and Beyond” efforts,
  • assess programming to make sure we are helping congregations adapt to 21st century challenges, and
  • offer research support throughout our entire system.

More simply put–and as her title suggests–we are asking her to help all of us stay connected and focused on innovation.


All those familiar with her work know that Tandi is the perfect person for this job. She has a passion for teamwork and a wonderfully creative mind. The entire Congregational Life staff and I are thrilled to have her as our partner. And we look forward to all the ways she will help us partner with you.



Scott Tayler close upReverend Scott Tayler, Director of Congregational Life, our UUA.

Congregational Life Mission:  Serving Interconnection, Innovation & Impact

Report Out from the FACT People Gathering, part 1

FACTAs it turns out, data geeks throw a pretty good party! Stefan Jonasson and I attended the annual meeting of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership last week. It was held in Chicago at the beautiful headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.  About 30 researches from over 25 denominations or religious networks gathered to compare notes, observations, challenges, and excitement over current studies. I was downright giddy to be there!


I got to meet my counterpart from the Greek Orthodox community who attempted to replicate the study I had done a couple years ago on Free Range Unitarian Universalists. He and I spent many hours on the phone last year talking about how polity, culture, and many other variables effect translation of research instruments. Try to grock that for a moment. In the room of religious researches Alexei and I would be placed on opposite ends of the spectrum for so many reasons, and yet we could not wait to finally meet and break bread together.


Researchers for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Church of the Nazarene and I excitedly swapped challenges of our fall 2015 study and checked our assumptions – Is that true? How would we know? What do you see from the vantage of your tradition?


I disclosed holy envy for the new, comprehensive and dynamic database that the United Church of Christ researchers use with the whole of their national and field staff. And followed them on break to take notes on the details of a study they are doing on Congregational Vitality. I want to borrow their instrument!


Some expressed holy envy at how Unitarian Universalists use technology with relative ease to break down barriers to communication. We are early adapters and adopters of technology. They looked at Stefan and I in wonder because we primarily collaborate across national borders through regular video conferencing.


Many of the researchers were equally fascinated that data analysis is a relatively small percentage of our Growth Office’s dedicated time. That most of our work is in actually actively using the findings to do ministry better, whether in direct service or in resource development. They had holy envy that our reports are actively being used by our UUA Board of Directors to make better decisions about our future. And that our field staff uses reports to determine priorities and check intended impact. I know many of our congregations do, too! “Give me those numbers so I can decide how to do better!”


And there was discomfort, too. When the researcher from the National Council of Churches pointed out that the historic Black churches were missing from our cooperative, I kept pushing the issue. Why? What are we going to do about it? And now we have an effort to examine who is missing and to actively invite those groups into the cooperative. Later my new friend from the LDS tradition observed, “Inclusion is very important to your religion, isn’t it?” Yes. Yes, it is.


In partnership with others similar enough to be able to communicate but different enough to challenge same-ness assumption is where I really begin to understand myself. My participation with the CCSP clarified for me that I come from the people of


  • Adaptivity
  • Relational Curiosity
  • Thinking to do
  • Working toward justice


I feel blessed to live in a time where I can work along side my cousins in faith and use quantitative and qualitative research to help see a clear picture of who we are individually and together in this 21st century landscape.


Part two of our FACT People Gathering report will focus on the actual publications of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership and the most current survey taking place.



Stefan and Tandiat CCSPYes, Stefan Jonasson and Tandi Rogers pass notes in class and egg each other to make mischief for the good of the group. They were in their element at this particular gathering.

General Assembly: making it contagious

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


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


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


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


Event ID Event Title Smallscreen Video Library Page Page on
107 Opening Celebration and General Session I
107 Banner Parade
107 General Session I
107 Opening Worship
202 Thursday AM Worship
202 General Session II–2
273 Synergy Worship
302 General Session III and Worship
302w Friday Morning Worship
302a President’s Report
302b Moderator’s Report
302c Board of Trustees’ Report
302d Budget Report
338 General Session IV
338a Debate and vote on Congregational Study/Action Issues–2
338b GA Talk – Fossil Fuel Divestment
338c Beacon Press Report–4
338d Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Team report
338e Financial Advisor Report–3
357 SLT
402 General Session V and Worship
402w Saturday Morning Worship
402b Statements and voting to admit potential Actions of Immediate Witness to the Agenda
402d Introduction: Coalition of UU International Organizations
402e Celebration: Holdeen india Program’s 30th Anniversary (must sign in to see it)
402f Presentation: Distinguished Service Award
434 General Session VI
434a Debate and vote on business Resolution on fossil fuel divestment
434c GA Talk – Humanism and Theism in Conversation
434d Presentation: Angus Mclean Award
434e UU Women’s Federation Report
434f GA Talk – Living our witness@Waterfire
435 Ware Lecture
436 Worship b4 Waterfire
436 WaterFire – live streaming
503 General Session VII
503b UU Service Committee Report
503c UU College of social Justice Report
503d Debate and vote on Actions of immediate witness
503e Presentation: Presidential Award for volunteer service
503f Debate and vote on proposed amendments to C-2.3 regarding inclusion
503g GA Talk – YA@GA
503h GA Talk – Gathering for Purpose: The Future of GA
504 Sunday Morning Worship
505 General Session VIII
505a Debate and vote on proposed amendments to C-10.6 and C-10.7 regarding provisions concerning investments
505b Debate and vote on proposed amendments to C-3.6 to enable regions
505c Congratulations to the Current Delegate by Former Moderators
505d Invitation to GA 2015 in Portland
506 Closing Ceremony


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


Keep General Assembly going. Make it contagious!


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

Become an Outreach Beta-Tester’re looking for a few brave Unitarian Universalist congregations for a little project – and by little, I mean potentially transformative for the future of our faith movement (not to oversell it or anything). Intrigued? Then you might want to join our team of beta-testers for the UUA’s new outreach efforts.


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


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


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


Join us in the lab of faithful experimentation! For questions, email



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

Making Unitarian Universalism Facebook-Legit

According to Susanne Skubik Intriligator, UUA’s Online Strategist, when enough people indicate an interest in a topic, Facebook generates an “interest” page for that topic and populates it with Wikipedia content. Right now, there’s a Facebook interest page called “Unitarian Universalism” that describes our religion. It’s unowned, and is liked by 23,000 people. (Linked with similar “Unitarian Universalist” page).


You can help that page be a real page, linked to a real UU religious organization.

Why does this matter to the growth?   It’s important because it gives people a link, from an unaffiliated Wikipedia-filled FB page to the actual UUA feed. It’s not instructive. It’s not about institutional control. It gives the general public more direct information about how to learn more about our movement.  And guess what?  You can add to it!

Are you ready and willing to give it a try?



Laughing Tandi for DialogRev. Tandi Rogers wants people who are seeking communities of progressive, covenantal faith to call home or to call partner to find us.  Most any means necessary.  The more creative and collaborative, the better.


Clusters: Doing Church in the 21st Century

google iconsAs we advance deeper in to it, what will it mean to “do church in the 21st Century.”  After years of being in silos of our own making, actually in opposition to the suggestions in the Cambridge Platform, we have such great potential to impact each other and our communities when we work together and see ourselves as one.  This means blurring the lines of our traditional congregational and geographical borders to share resources, work together and increase our presence and impact to each other and the communities we serve.

Below you will find some general ideas for discussion, please insert your geographical area designation. Understanding there are some more rural congregations than others, it is just a starting point for possibilities.


Level One Cooperation


Have Yearly Board Kickoffs That Include: 

  • Shared Orientation and Training – What do Boards do and how do they do it, including sharing congregational information and what can be learned from each other and leadership training that includes conflict and change management
  • Serving with Grace – Learning how to make leadership a spiritual practice
  • Social time – Time for congregational leaders to form informal links


Share Cluster Calendaring/Meetings/Gatherings

  • Sharing Calendars – in order to inform and support each other in our efforts – Too often we double book things, not entirely unavoidable, but certainly more foreseeable.
  • Cluster Social Events – Designed to bring UU congregations together to cross borders and create joy, opportunities for connection
  • Committee Leaders Meeting by Function – To brainstorm, share ideas and best practices. – Membership, Social Justice, Fund Raising, others
  • Regular meetings of professional staff by category such as Administrators, DRE’s, Music Directors and the like – To brainstorm, share ideas and best practices
  • Cluster Workshops, Activities and Events – Music events such as combined Choir Concerts (such as Sources Cantata), Seminary for A Day, co-sponsored speakers, Worship Retreats


Level Two Cooperation


  • Shared Purchasing – cleaning supplies to insurance, could we find better deals?
  • Shared Website Hosting – Maybe use one vendor and one shared webmaster.
  • Shared Custodial Services
  • Faith Formation in the 21st Century – Creating shared content for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Weebly, and other electronic and New Media


Level Three Cooperation


  • Shared Cluster Staff – These positions could be housed in one of our larger congregations (or maybe not) and the ratio of pay and the hours of each position would vary, but the intent would be for them to assist with cluster-wide efforts and to support individual congregational efforts as well.
    • Social Justice Coordinators
    • Young Adult and Campus Ministry
    • Marketing/Outreach/PR


Level Four Cooperation


  • Ministerial Specialization – A certain percentage of minister’s time would be spent in other congregations. In other words, in addition to or instead of shared cluster staff, there would be a minister that would help coordinate all the cluster social justice efforts or pastoral care for example.


Level Five Cooperation


Legal and official cooperation – Budgets of the congregations would be shared to support a broader perspective of what congregation means. Examples could include:

  • Ministers who serve more than one congregation
  • Preaching in more than one place each month
  • Providing support and expertise in many ways to area congregations
  • Looking at staffing differently/centralizing efforts in one place or another.

That could possibly lead to The Unitarian Universalists of [fill in the blank] County – North, South East and West Campus with one ministry staff led by a senior minister or ministerial leadership team and one board.


Rev. David A. Miller and Rev. Tera Little will be facilitating workshop on “Doing Church in the 21st Century” based on this information at General Assembly on Thursday, June 26 12:30-1:45 pm Eastern (RICC West Lobby.)


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

Before entering the ministry, Reverend Miller had over 25 years of management, marketing, business development and fund-raising experience with both private sector and non-profit organizations.  He has also been a trainer and consultant specializing in working with organizations on building organizational capacity, and strategically integrating marketing, communications and relationship development.

He serves Unitarian Universalism as a Member of the Pacific Southwest District’s Ministerial Transitions Team, a National Advisory Team member for the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign, as a mentor in the PSWD In-Care Program and district consultant for congregation boards.