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New Articles Focus on Sustainability, Youth Service, and More

InterConnections is not the only source of useful information for lay leaders. Check out for articles about Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) changes and congregational activities. 

Here are some published between May and September 2012:


When passersby started wondering if Throop Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church in Pasadena, Calif., was open, based on the poor appearance of its landscaping, the congregation went to work. In cooperation with a community group it replaced its brown lawn with sustainable plantings, including vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Now the area is a community space.

Says the Rev. Tera Little, “The picture people had of us was this big edifice whose doors were never open. Now people know us as the church with the beautiful garden. And within the congregation there’s been a transformation, a feeling of ‘We made this happen. And we did it by working with people in the neighborhood.’ Now we’re asking ourselves, ‘What else can we do?’”  (9/17/12)

Youth Service

Youth at the UU Church of Minnetonka in Wayzata, Minn., took part in a far-ranging pilgrimage to General Assembly 2012 in Phoenix that gave them life-changing experiences about nature, borders, and respect for others. The trip took them through national parks and taught them about sharing space with each other and with the rest of the interdependent web.

Said one youth, Lainy Von Bank, “the biggest thing that I took back from the trip was that the life that runs through me is the same life that runs through the old Navajo women selling jewelry on the side of the road, and the animals and plants that make up Yellowstone forest, and the migrant worker families from Mexico. We really are all connected, and if I don't want to take my own life for granted, I shouldn't take anyone else's either.”  (7/30/12)

Social Justice

Congregations have a one-stop shop for social justice service trips now that the UUA and the UU Service Committee have created the UU College of Social Justice. The college should make it easier for congregations to identify and participate in such trips. The college will also present social justice education sessions and a national summit where youth can learn about economic justice.

“We’re embarking on serious social justice education,” said the Rev. Brock Leach at General Assembly as the college was announced. Leach is the Unitarian Univesalist Service Committee's (UUSC’s) vice president for mission, strategy, and innovation. “The idea is a simple one,” he said. “…to do justice we need to experience the world from the perspective of others. We want to create a group of passionate activists who will help us realize our collective power.”

Leach said the college will have three parts—a broad portfolio of programs and trips; a focus on justice education programs for youth and young adults; and a separate focus on justice programs for ministers and seminarians. (7/23/12)

Social Justice

Peoples’ Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan, earned the 2012 Bennett Award from the UUA. The article describes the congregation’s move from individuals doing social justice to the congregation itself deciding to take stands on important issues, including becoming involved in community organizing and Green Sanctuary, and partnering with congregations in Transylvania and Burundi. (6/25/12)


UUs in Chicago broadcast a weekly “Food for the Soul” program on progressive radio. The show draws visitors on Sunday morning, but more importantly it shares UU values with a larger audience.

“We’re creating an audio postcard about what life is like in our congregations,” says the Rev. Brian Covell of Third Unitarian Church in Chicago. “We want to get our UU values transmitted, so we have a presence on the airwaves.” Covell said that he has grown tired of mentioning Unitarian Universalism and people not knowing what it is. He believes that “Food for the Soul” is helping “break that down.” Increasingly, he said, he comes across more people who have heard the show, ranging from a Catholic contractor working on his church to people emailing from Hong Kong or Australia who have heard the show streaming on the Web. (5/28/12)

About the Author

  • Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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