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A UUA Breakthrough Congregation: First Parish in Bedford, MA

UUA Top Stories - 1 hour 31 min ago
UU World profiles First Parish in Bedford, MA which the UUA named as a “Breakthrough Congregation” this year for its sustained growth. Membership has doubled since the Rev. John Gibbons started there twenty-three years ago and is projected to break 400 this year. Read how they made real growth happen in their congregation.
Categories: UU News

UUs Rally For Marriage Equality in Four States

UUA Top Stories - 1 hour 31 min ago
In Maine, Maryland, and Washington, there are measures on the ballot that would authorize same-sex marriage. In Minnesota, marriage equality advocates are working to get out a “No” vote next month on a legislative measure that was passed to prevent same-sex marriage. In all four states Unitarian Universalists are deeply engaged, hoping for outcomes that favor marriage equality. Learn more about their important work in this article from UU World .
Categories: UU News

UU-UNO 50th Anniversary: Tickets Are On Sale Now

UUA Top Stories - 1 hour 31 min ago
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO)! For 50 years, the UU-UNO has worked to support international human rights, climate change policies, security and peace building for women, and many other issues. We invite you to attend our anniversary celebration in New York City on November 3rd, 2012. Tickets are on sale now through Oct 20th. Buy your ticket before Sept 30th and receive a discounted rate. Celebrate in your congregations and come celebrate with us!
Categories: UU News

Board wants new process for handling complaints about clergy misconduct

UU World - Mon, 2014-04-21 01:00
NEWS: UUA Board of Trustees also votes to support business resolution on fossil fuel divestment.
Categories: UU News

How to know God

UU World - Mon, 2014-04-21 01:00
SPIRIT: An atheist mystic meets the goddess of love.
Categories: UU News

A roundup of reader suggestions

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-04-18 17:34

The Rev. Heather Christensen, in addition to curating the Interdependent Web and blogging at Nagoonberry, is the administrator of a Facebook group for UU bloggers. This week, in Heather’s absence, we invited members of that group to name their favorite posts (by other bloggers). Here are their suggestions. (And there are a few extras at the bottom, as well as a description of the bloggers group.)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum, “Nickel and Dimed in Bivocational Ministry” (Rev. Cyn, 4.12.14, suggested by Jordinn Nelson Long, Raising Faith)

“Seeker of the Flaming Chalice,” “You are the Trolls: Unitarian Universalists in the movie Frozen” (Seeker of the Flaming Chalice, 4.13.14, suggested by Jenn Gray)

The Rev. Mary Wellemeyer, “Easter, Our Problem Holiday” (Open Road, 4.16.14, suggested by the Rev. Theresa Novak, Sermons, Poetry, and Other Musing)

The Rev. Lynn Ungar, “The Joy of Taxes” (Quest for Meaning, 4.16.14, suggested by Karen Johnston, Irrevspeckay)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum named three posts about the Rev. Georgette Wonders, the minister of Bradford Community Church UU in Kenosha, Wisc., who died last week after a car accident:

I was moved this week by the blogs about Georgette Wonders, particularly Theresa Novak’s, but also Sam Trumbore’s and PeaceBang’s.

Of note

The Rev. Naomi King has been a pioneer in UU use of online and social media. This week she shared personal news.

I have lived with a chronic and progressive illness for many years now. I have become progressively weaker.

I have now reached the point where it is a great struggle for me to consistently maintain my public ministry – both the quality and regularity of posts – and to engage in a timely manner with my social media community.

Over the course of the month of April, some of my regular postings will drop out, until posts from me become rare. (RevNaomi Tumblr, 4.12.14)

Peter Bowden and Naomi held a “tweetchat” to discuss the changes in Naomi’s digital ministry. (storify.com/uuplanet, 4.12.14)

Join the conversation

If you are a blogger and have a Facebook account, you’re invited (encouraged, even) to join the conversation in a Facebook group:

The UU Bloggers’ Workshop is a space for encouragement and collaboration, for dreaming and doing. We are beginners and veterans, clergy and laity, insiders and outsiders, a chorus of UU voices.

If you’re UU and you blog, you’re welcome here, whether or not UUism is your blog focus.

If you’d like to join the UU Bloggers’ Workshop, contact Heather at interdependentweb@uua.org.

Categories: UU News

Humanism and the future of Unitarian Universalism, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-04-18 15:17

Humanism is losing ground to ‘anythingism’

In her interview with Religion News Service, Maria Greene of the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association (UUHA) says that an important goal of the UUHA in its future work is to be a bridge between the broader secular movement and Unitarian Universalism. (Religion News Service - 4.10.14)

Remembering the Boston Marathon bombings

Across the city, Bostonians observed a moment of silence to mark the anniversary of last year’s Boston Marathon Bombings. In Dorchester, Mass., the Rev. Arthur Lavoie talked with fourth grade children about understanding and forgiveness as they remembered the tragic events of that day. (The Boston Globe - 4.15.14)

More news from UU congregations

The Rev. Georgette Wonders, who died last week from injuries sustained in a car accident, was honored by her congregation, Bradford Community Church UU in Kenosha, Wisc., as an advocate for the less fortunate and a leader in bringing diverse groups together in the community. (Kenosha News - 4.14.14)

Members of First Parish Church in Taunton, Mass., are filling and giving out “blessing bags” with basic sanitary items, snacks, and personal messages of faith and support as part of their ministry to support homeless members of their community. (Taunton Daily Gazette - 4.13.14)

The United Way awarded the Sanford UU Church in Sanford, Me., a one-year grant of $3,000 to further their work on the Corner Cupboard program, which provides basic necessities to members of the community who are financially struggling. (Sanford News - 4.10.14)

Shea Winterberger attended a recent UUA district youth convention and was moved by how they interpreted their theme of “BeYOUtiful” by practicing radical inclusivity and honoring the inherent worth and dignity of all participants throughout the event. (Juneau Empire - 4.13.14)

For Nebraska college student Schuyler Geery-Zink, her campus ministry group, Unitarian Universalists of UNL, provides a supportive space at her school to explore diverse topics and have open conversations with people of differing beliefs. (Daily Nebraskan - 4.14.14)

Despite a stay on the U.S. District Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Michigan, many businesses and other groups in the state are preparing for nuptials to begin. Unitarian Universalist Karen Ryan plans to reopen her wedding chapel and hold services officiated by the Rev. Keven Tarsa. (The Detroit News - 4.12.14)

The Rev. Ann Schranz of the Monte Vista UU Congregation in Montclair, Calif., supports the work of Sister Simone Campbell and NETWORK to raise awareness of the importance of paying taxes as a way of showing how a society funds what matters. (Daily Bulletin - 4.11.14)

Accotink UU Church in Burke, Va., hosted a number of community leaders, from a member of the Sentencing Project to local law enforcement to the executive director of OAR, a group that assists former prisoners, to discuss the pressing issue of mass incarceration. (Connection Newspapers - 4.10.11)

Categories: UU News

A New, Justice-Focused Green Sanctuary Program

UUA Top Stories - Fri, 2014-04-18 01:00
Responding to the realities of the environmental crisis we are currently experiencing and the lived experiences and needs of Unitarian Universalists, the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Green Sanctuary Program has been revised and the new version is now available online. 
Categories: UU News

War zone sabbatical

UU World - Mon, 2014-04-14 01:00
IDEAS: I went to Afghanistan and Iraq to learn something about hope.
Categories: UU News

Questions of comfort

UU World - Mon, 2014-04-14 01:00
SPIRIT: Where do you find comfort in suffering if you don't believe suffering has a greater purpose?
Categories: UU News

Starr King names Rosemary Bray McNatt its next president

UU World - Mon, 2014-04-14 01:00
NEWS: The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt to follow the Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker as president of Starr King School for the Ministry.
Categories: UU News

At detention center, immigrants kept indoors for years

UU World - Mon, 2014-04-14 01:00
NEWS: Unitarian Universalists continue vigils outside Washington facility where detained immigrants are held.
Categories: UU News

Religious Atheists? Maria Greene on Unitarian Universalist Humanists

UUA Top Stories - Mon, 2014-04-14 01:00
Beacon Press author and Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, Chris Stedman, interviews the new Director of Development & Communication for the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association and gets her thoughts on, among other things, the future of Humanism in Unitarian Universalism and feeling comfortable in UU churches.
Categories: UU News

Emerging, Alternative Groups at UUA's Growing Edge

UUA Top Stories - Mon, 2014-04-14 01:00
UU World reports on a number of experimental UU communities that your UUA is working with to explore alternative models for joining in religious community together. Learn more about these innovate groups and their big plans for the future of our faith. 
Categories: UU News

Wisc. minister dies after car accident, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Sat, 2014-04-12 09:21

Rebuilding taught congregation resiliency

After a fire in 2011 destroyed much of their church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick, Me., celebrated the completion of their new building last week. Participants were moved by how well the congregation came together throughout the rebuilding process and showed how resilient they really were. (WLBZ2 - 4.7.14)

With more than $1 million dollars donated to the capital campaign after the fire burned their building, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick was proud to show off their new 21st century church, which includes pieces of the old church and a broader emphasis on accessibility. (The Forecaster - 4.3.14)

Minister dies from injuries in drive-through accident

The Rev. Georgette Wonders, minister of the Bradford Community Unitarian Universalist Church in Kenosha, Wisc., died April 11 from severe head injuries she sustained in a freak accident at a drive-through restaurant earlier in the week. (Kenosha News – 4.11.14)

See also: “Freak accident in fast food drive-through badly injures Kenosha minister” (WISN 12 - 4.10.14), ”Local minister critically hurt in freak accident” (Kenosha News – 4.9.14).

More news from UU congregations

Current and former members of the Sanford Unitarian Universalist Church in Sanford, Me., will travel from across New England to join together in a reunion celebration. With no particular agenda, the reunion will be an opportunity for guests to share music, memories, and camaraderie. (Weekly Observer - 4.3.14)

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Summit, N.J., will honor Earth Day this year with a free environmental film series that will include a question and answer session following each movie. Members hope the series will help inspire people to care about their food, water, and air. (Independent Press - 4.4.14)

The Rev. John Crestwell Jr. is profiled for his innovative AWAKE Ministries at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, Md. In the interview, Crestwell shares insights on how his early upbringing, seminary education, and the region in which he lives have all shaped his approach to ministry. (CapitalGazette.com - 4.6.14)

In their series on immigration, Public Radio International profiles the Rev. Cheng Imm Tan on her first days in America after emigrating from Malaysia. After overcoming a number of initial cultural shocks and difficulties, Tan eventually moved to Boston and became a UU minister and the founding director of the Office of New Bostonians. (Public Radio International - 4.3.14)

A member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Baton Rouge, La., reflects on the circular window in her church’s building and how it has helped guide her spiritual journey during Sunday worship services. (The Advocate - 4.9.14)

The Rev. Jeff Liebmann of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, Mich., takes an in-depth look at how the family that owns Hobby Lobby, the recent defendants in the U.S. Supreme Court case regarding insurance coverage for contraception, acts upon their religious values through their business. (Midland Daily News - 4.5.14)

The Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church in East Melbourne, Australia, is speaking out against a shift in national public policy in that country that it sees as undermining public protections in a variety of areas, from health care to consumer protections to labor laws. (The Age - 4.9.14)

Updated 4.12.14.

Categories: UU News

Truthtelling, saying goodbye, small congregations, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-04-11 12:12
How are you, really?

Faced with severe financial hardship, Kathleen McGregor has trouble finding the energy to blog; it takes everything she has to not fall through a frayed safety net.

It is not that I cannot find something to write about. There are plenty of things that are important to me, not the least of which is living out my Unitarian Universalist faith in the green and the LGBTQ communities. I write the posts in my head, but am bogged down by the thoughts of more immediate concern.

If one were to look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I have hit bottom. (Both/And, April 4)

The Rev. Megan Lloyd Joiner has started answering honestly when asked the question, “How are you?”

Our family has had more than our fair share of bad news of late, and it has begun to take its toll. Add a new baby and my spouse finishing his graduate program and a dual job search and I had a lot to say to the question that has become a rote greeting. . . .

It’s got me thinking about how we all have the opportunity to minister to people in our lives. It starts so simply, with asking “How are you?” And really wanting to know. (Quest for Meaning, April 7)

Saying goodbye

“Plaidshoes” reminds us that the candidating season has another side.

While there is a lot of celebrating during candidating season, there is also a lot of mourning. My congregation received word this week that our Minister is leaving us for another congregation. To say I am upset is an understatement. It caught the majority of our congregation completely by surprise. . . .  Do Ministers owe their congregations any sort of warning? I feel a bit betrayed.  (Everyday Unitarian, April 9)

The Rev. Theresa Novak expresses sadness about leaving a congregation she loves.

How shall I say goodbye
How can I loosen
The heartstrings
That have held us so close
For the last seven years . . . .

I won’t say goodbye
I won’t break my heart
The ties are so deep
The best I can do
Is offer with grace
A fond fare thee well . . . . (Sermons, Poetry and Other Musings, April 4)

Small congregations

The Rev. Dawn Cooley, after reading the materials for the upcoming UUA board meeting, writes that small congregations are “our present, and our future.”

I hope that these numbers mean that there will be more discussion about how the UUA can more effectively support these smaller congregations (who often feel overlooked) and other emerging covenanted communities. (Speaking of, April 9)

The Rev. Mary Wellemeyer recently taught a growth workshop for small congregations during the annual conference of the Mountain Desert District.

It was gratifying that thirty or so hardy souls packed into our little room AFTER the annual meeting to talk about this touchy and tender subject. We were alone—no big congregations were represented! So we could let our hair down. (Open Road, April 6)

The Noah stories

The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg reviews the new movie, Noah, using his knowledge of biblical scholarship.

[Although] I think the film (though strong in parts) ultimately falls short in significant ways, Aronofsky does fascinatingly translate scripture into screenplay using a very Jewish method of interpretation called midrash,which fills in the gaps of the biblical text with elaborate details and speculation about what might have been the case. (Pluralism, Pragmatism, Progressivism, April 8)

For Andrew Hidas, the Noah stories lose their power when literalists try to make them history.

On virtually every major human rights issue of recent centuries—whether involving race, gender, sexual orientation or religious freedom—literalists of every persuasion have fought bitterly to maintain ancient prejudices.

But beyond even that is the tragedy of essentially devaluing the sweeping power of story and legend to transform lives. By attempting to shoehorn a label of “history” onto fable, the true redemptive power of metaphor is lost. (traversing, April 4)

Religion, right and wrong

The Rev. Robin Bartlett responds to a reader’s question: is our UU sense of superiority part of our youth retention problem?

[If] if we say we are a liberal religion that honors all paths to Truth, and then a visitor comes in and asks for a prayer, and we scoff and say “we don’t do that supernatural mumbo jumbo here” . . . we are falsely advertising. . . . We need to recognize, with humility, that we are not better than any other church, nor are we less orthodox. . . .

I think retaining our youth starts with being honest about who we are. And our beautiful, fallible human enterprise of a religion blossoms with that honesty, as well. Now go and be good humans. (Living Faithfully/Parenting Faithfully, April 8)

John Beckett unpacks an earlier blog post about doing religion wrong.

If the primary focus of your religion is on how bad other people are, then you’re doing it wrong. . . . If the primary focus of your religion is pointing out how wrong other people’s religion is, you’re doing it wrong. . . . If your religion tells you human society is fine just the way it is, you’re doing it wrong. . . . If your religion tells you it’s all about you, you’re doing it wrong.   (Under the Ancient Oaks, April 6)

The Rev. Scott Wells hopes that within UUism there can be “Room for everyone, and resources for all,” but notes that it doesn’t always feel that way.

There’s the insinuation that anyone who’s a Christian is being obstinate, or that our presence is indulged as some sort of polite inheritance. The same goes for anyone who insists that the processes within our religious institution should be held to a higher standard of democratic and spiritual accountability, using historic models of how Unitarian and Universalists organize. What better way to sideline people than to tell them they don’t belong, or that they belong to another era. (Boy in the Bands, April 7)

Diana McLean objects to a Christian minister’s reference to “believers, nonbelievers, and those whose beliefs are in flux.”

It was clear to me from the context that, like many Christians, this author says “believers” and “nonbelievers” when she means “Christians” and “non-Christians” . . . .

When people who mean “believers in Christ as Lord and Savior” say instead “believers”, it isn’t just shorthand, it’s an implication that one particular belief is belief. That one way is the right way. (Poetic Justice, April 5)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein invites us to join her journey through Holy Week.

I love all kinds of communities and treasure their sacred stories. I’m not interested in making people Christian at all. I’m REALLY interested in helping groups of people become communities. I don’t care who or what we are or what we believe: communities save. (PeaceBang, April 9)

For the Rev. Dr. Fred Muir, the UUA headquarters’ move from Beacon Hill is a promising sign that Unitarian Universalism is becoming less of an elitist, reason-only religion.

What I’m seeking—what the future awaits—is a balanced complete religion. I want us to share what we think and what we feel; I love knowing that you are led by your head and your spirit; I am deepened knowing that we feed the mind and nourish the soul. I want a faith that brings all of me/us together, binds life as one, binds us as a community. In short, I seek a way of faith that is not elitist; I want to share a religion that honors the whole person and welcomes all people. (Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, April 1)

Categories: UU News

British Unitarians welcome marriage equality, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Mon, 2014-04-07 14:09

UK Unitarian leader remembers history of support

When same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales, Derek McAuley, chief officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, took the opportunity to celebrate the many decades of support Unitarians have given to same-sex marriage. (PinkNews.co.uk - 3.29.14)

Other stories of UU justice work

After Michigan’s governor would not recognize same-sex marriages carried out while that state’s ban was ruled unconstitutional, the Rev. Cynthia Landrum, of the Unitarian Universalist Church of East Liberty, announced that she refuses to sign any marriage license until all couples are legally able to wed in her state. (mlive.com - 3.28.14)

Living out their church’s vision of being the change they wish to see in the world, volunteers at the Sanford Unitarian Universalist Church in Sanford, Maine, have run a successful non-food pantry from their church for the past eight years. (Weekly Observer - 3.27.14)

A group of women from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fullerton, Calif., joined the Fast for Families campaign in support of comprehensive immigration reform. They donned their gold Standing on the Side of Love T-shirts as they rallied outside of their local representative’s office in Brea, Calif. (Orange County Register - 4.1.14)

The Rev. Kierstin Homblette of First Unitarian Society of Denver is one of several Unitarian Universalists across the country who wrote to their local media to show their support as people of faith for widespread access to contraception while the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. case. (The Denver Post - 3.28.14)

Other Hobby Lobby letters include:

“Letter to the Editor: Hobby Lobby should provide birth control to employees” (Naperville Sun - 3.14.14)

“Corporations are not churches” (The Record - 3.18.14)

More news from UU congregations

Members of Evergreen Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Marysville, Wash., joined several other area churches in showing their support for those affected by the recent mudslides. They lit candles of concern and remembrance for them during Sunday services. (HeraldNet - 3.28.14)

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin, Ill., is helping to organize an interfaith earth fair in honor of Earth Day this month and to help get their community involved in caring for the earth. One goal of the fair is to show other faith groups how to make their places of worship greener. (The Beacon-News - 3.27.14)

More than 200 quilts have been made for cancer patients this year by the Quilt Project, supported by members of the Unitarian Universalist Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn, Mass. Using donated materials, quilters create brightly colored quilts and send them to area treatment centers. (The Dover Sherborn Press - 3.27.14)

After 100 years in its current building, the Unitarian Church of Quincy, Ill., celebrated its long life as a congregation and a rededication of its building with a special worship service. Elder members honored in the service felt the church was part of their personal heritage. (KHQA - 3.30.14)

Newly installed minister the Rev. Mara Dowdall says that her experience with political work informs her goals as minister of First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, Vt. She hopes to reach out to young adults in her community to provide them the support she knows is needed at this time in their lives.  (Burlington Free Press - 3.26.14)

Categories: UU News

UUA Presidential Search Committee begins its work

UU World - Mon, 2014-04-07 01:00
NEWS: Created by 2010 General Assembly vote, committee will pick two nominees for 2017 UUA presidential election.
Categories: UU News

UUA names new Stewardship and Development director

UU World - Mon, 2014-04-07 01:00
NEWS: Mary Katherine Morn will succeed Terry Sweetser as chief fundraiser in August.
Categories: UU News

Our house, unequally divided

UU World - Mon, 2014-04-07 01:00
IDEAS: Inequality has reached such toxic levels that it corrupts our relationships and threatens our democracy.
Categories: UU News
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