This week I will be video reporting on the 2012 General Assembly conference of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for the UU World Magazine. Coverage will be posted on the UU World’s GA Blog, including videos, and be shared via all available social media channels. Connect with the UU World and follow this week via links below.
Event announcement via Matt Meyer. “Please pass it along to everyone you know! Pass it along to youth group leaders and youth, friends and family, choir members and musicians, clergy and college students! The RSVP will let us know how much food to get and how much help we’ll need with childcare.”
Boston UU Revival on May 12th!
Join us for a service of song, story, and reflection.
4-6pm. Dinner to follow
Music by: Matt Meyer, Mark David Buckles, and “The Music Committee,” a contemporary UU band.
$15 suggested donation.
An offering for the UU Urban Ministry will be taken.
Childcare Available RSVP HERE
Occupy Your Faith
A Boston Unitarian Universalist Revival
Join us for an energetic service of song, story, and reflection as we share in a celebration of the transforming message of Unitarian Universalism.
Saturday, May 12th
Worship begins at 4pm, with a shared dinner to follow at 6pm.
Childcare will be available
At the UU Urban Ministry
10 Putnam st. in Roxbury
<10 min walk from Roxbury Crossing T stop
Music by: Matt Meyer, Mark David Buckles, and “The Music Committee” a contemporary UU band. Suggested donation of $15.
A free-will offering will also be taken for the UU Urban Ministry of Boston.
First, thanks to Peter Bowden for the invite to guest-post on UUGROWTH.COM. This is a great website!
My name is Josh Pawelek. I’ve served as the parish minister at the Unitarian Universalist Society: East in Manchester, CT since the summer of 2003. Peter was curious about a recent opportunity I had to preach at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City’s East Village. Middle’s senior minister, the Rev. Jacqui Lewis has become a familiar face to many UUs in recent years as a popular workshop leader at the UUA General Assembly. UUs have also been attending Middle’s Leading Edge conference for a number of years. Among her many skills as a pastor, Rev. Lewis knows how to build multiracial, multicultural congregations. Middle is an old and historically white congregation going back to the Dutch Reformed settlers who founded Manhattan. Yet, through concerted and very intentional effort over the last thirty years, Middle has grown into a wonderfully diverse spiritual community and a leading voice in a variety of faith-based social justice movements in the city and state-wide.
On the evening of Feb. 12, Rev. Lewis and I preached a dialogue sermon on race and racism in the United States entitled, “Many Voices, One Song.” Watch the video:
In this sermon we both tell a bit of our own stories in relationship to US racism. We reflect on current events. And we offer a hopeful vision and call to action. It’s a simple structure, but hopefully a compelling one. Certainly UUs have been wrestling with race and racism in a very intentional way since the 1992 General Assembly Resolution on racial and cultural diversity. But, just like the nation, we have many miles to go. A dialogue sermon on race and racism is simply one tool we have available to us in our efforts to build antiracist, multicultural congregational identity.
Having said that, sermons on race and racism are, in the end, not what has shaped Middle Collegiate into the congregation it is today. In short, Middle made multicultural arts central to its worship celebrations. (The term “service” is off limits at Middle: every worship is a CELEBRATION!) Amazing music, visual arts, dance, poetry and puppetry from a wide variety of cultural traditions are what transformed Middle’s worship into a weekly CELEBRATION. On the evening of February 12th, the featured artist was Tituss Burgess. I confess I didn’t know who he was before I arrived. It turns out he is a Broadway star and a cast member on 30 Rock. If I didn’t understand before what Jacqui Lewis meant by celebration, I ‘got it’ once I heard Tituss sing!
What can our UU congregations learn from this? Of course, it’s rare to have a star like Tituss Burgess in your congregation. And most congregations don’t have the kind of talent that Middle’s membership has, or the budgets to bring in that kind of talent on a regular basis. But it is also true that in so many communities in the United States, especially urban communities, there is a wide range of talent and a great diversity of artists from many cultural backgrounds. And most artists don’t operate in a social vacuum. Most artists participate in arts organizations, and many such organizations have unique cultural and/or multicultural identities. Why couldn’t a congregation partner with a multicultural arts organization?
We’ve been asking ourselves that question at UUS:E. It makes sense to us. Partnerships with arts organizations are an excellent avenue for building relationships with artists from diverse backgrounds, for creating new markets for artists’ work, for bringing people into urban centers, and for opening new pathways to explore spiritual themes beyond the Sunday morning sermon. Building relationships with artists is also a way to avoid the pitfalls of cultural misappropriation. Towards all these ends, our largely white, suburban congregation has begun to build a partnership with the Charter Oak Cultural Center, a multicultural arts organization located in downtown Hartford. The week after I preached at Middle, UUS:E and Charter Oak co-produced our first event, a performance by spoken word artist Uni Q. Mical. Uni Q. performed at Charter Oak on Saturday night the 18th, then participated in worship at UUS:E on Sunday morning the 19th. My post about Uni Q.’s trip to Hartford is here. The text to Uni Q.’s poem, “restless sleepers (a motion picture),” which she wrote in response to our February theological theme of restlessness, is here. And, for a taste of what Uni Q. is like in concert, check out one of her more famous poems, “The Radical Homosexual Agenda,” (which she also performed at UUS:E, though a slightly edited version) at
We are only at the beginning of building our relationship with Charter Oak, but so far so good. It is helping us to think in new ways about what it means to build an antiracist, multicultural congregational identity. It is helping us to realize there is so much more we can do than the traditional antiracism workshops, sermons on white privilege and educational movie nights, as important as those are. Middle Collegiate Church is a shining example of how a congregation can be transformed through multicultural arts. There’s no reason to think we can’t experience such transformation if we continue with purpose and vision down this new path.
The Rev. Peter Morales has issued a white paper detailing what he sees as “a historic opportunity for our faith.” Released by the UUA on January 19, 2012, you may read the paper on uua.org or download as PDF below.
I very much look forward to the conversations “Congregations and Beyond” will stimulate. Download it, read it, then join the conversation. Connect with me via Twitter, Facebook Page and UU Growth Lab group on Facebook.
In this video series from the Unitarian Universalist Association, religious professionals reflect on Unitarian Universalist ministry in all its forms. Each video ranges from 2 to 4 minutes. According to the Rev. Harlan Limpert, UUA Vice President for Ministries and Congregational Support Administration, the last videos in the series will be released over the next two weeks. If you don’t see your video here, stay tuned! ~ Peter
Unitarian Universalist (UU) ministers respond to the question, “What do you love about ministry”? In two minutes and six seconds, ten current UU ministers describe what they love about being in ministry. Very moving.
A new survey for freerange UUs has just been created by the UUA’s Office of Growth Strategies. I hope you’ll share this with your friends, colleagues and congregation at large.
Here’s the survey announcement:
Seeking Free-Range Unitarian Universalists…
by Tandi Rogers
If you’re a “Free-Range Unitarian Universalist,” please take this survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FreeRangeUUs. The UUA Office of Growth Strategies is seeking to better understand Unitarian Universalism outside our congregations. Help me transform the way we live into our faith. If you’re active in a congregation, but know people who aren’t, but identify as Unitarian Universalist, please pass this on to them. Thank you!! In faith, Tandi
From a growth perspective, I think figuring out how to cultivate (not control) a larger Unitarian Universalist movement is critical. Often I hear people using the words movement and religion interchangeably. They are very different. A few thoughts on that in older post Is Unitarian Universalism a Religion or a Movement?
I’m very happy to see the UUA taking what I call “Freerange UUs” and, if they had a sports team, “the UU Freerangers” seriously. Since I started tweeting approximately three years ago (via account @uuplanet) I’ve come into contact with freerange UUs who feel that they aren’t allowed to be Unitarian Universalists because they aren’t connected to a congregation. Some have expressed that they don’t feel like they have permission to be UU in any way other than the building bound form. My response has been “With all the authority NOT invested in me, I hereby give you permission to be a Unitarian Universalist!”
Some of my colleagues have challenged me on it being valid to be UU outside of a congregation. I gotta tell you, if Unitarian Universalism is small enough to be contained in our existing congregations, it is too small of a thing for me. The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations — this organization is rightly bound to congregations. But I don’t think our larger faith should be.
Some of you may be wonder, why aren’t these people connected to existing congregations? There are so many reasons. Here are some highlights.
There is no local congregation
The local congregation is Sunday morning centric and they work then
They identify with our faith, but not our present demographics
They are in transition
The spouse they are divorced from is occupying the local congregation
They were asked to pledge their third time at the congregation and feel the church is all about money
The congregational leadership is constantly begging for volunteers giving a sense that it is a sinking ship
The congregation is filled with unhealthy politics
The congregation is old and they are young
They have accessibility issues
They “married out”
The local congregation stinks — it happens.
And on and on…
I’m looking forward to seeing what comes from the UUA’s Free-range UU survey. Even more, I’m hoping that the UU Freerangers will start organizing themselves, that a movement will ignite. There are far more of them in the United States than there are members of the Unitarian Universalist Association.