Many youth programs depend on a superstar youth advisor to carry the program. You know the type: a vibrant, energetic youth advisor with great communication and organizational skills and vast theological information. The youth look up to him, the congregation can depend on her. Under his guidance, the YRUU program thrives. It seems like she can do it all! And then, after a couple years, he gets burned out and leaves. Numbers dwindle, confusion ensues and a job description is posted in the hopes of the next superstar willing to start the program over. While research suggests it takes at least five years to implement a sustainable youth program, superstar youth advisors usually serve for less than four years.
I do not want "Superstar" as part of my Youth Ministry Consultant title. I want to help build sustainable youth programming across the district that does not depend on my particular leadership style to thrive. Mark DeVries in his book Sustainable Youth Ministry points to four key building blocks that create a stable foundation for youth ministry:
These documents should be drafted and revised as a community, with as many "stakeholders" present as possible. The YRUU Youth Adult Committee is working on these documents for the district, but we need more adults to join the team. There are four YAC positions open.
Do you need help or advise on developing these four building blocks for your local youth group? If there is enough interest, I would like to host a youth advisor training on the Friday of the Annual Meeting/Youth Assembly. Contact me ASAP so I can put the details together.
Posted Monday, 06 September 2010 10:58 Written by Jennica Davis
People with mental disorders and their loved ones fill our pews, our streets and our jails. To help address this reality, Mountain Desert District Justice Ministries is offering a fall program that helps congregations in supporting those with mental disorders and their families. Increasingly, mental health practitioners are coming to recognize the value and importance of religious community in coping with the real anxieties that come from living in a chaotic and sometimes de-humanizing world.
Mental Health and People of Faith is an opportunity to not only become educated but also a time to engage with other lay and professional religious leaders on an important topic that too often remains closeted in our congregations. For example, 10-25% of women and 5-12% of men develop depression sometime in their life. It takes a toll on the person, family members, the workplace and all of the person’s associations, including the church. It keeps one from becoming what one wants to be, and doing what one wants to do with one’s life. In suicide, depression is often an underlying condition. Informed and equipped congregations can literally help saves lives.
Topics to be covered in October include mental disorders and myths, understanding and care of mental disorders including depression, anxiety, mood, and personality disorders along with the opportunity to share congregational stories. All congregational care-givers and particularly those of you involved in RE programming will want to learn about children’s mental health and the healing process.
Unlike in the past, today there is increased awareness of the beneficial relationship between spirituality, organized religion, and mental health. Congregations offer a structure for reducing existential anxiety in a chaotic world offering a sense of hope, meaning, and purpose and thus emotional well-being. This compelling, interactive, and affordable program offers church staff, seminarians, and leadership teams a day filled with inspirational expertise and practical training.
It’s probably worth a conversation. If you need help, we’re always here!
Our facilitator, Rev. Barbara Meyers, is the author of The Caring Congregation Handbook, a program for educating congregations about becoming intentionally supportive of people with mental disorders and their families. Affiliated with the Mission Peak Congregation in Fremont, CA, the Reverend Meyers produces a monthly public access TV program called Mental Health Matters.
Registration Deadline: October 15, 2010
Posted Monday, 30 August 2010 15:53 Written by Deborah Holder
I found this a penetrating question as I read the new book, Simple Church by Thom Ranier and Eric Geiger. Their thesis is that in this time of increasing complexity and information overwhelm the church is called upon to become counter cultural –to focus everything on their essential message and thereby provide respite and sanctuary to a weary world.
I think their message is relevant for Unitarian Universalists. Which of our congregations is not challenged to identify and support enough leaders, teachers and volunteers to maintain all of the ministries offered? Which of our congregations has focused so clearly on their vision and mission that they can say every ministry, every program, every class is deeply and intentionally connected to their mission as a progressive religious community?
To effectively simplify a Unitarian Universalist congregation one needs to acknowledge the core values of the congregation and its essential message. This becomes the standard for simplifying. Two congregations in the Denver area are clarifying their essential Unitarian Universalist focus. First Unitarian Denver has three banners hanging in the sanctuary:
With these banners they summarize their theological message.
At First Universalist they have summarized their invitation to religious and spiritual depth: Join us; Grow with us; Serve with us. This simple invitation makes clear the opportunities all have at First Universalist.
How is your congregation simplifying and clarifying the transformative message of Unitarian Universalism?
How could simplifying congregational life and ministry clarify and deepen the religious and spiritual engagement of all your congregation? It's probably worth a conversation. If you need help we are always here.
Posted Tuesday, 24 August 2010 10:40 Written by Nancy Bowen
"Social Media" has become a buzzword of marketing and networking, and many churches are feeling the pressure to join in or miss out.
Like anything that requires us to embrace change, however, technological advances can be intimidating, and sometimes it seems just too difficult to keep up with all of the new "stuff" that develops in the blink of an eye.
Realizing this very real difficulty, and the fear that can sometimes come with even incremental changes, can be the first step toward embracing a new thing. How does that old quote go, "Feel the fear and do it anyway?"
As the technology that facilitates our communication and connectedness advances, information flows ever more quickly. As a religious movement that has embraced growth in spirit, diversity, and numbers, our congregations have had to learn how to adapt in ways, and at speeds, never seen before.
How many of our congregations now communicate announcements mostly by email? How many have moved to strictly electronic newsletters, as a means of cutting costs, but also to speed up the rate of communication to our members? How many have chosen to put the congregational website at the forefront of outreach activities? How many have begun holding meetings electronically, even votes of the Board on minor matters?
The numbers grow every day.
Technology is a powerful tool that can allow us to do things that we've never thought of before. However, it is important to maintain some control of the message or vision that technology allows us to share so easily. For example, if your congregation has an account on Facebook, is the information there consistent with what is published on your home page, in your newsletters, on your email lists, and in your weekly orders of service?
The key to using any technology wisely is to decide first what goal your congregation seeks to accomplish. What is it, exactly, that you need to do?
Once you've answered this question as explicitly as possible, you can then evaluate the different tools of technology available to you.
While examining these endless possibilities, keep in mind that doing a few things well is more important than doing everything halfway. The most important consideration is to remain open to change, and to take one step at a time.
Posted Monday, 16 August 2010 10:47 Written by Jess Cullinan
The MDD YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalist) is off running this year! At the end of the 2009-2010 church year we voted in a great team for the Youth Adult Committee (YAC). Kira Flynn and Abbey Daniel are our new District Co-Chairs. They are both extremely competent leaders. If you see them at the Annual Meeting, make sure to give them a big welcome.
QUUest Camp took place in July at La Foret retreat center in Colorado Springs. We had a small but mighty crowd this year. I am astonished at the amount of talent, wisdom and deep spirituality each participant brought to the five day event. I’m already looking forward to next year, returning to the traditions and intentional community we created this year.
Youth Assembly, in conjunction with the District Annual Meeting, is the first of three annual MDD YRUU events for the 2010-2011 year. We’ll be camping out in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden (UUCO), worshiping together and conducting a business meeting for the YAC and all youth interested in learning how YRUU is run on the district level. We will also be hanging out with Annual Meeting attendees all day Saturday, attending workshops, sharing meals together and leading the Saturday night worship. You can register for this event online here.
This intergenerational aspect is new for some, which means it will take practice for it to feel natural. Luckily, the conference theme, “Learning, Growing, Leading,” lends itself nicely to an intergenerational approach. What a refreshing opportunity to strengthen our ties, deepen our commitment to each other and move forward together. Our young leaders are offering a Saturday workshop entitled "Reaching Out and Going Deeper," which details immersion experiences in social justice and leadership training for youth and adults in the MDD. There will be plenty of time for youth and adults to get to know each other as we practice Embracing the Vision, and hopefully those relationships will continue to strengthen throughout the church year.
Posted Monday, 09 August 2010 08:17 Written by Jennica Davis
"Without the joy and support that come from acknowledging the mutality of responsibility, being loved as well as loving, the will for fundamental change cannot be sustained. People are empowered to work for justice by their love for others and by the love they receive from others."
~Sharon Welch, A Feminist Ethic of Risk
At our October MDD Annual Meeting in Ogden, we'll be learning together about Adaptive Leadership - the practice of mobilizing ourselves and others to tackle tough challenges and thrive. Whether in our congregations, familes, or workplaces, changing new realities offer us all a choice: to respond out of fear or out of love. As Unitarian Universalists, we choose the latter and Adaptive Leadership can provide the concrete framework for manifesting that choice. Plan now to send multiple teams from your congregation. The full program will be posted here soon. You can register for the Annual Meeting here: Embracing the Vision: District Conference 2010.
Last week, following their civil disobience arrest, UU clergy and laity were referred to as the "love people" by members of the local police force. If you haven't been following the Standing on the Side of Love presence in Arizona, you can catch up on the website: www.standingonthesideoflove.org.
Even though a U.S. District Court judge blocked key points of Arizona's controversial anti-immigrant law from taking place on July 29th, achieving humane and comprehensive immigration reform legislation looms ahead. In addition to protesting against current enforcement policy, adaptive leadership asks that we also raise up constructive alternatives such as the long-term economic benefits that could accrue to states, nation, and society through legalization of undocumented Latino/a workers. For example, just in Califronia alone, legalizing undocumented workers is estimated to result in a total gain of $16 billion annually. Let's raise up these adaptive policy alternatives! For more, visit the Center for Immigrant Integration at csii.usc.edu.
See you in Ogden!
Posted Tuesday, 03 August 2010 10:32 Written by Deborah Holder
It has been a very busy summer for many of our MDD congregations. Virtually all of our MDD congregations offer worship services all summer these days. Several congregations offer summer camps for children and youth. Ministers are preaching year round and religious education is always in session. One Colorado congregation reported 18 adult visitors at a single mid-July Sunday service. I imagine that your experience mirrors this. People are seeking a progressive religious community.
Many have written about the rapid rate of change the world is experiencing. The amount of information available can be overwhelming even paralyzing the research shows. There is no escape from change. Do you focus on the excitement or the exhaustion? Are you curious and engaged or resistant? In the presence of continuous cultural change and constantly changing information we are centered and sustained by our unchanging values. We always have control of our own attitudes and behavior. Are you exercising this control?
At the fall MDD Annual Meeting and Delegate Conference we will be focusing on Adaptive Leadership -a particularly important perspective on personal and congregational leadership in these times of rapid change. Adaptive Leadership is defined by Ron Heifetz as a “practical leadership framework that helps individuals and organizations adapt and thrive in challenging environments. It is being able, both individually and collectively, to take on the gradual but meaningful process of adaptation. It is about diagnosing the essential from the expendable and bringing about a real challenge to the status quo. The Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley will offer our keynote address on Friday night in Ogden, UT. You will not want to miss this address if you have leadership responsibilities in your family, your work or your congregation.On Saturday, Terasa will lead a day long workshop on Adaptive Leadership for congregational leaders. The Ogden congregation has arranged an inspiring array of other workshops for your edification, including several workshops highlighting the effective interfaith coalitions in which our UU congregations in UT and ID are involved. Our youth will offer a workshop of interest to all of us, a workshop for congregations in transition, and special guests from the UU United Nations Office. The full program will be posted here soon.You can register for the Annual Meeting here: Embracing the Vision: District Conference 2010.
Posted Tuesday, 27 July 2010 00:00 Written by Nancy Bowen
The following comes from Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix, by way of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign:
My refrigerator is covered with pictures of family, friends, children, library receipts and my son’s artwork. However in Arizona, parents who are undocumented are clearing their refrigerators and placing prominently on them a single sheet of paper.
This one piece of paper tells social services what to do with their children if they are arrested.
What is happening in Arizona to families is wrong. Taking parents away from their children is a violation of human rights and of Love’s law – of God’s law. When families are being terrorized, I must stand up for what my faith tells me is good and right. And I need your help.
I am asking you to come to Phoenix from July 28 – 30th to be a part of the National Day of Non Compliance with SB 1070. On July 29th, the day SB 1070 goes into effect, Maricopa County law enforcement has announced major sweeps and raids to implement the law. Whether or not the law takes effect that day, all will be needed — particularly ministers, with your collars on — to witness and support families.
We need at least 200 clergy and laity from across the country to come and support the human rights movement here on the ground. Thanks to a generous donation from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, we can provide assistance with travel to those who most need it. We can also help with home hospitality.
I am giving up my vacation. Our music director is ending her vacation early. Others will be making sacrifices to be here. If you cannot be here for the full time, or if you can come earlier or stay later, we will need you however and whenever you can be here. Now is the time to stand up, to lift our voices, to be powerful witnesses for love in the face of fear.
Please join us as we stand with immigrant families in Arizona.
If members of your congregation are planning on participating in this event, please let us know!
Posted Friday, 09 July 2010 14:04 Written by Jess Cullinan
Page 3 of 7«StartPrev1234567NextEnd»