Central East Region: Better Together
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It Takes A Village: Our Commitment to Connection

By Michelle Buhite

community picture

As Unitarian Universalism has evolved over the past couple of decades, one thing has become clear: People don’t come to us seeking a new religion, they come seeking meaningful connection. Beloved Community is probably the closest thing to a shared theology among us, and it reflects our understanding of our seventh Principle: affirming and promoting respect for the interdependent web of all Life. We recognize our interdependence - and we feel it even more poignantly in the midst of the isolation of the global pandemic. We need one another. We need ways to reach out and strengthen relationships, fostering more neighborly interactions and support systems. We need a village.

The idea of creating virtual “Villages” arose out of a Faith Development Team retreat in the spring of 2019. We envisioned circles of support, pathways to deepening relationships, and extended ‘families’ for those who may not have family nearby. Even before the world as we knew it abruptly changed, we recognized a need to help our members and friends connect and to care for one another in tangible ways.

The purpose of the Villages is to connect members and friends of our beloved community and build relationships through intimacy and trust, strengthening our bonds and our commitment to our shared faith.

Methodology:

  • Active participant mailing list divided into zip codes, then further divided into geographic zones of approximately 15 family units each. 

  • Village Leaders identified per geographic area (active in the congregation, able or willing to Zoom, have experience in leadership). 

  • Village Leaders meet as a group with the Minister and Director of Faith Development on a regular basis for mutual support and creative exchange. 

  • Villages can be a form of small group ministry. Zoom rooms and conversation prompts are available from The Village Team Leaders.

The Villages are intended to continue beyond this time of isolation and separation. Part of the purpose of connecting people geographically is to create a web of support and care with ride shares, fellowship, and community care activities (social justice projects, etc). As new people find us, they can be included in an immediate group of connection through the Villages. Village groups can engage in combined activities to widen the circle even more. We are excited to share this new (and very old) form of ministry with others!

Please reach out to Rev. Buhite at minister@uuamherst.org if you are interested in more details about this program.

Rev. Michelle Buhite
UU Church of Amherst (NY)