Opportunities for Connection ~ September 2021

By Central East Region of the UUA

Featured Resource: Updated COVID Gathering Guidance

4 Principles to Guide Decisions on Gathering During the Pademic

The disappointing vaccination rates, breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals, and the alarming contagiousness of the COVID-19 Delta variant (even among those who are vaccinated) call for the re-evaluation of reopening plans for congregations.

We are all feeling a lot of emotions as we grieve the loss of our old normal and the fleeting new normal that we had hoped for when the vaccines became available. There have been additional challenges for our families and for those who have been isolated throughout this pandemic.

Recommendations are changing because the virus is changing—sometimes daily. The Delta variant is far more transmissible than the virus that caused us to shut down in March of 2020; we must respond accordingly.

The new guidance includes masking for anything indoors regardless of size, vaccination status, or area transmission risk as well as physical distancing by 6 feet, reduced occupancy, no singing, and no food or drink. Masks are also recommended for anything outdoors if your county is Very High or Severe Risk.

We recommend that congregational leaders read the letter from Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray about this issue as well as read the updated guidelines. Need help? Contact your primary contact.

CER Networking Sessions Return this Fall

Central East Region UUA Logo

Our drop-in networking calls for congregational leaders are back for the fall and spring! These calls are for you to talk with your peers from congregations all across the region about your questions, challenges, joys and visions for the community you help lead. Please feel free to drop in on any or all calls that appeal to you. We’re looking forward to continuing these opportunities for connection and support of one another.

We’ve organized them a little differently for this coming church year – by your watershed! Pick a waterway that seems familiar and join the call there, OR just pick one that’s convenient. Each call will have one or more CER staff, a topic for consideration and other leaders to learn from and share your experiences.

All the calls (except the BIPoC calls) will use the same zoom link: https://uua.zoom.us/j/99855844125. You do need a password to access this meeting, please request it from your primary contact. Do note that the link and password have changed from last year.

  • Allegheny/Ohio/New River - 1st Wednesdays at 5pm: September 1, October 6, November 3, December 1
  • Atlantic - 2nd Tuesdays at 5pm: September 14, October 12, November 9, December 14
  • Great Lakes/Hudson Valley - 2nd Thursdays at 1pm: September 9, October 14, November 11, December 9
  • BIPoC - with Rev. Sana Saeed and Paula Cole Jones at 6:30pm. September 13 & 27, October 25, November 8 & 22, December 13.

If you identify as Black, Indigenous or a person of color (BIPOC), you're invited to join us for the Central East Region's BIPOC gathering happening two Mondays of the month at 6:30pm ET. In our gatherings we are joined by lay folks of color, lay leaders of color and/or religious professionals of color to be in community. Our conversations focus on topics like wellness and resilience and our goal is to center BIPOC experiences and create space to explore our UU experiences. Please email Sana Saeed, ssaeed@uua.org or Paula Cole Jones pcolejones@gmail.com for zoom information.

COMPASS: A Liberatory, Everyday Theology for Changing Times

Save the Date Compass. A Liberatory, Everyday Theology for Changing Times. December 11 & 12, 2021. A national virtual event that will include workshops, networking, worship and more. it's a time to be with other congregational leaders on the journey towards our shared future. Brought to you by your congregational life staff. Dark Background with white lettering, blue compass image


COMPASS: A Liberatory, Everyday Theology for Changing Times

December 11 & 12, 2021

What is Compass?

  • It’s a national virtual event
  • It’s a regional gathering
  • It’s a time to learn together - worship together - share our wisdom
  • It’s a time to be with other congregational leaders on the journey towards our shared future.

More information to come, registration to open October 1….

Youth Reboot Webinar Series

Youth Reboot 2 part webinar, October 6, 2021, 7-9 pm ET & October 16, 1-3 pm ET, Open to adults and youth

This is a team-learning centered program to start, restart, or reboot your congregation’s youth ministry. Each congregation’s youth ministry is unique and youth around the country have similar needs including: trauma informed formal and informal pastoral care, age specific and all ages community building, and opportunities for spiritual growth and justice making. This two part event will provide UUA staff expertise, opportunities to share ideas with other congregations, and time to work as a congregational team.

October 6, 7-9 pm ET and October 16 1-3 pm ET. Costs: $20 per individual, $100 per team. Youth are welcome but must be registered with the UUA for drop in meetings. Registration deadline is October 4. Register today.

Theme Contest For General Assembly 2022

General Assembly 2022 Theme Contest Details

Share with us your suggestion for a theme for the UUA General Assembly, June 22-26, 2022. GA 2022 will be a multi-platform event where attendees can choose to register as a virtual attendee or as an in-person attendee in Portland, Oregon. How do you participate?

  • Create a captivating theme and explain it. The team is interested in themes that bridge theology, covenant and reconnecting.
  • Suggest up to two areas of focus for GA
  • Submit your entry by September 13.

If your theme is selected you will receive a complimentary virtual (not in-person) registration ($225 value).

Resources for United Nations Sunday: October 24, 2021

UN Sunday 2021-22 Food Equity and Sustainability

A collection of resources is available online to help congregations plan a worship service and activities surrounding United Nations Day this October 24 on the theme “All In for Climate Justice: Food Equity and Sustainability.” You can also celebrate UN Sunday any other time! Resources in the collection include detailed information about the theme and its connection to Unitarian Universalism, actions congregations can take for climate & food justice, a sample order of service, and more. UN Sunday is a beautiful opportunity to celebrate our world community and links between Unitarian Universalism and the United Nations. Learn more from the UUA Office at the UN and check out the UN Sunday materials online now at UUA.org.

Gather, Inspire, Launch! Two-part Fall Social Witness Convening of the Commission on Social Witness 10/6 and 10/13

At the UUA General Assembly this past June, the delegates voted to affirm three bold statements for healing action. The delegates also adopted a formal UUA Statement of Conscience on Undoing Systemic White Supremacy. Join these two meetings to find out what UU leaders around the country are doing, what you can do, and who you can partner with to carry forward these bold actions full of inspiring possibilities.

Gather, inspire, and launch your social witness action! The Commission on Social Witness invites you to the Fall Social Witness Convening in two parts. Attend both sessions to find out about all the statements and actions!

All UUs are invited to these meetings, and no prior experience or knowledge is necessary. Please check the UUA website for registration links and additional details.

Better Together Blog: Welcome New Congregational Presidents!

Megan Foley

by Rev. Megan Foley

Welcome, Class of 21-22 Board Chair/Presidents!

What an exciting time to choose congregational leadership. I mean it!

Our congregations have never meant more to our people and the world around us than they do now. You have more potential to do more good in more ways than you’ve had in many years. And, “thanks” to all the turbulence of last year, you and your congregation have the skills you need to face the ups and down, the joys and sorrows of this coming year. It’s hard to not know what’s around the next corner, but we are in this together. We side with love and we stick together, and with that foundation we can weather whatever is next for our world.

Read the rest of the article

News from the UUA

Update on the Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM) Program. EqUUal Access helps to amplify the voices of people with disabilities in UU congregations. We are presently working out how best to carry this mission forward, including with our signature program, Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM). We know we must be flexible and allow the work to evolve. Through this period of renewal and revitalization, the AIM program will not be processing any new applications. However there are resources available. Learn more about what they offer at the UUA website.

Take Action to Become a Sixth Principle Congregation. The Unitarian Universalist Office at the United Nations announces an annual award to recognize congregations that show their commitment to our Sixth Principle’s “goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all” and their support of the UU@UN through their actions and financial giving. The Sixth Principle Award is given yearly to congregations that complete at least three engagement activities between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022 (see the categories online!). In recognition for their steadfast dedication to international human rights, Sixth Principle Congregations that qualify and submit a brief report by March 31 will be presented with an award certificate during a reception at UUA General Assembly, formal recognition on the UU@UN website, and a specialized video from UU@UN staff honoring the congregation’s contribution. Find more information about the Sixth Principle Award and how to qualify at the UUA website.

Does your congregation have staff? Does someone subscribe to the Compensation and Staffing Newsletter from the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances? This newsletter is filled with important updates, guides for completing paperwork and links to valuable resources. Sign up to receive this valuable resource and visit their section of the UUA website for more information.

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 out the Virtual Guest in the Pulpit Database to see who is available. 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 pre-order is The Through Line: 200 Years of the Berry Street Essay edited by Kate R. Walker. Now available for order is Unlocking the Power of Covenant, the report from the Commission on Appraisal, The Darkness Divine: A Loving Challenge to My Faith, by Rev. Dr. Kristen L. Harper and Shelter in This Place: Meditations on 2020, edited by Rev. Meg Riley.

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 December 31 will be virtual. For events, webinars and congregation news and events visit the following pages: