In response to my usual question “how is it going” one of our ministers commented to me the other day: “We are on the edge of the verge of the cusp of something great.” I love how this captures for me a very January feeling in this work: hope tinged with tiredness and perhaps a bit of doubt. There is also something about this that captures a more pervasive mood. At least for those congregations with a fiscal year ending in June, January is generally a season in which hope meets realism—where the vision of the budget meet the realities of our lives as we are asked to support it.
This is especially true this year as many of our pledge drives get under way amidst distinctly doubtful economic portents. As a religious leader such moments worry me but they also fascinate me because of the leadership question they pose: If it is going to be a time of down-turn, even recession, what are the new opportunities opened by this climate of austerity? Who are the new leaders with the vision and courage to take advantage of them?
In this district we are on the edge of the verge of the cusp of something good indeed. This year for the third year in a row one of our UUA breakthrough congregations is from our district. In 2006 it was First Madison. In 2007 it was Carbondale. And this year (drum roll please) it is Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois. As a district and as individual congregations we are on the verge of breakthrough in many ways. And, I suspect that to achieve this breakthrough we are going to need to have the eye for new kinds of opportunities and new kinds of leadership skills to take advantage of these.
The Central Midwest District of the UUA is challenging you to a sermon contest! The winner will deliver the sermon on Sunday, April 27, in St. Louis. In addition to the honor, the winner will be awarded a $500 prize. We are seeking sermons based on the theme of District Assembly: Church for the 21st Century: Shaping Our Religious Future.
Please submit your 15-20 minute sermon in both written and audio form (live recordings OK), with your contact information listed on a separate page for anonymity. You may mail a written manuscript plus a recording of you on audio cassette tape or CD to CMWD Sermon Contest, c/o Neil Ching, Office Administrator, Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, 309 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801. New deadline is March 1, 2008.
Maybe you’ve heard, maybe you haven’t. The quick and dirty? Attendees of General Assembly 2008 will be required to show ID badges to enter the convention center in Ft. Lauderdale this June. As a UUA Trustee, I have encountered an entire spectrum of responses to this concept: ranging from “so??” to “we need to move GA to a different location NOW!!"Read more...
A UU friend from Maryland sent me a copy of the book "The Soul of Money, Reclaiming the Wealth of our Inner Resources" by Lynne Twist, founder of The Soul of Money Institute. While I have some areas of philosophical and theological disagreement with her, I found her central thesis very compelling. Quoting her: "The kinds of connections that truly protect and preserve us are those that emerge from the context of sufficiency and the sharing, diversity, reciprocity, and partnership found there."
The Butterball Turkey Company set up a hotline to answer consumer questions about preparing holiday turkeys. One woman called to inquire about cooking a turkey that had been in her freezer for twenty-three years. The operator told her it might be safe if the freezer had been kept below zero degrees the entire time. But the operator warned the woman that, even if it were safe, the flavor had probably deteriorated, and she wouldn't recommend eating it. The caller replied, "That's what we thought. We'll just give it to the church."
"Giving It to the Church," indeed! Sometimes, if we don't pay attention, it seems like the spirit of creativity, of stone soup, can become the spirit of Scrooge. The story goes like this:Read more...
Here is an amazing opportunity to some direct social justice work with your youth, young adults and the UUA in Washington this spring! Applications are due on Feb. 1.
The training will take place in Washington DC, March 15-18 and will include:
• Supporting comprehensive sexuality education from a religious perspective
• Interfaith sharing and worship
• Organizing and advocacy training
• Briefing on federal legislation
• Lobby visits with UU President Rev. Bill Sinkford
• Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression Training
• Sightseeing in Washington DC
Committed, involved, informed, responsible, and available are the characteristics that I look for in a nominee when I am serving on a nominating committee. As we turn our calendars into 2008 there will be many Unitarian Universalists serving on these committees in their local congregations along with those serving on our district nominating committee.
It is important that we think of the role of the nominating committee as being given the opportunity and responsibility to find the right person to fill a vacancy and NOT to “find someone to take that job.” Especially in small congregations we often have the latter mentality.Read more...
This award, initiated in 1999 at the CMwD Annual Meeting, is intended to recognize a person, clergy or laity, who has made a significant contribution strengthening UU professional ministry in the CMwD.
This person may have worked on a ministerial intern's support committee, demonstrated exemplary professional ministry to a CMWD congregation, religious education program or community-based organization, served on a committee involving ministry in his/her congregation, or served on the board of one of our UU seminaries. The awardee will be honored at the CMWD District Assembly in St. Louis Missouri in April 2008, and will have their name permanently inscribed on the award plaque, which can be displayed in their congregation until the following District Assembly.
Please submit nominations to CMWD office address (see home page), to be received no later than February 5, 2008.Read more...
For the past year a group of Chicago-area congregations have been working with a marketing consultant, Mike Murschel. Mike Murschel has worked as a marketing consultant. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mike. My conversation was particularly helpful to me because it helped me think through the next steps for congregations that have been working on welcome of guests.
Ian: What is it that you find are the questions the most frequently lead congregations into considering the subject of marketing?
Mike: Congregations often start by asking one of two questions: The first is whether they should advertise in the newspaper and the second is how to write a press release or article and then how to get it placed. (for a good resource on writing a press release, see Mike Murschel’s resource list at the bottom of the interview).
While these are important questions, I generally encourage them to back up a step or two from these questions.
The worship year may locate us somewhere between Christmas and Easter but unofficially and organizationally the big question for many congregations at this time of year is this: how will the canvass go? At this point in the year for most congregations it is a little late to get creative about making further changes in how they do they canvass. It is a moment to cross our fingers (the theologically appropriate equivalent) and execute the plan. It is also a moment for anxious anticipation. Are people going to feel generous?
Keeping the Faith
DYSC: District Youth Steering Committee
Youth conferences are a sacred community for youth to grow and explore their identity and their faith. This community does not develop on its own. All con-goers play an important role in creating and maintaining a welcoming spiritual environment. There are many things we do to shape our beloved community. We worship together. We play together. We eat together. We struggle against injustice together. In order to protect the integrity of this community, DYSC has created a covenant that we like to call “The Rules.” We would like to highlight and expand upon how some of these rules protect our con community.
Youth Advisor of the Year Award
Kimberlee Tomczak, Youth Coordinator
Have you been awed and dazzled by a fantastic youth advisor who works with Unitarian Universalist youth in your congregation? I am delighted to announce the creation of the CMWD Youth Advisor Award; this award will be given in recognition of dedication and excellence in youth ministry.
I would like to invite you to nominate a youth advisor (or yourself) for the new CMWD Youth Advisor of the year award!
|Please send us brief articles on the happenings in your congregation so we can share your good news with all the UUs in our district.|
Darwin's 199th Birthday Celebration
Rev. Dr. Roger Brewin, First U Hobart, Indiana
A series of events celebrating DARWIN'S 199th BIRTHDAY will be presented by First Unitarian of Hobart, IN and Berrien UU Fellowship, St. Joseph, MI from February 9 through 13. Co-sponsored by Chicago Area UU Council and HUUmanists, the events will feature appearances by Darwin himself.