Beyond Categorical Thinking (BCT) and Breaking Barriers, Building Beliefs (B4)

Southern Region staff team


  • This part of the search process asks the congregation to consider what biases it has (both conscious and unconscious) around identities that their potential minister may hold.
  • The search committee submits an application which will be included in their search materials for all ministerial applicants to read. Facilitator(s) will be assigned by the Transitions Staff.
  • A workshop of 3 hours is held virtually or in-person/hybrid on a weekend, generally between August and December of the second year of interim ministry after the search committee is formed. The workshop should occur before the search committee begins receiving names of ministerial applicants.
  • The facilitators may be invited to preach the Sunday service after the workshop.
  • The facilitators often meet with the search committee during the weekend.
  • The search committee and/or interim minister may request consultation about future needs after the workshop with the Transitions Staff.


  • The cost of facilitation for US congregations for a virtual workshop is included in the search support fees the congregation has paid to Congregational Life staff.
  • The initial cost of facilitation for an in-person workshop is $1,000. Additional fees will be applied. The UUA covers the honorarium for the workshop.
  • If the congregation wants the facilitator(s) to conduct the sermon/Sunday service, the congregation should pay an honorarium at UUMA rates for this service to the facilitator.
  • Canadian congregations should consult with the Transitions Director about the costs of BCT.

How to Apply

  • Search committee submits BCT/B4 Program Request Form (Word) to, preferably as email attachment.
  • Provide two or three possible dates; Transitions Office staff will make every effort to schedule for first choice date.
  • Submit application eight weeks in advance of dates requested so we have time to schedule facilitators.
  • Once the workshop is scheduled, the Transitions Office staff will send a confirmation email with facilitator names, contact information, and workshop resources.

Workshop/Worship Experience

  • The workshops are presented by one or two UUA-trained facilitators, adapted to address the concerns raised by the congregation in their application, and sponsored by the ministerial search committee.
  • Facilitators lead a three-hour workshop broken into two 1.5 hour sessions either on Friday night and Saturday morning or in two sessions on Saturday before Sunday worship. In-person workshops generally happen on Saturday mornings from 9:00-12:00. Suggested virtual workshop times are Friday from 7:00-8:30 PM, then Saturday morning from 10:00-11:30 AM, or, if both sessions are on Saturday, 10:00-11:30 and 12:30-2:00. 
  • Facilitator may opt to preach via live-stream or recording at Sunday worship. They may lead the worship or participate beyond the sermon with readings, hymn selections, etc. Service details should be agreed upon by the search committee contact and the facilitators prior to the weekend.
  • Facilitators usually meet separately with the search committee, either as an orientation and a chance to ask questions about the workshop or as a debriefing to process what was experienced during the workshop.


  • The BCT workshop utilizes conversations and case studies of actual events from other Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations. The B4 Workshop incorporates wisdom in the call to widen the circle of concern. Congregations that have passed the Eighth Principle will take B4; other congregations will randomly receive BCT or B4.
  • Facilitators are selected by the Transitions Office based on availability and needs expressed by the congregation in application.
  • All congregants should be invited. The search committee is expected to attend, church leadership and the interim minister are strongly encouraged to attend, and other staff are welcome to attend.
  • The congregation should supply someone to run technical aspects of the Zoom workshop.

History of BCT

  • The BCT program began in 1989 at request of ministers who experienced discrimination during the search process.
  • BCT has evolved over time to meet the needs of the congregations and ministers in search. Originally concerned with issues of gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability, BCT now includes gender identity, ethnicity, mental health, class, age, size, etc.

New B4 Workshop

  • "Breaking Barriers, Building Beliefs," B4, is a new program that takes into account the incredible changes that have happened since 2015/16, the realization that as UUs, we need to grapple with breaking old cultural habits, and rebuild belief in the power of Beloved Community.
  • It was developed over the 2022-23 congregation year to answer the call of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change as published in Widening the Circle of Concern (June 2020).
  • An Advisory Team of six religious professionals, holding multiple identities, helped guide the workshop's creation.

Post-Workshop Evaluation

  • Please fill out an evaluation after your congregation's BCT/B4 workshop. Only one person from the search committee needs to do so; answers may be conglomerated from multiple search committee members.