It's a new day for UUA.org! The Unitarian Universalist Association's redesigned home page and resources page, along with social media, share links, and "most viewed" listings on all our pages, debuted this week. We invite you to check out the changes by going to http://www.uua.org and http://www.uua.org/resources.
Our home page is designed to appeal to the 85% of our home page visitors who are newcomers to Unitarian Universalism. And our resources page will, we hope, become the first destination involved UUs visit, for leadership resources, most visited pages, posts from our blogs, multimedia, and more.
For additional information on the UUA's website changes, see the UUWorld article "UUA Launches Updated Website," by Donald E. Skinner, and "Redesign Makes UUA Website More Useable," from InterConnections.
Posted Monday, 08 February 2010 15:56 Written by Jess Cullinan
The Board of the Unitarian Universalist Association met this past week in San Antonio, TX, and our Mountain Desert Trustee, Lew Phinney, has posted his thoughts on current issues facing the organization over on his blog.
We heard about the local and area organizing that they are doing to further comprehensive immigration reform. That part, I expected. Most of us knew the issues and what is needed to change the legal barriers. What had a much stronger impact were the stories, related by victims of unreasonable, unjust immigration law and policies. The impact is startling when you can put a face to the problem; when you can directly understand the affect that our immigration laws have on families and individuals who are in every sense except the credential, active, contributing members of our communities.
OK, which 19th century Boston lawyer wrote the UUA By-Law Article XV? That paragraph has more “wherefores,” “whereases”, and “not-with-standings” than any legal document I’ve read in a very long time. If there are any 19th century Boston lawyers reading this, please accept my apologies – um – Oh yeah, never mind.
Thanks for keeping us in the loop, Lew!
Posted Tuesday, 26 January 2010 13:46 Written by Jess Cullinan
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Unitarian Universalist Association have announced a joint fund for Haiti Earthquake Relief. You can donate here, if you are able.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, was devastated by a major earthquake around 5 p.m. Eastern Time on January 12. UUSC and the Unitarian Universalist Association have launched a joint earthquake relief fund to help the survivors.
Most people in the capital spent the night outdoors, without shelter, or joined those frantically digging in the rubble to rescue the tens of thousands trapped underneath it. The situation is chaotic, communications systems are down, and debris impedes movement around the city. Nonetheless, the U.N. estimates that 2.2 million people are affected and fears that the loss of life may reach into the tens of thousands. The destruction is widespread, with extensive damage to homes, hospitals, roads, water and sanitation services, and electrical and communication systems. Major news outlets are all reporting severe devastation. An alarming number of buildings, including the National Palace and the United Nation’s Headquarters, have collapsed.
Haiti is the Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished and least-developed nation. Its society is rife with radical inequality, where large numbers of the population are systematically left out. Eighty percent of the population lives in poverty. Many people live day-to-day on what they’re able to earn in the informal sector. For those hundreds of thousands of poor people in Port-au-Prince, the daily struggle for food, water, and medical attention already amounted to an emergency — the earthquake has made these challenges infinitely more difficult to overcome, creating a humanitarian disaster on top of an existing humanitarian crisis. Poor Haitians who have never had equal access to services will be struggling to get basic necessities in the aftermath of this earthquake.
What UUSC will do
UUSC’s disaster response in Haiti will focus on those survivors less likely to have access to aid, such as child domestic workers (restaviks), women-headed households that work in the informal sector, and people living with HIV/AIDS. Haiti has a vibrant grassroots movement with a vision of empowering people. UUSC will work closely with partners in this grassroots movement to reach those survivors at greatest risk of being overlooked. As of this afternoon, we’ve already connected with three organizations and will be reaching out to others over the next 24 hours in order to shape our response.
We will be updating our website regularly as our plans develop.
Finally, we are deeply saddened at the calamity that has devastated the lives of people in Haiti — please support our efforts to help them.
Posted Thursday, 14 January 2010 12:14 Written by Jess Cullinan
The schedules and registration forms for our January event, “Nurturing Communitas, Building Solidarity: What’s in Your Toolkit?” are ready to download here.
You won’t want to miss this event: what an incredible opportunity to work on important social justice skills with your colleagues and friends across the Mountain Desert District!
Posted Thursday, 07 January 2010 17:28 Written by Jess Cullinan
Work is underway to make our January workshop event an occasion to remember! Save the date, January 22-24, 2010, and register today!
Here are some details of what to expect:
Our Unitarian Universalist understanding of the meaning and purpose of social justice is changing. Expectations are different now and new tools, skills, and competencies are required if we are to move beyond superficial interactions to building relationships and transformational community. At this year’s MDD annual meeting, Holly Near spoke to the importance of having a justice and peace-making tool box so that when things come up, we’re prepared to act effectively and compassionately. During our time together we’ll examine the contents of our tool-boxes and practice using some new tools in preparation for effective involvement in local and state-wide interfaith coalitions.
To prepare for January, think about who needs to be there from your congregation and invite them to join you. Sending a multigenerational, multi-ethic team enables mutual support and increased ability to bring new understandings and resources back home to your congregation. Down the road, we’ll be following up with one another so also consider who would make a good contact person. To deepen the experience for everyone, we request that participants commit to the entire event starting Friday evening and closing with worship on Sunday morning at First Unitarian Society of Denver.
What do we need in our tool boxes so that we’re ready to give ourselves away for justice and healing in ways that matter? To stand on the side of love regardless of issue? What can we do to grow in spiritual depth and emotional maturity so that our actions match our community building intentions? What are our religious commitments and how do they inform the structure and practice of UU justice and healing action? What spiritual and religious resources can help us along on the journey toward Beloved Community?
These are some of the questions we’ll engage together over the weekend assisted by Ministry on the Borderlands, a UU University DVD presentation by the Reverend Nick Carter, President, Andover Newton Theological Seminary. In addition, we’ll hear about UU involvement in local organizing networks; creatively engage with a variety of theological approaches assisted by religious educators, and practice some new tools for use in our congregations/clusters and externally in coalition with local social change allies.
Posted Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:01 Written by Jess Cullinan
On Saturday, October 24, the Rev. Aaron Payson, member of the UU Trauma Response Ministry and settled minister of the UU Church of Worcester, conducted an Emergency Preparedness and Trauma Response workshop for all congregations on the Front Range. Jefferson Unitarian, First Unitarian Denver and Prairie anchored the Boulder Denver Cluster contingent while all three Southern Colorado Cluster congregations were present: All Souls, High Plains and Pueblo.
The handout packet from this workshop can be downloaded here: Emergency Preparedness and Trauma Response Workshop Handout (PDF, 1.3 Mb). It contains important information, checklists and inventory pages to help you improve the safety and emergency preparedness of your congregation.
Rev. Payson reiterated a number of times that this work is a ministry of the congregation providing safety as well as capacity to respond in emergencies. He urged congregations to resist the temptation to overwhelm and simply to begin with whatever seemed most important to those willing to serve.
Your first project might be to ask the Fire Department and Police Departments to walk through your buildings and offer guidance and advise. When you do this, most first responder departments will file your floorplan so that they better understand the building before they arrive. This is a great time saver in an emergency.
You might also develop an evacuation plan for the adult congregation and the children. The plan should be posted and practiced if your leadership finds that a good idea. You may need some special equipment to evacuate babies and small children quickly and safety. Are all of your fire extinguishers up to date AND do folks really know how to use them? You might consider a safety workshop that focuses on home and church.
Rev. Payson and three former police officers in attendance all recommended against armed guards or members who are licensed to carry concealed weapons. Their great concern was about the added risk of having firearms on the premises all the time. Payson did recommend a uniformed police officer or security person if you feel the risk of violence is increased for any reason. When considering safety from outside violence, please check all doors and see which are open without anyone watching them during a service. We want to be welcoming, and can be with all latecomers entering through a single door ushers are watching.
When considering safety during an incidence of violence it is important to have trained and trusted leaders who have thought through the protocols so that they can adequately guide the people. A dangerous situation is not the time to negotiate what we are going to do.
For additional information, there is a 45 minute video, “The Life-Cycle of a Disaster,” available on the UUA website.
Posted Sunday, 29 November 2009 17:00 Written by Jess Cullinan
Mountain Desert District’s UUA Trustee, Lew Phinney, has written a couple of posts about the most recent UUA Board meeting over on his blog, lewphinneyuuatrustee.blogspot.com.
The first issue they tackled was the implementation of Policy Governance:
The transition to Policy Governance is at once frustrating and empowering. This was the first board meeting in which the board tried to operate completely under the PG model. We found that there are a mere 2.7 million details to be worked out as we go forward.
For Lew’s play-by-play of his first Board meeting as a Trustee, check out “First Board Meeting:”
Wow, or, WOW ! Described it to a friend, “Long, intense and frustrating.” It was also rewarding, challenging and, well, actually fun (at times).
The board meeting is really almost a week of working group and committee meetings leading up to the day and a half of actual board meeting. The most impressive part was working closely with an outstanding group of truly dedicated UUs – everyone doing everything possible to make our association stronger and further the movement. They (oops, we) must be pretty dedicated – six days of twelve to-fourteen hour days of meetings.
One of the things we decided to do is share our perspectives on what the board did or plans to do. So, some of what you read below is my re-working of other trustee’s points. In some cases, I just used their sentences – and added my twist. However, all of this is unofficial. The official voice of the board will come out in the approved minutes. Everything you read here is strictly Lew Phinney’s take on things (with a little help of some of my fellow trustees).
Posted Monday, 09 November 2009 15:17 Written by Jess Cullinan
We are changing the calendar for Chalice Lighters in order to bring the program into alignment with the fiscal year of the district. This transition will allow more exact accounting and align with our program year.
Therefore, Chalice Lighter applications for the two calls needed to bring the program into alignment are due on November 15, 2009. Two worthy congregational projects will be identified for January and March funding requests.
In the spring another solicitation of applications will be made to identify the three congregational projects for fiscal year 2010-11.
Posted Wednesday, 04 November 2009 14:53 Written by Jess Cullinan
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