Give the people something of your new vision. You may possess a small light, but uncover it, let it shine, use it to bring more light and understanding to the hearts and minds of men and women. Give them not hell, but hope and courage... — John Murray, Early American Universalist Minister
The majority of Unitarian Universalists come from other religious traditions or from no religious background at all. They need an introduction to Unitarian Universalism before becoming members of a congregation, not only to enhance their understanding of the faith tradition they are joining, but also to help them become an integral part of the faith community. Before making the commitment to join, prospective members should know something about the vision, mission, and practices of the congregation and be clear what the congregation expects of members. Research has shown Christian churches experience higher retention rates among members who attended a class to explain the tradition prior to joining. This pattern likely applies to Unitarian Universalist congregations, as well. The New UU program provides a framework for an intentional orientation to Unitarian Universalism and the life of your congregation.
The New UU is a series of six 90-minute workshops addressing important themes in Unitarian Universalist congregational life: worship and theology, history, covenant and polity, religious education or faith development, social justice, and membership. Each workshop provides an opportunity for participants to interact and share their own experiences, a process that echoes the Unitarian Universalist commitment to individual theological exploration. Participants will learn about Unitarian Universalism not only by hearing about it, but by doing it—exploring their own theology and its intersection with the tradition.
Recognizing that Unitarian Universalist congregations vary widely, each workshop includes a framework for introducing traditions and practices of your congregation. Each workshop provides opportunities for members of the congregation to interact with workshop participants, so participants become acquainted with members active in various aspects of congregational life. While inclusion of congregational resources and leaders requires significant advance planning for facilitators, it will provide not only a rich experience for prospective members but also an opportunity for facilitators to learn more about their congregation and its distinctive and treasured practices.
Because the program leads toward congregational membership, planning should include appropriate lay and professional leaders, such as the Membership Committee and minister(s). Consult with these leaders about when to offer the program, whom to invite as participants, what information and resources to include about your congregation, and how to conduct Workshop 6, which includes an opportunity to join the congregation.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Friday, December 9, 2011.
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