Volume 6 Issue 3 | October 2018
The MidAmerica Region is where UUs visibly live our faith, create connections, grow our membership, and welcome all persons who share our UU values.
Ian Evison, Congregational Life Consultant Lead
Our MidAmerica program staff team has begun setting aside one meeting a month for a generative conversation around something we have read or seen together. We are focusing especially on explorations of white supremacy culture, although we have also committed to viewing and discussing the new video series, Transgender Inclusion in Congregations (organized by Rev. Mykal Slack and Zr. Alex Kapitan). The events of recent weeks have brought into focus that there is also much we all need to discuss regarding #MeToo—including about how we relate to each other in our own teams and congregations. It was a bit of a struggle reserving the time and a bit awkward doing this over Zoom. Yet I enjoy the different patterns of conversation invited by entering into these discussions. And I have loved being part of the journey of learning with our larger association and with all of you in the region on the big issues gripping our country.
Courage my friends
You do not walk alone
We will walk with you
And sing your spirit home
South Africa via Matt Meyer
In Faith, Ian Evison
In this and future issues of the MidAmerica Messenger, one of your MidAmerica Regional staff members will share a favorite resource on Dismantling White Supremacy. This month, I’d like to share with you a great introduction to this important issue: the UUA’s Dismantle White Supremacy webpage (https://www.uua.org/justice/dismantle-white-supremacy). I particularly like the way it defines White Supremacy:
White supremacy, as defined is the idea that white people are better and more deserving of wealth, power, and privilege than people of color. White supremacy pervades our culture, institutions, and relationships. It is a self-perpetuating system that continues to fuel colonialism, exploitation, oppressions, inequities, and brutalities that people of color experience.
Here you’ll find information on why we must dismantle white supremacy, through exposing the impact of white supremacy, engaging in longer-term study, and entering partnerships for action. Among the resources on the page are suggested readings and videos, ideas for worship and religious education on the subject, and information on national UU groups that provide gatherings, webinars, and other resources around dismantling white supremacy. In Faith, Rev. Phillip Lund Photo by dRworks
Is your congregation ready to take your welcome to the next level?
Our movement has come a long way with regards to LGBTQ inclusion, but there’s still a long way left to go. A recent survey of trans UUs found that only 44% of trans women and men feel that their current or most recent congregation is completely inclusive of them as trans people—and this number drops to a shocking 18% for non-binary folks.
“Transgender Inclusion in Congregations” aims to make a dent in these numbers. This is not a “trans 101”—it’s a comprehensive, six-session online course for individuals, groups, and congregational teams that are committed to transformation, offered by two trans UU faith leaders: Rev. Mykal Slack and Zr. Alex Kapitan.
Each of the course’s six sessions includes a 45- to 60-minute pre-recorded lecture, reflection questions, and resources that take the conversation deeper. In addition, Mykal and Alex will be holding regular live video chats for all current or past course participants. Congregational teams are particularly encouraged to take the course.
Find out more and sign up: https://www.transformingheartscollective.org/online-courses
Phillip Lund, Congregational Life Consultant
When the Heartland, Central Midwest, and Prairie Star districts merged to form the MidAmerica Region in 2013, the Chalice Lighter committee decided to award up to three grants for each call—Fall, Winter, and Spring. We wanted to make sure that at least one congregation from each of the former districts had the opportunity to be awarded a Chalice Lighter grant. This process has worked well over the last five years, with dozens of congregations around MidAmerica benefitting from the generosity of individual Chalice Lighters throughout the region.
There has been one unintended consequence however — the average amount of grants awarded has gone down. The district programs were often able to award grants for well over $10,000. But the average amount for grants in the regional program has been in the $5000 to $8000 range. This means that on several occasions we were unable to fully fund requests for larger grants. With that in mind, we’re making some changes to the Chalice Lighters program that we hope will give us the opportunity to once again award grants for over $10,000 and still be able to help fund smaller grants.
How? By partnering with the UUA’s Faithify program (https://faithify.org/). Since 2014, Faithify has raised over 1.3 million dollars for over 300 campaigns, including multiple campaigns from congregations in the MidAmerica Region. Here’s the plan: Chalice Lighters will award one large grant over $10,000 to a MidAmerica congregation for each Fall, Winter, and Spring Chalice Lighter Call. Congregations will be encourage to think big and be bold. The money raised for these calls will be earmarked for the types of projects Chalice Lighters has always funded:
- Supporting a new or emerging congregation
- Acquiring or expanding meeting space for an existing congregation.
- Increase paid professional staffing.
- Establishing outreach and public relations programs.
Congregations interested in grants under $10,000 will be encouraged to post a campaign on Faithify. Once each month, Chalice Lighters will contribute 10% (up to $1000) to a single Faithify campaign posted by a MidAmerica congregation. For both the larger Chalice Lighter grants and the small Faithify contributions, the Chalice Lighter Committee will give priority to congregations that fulfill the overall expectations of the Chalice Lighter program:
Shared stewardship within the whole congregation, such as a challenge matching pledge or increase in volunteers will be viewed favorably.Preference will be given to Honor Congregations—those congregations which have contributed their full amount to the Annual Program Fund requested by the UUA and the MidAmerica Region—or congregations that can demonstrate a plan for becoming an Honor Congregation.Preference will be given to congregations with active and growing Chalice Lighter programs. We suggest a minimum goal of 20% of members active in the Chalice Lighter Program.Churches receiving Chalice Lighter Grants are expected to participate in the life of the MidAmerica Region, UUA, including regional growth, membership and leadership development workshops and webinars.
Our hope is to provide a variety of ways for individuals to support congregations within the region. Those signed up for the Chalice Lighter program will still be asked to contribute to each of the three calls. In addition, individual Chalice Lighters may want to contribute additional money to a monthly Faithify campaign, which can be done directly through the Faithify website. And, for someone who is not a member of Chalice Lighters, there will be monthly opportunities to contribute to Faithify campaigns as well.
The next Chalice Lighter Call letter will have more information about the changes in the program. And check out the next issue of the MidAmerica Messenger for information about the Fall Chalice Lighter Call.
Nancy Combs-Morgan, Congregational Life Consultant and Faith Development Director
Southern and MidAmerica Regions: Deeper Partnering for Faith Development
For two years we have had a relationship growing between MidAmerica and Southern regions through the efforts of Kathy Charles, Event Coordinator, of the Southern and MidAmerica region, and Nancy Combs-Morgan, Faith Development Director of the MidAmerica Region. Due to the success of this relationship we are going to expand this work in 5 areas of virtual faith development support, including continuing education opportunities; OWL and Renaissance Module shepherding and coaching; support for New DRE’s; partnering with continental LREDA and listening circles regional LREDA chapters and clusters.
Co-Regional Dimensions of UU Faith Development Plan – 5 Step Scaffolding
Our intention is to provide support for the enhancement of faith development in both the MIdAmerica and Southern regions through coaching and companioning religious educators in 5 key areas, which build on the Southern Region’s guiding paradigm of a regional curriculum map:
- Continuing education opportunities - including online training and support for collegial group spiritual direction; collegial conversations on dismantling white supremacy; safer congregation’s trainings; explorations of new models and the future of UU faith development, and all within a broader model of a co-regional Learning Collaborative. This plan will begin with an intentional “listening” series where we will begin connecting particularly with religious educators in the southern region. There could also be co-regional support for the Lifespan Faith Development portion of the extended leadership experiences currently being offered in the Southern Region.
- OWL – for the last two years, Kathy Charles has been providing virtual coaching of MIdAmerica leaders who are interested in hosting OWL trainings. She tracks the requests; posts on social media information about OWL trainings, and, most importantly, personally connects with the leaders to help them as they navigate how to organize OWL trainings. It has also been very helpful that she connects with Melanie Davis in our national office about OWL. This support will now include the Southern Region
- LREDA – partnering with national LREDA leaders to connect religious educators, from both regions, to LREDA clusters in their area, virtual LREDA offerings, and to their respective LREDA Good Officers. In response to the growing number of religious educators joining the RE Credentialing Program, this plan also includes opportunities to connect those religious educators with one another, and to enable the types of learning opportunities needed for their professional development.
- Renaissance Modules - partnering with our UUA’s Faith Development Office leaders, in particular, Pat Kahn, to promote/publicize the online Renaissance Modules being offered, and for those clusters of religious educators who seek to host a hybrid or face-to-face Renaissance Module, Nancy Combs-Morgan will shepherd and coach those groups to foster Renaissance Modules in both regions.
- Support for New DRE’s - including fall/winter webinar series. The “RE Essentials” three part series for new and newer religious educators happened last month in MidAmerica. In addition, religious educators in the Southern Region, will be encouraged to take part in a face-to-face opportunity at the national Fall LREDA conference in Houston, TX, Nov. 2-5, where there will be an all day workshop for “New and Newer” religious educators. There will also be a 3 part online series for “New and Newer” religious educators on Jan. 8th, 15th and 22nd (registration will be posted by the end of October).
The co-regional faith development project plan includes:
Nancy Combs-Morgan, Faith Development Director of the MidAmerica Region – who will provide the oversight for the structure and create collaborative content of the continuing ed opportunities; the shepherding of support for new Directors of Religious Education, and the oversight of enabling Renaissance Modules.
Kathy Charles, Event Coordinator Southern and MidAmerica Regions - who will provide the creation of event registrations; promotion on respective websites and social media; who will act as registrar for the events, and provide OWL coaching as needed.
The UUA is looking for innovative approaches of real significance that have succeeded in bringing new vitality to UU communities of all kinds, and for the stories of successful change leadership that have brought them about. This isn’t about numerical growth, community size or even whole-community programming. We want to celebrate innovative ways UU communities are adapting to the challenges that they face in this changing religious landscape.
Anyone familiar with the Breakthrough innovation can submit an application after notifying the appropriate community leader, minister, religious education (RE) professional, and Board or Board delegate.
In addition to the application form (https://www.uua.org/growth/breakthrough/apply), two written recommendations are required:
one from someone directly impacted by the innovation; andone from someone outside the religious community (ie, UUA staff or community member) who is familiar with the innovation
Applications should be sent to email@example.com and are due November 1.
The Fund for UU Social Responsibility is pleased to announce that grants of up to $500 are available for your 2018 Get Out The Vote projects! Unitarian Universalist congregations frequently support the democratic process in a nonpartisan manner by participating in voter registration drives, providing nonpartisan educational materials or forums for voters, or by volunteering to help registered voters get to the polls on election day. The deadline is rolling and you can apply between March 15 and November 1, 2018. Grants are available until the fund is depleted. Get applications and more information. Check out what our Ann Arbor and Columbus congregation did with this grant in 2016. You can also contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 971-9600.
We are seeking to covenant with each other to find new ways of partnering and standing together on the side of love for the flourishing of our world, our communities, our congregations and our members.