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Part 3: Planning a UN Sunday Service

Part of UN Sunday

The following guide to planning a United Nations Sunday at your congregation is adapted from the work of Sylvia Heap (longtime Envoy at All Souls UU Church in Watertown, NY), who has been planning these services for over 40 years. The UN Sunday theme follows our Spring Seminar theme, which this year is climate justice.

UN Day every year is October 24. First, you’ll need to set a date for your service with the church, preferably around October 24. The 2020 suggested date is October 25. If you are unable to book this date for a service, consider having a post-service event in October and hosting the service on another date*. You may wish to choose an alternate UN international observance day that connects with this year’s theme for your UN Sunday Service or Event (bold dates fall on Sunday):

  • August 9 (Sun) is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
  • August 12 (Wed) is International Youth Day
  • August 19 (Wed) is World Humanitarian Day
  • September 21 (Mon) is International Day of Peace
  • October 5 (Mon) is World Habitat Day
  • October 13 (Tues) is International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction
  • October 17 (Sat) is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
  • October 24 (Mon) is United Nations Day
  • November 20 (Fri) is Universal Children’s Day
  • December 5 (Sat) is World Soil Day
  • December 10 (Thurs) is Human Rights Day
  • December 18 (Fri) is International Migrants Day
  • December 20 (Sun) is International Human Solidarity Day
  • February 20 (Sat) is World Day of Social Justice
  • March 3 (Wed) is World Wildlife Day
  • March 21 (Sun) is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • March 22 (Mon) is World Water Day
  • April 22 (Thurs) is International Mother Earth Day*
  • May 22 (Sat) is International Biodiversity Day*

*If aiming to become a Sixth Principle Congregation, be sure to have your UN Sunday service prior to March 31, which is the deadline for meeting all the requirements to become a Sixth Principle Congregation.

UN Sunday Checklist

What you’ll need to pull off your UN Sunday service with success! Keep track of this checklist throughout the planning process. Italics indicate these items are not applicable for a virtual service.

  • People to speak/perform during the service:
    • Worship associate
    • Musician
    • Preacher/speaker who will give sermon (discuss ahead of time what specifically you’d like them to speak about)
    • Additional performance (Music? Skit?), Photographer?
    • Time for All Ages
  • Religious education programs that correspond to the UN Sunday theme (See UN Sunday Religious Education)
    • Coordinate with congregation’s religious educator(s)
    • Work alongside them to develop programs for kids of all ages to engage with the theme
  • Order of Service (See Sample Order of Service)
    • Finalize readings, hymns, other music, etc.
    • Design Order of Service
    • UU@UN Donation Envelopes
    • Print, fold, and stuff Order of Service
  • Action for engagement with theme after the service (See Local Action for UN Sunday)
    • Coordinate with social justice committee and/or climate action team
    • Determine if action will take place before, same day, and/or after the day of your UN Sunday service
    • Plan the logistics for getting the full congregation (including kids!) involved
  • Worship script (how will Worship Associate introduce each section?)
  • UN flag, any other special décor for the UN Sunday service
  • Food/drinks for coffee hour
  • Display table with UU@UN promotional materials
  • Follow up with UU@UN about how your service went (Contact unitednations@uua.org)