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
The Mountain Desert District is now on Facebook!
Become a fan, and follow our updates, including newly posted pictures from District Assembly. We look forward to connecting with you!
Posted Monday, 26 October 2009 14:31 Written by Jess Cullinan
Our keynote speaker, Holly Near, challenged all those present at the District Conference to tell our stories.
What stories do you have to share, about your experiences at the conference, your work in your congregation, social justice, or sharing the good news of Unitarian Universalism?
More detailed notes on workshops and our business meeting are on the way — just trying to catch my breath after a whirlwind weekend!
Posted Wednesday, 21 October 2009 14:32 Written by Jess Cullinan
I took copious notes at the workshop devoted to youth ministry, presented by a panel from across the district who have been working on a new model due for implementation over the next year. I am still distilling the various ideas and discussion that was presented, but offer a brief summary here of what is currently happening in youth ministry.
After a period of Appreciative Inquiry, involving individuals at all levels of programming across the district, it was discovered that the things that district youth express longing for in programming are the same things that adults also want to create: deeper worship experiences, connecting the dots to create truly multi-generational congregations, more meaningful and localized social justice work, developing spiritual resiliance, and thinking about “the way we gather” in order to include more people.The question becomes, how to put it all together on a district level, a cluster level, and in our congregations.
The current vision for the new model of youth ministry includes emphasis on creating more geographical clusters of youth programming, rather than centering on the lines drawn by congregational clusters: for example, instead of a Denver cluster encompassing all of Colorado, reorganizing into Northern and Southern Colorado. The team envisions that events that are not as intensive as the traditional three-day Con, such as a one-day social action project, or a social evening, could happen more easily in these geographical clusters, where participants would not be expected to drive more than an hour or two to get together.
The current structure of YRUU will need to rewrite their bylaws in order to implement a new governance structure to support these clusters, including creating more leadership positions to facilitate communication between congregations. This process would conclude at the Bridging Con to be held in April.
District wide Cons would still be a big part of District youth programming, but much more emphasis will be placed on networking individual congregations.
Concretely speaking for right now, while this transition is still in the planning and process stages, it falls to individual congregations to reach out to one another to plan events for their youth. District resources are available for building congregational programs, and individual congregations are encouraged to ask for help as they need it.
Voting on a new name for the District youth ministry program will take place this weekend as well.
I’ll post more later as I get through my notes — this workshop was packed with good information and good ideas for moving forward.
Posted Saturday, 17 October 2009 12:58 Written by Jess Cullinan
The workshop on Healthcare Reform, presented by members of the Foothills Unitarian Church of Fort Collins, used a mix of presentation styles to discuss what can be a difficult issue. Through skits meant to “bust” common myths surrounding the debate, informational presentations of facts and figures, and discussion with participants, the workshop centered around a rundown of what is currently happening nationally, political maneuvering, and how we can as UUs communicate with our representatives, particularly as the bills are passed and go to conference committee, which is where they can be really shaped.
A few notes:
Looking at what is good in the current bills before Congress, the House bill is much more restrictive of insurance companies. All bills will cover more people, are focused on preventative care, and do away with the pre-existing condition issue.
Looking at what is not so good in the bills — mandates with penalties, some of which are too low. Lack of public option. Hybrid system with too many administrative costs. The presenters showed a strong preference for the House bill, which has the best of the “weak” public options, medical loss ratios, highest mandate penalties.
None of the current bills would create a single-payor system, which has overwhelming support amongst the presenters.
Amendments — Kucinich sponsoring one that allows states to voluntarily offer a single-payor option to their residents. This is similar to the way Canada ended up with a national single-payor system because it was so popular with the people once they tried it.
“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing after they’ve tried everything else.” –Churchill
The good news is that there is a lot of really good work being done on this issue, nationally and locally, work that can be magnified and supported on many levels by individuals and organizations.
Posted Saturday, 17 October 2009 10:13 Written by Jess Cullinan
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