Opportunities for Connection ~ March 2021

By Central East Region of the UUA

Featured Resource: UUA Disaster Relief Fund

Winter City Scene

Beginning February 13th, historic winter storms hit the state of Texas, knocking out access to heat, power and clean water for millions of Texans. The failure of the state’s infrastructure burst pipes in tens of thousands of homes and disrupted food supply chains. As is the case with many disasters, communities of color and low-income communities were impacted most acutely. Scores of Texans died. While power has been restored to most of the state, it will take weeks for clean water to become universally accessible again. It will take months or years to repair the damage that has been done.

Grant requests have already started coming in from Texas. In response to an urgent request from the Rev. Dr. Colin Bossen at the First UU Church of Houston, TX, the UUA granted $11,000, providing for the mobilization of fifteen pallets of water to the congregation. Our congregation in Houston sits next to a historic Black neighborhood. Their plan is to distribute the water among congregants and in the community, deploying established organizing partnerships.

Additional requests are anticipated from other Texas congregations and from Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU). These funds will support Unitarian Universalists experiencing hardship, congregations that have been damaged by the disaster, and the broader communities with which our congregations are in relationship. Again, the majority of the funds benefit communities and are deployed through local grassroots organizing networks.

To learn more, make a donation or apply for a grant, visit the Disaster Relief Fund Website.

Virtual General Assembly 2021

UUA General Assembly 2021 Avatar with dates

Just announced - Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore, minister for Lifespan Religious Education at the UU Congregation of Shelter Rock in Manhasset, NY, will be the preacher for the 2021 Service of the Living Tradition. The service will take place on Thursday, June 24 at 7 pm ET.

If you haven't registered for Virtual GA 2021 already, there is no better time than right now! Registered attendees are among the first to hear program announcements, such as the Ware Lecturer and featured speakers, and only registered attendees will have access to the NEW! GA app (coming soon). So register early to join online discussions, familiarize yourself with the GA schedule, and find your place in our community of communities. Cost is $200 and financial aid and volunteer positions to help defray the cost are available. Registration and details at the UUA GA Website.

Pastoral Care to and with Youth Series

Peer Pastoral Care Training Three part series. This is a series of interactive online workshops for youth to learn peer pastoral care skills in a way immediately useful in their online lives.

Pastoral care is an essential part of religious community and an essential part of caring for each other as human beings. We each can be present to each other as we go through both the hard and joyful parts of life. Compassion, witness, listening, and empathy are gifts we can all give each other. We are offering 3 targeted series to help.

Conversations with Leaders: Dual-Platform Future

Conversations with leaders: Dual Platform Future, March 11, 7-9 pm and March 13, 10-noon

As we look ahead to the future, congregations are planning for when they will be in person again and how to continue to include online participants. Whether we call this hybrid, multi-platform, or dual-platform, congregations across the size spectrum are expecting to live into this inclusion.

Come to this conversation with your CER UUA staff about beginning to plan for this future. Each congregation will chart their own path to best meet the emotional and spiritual needs of their members.

Two offerings to choose from: Thursday, March 11, 7-9 pm ET or Saturday, March 13, 10a-12 noon ET.

Discernment Circle Training for Teams and Committees

Graphic of humans of different colors in a circle

Is your congregation rethinking aspects of congregational life that reinforce systems of oppression that prevent us from becoming welcoming and diverse communities of communities?

Many congregations are exploring Dynamic Governance (also known as Sociocracy) as an existing model that offers a way to be inclusive while still being effective. Many intentional communities and progressive organizations have adopted Sociocracy as a governance model. Instead of recommending that a congregation adopt Sociocracy as a top-down governance change, we are suggesting that congregations start by trying out the circle practices in their committees and teams.

This 3-part training is offered to congregational teams of 2 so that they can--in turn--introduce circles to their congregations. Participants must commit to doing prework for each session so that the live sessions can focus on practicing the concepts. Because of the interactive nature of this training, space is limited. Online sessions are March 20, 27 and April 3. Visit the CER website for details and registration.

Breaking Covenant: Repair, Restore, Renew, A Workshop

Every congregation has experienced destructive behavior that has caused upset, tumult, and conflict, from microaggressions to outright aggression, and other forms of inappropriate behavior. In the process, covenant is broken, even when the covenant might not be explicitly stated. The impact of the behavior can baffle leaders, and congregations often don’t know how to repair, restore or renew their community. It is therefore important that every congregation recognize that the holy space between each of us is everyone's responsibility to grow and maintain and when it's broken between any people it's broken between us all. We need to have policies and procedures in place to deal with destructive behavior. Congregational Life is offering a workshop on April 10 on Breaking Covenant. Learn more at the UUA website.

Better Together Blog: Sending Broken-Heart Valentine's

Patricia Hall Infante

by Patricia Infante

As we enter year two of the pandemic, I and many others are dealing with loss and some degree of broken-heartedness. A trip through my local drugstore reminds me that Valentine’s Day is nigh, and I find myself pondering, are there Valentine’s for the broken hearts among us?

Read the rest of the article

News from the UUA

UUA Logo

The UUA Green Sanctuary Program in partnership with UU Ministries for Earth are offering a Spring Equinox Opening Celebration on March 20, 2021. Whole Earth, Whole Church: Congregational Climate Convergance will be offered from 2-5 pm ET. This program will include singing, spiritual practices, a keynote speech, and setting intentions for a beautiful Spring for Change – Season of Sacred Activism. Details and registration at the UUMFE website.

Climate & Food Justice – get grounded, connected, & equipped for action! This year’s Spring Seminar hosted by the UUA Office at the United Nations is open to all ages (14+) and will take place all virtually April 9-11, 2021! The UU@UN has an incredible lineup of presenters and activities to connect participants to one another and to the issues at stake in the joint struggles to heal people and planet. This Seminar, on the theme “All In for Climate Justice: Food Equity and Sustainability” is part of the UU Ministry for Earth’s Spring for Change Season of Sacred Activism which focuses on the path to healing and regeneration. Come learn alongside change-makers across the generations about how to take spiritually-grounded action to advance climate justice through equitable and sustainable food systems. (and have fun as well!) Registration is open through March 18 and offers a flexible fee scale for equity and accessibility. Learn more and register at the UUA website.

Learn the R.A.C.E. method of dialogue for dismantling racism. Join the Canadian Unitarian Council on two Saturdays in March (March 6 & 13, 2pm-4pm EST) for a dynamic 2-part workshop with Dr. David Wiley Campt that will prepare you to engage in transformative conversations around issues of systemic racism. Be ready for a hands-on and practical training that will help you feel confident moving forward. No prior skills or expertise required. All are welcome. Get tickets here.

Witness, Connect, Act! A social witness convening, Wednesday, March 24, 7-9 pm ET/4-6 pm PT. UU the Vote showed us all how vital and powerful we are acting together. Inspired to grow more connections for collective social witness action for a wide range of values at risk, the Commission on Social Witness invites all UUs to Witness, Connect, Act! A social witness convening to share and connect UUs doing similar work for inspiration and ideas. Learn more and register at the CSW UUA webpage.

Will you achieve the Sixth Principle Congregation Award? Qualify by March 31. The UUA Office at the United Nations announces a new annual award to recognize congregations that show their support of the UU@UN and their commitment to our Sixth Principle’s “goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all” through their actions and financial giving. These “Sixth Principle Congregations” must have completed at least three of the following activities between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 and submitted a brief report. At least one of the three activities must be from the Donation category; any number may be from the Action Category. Detailed information about the Sixth Principle Award can be found at the UU@UN website; contact unitednations@uua.orgwith any questions about how your congregation can get more deeply involved.

EqUUal Access is holding their Carolyn Cartland Sermon Contest. This annual contest highlights disability-related themes and topics. Entries are due by May 1, 2021 with a cash prize of $500.00 going to the chosen applicant. The award will be presented at the virtual EA Celebration. Time permitting, the winner may be asked to give an excerpt at the event.For more information, please visit their website. All entries, including the cover page found on this link should be emailed to info@EqUUalAccess.org

The UU Women's Federation has issued a Call for Submissions for their Sermon Award. Deadline is March 22. Details on the theme, guidelines and how to submit are available on their website. All UU religious professionals and laypeople of all identities and genders are invited to submit their sermon text.

The UUA has updated the Guidance on Gathering In-Person When COVID-19 Subsides.The recommendations have not substantially changed but it does address some issues in line with current questions and situations. It also provides sample plans for what data to evaluate for reopening.Looking for other Pandemic Resources?Please check the LeaderLab COVID-19 Resources and the Safe Congregations Team Resources.

The UUA has a Disaster Relief Fund for those who want to make a donation to help congregations who have faced losses due to tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires and more. Please donate if you can.To learn more about the work of the Disaster Relief Fund visit their webpage. If your congregation needs assistance, you can apply for a grant on that webpage. We are Better Together.

Virtual Guest in Your Pulpit! The UUMA has taken over maintaining the list of speakers started by Rev. Kimberley Debus. Check it out to see who is available! You can find it here. Also, don't forget to check out the CER Guest in Your Pulpit program, which includes both lay and professional worship leaders.

New publications from the UUA - Available now for ordering is This Day in Recovery: 365 Meditations, edited by Lane Campbell and Katie Kandarian-Morris, Widening the Circle of Concern: Report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change, and this year's Common Read, Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry.

The UUA is hiring for several positions. Find job descriptions and application information at their Job Openings webpage.

Calendar Items and News

Do note that all CER in-person events through June 30 have been cancelled, postponed or moved to a virtual option. For events, webinars and congregation news and events visit the following pages: