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A UUA Breakthrough Congregation: First Parish in Bedford, MA

UUA Top Stories - 6 hours 36 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 - 6 hours 36 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 - 6 hours 36 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

Looking to get more involved in climate justice? Commit2Respond

UU World - Mon, 2014-10-13 01:00
NEWS: A movement open to all, calling all to action on a moral imperative.
Categories: UU News

The boots worked either way

UU World - Mon, 2014-10-13 01:00
IDEAS: Be aware of the tensions in your life and the awareness can be an ally.
Categories: UU News

Off the beaten path

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-10-10 15:34

Sorry, everyone, Heather Christensen isn’t back yet. Instead you have a highly irreverent sample of social media we don’t usually cover!


[View the story "Off the beaten path" on Storify]
Categories: UU News

Same-sex marriage gaining ground, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-10-10 15:11

Virginia’s first same-sex wedding performed by UU minister

Thirty U.S. states now have marriage equality following the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this week to refuse to hear appeals from five states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriage. The Rev. Linda Olson Peebles of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Va., was on hand at the Arlington County Courthouse to perform the state’s first same-sex wedding ceremony. “The Commonwealth of Virginia agrees with us that every person has worth and dignity and that love matters no matter what your sexual orientation is,” she said. (ARL Now – 10.6.14)

Related stories include:

Same-sex couples begin to marry in Virginia (Washington Post – 10.6.14)

Supreme Court’s decision on Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban kills opposition for “foreseeable future” (Elkhart Truth – 10.6.14)

Falls Church couple seizes the moment after Virginia allows same-sex marriages (Washington Post – 10.6.14)

GOP legislative leaders ask to intervene in NC gay marriage cases (WRAL.com – 10.9.14)

The Rev. Audette Fulbright Fulson of the UU Church of Cheyenne, Wyo., wrote in to tell us that she and two members of the congregation were featured in two front page stories this week in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on the state’s continued ban on same-sex marriage. The articles are not easy to access online, but at least one is on the paper’s website. (Wyoming Eagle Tribue – 10.8.13)

UUA HQ designed to foster collaboration

Many modern office buildings now use open concept designs to foster a sense of community at the workplace and create more opportunities for inter-office collaboration. The Boston Globe looks at the UUA’s new headquarters and other office spaces designed with that mindset. (Boston Globe – 10.8.14)

Michigan UUs collect shoes for charity

Contributing to the national nonprofit organization, Soles4Souls, New Hope Unitarian Universalist congregation members in New Hudson, Mich., have worked to organize shoe drives in their community, and have collected more than 800 pairs of shoes over the last three years. (hometownlife.com – 10.6.14)

Texas church celebrates 60th anniversary

Celebrating their 60th anniversary as a congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Midland, Tex., and the Rev. Thomas Schmidt are taking advantage by welcoming community members to come and learn more about Unitarian Universalism, and to dispel any misconceptions about the faith. (Midland Reporter Telegram – 10.9.14)

Categories: UU News

Restored to Sanity Available Now

UUA Top Stories - Wed, 2014-10-08 01:00
Restored to Sanity: Essays on the Twelve Steps by Unitarian Universalists , is the newest release from Skinner House Books, and the first to explore the intersection of UUism and Twelve-Step recovery programs. In this book, each Step is explored with two heartfelt essays, plus a meditation or prayer, making it ideal for small groups to read and discuss, or for individual reflection.
Categories: UU News

Will You Commit2Respond?

UUA Top Stories - Wed, 2014-10-08 01:00
We are facing a climate crisis. Recognizing the interdependence of all life, we are called as people of faith and conscience to heal and sustain the planet we call home. Climate change is a moral issue, and Commit2Respond is our moral response. UUs and all people of faith and conscience are invited to join this brand new initiative for climate justice.
Categories: UU News

Breakthrough Congregation: UU Church of Boulder, CO

UUA Top Stories - Wed, 2014-10-08 01:00
UU World shares the transformational story of the UU Church of Boulder, CO. It reads, 'Just five years ago, things were so bleak at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, Colorado, that there was a question as to how much longer it would survive.' Find out how they turned things around and are now thriving!
Categories: UU News

Alzheimer's caregiving takes a village

UU World - Mon, 2014-10-06 01:00
LIFE: How UUs can better serve people with dementia and their loved ones.
Categories: UU News

80 congregations now hire membership professionals

UU World - Mon, 2014-10-06 01:00
NEWS: Most UUA growth last year happened in congregations with paid membership coordinators.
Categories: UU News

Institutional blogging, youth voices, social justice

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-10-03 17:30

The Interdependent Web does not usually cover “institutional” blogs and social media, but this week we will highlight recent posts in several official UUA communications streams.

Youth voices

Kara Marler says lots of adults think she has “potential.”

Potential are the forces you have yet to believe in

We are not potential

We are a force that someone believes in (Blue Boat of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, September 24)

Kara Rocks the Pulpit from UUAYaYA on Vimeo.

Social justice

Gail Forsyth-Vail says teaching about Ferguson is not “optional” for white people.

What if talking about race was akin to talking about sexuality? Difficult, yes, but integral to good parenting? What if white people wanted their kids to be not just sexually healthy, but also racially healthy, able to meet, engage, and negotiate complex conversations, relationships, and situations by drawing on a well-formed racial identity based on good information, liberal religious values, and a strong sense of justice? What if white parents believed it was just as important for children to speak for racial justice as it is for them to believe in and speak for the integrity of their own body and sexuality? (Call and Response: Journeys in UU Lifespan Faith Development, September 30)

Standing on the Side of Love is committed to getting out the vote and shares a guest post from Sister Simone Campbell and the “Nuns on the Bus.”

Our shiny new bus is emblazoned with the words “We the People, We the Voters” because our trip is focused on how we, the community of voters, have the power to come together and make things right. It’s all about democracy. (Standing on the Side of Love, September 29)

The UU-UNO Office brought together a variety of voices to reflect on the People’s Climate March.

We all saw the humanity in one another, we were connected spiritually and emotionally, and we moved as one strong body. The UU-UNO participated in the march held in New York City and thanks to screens set-up throughout the march we were able to see marches in other countries. Many international participants in the NYC march wore the flag of their country proudly. Humans working in solidarity around the world as global citizens and participants of this movement. —Kamila Jacob, Envoy Coordinator (UUA International, September 26)

The Church of the Larger Fellowship’s weekly talk show, The VUU, has UU World contributing editor Doug Muder as a guest this week, talking about the Tea Party and the “Confederate Party.”

Timely publications

Beacon Press author Susan Katz Miller has advice for interfaith families during the Jewish High Holy Days.

1. Pick one. Even if you are going to practice only, or primarily, one religion in the home, your family will benefit from finding a progressive house of worship that welcomes you as an interfaith family. Many churches welcome interfaith families, though few have programs specifically for us. (Beacon Broadside, October 3)

Beacon Press also has an active Twitter account, and announces monthly “UU Reads,” such as October’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.

Skinner House Books uses Tumblr to assemble UU-related and book-related posts, such as this graphic from the UU Media Collective (which WordPress doesn’t reduce at all nicely; do click through to see the full-size version!).

Growing Unitarian Universalism

Tandi Rogers bids farewell to InterConnections and thanks our colleague Don Skinner.

One of the themes of InterConnections has been the power of one person to change a congregation. For good or ill. One person can plant an idea and then gather support for it. One person can encourage someone else. (Growing Unitarian Universalism, September 16)

Mark Bernstein thinks leaders should “go with the flow.”

The more leaders see their tasks as interesting, enjoyable, and meaningful, the harder and longer they work on the task and the better they will perform at it. (Growing Vital Leaders: Ideas, Tips and Tools on Leadership Formation, September 26)

Categories: UU News

UU church is clean energy leader, and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-10-03 13:54

UU church is clean energy leader

Recognized as a clean energy leader, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin, Ill., will be one of more than 60 sites across the state to be featured on the Illinois Solar Tour this month. Coordinated nationally by the American Solar Energy Society, the statewide tour demonstrates how innovative technologies used locally can benefit the environment on a global level. (The Courier-News – 9.29.14)

Raising awareness for domestic violence in Maryland

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harford County, Md., will host its annual Silent Witness Program in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness month. Wooden silhouettes representing real victims of domestic violence will be unveiled during a special ceremony on the lawn of the church. (Baltimore Sun – 10.3.14)

OUT MetroWest expands program, mission

A gay, lesbian, and transgender youth support program launched three years ago by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Wellesley, Mass., now has a new name and expanded mission. The newly formed nonprofit, OUT MetroWest, plans to increase support services for middle school students and teens in need. Executive Director Jack Lewis said he will seek “community involvement and input from the schools and faith leaders’’ in order to provide a safe place for teens to explore questions of gender and orientation. (Wicked Local – 9.28.14)

Pennsylvania minister shows support for minimum-wage hike

The Rev. Peter Friedrichs of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County, Pa., joined local politicians, union representatives, and community groups at the Delaware County Courthouse earlier this week to show support for raising the minimum wage. (Philly.com – 10.1.14)

Summit UUs rally en masse for climate action

Two hired buses helped carry over 100 members of the Unitarian Church in Summit, N.J., to the People’s Climate March in New York City late last month to stand alongside the estimated 350,000 participants calling on world leaders for immediate climate action. “It was inspiring to be part of an ever growing stream of folks committed to saving our place on the planet,” said senior interim minister the Rev. Terry Sweetser. (Alternative Press – 9.29.14)

Church hires first full-time, female minister

A central Massachusetts church hired the first full-time, female minister in its 272-year history. Taking over the pulpit at First Church in Sterling, an interdenominational church of Unitarian Universalists and members of the United Church of Christ, the Rev. Robin Bartlett will now focus on establishing an “open and affirming process” and will make a public covenant of welcome to all in the church, regardless of sexual orientation. (The Landmark – 10.2.14)

Categories: UU News

Challenging the surveillance state

UU World - Mon, 2014-09-29 01:00
IDEAS: First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles is suing the National Security Agency. The church knows from experience how invasive government surveillance can be.
Categories: UU News

Yellow shirts for climate action

UU World - Mon, 2014-09-29 01:00
SPIRIT: More than 1,500 Unitarian Universalists took part in the People's Climate March. I was one of them.
Categories: UU News

Holy ordinary, all in this together, a side of racism, and more

News from Far Off UU Congregations - Fri, 2014-09-26 14:43
Holy ordinary

For the Rev. Elizabeth Curtiss and her wife, living with a progressive illness is like living in the shadow of a volcano.

When I wrote fondly last week about my joy at playing house, did I mention that it sits on a volcano? Like all volcanoes, this one troubles and frightens in various ways, but not all the time, and not in any pattern. Maybe it’s more like living near several volcanoes, each with its own separate pattern. You might have seen one of those documentaries about the various Iceland volcanoes. One blows straight up in the air, one kind of seeps, another threatens to spew forth enough heat to bury the nearby towns and farms with mud from rapid melting of its usually beautiful glacier. . . .

The name of our volcano is Huntington’s Disease. It lives in my wife like a parasite, often resting, but always on the lookout for some way to kidnap her body and turn it against us. (Politywonk, September 20)

The Rev. Robin Tanner and her partner have a covenant that has helped them through the first stages of new parenthood.

If things got tough . . . and one of us was short-tempered with the other one, or said something unkind, then we would apologize, forgive and MOVE ON. . . .

In that first 48 hours home when the twins cried again within 30 minutes of their last feeding and my beloved slept peacefully through it, I said something best not put into print. The next morning as we huddled over our coffee I looked up and said, “I am sorry for what I said.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” she responded. (Piedmont Preacher, September 22)

All in this together

Claire Curole reports from the People’s Climate March in New York City, where she was unable to join the main group of UUs due to a traffic jam.

I would have liked to be part of the interfaith block, gathered with the other UU’s. I know that some folks from our bus did get there – I saw the pictures later. But what did happen was also delightful and very appropriate – we are everywhere, threading our way through all kinds of things, making connections in unexpected places to work for the greater common good.

Which was, after all, the core message of the Climate March.

We are indeed all in this together. (The Sandhill Diary, September 23)

Hindu UU Ricky Cintron struggles with the Hindu community’s reaction to violent hate crimes.

I do not want your apathetic philosophical diatribes about how I don’t need to march in a pride parade. I do not want your lectures with quotes from scriptures and purports about how sex and gender are material characteristics. . . . What I want, what I need, what my community needs is your compassion and your commitment. What we want to hear is, “I’m sorry this is happening to you and I will do whatever I can to support you, because we are all equal in God’s eyes.” (Jñana-Dipena, September 25)

The Rev. Susan Maginn wonders about what to do with privilege after Ferguson.

It seems a disturbing truth that caring people of privilege like to save non-privileged people. We like the feeling of doing good in the world. We like to be the hero. There could be worse flaws. But here’s what we need to learn: when we put on our shiny superhero costume, we can do real harm. We can disempower people and do so sadly in the name of empowerment. . . .

We need to humbly stay on the sidelines this time, but that does not mean that we need to be ashamed of our privilege and our ignorance and disappear. There is a role for those of us who are privileged, but it is not a starring role. We work hard behind the scenes, not on the stage. We remain in the wings so that those voices with far more wisdom and far less power can be heard loud and clear. (Quest for Meaning, September 23)

Margaret Sequeira grew up in a family that disparaged “welfare queens;” now that she’s known her share of financial stress, she encourages us to ban the word “lazy.”

We must stop judging people by the size of their bank accounts, or lack thereof. We must stop assuming that if you are struggling financially you are more likely to commit crime or try to rip someone off. Shaming people never gets them motivated to do better. Shaming people makes sure they hide even deeper in their shell, keeping their head down and just doing their very best to get through from day to day. Shame strips hope, strips dream, strips motivation. All our punishing of the poor only drives people deeper into despair, deeper into hopelessness and deeper into poverty. (Scattered Revelations, September 23)

The Rev. Tom Schade passes along Tom Hayden’s thoughts on why social movements seem ineffective. (The Lively Tradition, September 21)

A side of racism

When her family is treated differently by a restaurant hostess than the African-American man in line behind her, the Rev. Megan Lloyd Joyner wonders how to respond.

We debated leaving. We debated saying something. But I didn’t know what to say, and I am not sure yet what I would have or should have said. I regret, though, not saying something.

I wonder how many people have received a similar unwelcoming “welcome” on a Sunday morning at church. No matter how hospitable we may want to be, it is quite possible that we may greet visitors and long-time members alike with unintentional micro-aggressions. (Quest for Meaning, September 22)

The Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern misreads a bumper sticker—”IMAM AZIZ MUHAMMAD HIGH SCHOOL. Home of the Jihadis.” Click here to find out what it really said! (Sermons in Stones, September 22)

Uses of power

The Rev. Meg Riley finds her thoughts focused on “the use of power by authority figures, and how that leads to trust or to brokenness.”

Authority figures have a choice—trust people and set reasonable limits to make the world work for everyone, or create a world of fear and rules and punishment. A TSA world. A world where everyone, known or unknown, is not to be trusted and every student is secretly wanting to wield a weapon. (HuffPo Religion, September 23)

The Rev. Dan Harper revisits “the mess at Starr King,” specifically looking at the ethics of securing electronic communications, the training of new ministers, and the future of Starr King.

[F]rom an ethical standpoint, the SKSM leadership should accept blame for the release of sensitive information, and they should publicly apologize to all three candidates for the SKSM presidency, staff, students, and anyone else affected by the poor security protocols.

. . . . If SKSM leadership works hard at it, my guess is that this mess will take two to five years to clean up—if it is addressed openly and non-defensively, and right now there’s not much evidence of openness or non-defensiveness at SKSM. (Yet Another Unitarian Universalist, September 25)

Categories: UU News

UU church added to Virginia Landmarks Register and other UUs in the media

UU in the news - Fri, 2014-09-26 12:53

UU church may become national landmark

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Va., has been named an historic landmark in the Virginia Landmarks Register, and may soon also be named to the National Register of Historic Places. Built and designed in 1964 by architect Charles Goodman, the structure reflects the liberal and progressive beliefs of the congregation. “We’re hoping by it being put on the national registry, people will realize that the physical presence of a group in a community matters,” said the Rev. Linda Olson Peebles. (ARL Now – 9.23.14)

Waging peace in Connecticut

Members of First Unitarian Universalist Church in Bridgewater, Conn., took to the streets last week with signs and slogans to mark their 10th annual Celebration for Peace in conjunction with the United Nations International Day of Peace. The march was accompanied by the support of passers-by who honked car horns and cheered in a show of solidarity. “It’s kind of been a tough year for peace with all of the un-peaceful things going on in the world right now,” said church member Betty Gilson. “We saw a lot of people in the world waging war, so we decided we should wage peace.” (Wicked Local – 9.22.14)

Tufts University creates first humanist staff position

A newly created humanist chaplain staff position at Tufts University has become the first of its kind in the United States. UU minister and Tufts University chaplain, the Rev. Gregory McGonigle, was responsible for developing the trailblazing decision. (Religious News Service – 9.3.14)

Remembering the Sharps

For their efforts in rescuing Jews from Nazi terror during World War II, Martha Sharp and the Rev. Waitstill Sharp are two of only four Americans honored by Israel’s Yad Vashem national museum of the Holocaust. The couple’s humanitarian efforts are the focus of the documentary film Two Who Dared: The Sharps’ War. (Toledo Blade – 9.20.14)

Volunteers construct new rain garden on church grounds

Volunteers from First Unitarian Universalist Church of Rochester, Minn., and others have helped to avoid erosion caused by heavy rains by constructing a rain garden on the church property. Filled with donated and purchased plants, including many native species, the rain garden “fulfills one of our missions, to be environmentally responsible,” said project organizer Key Eberman. (PostBulletin.com – 9.23.14)

See related: Evanston Unitarian church installs rain gardens (uuworld.org – 9.1.14) 

More environment news from UUs:

UN Climate Summit prompts People’s Climate March, hundreds block Wall St. (Latin Post – 9.24.14)

Companies to make climate pledges at UN Summit (PNJ.com – 9.22.14)

Categories: UU News

Chalices, doodling, and meditation

UU World - Mon, 2014-09-22 01:00
SPIRIT: Meditative doodling as a Unitarian Universalist spiritual practice.
Categories: UU News

Reeb Project aims to fight voter suppression

UU World - Mon, 2014-09-22 01:00
NEWS: Charlotte congregations and All Souls in D.C. cooperate to work on voters' rights in North Carolina.
Categories: UU News
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