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Emotional Systems & Practical Tools

For one and one-half days prior to the start of the 2006 General Assembly, more than four hundred lay and professional leaders gathered at America's Center in St. Louis, MO, for the first-ever gathering of its kind designed to enhance the education and skills of Unitarian Universalist (UU) current and future leaders.

UU University was organized following a gathering in 2005 convened by UUA Moderator Gini Courter with District Presidents, Trustees, and staff. The program was originally envisioned as a biennial gathering of congregational leaders dedicated to increasing their knowledge and capacity to serve their congregations, but proved to be so successful and useful that it will return at the General Assembly in 2006.

The keynote address for UU University, delivered in two sections, was given by the Rev. Peter Steinke, the highly recognized pastor and congregational family systems theorist and author. He has written nine books, including "How Your Church Family Works: Understanding Congregations as Emotional Systems" and "Healthy Congregations: A Systems Approach." The title of his address was "Leadership in an Emotional System."

Steinke also led the presentations in one of the three tracks of workshops offered to attendees.

Another track, called "How to Repel Fewer Visitors," was led by the Rev. Peter Morales, former director of UUA District Services and currently minister of Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden, Colorado. Joining Morales were Annie Hedberg and Dea Brayden, both members of Jefferson Unitarian Church. Other parts of this track focused on ways to close the invisible 'revolving door' in a congregation and exploring effective means of moving visitors to enthusiastic membership.

A third track, focusing on fiscal health and management for congregations, included information on the language of generosity, and offered a better understanding of effective stewardship. It was led by the Rev. Jeanne Pupke (UU Fellowship of Central Oregon, in Bend) and the Rev. Cecilia Kingman-Miller (Wy'east UU Congregation in Portland), UUA Financial Advisor Dan Brody, former financial advisor Larry Ladd, and UUA Southwest District Trustee the Rev. Burton Carley, and the Rev. Victoria Safford, minister of the White Bear UU Congregation in Mahtomedi, Minnesota.

Event Coverage

UU University 2006 featured The Rev. Dr. Peter Steinke, who delivered the keynote address, "Leadership in an Emotional System." Over 400 enthusiastic participants, speakers, and volunteers helped make UU University 2006 a great success!

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