The MidAmerica Messenger

Volume I, Issue 5 | March 2014

I hope many of you will consider attending the Regional Assembly [in four locations] in April. Our staff and MidAmerica Region Board members will be welcoming you there. Early registration ends soon. More information here:

We  always appreciate your comments and suggestions for the newsletter.  Click on the "email the editor" link to send us a  message.

Nancy Heege, Congregational Life Consultant

Moral March

About 1,500 Unitarian Universalists marched with thousands of others in Raleigh,  North Carolina, in the "Moral March" on February 8, 2014. Called to North Carolina by the NAACP to protest against a new law that suppresses voter rights, many people responded. To read more about the March, and UUs' participation in it, go to:
The following is a first-person account of the Moral March, written by Rev. Amy DeBeck, Minister at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart, Indiana.

Forward Together, Not One Step Back!

I put in my January Ministerial Report to the Board that I would go to Raleigh, and attached the link to the Bill Moyers piece about it.   Within days, 3 of the board members and a 4th (to fill up their Prius) had decided to go.

Friday night at the UU Fellowship of Raleigh we were treated to congregational-made chili dinner and a worship service. Speakers explained that Dr. Barber is the unequivocal leader of this Moral Movement, and that his language the next day would be Christian AND inclusive. Anti-rain prayers had also been petitioned!

Saturday morning dawned cold and clear-the rain held off. The hotel we stayed at  had gotten filled overnight by 2 busloads of Unitarian Universalists from All Souls DC, and the excitement in the breakfast area was palpable. My little group headed to the meet- up place with more UUs, unions, people from Planned Parenthood in bright pink, and of course the ubiquitous Standing on the Side of Love people. UUA President Rev. Peter Morales spoke to us, then organizers taught us some call and response  chants like, "Forward Together, Not One Step Back!" and sang songs like "There'll be Freedom in That Land." And soon we were moving to the start of the route.

All along the way we chanted and sang and occasionally stood aside to take pictures and see which groups had come. Many conversations and new friendships started. It definitely became clear that for Moral Mondays to come to Indiana we will need to keep having conversations and forging new friendships.

At the end of the March we all listened to Rev. Dr. Barber and took it all in. We had gathered not because we are the same political party or religion or race, but because we all want a better nation.  "We are the people and we will be heard" - Barber's words.

At the end of his speech the sun came out as we linked arms and sang "We Shall Overcome."

Barber said, "We are black, white, Latino, Native American. We are Democrat, Republican, independent. We are people of all faiths, and people not of faith but who believe in a moral universe. We are natives and immigrants, business leaders and workers  and unemployed, doctors and the uninsured, gay and straight, students and parents and retirees. We stand here--a quilt of many colors, faiths, and creeds."


People from all over MidAmerica Region went to Raleigh to march. This group is from at least three Minnesota congregations. (Credit: Unity Church-Unitarian, Saint Paul MN)
Unity Unitarian St. Paul

Marriage Equality--Wisconsin Update

Rev Virginia WolfRetired UU Minister Virginia Wolf and her wife Carol Schumacher are the lead plaintiffs in an ACLU lawsuit against the State of Wisconsin, arguing that the state's constitutional ban on same sex marriage is a violation of their civil rights.

There's a law on the books in Wisconsin that says that people married legally in  another state but whose marriages wouldn't be recognized in Wisconsin can be fined up to $10,000 and sent to jail for up to nine months. The old Marriage Evasion statute, which was originally designed to prevent close relations from marrying one another in another state and then returning to Wisconsin to live, was not specifically meant to pertain to GLBT couples, but the ACLU asserts  that the state courts could choose to interpret the law in that way.

Wolf and Schumacher were married by a Minnesota judge when same sex marriage became legal in Minnesota in 2013. They've been working on this issue for a long time, saying, "We've been inching toward marriage for 38 years!" Virginia is Minister Emerita at Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Regional Assembly: One Event in Four Locations

Hunger for Justice logo

Workshops are all on Saturday April 12, 2014

Discounted early bird registration ends March 15.

When we've done evaluations of previous District Assemblies, "workshops!" are always ranked as one of the most appreciated events on the schedule. Here are some of the intriguing possibilities at this year's Regional Assembly in Four Locations.


Workshop Sampler

Ann Arbor MichiganIn Ann Arbor: Gun Violence Prevention and UU
presented by Linda Brundage

There  will be an overview of gun violence, review of previous positions of  the UUA re gun violence, and how congregations can get involved, participate in Gun Violence Prevention Coalitions, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Bloomington IndianaIn Bloomington (Indiana): Transforming  the World through Congregation-Based Spiritual Direction
presented by  Rev. Phil Lund, MidAmerica Congregational Life Consultant, and Rev. Sue Sinnamon

One of the greatest challenges facing progressive congregations in the 21st  century is learning to serve the growing number of people who  identify  as spiritual
but not religious. This workshop will explore how  congregation-based spiritual direction can do just that by  transforming  individuals, their communities, and the world.

Topeka KansasIn Topeka: Harry Potter Justice Camp
presented by Rev. Judith Cady, Kansas City, Missouri

Create  your own justice-making camp for the children/youth of your  congregation and the wider community. With robes, wands, Quidditch and  more, you will learn to explore your own themes of social and  environmental justice in an exciting and fun camp.

Wausau WisconsinIn Wausau: Goodbye, Columbus: Reconsidering the Conquest of Turtle Island
presented by Rev. Armida Alexander, minister, and Susan Randall, president, both  of All Souls Church UU in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Come learn about resources to educate your congregation on the UUA's  repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery--including children's  curriculum, worship materials, and public education possibilities.

For a complete listing of Regional Assembly workshops in each place, go to

UU Summer Camps


Consider joining fellow UUs this summer in the Missouri Ozarks at the annual Midwest Unitarian Universalist Summer Assembly (MUUSA). The week-long camp offers many workshops and activities for families, couples and singles of all ages. This year Reverend  Amy Shaw will lead the daily Morning Celebration service on this year's theme: "Sailing Strange Shores: The Wisdom of the Weird."

Come gather in the beautiful forests and rolling hills of the Missouri Ozarks at  YMCA Trout Lodge, where you can connect with old friends, make new ones, and participate in a wide variety of activities. Get all the details at

ChaliceSparx.orgOther UU Camps

There are a number of UU camps located in MidAmerica Region. Some are for particular audiences; some for all ages. Get a head start on summer by looking at the possibilities for yourself or your family here:

New Welcoming Congregation

Welcoming CongregationOur congratulations to the UU Fellowship of Elkhart, Indiana which has been recognized by the UUA as a Welcoming Congregation.

The Welcoming Congregation Program is a volunteer program for Unitarian  Universalist congregations that want to take intentional steps to become  more welcoming and inclusive of people with marginalized sexual  orientations and gender identities.
More information about the program is at

Central Midwest, Heartland, and Prairie Star Districts of the Unitarian Universalist Association joining together to create a new era in Unitarian Universalism as MidAmerica Region.

How to Reach Us

Congregational Life Consultants


Tech Coordinator

MidAmerica Region
Unitarian Universalist Association

2355 Fairview Ave. #312
Roseville, MN 55113
Phone: 312-636-9724


The MidAmerica Messenger

Volume I, Issue 4 | January-February 2014

Photo thanks to Alice Pawley, Unitarian Universalist Church, West Lafayette, Indiana.
In the cold of mid-winter we offer some indoor/online sources of information and news of in-person events to come as the weather warms.

We always appreciate your comments and suggestions for the newsletter. Click on the "email the editor" link in the menu on the left to send us a message.


Phil Lund, Congregational Life Consultant


Regional Assembly: One Event in Four Locations

Hunger for Justice logo

Possibilities Abound!
This year, the MidAmerica Region is continuing its innovative approach by holding its Annual Meeting and Conference in FOUR locations, linked together by technology. This is a new era in UUism, and we're living it here.

This approach gives you lots of choices:
Topeka KansasWant a weekend getaway? Then consider going to Topeka Kansas, where the conference runs from Friday evening through Sunday. You'll get to worship, learn, be entertained, and work together, and learn more about the historic Brown v Board of Education decision.
Wausau WisconsinHave something to do on Sunday that's not Regional Assembly related? Then check out the Wausau Wisconsin site -- gathering and worship on Friday night, then a Saturday full of keynote, workshops, and social justice event. You'll be able to spend Saturday night in your own bed.
Bloomington IndianaAnn Arbor MichiganThen there are the day-long events in both Bloomington, Indiana (we have congregations in three different Bloomingtons!), and Ann Arbor, Michigan. With the advantage of the Eastern time zone, you can gather early enough to still be connected with the keynote (broadcast live out of Topeka), have your own worship, workshops and social justice activity, and make it a day trip.
What will be the same for every location?

  • Everyone will hear/see the keynote address, and be able to participate in the Q&A after it! It will be in-person in Topeka, beamed to the other three locations! Rev. Dr. Paul Rasor will present the lecture, "Reclaiming Our Liberal Heritage and Embracing Our Hunger for Justice." Paul, author of Reclaiming Prophetic Witness: Liberal Religion in the Public Square, has a wide-ranging background that includes religion, law and music.
  • Everyone will hear/see the business meeting, ask questions, and be involved. Delegates in all locations will be able to vote. The meeting will be in-person in Bloomington, beamed to the other three locations.
  • Everyone will have worship designed for their site, demonstrating the wonderful variety we have across our region.
  • Everyone will have workshops specific to their location with the possibility that the Board will have conversations with attendees in all four locations.
  • Everyone will be involved in connecting with a social justice initiative--a way to give back to the world.

What will be different in every location?

  • The people: You'll get to see long-time friends, and make some new ones, as well.
  • The workshops will be different in each location.
  • The worship will showcase the "local" talent.
  • How long it takes you to travel there. You might find that the closest location is not in your former district, so you'll get the chance to imbibe a bit of new culture and friendships.
  • The registration fees will be set to recover costs, and since the cost of food, facilities, etc., will vary based on length of meeting and location, you'll see that the rates are not the same everywhere.

More information and registration materials at Registration will be open by mid-February.
Business meeting documents should be up on the web by mid-March so you can do your preparation.
And stay tuned--next year, Regional Assembly in one location as we continue to experiment with how to be together here in the new era of MidAmerica!

Ministerial Transitions Support: New Videos

Ministerial Transitions videos
We are thrilled to announce that we have enhanced our resources for congregations and ministers in search. Now on our Transitions page of the website (, you can view one of 30 short (2-5 minutes) videos on various aspects of ministerial search. These cover such topics as: how to decide when to leave, saying goodbye well, when to select the search committee, how to decide on your candidate, drafting a letter of agreement, and many, many more. Check these out--they offer quick highlights of all aspects of the ministerial search process. For more information, feel free to contact Lisa Presley, our staff member who coordinates our work with congregations in search.

Who Are Our Neighbors?

Intercultural Competency Workshop

Growing and deepening our capacity for successful multicultural ministries and stronger intercultural relationships is critical to the fulfillment of our vision for Unitarian Universalism and building the beloved community. In these days of increasing complexity in diversity in our world, and our congregations, learning how to work more effectively with people who are different than us is important-we need to develop skills and attitudes that assist us in getting where we want to go.

Friday, February 28th through Saturday March 1st will be your chance to bring a team from your congregation to explore how we can cross the divide between differences that make a difference. You will learn a framework for understanding your competency,and how to enhance your own skills, insights in the multiple components of conflict, and how to move the work forward in your congregation.

Rev, Adam RobersmithRev. Lisa PresleyRev. Adam Robersmith (minister at Second Unitarian Church, Chicago) and Rev. Lisa Presley (Congregational Life Consultant for MidAmerica) were trained through the UU Ministers Association to help our congregation members learn to be more fluid in an intercultural world. The ministers of our region have had the chance to take the training-now it's a time that we invite you to come. We suggest that if at all possible, sending a team will help you bring this information back to your congregation more readily.

The workshop will be held at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Illinois. Cost will be $50 per person, and includes Friday and Saturday evening snacks, Saturday morning and afternoon snacks, and Saturday lunch. Registration will be capped at 80 to allow for better learning and interaction.

More details can be found on our website at or by contacting Lisa Presley,


Nancy Combs-Morganby Nancy Combs-Morgan, Congregational Life Consultant

(Editors note: Nancy Combs-Morgan wrote the following article before her sabbatical began in early January.)

As I prepare to begin my sabbatical, I have been mulling over the many possibilities for this time. For eight weeks, from Monday, January 6th and extending until Sunday, March 2nd, I will be fully immersed in my Religious Education Credentialing process and studies. The RE Credentialing program is structured for deeper concentration in areas where I seek to build core competencies.  My passion remains in faith development, especially in understanding further the interconnection of human development and faith development. I look forward to taking an online course through the spring/summer in Human Development and Learning Theories.

2014 marks my 16th year as a professional Unitarian Universalist religious educator, and I find each year that there is always more to learn, and that each year brings a greater love and devotion to our faith. This will be my first sabbatical as a UU religious professional, and I am poised and ready for whatever the experience may bring.

I deeply appreciate that our MidAmerica team is fully supporting my sabbatical.

  • For questions to do with Youth Midwest Leadership School, youth and young adult ministries, please contact: Dori Davenport Thexton
  • If you are seeking to have a youth or young adult event posted on our website, contact our office staff via
  • For questions on our 2014 Regional Assemblies contact: Lisa Presley, at
  • If you are seeking input on transitions with your religious education professionals, both Phil Lund and Dori Davenport Thexton can be of help.  
  • If you are seeking to have your DRE search materials posted on our website, please contact us via
  • I often receive inquiries about congregations wanting to go deeper with their faith development goals, whether that has to do with being more intentional about building multigenerational community or simply seeking greater insights on the future of faith development, for those types of questions both Dori Davenport-Thexton and Phil Lund are very insightful.

With the promise of renewal on my immediate horizon, I trust that if you have questions you will reach out to the folks above; we truly share a team approach to our work.

New Curriculum

The Wi$dom Path: Money, Spirit, and Life, a new Tapestry of Faith adult curriculum initiated by the UUA President's Council offers twelve 90-minute workshops to explore our money-related stories, attitudes, and actions in the context of our Unitarian Universalist faith.

It is available for no charge at

Why Do People of Color Want to Be UUs?Why Do People of Color Want to Be UUs?

A Regional Gathering Long Overdue

Friday, March 14 - Sunday, March 16, 2014
West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, Rocky River, Ohio

People of Color of the Ohio-Meadville and surrounding districts are invited to engage in beloved conversations. There'll be worship, break out groups, discussions, games and more! For more information, see or contact Samuel Prince or Ndidi Achebe

Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness

UUJAA national gathering of Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness (UUJA) will be held March 14-16, 2014 at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship in Morristown, New Jersey. The theme is "Jewish Voices in Unitarian Universalism." It will feature the editors and contributors to the upcoming book by the same name (Skinner House Jan. 2014) in conversation about Jewish identity, Judaism as a source tradition, Tikkun Olam and social justice, and the pluses and challenges of this hyphenated status in UU communities.

To register and/or to find out about the sliding scale cost, nearby hotels, transportation options and limited home hospitality, go to There is some scholarship assistance available.

Central Midwest, Heartland, and Prairie Star Districts of the Unitarian Universalist Association joining together to create a new era in Unitarian Universalism as MidAmerica Region.