Opportunities for Connection ~ November 2021

By Central East Region of the UUA

Featured Resource: UUA Common Read: Defund Fear

A book titled "Defund Fear" by Zach Norris is held in the hands of someone whose hands are light brown; only their torso is showing.

The 2021–2022 UU Common Read is Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment by Zach Norris, published by Beacon Press. The Common Read builds community in our congregations and our movement by giving diverse people a shared platform for reflection and a shared focus for action. Further, a Common Read can take us on a powerful faith journey as we explore—individually and together—what it means to be human and accountable in a pain-filled world.

In Defund Fear, Community leader and lawyer Zach Norris shifts the conversation about public safety away from fear and punishment and toward growth and support systems for our families and communities. Norris explores what has gone wrong, why, and who has been most impacted by repressive and racist policing systems. He offers a blueprint for public safety that holds people accountable while still holding them in community. As Unitarian Universalists, the matters raised in Defund Fear invite us to respond to public safety in the U.S. today through a lens of faith. We urge you to grapple theologically with big, tough questions about who we are and the meaning and purposes of our lives. For your care, for your growth, and for the care and growth of others in your community with whom you will discuss Defund Fear, it is strongly recommended that you enter this book with this series of questions by your side.

We expect by the end of this calendar year we’ll be ready to announce a menu of resources so that congregations can start scheduling their Common Reads. Anticipate a range of resources geared toward identity-based groups and geographically dispersed cohorts as well as a traditional discussion guide for a Common Read session that any UU faith community can use. For more information visit the Common Read website.

COMPASS: Navigating the Paths to Liberation Together

COMPASS, Navigating the paths to liberation together. December 11-12, 2021. A National gathering where we will explore our interdependent paths to liberation through collective conversation, reflection and worship. Grey background, UUA logo and a compass image.

When asked, "What wisdom might we offer to one another in this challenging moment?" Let us boldly respond, “Interdependence will guide us onward.” And it is truly in one another that we find our compass in navigating the paths towards liberation.

All are welcome to gather in community for Compass: Navigating the Paths to Liberation Together on December 11-12, 2021, as we discern our way forward. The virtual event series will include invigorating worship, special musical guests, thought-provoking conversations, breakout caucus gatherings, a special presentation from the Article II Study Commission, and much more.

This event is for: lay leaders, religious professionals, adults, youth, members of congregations, and anyone else who is interested in diving into an exploration of interdependence in UU theology and practice..

Compass will be held online using the Whova app, December 11 and 12, 2021 beginning at 10am PT/11am MT/12pm CT/ 1pm ET. Registration is open.

8th Principle Presentation

Image is a bridge with a chalice above it

Join fellow Unitarian Universalists for a day of camaraderie, connection, and collaboration at the 8th Annual Assembly of the UUs of Greater Pittsburgh! We are honored to welcome Ms. Paula Cole Jones, member of the UUA’s Article II Study Commission and co-author of the proposed 8th Principle of Unitarian Universalism as our Keynote Speaker. In the afternoon, a panel of leaders from our congregations that are in discernment or have adopted the 8th Principle will share their journeys. Ms. Jones will be with us throughout the day, listening to our stories, giving feedback and encouragement, and suggesting possible next steps for our congregations.

All are welcome! You don't need to be a Unitarian Universalist or a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation to attend. You don't need to be a member of the Pittsburgh cluster. Details and registration at the CER website.

Jubilee 3 Anti-Racism Training

Jubilee 3 Anti-racims Training, November 12-14, 2021 online. Rainbow colored scarf on grey carpet with a gold chalice and singing bowl.

You Are Invited to Participate in Jubilee Three Anti-Racism Training: Learning Together About Systemic Racism, November 12-14, 2021, online.

Do you wish to deepen your understanding of how race and ethnicity play out in our institutions and our daily lives? Are you ready to take a leading role to nurture a multicultural future in the face of opposing cultural currents? Come Join Us for this Life-Changing Weekend!

Registration and details at the CER website.

November is Open Enrollment Month!

UUA Logo

As always, November is Open Enrollment Month. Open Enrollment is the once-a-year opportunity for current employees to enroll in the UUA Health and/or Dental Plans and to add dependents without a qualifying event. For the Health Plan, upgrades to plan choices can also be made at this time.

Any changes to the Health Plan, including rate changes, will be announced during the last week in October. Every UU congregation and affiliate will receive Open Enrollment material and current participants will get information by mail. Please watch for this information!!!

Fall Chalice Lighter Call Benefits Three Congregations

CER Chalice Lighter Logo

Because of your generosity, the CER Chalice Lighter Program can make grants to UU congregations and groups of congregations, enabling them to fan the flame of our UU faith. For this call, your ongoing donations have made it possible to award $60,000 in grants to help congregations respond to the challenges of being safely in community during the pandemic and continue to connect with new technology even after it is safe to be together.

Each of the following congregations was awarded a $20,000 grant:

  • Accotink Unitarian Universalist Church, a 187-member congregation in Burke, Virginia will be able to enhance ventilation of their building and upgrade AV to enable hybrid programs.
  • The Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst, Williamsville, New York, with 155 members, will add equipment, training and support for video production, and live streaming to serve their congregation and be a hub for other congregations in their area, both UU and other denominations.
  • The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harford County, in Churchville, Maryland, with 146 members, will also use the grant to enable online worship and outreach to continue their work for love and justice.

Learn more about the program or make a donation at the CER website.

Watch & Host a Community Screening of The Condor & The Eagle

image of native amerian eagle on gree background with words last call, bring The Condor & The eagle documentary to your congregation through Nov 30, 2021

NOW through November 30, 2021
For the past three years, UU Ministry for Earth has partnered with the creators of the award-winning documentary, The Condor & The Eagle, as an executive producer, and host of over twenty community screenings, raising over $40,000 to support Indigenous-led Climate Justice efforts. UUMFE is now finalizing this chapter of its work with one last big community screening partnership.

NOW through November 30th, you can stream the film online and share the film with your community as a congregational/organizational co-host! A pre-recorded panel discussion will play immediately after the film credits, and co-hosts are welcome to organize their own community discussions to pair with the film as well. Details at the UUMFE website.

Better Together Blog: "Lives on Hold"

Patricia Hall Infante

by Patricia Infante

The last eighteen or so months have required us to put many things on hold including trips, celebrations, and all kinds of personal and professional plans. One that has been most difficult to reckon with for many congregations has been the need to postpone plans for Our Wholes Lives (OWL), our flagship comprehensive sexuality education program. The challenge of when and how to offer OWL, particularly the Junior High School module, is, in some congregations, creating tension between educators, parents and youth as we seek the “right way to do OWL.”

Read the rest of the article

News from the UUA

Unitarian Universalists at COP26 UN Climate Summit. The pivotal UN Climate Summit, COP26, will take place in Glasgow October 31-November 14, bringing world leaders together to address climate change and meeting the Paris Agreement’s goals. In collaboration with UUSC and UU Ministry for Earth, the UUA Office at the UN (UU@UN) is sending credentialed observers to be part of the Summit representing Unitarian Universalist values. Follow along with the delegation’s experience, learn how to tune into COP26 sessions and press conferences directly, and view recordings and resources from previous events in the lead-up to COP26.

Save the Date: Intergenerational Spring Seminar April 22-24, 2022. The UUA Office at the UN is hosting its Intergenerational Spring Seminar in partnership with UU Ministry for Earth and UUSC, focusing on climate justice, forced displacement, and human rights. The Seminar is for everyone age 14+ and is expected to take place online with opportunities to participate in New York City too! Registration will open in December.

UUs for a Just Economic Community is searching for new board members. This is a working board--we only have a very part time administrator and all the rest of the work is done by board members. This is a great way to interact with thoughtful, justice minded people. The full board meets monthly for about one hour. They also have task forces to concentrate on issues and to work to bring UUJEC to the broader UU community--things like preparing for a GA workshop. They host a Green New Deal webinar and a general economic justice webinar every month. Here's a letter (pdf) that further explains their mission and work.

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 Swinging on the Garden Gate: A Memoir of Bisexuality and Spirit by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew. Looking for congregational resources? The UUA bookstore recommends: Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity, and Power in Ministry, edited by Rev. Mitra Rahnema, Do Better: Spiritual Activism for Fighting and Healing from White Supremacy by Rachel Ricketts, Mistakes and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones and Karin Lin, and Unlocking the Power of Covenant, the 2021 Commission on Appraisal report. The Goodreads Book Club will be reading Not A Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz for the month of November.

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: