Collaborative Mulitmedia Piece for Sunday Morning GA Worship

Photo by Jake JacobsonFriends, we are working on creating a multimedia piece for Sunday morning worship at General Assembly to the reading “Beatitudes for Justice Builders” by the Rev. Lindi Ramsden.

In order to bring this message to life, we are looking for additional photographs of people engaged in many different kinds of activities: social action, worship, meetings, tender moments, service, working, playing…

Do you have photos to contribute?  Please share them with us by this Friday, May 16th. Logistics and copy of the reading are below.

Our vision is to create a visual presentation that is colorful, creative, fun, and moving. In addition to being part of  worship at General Assembly, if all goes well, this piece will be available after GA for congregational use.

In the Spirit of Collaboration,
Amy & Peter

How to Submit Photos

1. To contribute photos:

  • Email: For one or a handful of  photos, please email them to us here.
  • If you use Flickr and have lots of photos to share (more than 5) post them to the UU Stock Photo group and letting us know via email that you’ve shared them there.
  • If you use Dropbox, email Peter and he can share a Dropbox folder with you.

2. Photo size:   Photographs are going to be included in HD video presentation at 1920 x 1080, so please only share photos at that can resolution or larger.

3. Please only submit photos that you have permission to share online or that are already publicly available online such as on congregational Facebook pages.  We do not want to spend time hunting down photo permissions and so prefer images already online.

4.  In sharing photos with us you are granting us permission to use them in the multimedia piece at GA, which will be live streamed, permission to use in an online video, and affirming that you have permission of people in the photo to share it.  Permissions are not needed for photos taken at larger public witness events.  Not sure if you have the okay to share?  Please do not share with us or ask those in the photo first.

5. Please include the names of photographers to include in credits.    We will be sharing names of contributors in a slide at the end of the piece.

The Reading

“Beatitudes for Justice Builders” by the Rev. Lindi Ramsden

1 Blessed are you who can question your own assumptions and listen with an open mind; you will receive new insights beyond your imagining.

2 Blessed are you who build friendships as well as justice; even when you lose an issue, you will have strengthened the foundation of your community.

3 Blessed are you who take delight in people; you will not be bored in meetings.

4 Blessed are you who agitate the placid waters of complacency; you will create waves in the inertia of privilege, and will know the thrill of riding the surf of change.

5 Blessed are you who lead with enthusiasm and confidence, resisting the temptation to shame the apathetic or self-absorbed; you will inspire curiosity and hope in others.

6 Blessed are you who play as well as work; you will have more fun, build more energy, and will draw the powers of the impish to your cause.

7 Blessed are you who ask for help in your role as leaders; you will find teachers at every turn, and your work will remain interesting and alive.

8 Blessed are you who do not demonize your opponents; your eyes and your hearts will be open.

9 Blessed are you who sing and dance; you will find energy and joy to lift you on your journey.

10 Blessed are you who offer thanks and praise five-fold for every critique; your children will want to visit after they are grown, people will want to serve on your committees, and friends will be interested in your opinions.

11 Blessed are you who study the rhythms of history; you will have knowledge with which to shape the future.

12 Blessed are you who work in coalition rather than in principled isolation; you will meet great people, learn things you didn’t realize you needed to know, and have partners for the journey when you are in the lead, or in need.

13 Blessed are you who discover, train and encourage young leaders; you will see your work expand and grow beyond your own time and talent.

14 Blessed are you who can change your mind; you are still alive.

15 Blessed are you who will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good; you will see progress in your lifetime.

16 Blessed are you with an active spiritual life; you will find perspective and comfort in times of loss and betrayal, and will rise without cynicism to meet the challenges of a new day.

17 Blessed are you who live from a place of gratitude; for you will know the meaning of Life.


Larry Ladd on the Ecology & Economy of UU Identity Theological Schools

Those of you interested in UU ministry, theological education and finances — this post is for you.

What’s the future hold for our theological schools?
What does the past tell us?
Can we overcome crushing student debt?
What are the choices for our association?

If the questions above interest you, read Larry Ladd’s new paper shared at recent Panel on Theological Education conference.

UU Social Media Year in Review for 2013

Like - Social Media

Here are a some thoughts in response to Rev. Daniel Harper’s The year in review: UU social media in 2013. I’ll share more thoughts when I have time. Thanks for kicking off the review, Dan! ~ Peter

We’ve discussed the issue of UU clergy vs. lay person blogging in the UU Growth Lab and most agreed that the ease of sharing ideas and engaging in discussion in topical UU groups has taken some of the energy away from public blogging. While it is great to have these forums, there was some worry expressed in having these conversations moved behind closed doors.

There’s been amazing UU outreach done over the last year via social media, especially on Facebook using combinations of striking visual images and quotes. The biggest contributors have been the page (featured in UU world this Fall) & , and Thomas Earthman’s I AM UU page.

There continues to be growth in the number of UUs and UU congregations on Twitter. The UUA’s twitter account now lists:

128 UU Ministers
50 UU Religious Educators
279 UU Congregations

I don’t have stats on the counts from previous years, though I’ve logged these numbers for future comparison.

Hashtags: Though they are now more mainstream, I don’t see many Unitarian Universalists using them well.  Some do, but not overall.  There’s huge potential to bring our congregations, clergy and other UUs on Twitter into larger conversations using hashtags.  Hard to say if it is lack of technical understanding, or simply lack of intention to reach out.

Gini’s Twitter Lesson: At the UUA’s 2013 General Assembly then moderator Gini Courter gave the full plenary a brief Twitter lesson.  It was great to see this attention brought to social media at GA.

The UU video site I curate, now has over 2450 UU videos. Alas, many are poorly filmed, and are designed for viewing by existing members chained to their pews. Unless someone is already a member or friend of the congregation, you have maybe 3 to 5 seconds to grab their attention. Many of the sermon videos posted online take 3 to 5 minutes, an eternity for a web video.

Also, many congregations are not titling their videos or tagging with keywords which reduces their value. Titles, descriptions and keyword tags will greatly increase the reach of the videos UUs are presently producing.

I’ve had many inquiries from congregations wanting to take their video to the next level (or to start filming) in 2014, which is encouraging. I still advocate for starting with an awesome podcast and periodic video messages designed for outreach (a message from your minister speaking directly to viewer online), and then getting into video of sermons.

There are approximately 20 active UU congregations and UUA accounts on Pinterest. A search for “Unitarian Universalist” results in ~35 related boards. Numbers are approximate as some appear to not have been used since creating some time ago.

I’m getting circled more often by UU’s but I don’t know if people are really using Google+ more or are just being forced to create accounts to use Google services.  As for congregations, a search for Unitarian results in ~90 UU congregations (with profile photos) on Google+.  Searches for Unitarian Universalist yields fewer number, and Universalist fewer still so  “Unitarian” seems best for tracking the trend at this point.

What are your observations on 2013?
And your hopes and dreams for UU Social Media in 2014?

Share your comments on Dan’s post at
The year in review: UU social media in 2013.

Religious Education Schedule Poster

The following guest post is by Barb Greve, Interim Director of Religious Education currently serving the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, GA, and includes links to download files of the described religious education schedule poster.  ~ Peter

By Barb Greve

Barb Greve

I noticed that several of the Religious Education/Exploration classes in my programs were struggling with following a consistent schedule of components from week-to-week. I suspected that having such a framework might help the attendees and facilitators alike know what to expect each session. I also know that for some of us, knowing the meta-schedule helps to reduce our anxiety and thus allows us to more fully participate in the learning session.

To address both these needs I created a visual schedule to put in each of our Religious Education/Exploration program’s class spaces. My intent was to create something that helped to remind everyone in the class what the order of the day should be and to do it in such a way that allowed those who couldn’t read to be able to follow the schedule easily.

So far the posters have been warmly received. They are too new to know if this will help for the long haul, but I suspect they will. With an ever-changing volunteer corps and learners whose attendance rotates in unpredictable patterns, everything we can to help those in the classrooms know what to expect is bound to be helpful.

This poster I created is available to any and all who would like to use it. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. This means that you are welcome to use it as is, make changes to it and reproduce it but can not put the original or any derivation up for sale. This was created for the common good of all Unitarian Universalist Religious Education communities.

Download Files

UU RE classroom schedule poster

New book on humanism, UU theology, and the growth (or not) of the UUA

I just ordered a new book on humanism, our UU theology, and the history of our association, REGAINING BALANCE: THE EVOLUTION OF THE UUA by Michael Werner, published by Religious Humanism Press.

I’m excited for this read as this relates directly to conversations we’ve been having in the UU Growth Lab over the last two years, especially last month.    I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t recommend it yet.  But stay tuned! I’ll let you know what I think.

If this subject is of interest to you, you may order it here.

Mike Werner
Mike Werner

‘Find out the history of the UUA that no one has told you.  Find out why the UUA is declining.   Find out why there is a rightward theological turn. Find out what can reverse the downward trend.”

“The author details the cultural, philosophical and political history of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) especially in regards to Humanism  and critical thinking.  The evolution of the UUA from a focus on reason in religion to one of radical tolerance is described along with the loss on membership.  Culturally important factors such as postmodernism, process theology, second wave feminism, value theory, new age, theological education, the “religious redefinition” game, population dynamics, and the age of narcissism in religion are brought together to show how multiple interacting forces have led to the UUA to ideological extremes of indiscriminate pluralism.  The secular revolution is then described and possible solutions for the UUA going forward presented.’

“In this book Mike Werner analyzes what is wrong with the UUA and suggests how we can correct our problems and become once again a vital and growing religious movement.  It should be read by every UU who cares about the future of our Association.”  — William R. Murry, Former President and Dean, Meadville Lombard Theological School

The History of Humanism and the Unitarian Universalist Association

Below you may find videos of a lecture by Werner.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Michael Werner is an ardent Humanist and Unitarian Universalist having been past President of the American Humanist Association, Vice President of the Fellowship of Religious Humanists, President of the Humanist Foundation, President of the Unitarian Church of Charlotte, a founder of SMART recovery,
and an adjunct faculty member of the Humanist Institute. He supports a balanced Humanism of heart and mind, reason and compassion and a balanced Unitarian Universalism that helps us discover how to be more fully human.

New UU Crowdfunding Platform, and Faithful Risk Fund to honor Gini Courter

Gin Courter - Faithful Risk Fund

Update 6/26:  The Faithful Risk Fund is in Gini’s honor, not the platform… There was talk about a crowd sourcing platform as part of honoring her, but that was already in development by the Mass Bay and Clara Barton Districts.  So the platform is a collaboration with first $10,000 in donations supporting its development.

Friends, at our recent General Assembly conference a new UU crowdfunding platform was announced, as well as a “Faithful Risk” fund to honor Gini Courter, UUA Moderator. (UU World coverage).   Scroll down for how I want to raise $100,000 for this fund $5 at a time…   


Inspired, in part, by the Minns Lecture I offered with the Rev. Naomi King, this fundraising platform and fund will allow Unitarian Universalists who are called to creative, innovative and experimental (a.k.a. risky) ministries and ministry projects to reach out to UUs for funding.

Before you surf away, do me a favor.  At a minimum share this post via your social media channels. Share it with someone you know who has $5.  Just scroll to end of post and click a few share buttons.  Thanks!  If YOU do that, and others too, we’re golden.  Like “UU love people shirt” golden…

Using this platform a project requiring $10,000 could be funded by 100 UUs offering $100, or 1,000 offering $10.  Projects could range from small amounts, or it could go bigger…. Who knows!  And that’s the beauty.  We don’t know what will happen or what kind of projects will come forward.  We just know that Unitarian Universalism needs them to come forward, and we need a way to make space for them, affirm them, support them, and to learn together through the process.

For the last two years I’ve had seminarians, lay ministers, and our clergy asking me about this sort of project.  So, I must thank the Rev. Naomi King for our collaboration on the Minns Lectures which helped inspire Gini, and to Gini for choosing to have this fund and fundraising platform be one of her many gifts to our association, and part of her and Naomi’s legacy to our larger faith.

$100,000 to honor Gini and launch fund

Now, to honor Gini appropriately I don’t think just having a dribbly slow start to this fund will do.  No… That will not do…  Do you?   I’d didn’t think so.

Together, I would like us to raise $100,000 to kick it off.  Doesn’t that sound good?  Wouldn’t that be a mighty accomplishment?  Wouldn’t you like to see the look on Gini’s face?


$5 x 20,000 UUs = $100,000

Will you join me in donating $5 to support this new effort?  I’m looking for 20,000 gifts of $5.  You got $5?  Skip a couple Starbucks and we’re there. Right?  People, I need you on this one.  As Vanessa Southern said in her GA sermon, “Let’s dive in together.”

If you love Gini, if you love the idea of our using our funds to power new creative and innovative ministries that are just too small or weird or risky or whatever usually leads these important experiments NOT to be funded,  make a donation.

Thank you for helping us launch this big time!

In faith,Peter Bowden

PS – Below is our Minns Lecture video (full). You may watch in short segments here.