Opportunities for Connection ~ November 2023

By Central East Region of the UUA

Featured Resource: UUA Common Read

a book cover

On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unapologetic World is the 2023-24 UU Common Read. In this 2022 Beacon Press book, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg offers a fresh perspective on how we make ourselves accountable to others.

This UU Common Read offers a glimpse into Judaism, one of Unitarian Universalism’s foundational sources, through the writings of 12th century physician and scholar, Maimonides. The book invites us to explore practices, informed by Jewish tradition, that can lead us toward meaningful atonement in our personal, community, and national lives. Discussion materials for On Repentance and Repair include a two-session workshop for in-person or online groups. While recommended as a two-part series, these discussion materials can also support a half-day workshop.

All resources for the UU Common Read can be found, along with Common Read updates, on the UUA website Look for additional videos and discussion materials in Fall 2023. UU Common Read gatherings can be facilitated by a UU lay leader or religious professional. A co-facilitator with tech skills is recommended for online or hybrid groups.

The inSpirit Book and Gift Shop offers a 10% discount on bulk orders of On Repentance and Repair.

CER Leadership Skill Ups - November is Renewing Your Shared Ministry in A Season of Busyness and Rest

stars on a dark blue background. Reads: CER Leader Skill Up. CER Leadership Skill Ups for Changing Times. Renewing Your Shared Ministry in a Season of Busyness and Rest, November 9th, 7-9 pm ET

The Central East Region team is excited to announce our monthly Leadership Skill Ups for Changing Times series next year! These are drop-in calls for all congregational leaders where you can learn a new skill - or fine tune an old one - with CER staff and other leaders doing similar work in other congregations. Calls alternate monthly between Tuesdays and Thursdays – mark these dates on your calendars and stay tuned for topics as they emerge – and let us know what topics would be helpful to you. All times are 7-9 pm ET.

  • Thursday, November 9 - Renewing Your Shared Ministry in A Season of Busyness and Rest
  • Tuesday, December 5 - Raising and Protecting Funds for Your Congregation's Mission
  • Winter and Spring topics coming soon!

Remaining dates: Thursday, February 1st - Tuesday, March 5th - Thursday, April 4th - Tuesday, May 7th.

Contact your primary contact for the link or see your email copy of the newsletter.

Exploring Transgender Lives and Issues

headshot of Alex Kapitan

Join us for the 10th Annual UUs of Greater Pittsburgh Cluster Gathering.

We are honored to welcome Alex Kapitan of the Transforming Hearts Collective as our Keynote Speaker on the topic "Exploring Transgender Lives and Issues". A second speaker from the ACLU will address legal and social aspects. There will also be a panel discussion, business meeting, morning worship service and more. Full agenda will be posted closer to the event.

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. You can attend in person at UU Church of the South Hills OR virtually through zoom. Learn more and register at the event webpage.

CERSI Workshop Proposals Closing Soon!!

Central East Region Summer Institute Logo

Do you have a great idea for a workshop for Summer Institute? Interested in leading a morning or afternoon workshop at CERSI next year? Please apply and share your proposal. Deadline Oct 30, 2023.

  • Morning seminars are classes designed for adults to learn a new skill, get creative, move and meditate or contemplate a deep topic in the company of others who share a similar interest. Details are on the form. Morning Seminar Proposal
  • Early-afternoon workshops tend to be intergenerational & open to all ages (though adult supervision may be required for younger children). Late-afternoon workshops tend to be age-segregated and usually more adult-oriented, with child-care offered. Details are on the form. Afternoon Workshop Proposal
Youth and Emerging Adult Kick Off No 2, 8:30 ET, faces of the YEA UUA team

Youth and Emerging Adult Kick Off

This gathering with Lifespan Faith Engagement office where we connect with you and other youth, emerging adults and religious professionals who focus on these ministries, taking a more shared ministry approach nationally, while also providing windows / insights into what is in the works. Online, Thursday, November 2, 2023, 8:30 pm - 9:45 pm EDT Register today.

Colorful circle with "Religious Educators GET CONNECTED Quarterly Meetups to gather and share *special topics"

Religious Education Professional (REP) Meet-Up

Religious education professionals from across the continent virtually join members of the UUA’s Faith Development Co-Lab for a time of connection with other religious educators around a theme. Our goal is not to "fill you up" with information, but, more so, to have time for you as attendees to share your thoughts with each other. The November 2023 connection theme will be Self-Care and Spiritual Respite. Nov 7th, 12 - 1:30pm ET

Upcoming Youth and Young Adult Conferences

DUUngeons and DragCOns, January 5-th-7th, 2024. Young Adult conference for ages 18-35 poster. UU Congregaton of Binghamton. Cost $30 siding scale.

Please note these events are hosted and sponsored by UU Congregations and clusters and are not sponsored or run by CER. Advance registration is required for all youth events.

2023 Senior Youth Conference "Retro Con" scheduled for November 4th through November 5th in the Veatch House at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, NY (UUCSR). Learn more at their site.

Spooky Con is a Junior and Senior High Youth Conference, November 4-5, 2023 at the UU Church of Kent, OH. Registration is open.

DUUngeons & DragCONs, A Young Adult Conference, January 5-7, 20224 at the UU Congregation of Binghamton, NY. This conference is a partnership between the Young Adult Organizing Committee and UU Congregation of Binghamton. This conference is for ages 18-35. Cost is $30, sliding scale. Register at their website.

Sermon of the Month Subscription Series

2023-2024 Sermon of the month. A program of the Congregational Life Staff of the UUA. White chalice surrounded by words

The Sermon of the Month series is a monthly subscription service providing recorded sermons that congregations can download and use for worship. Along with a transcript of the sermon, each month’s offering will include suggested readings and hymns. Speakers will be members of the Congregational Life staff, other UUA staff groups, or guest preachers from around the country.

For our September sermon, the Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh, from the Pacific Western Region Congregational Life Staff, shares her sermon “Living Into the Living System.” In her sermon, she reflects on what it means to see our congregations as “living systems,” and although living systems are naturally resistant to change, beauty and power can emerge in unexpected places when we tend to our living systems.

The subscription costs $350 for 12 monthly sermons that can be used at any time. Annual Program Fund (APF) Honor Congregation will receive a $50 discount. For more information at the UUA webpage

Affinity Group Gatherings

2023-24 Dates CER BIPOC Gatherings. Joint Rev. Sana Saeed for our first gatheirng of the year on Oct 2nd at 6:30 pm et on zoom. These calls are explicitly for people who identify as black, indigenous or a person of color (BIPOC)

CER BIPOC Gatherings
2023 - 2024 Dates: Nov 6, Dec 4, Jan 8, Feb 5, Mar 4, Apr 1, May 6, June 3.

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 on the first Monday 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 for zoom information. Learn more at the CER website.

A green and red backdrop.

Taproot: A National BIPOC Gathering
2023 - 2024 Dates: Nov 9th, Dec 14th, Jan 11th, Feb 8th, Mar 14th, Apr 4th, May 2nd , & June 13th.

BIPoC Leaders rooted in the Unitarian Universalist congregations are invited to take part in this monthly, virtual gathering as we explore these pillars in creating a means by which to ground ourselves in resilient communities of care. Learn more at the Taproot Page.

Purple woven background.

UPLIFT Trans/Nonbinary+ Monthly Gatherings
Trans, nonbinary, and other not-entirely-or-at-all-cis UUs are invited to join our monthly gathering, which we hope will feel like a cozy cup of something soothing (in virtual meeting form!). This intentionally multi-generational gathering is open to and welcoming of trans/nonbinary elders as well as children, youth, and young adults. Learn more and register at the UPLIFT webpage. This is a closed event specifically for trans/nonbinary+ people. Anyone who is trans, nonbinary, metagender, multigender, genderfluid, agender, demigender, genderqueer, questioning, and otherwise not wholly or entirely cis is welcome to attend. Register to join us the fourth Thursday of each month.

New DRE: Settling In Series - Winter 2024

Storytime: Adult reading to child "Welcome to Religious Education"

If you are a newer religious professional serving in UU faith development, this series will provide connection, community, and content! This training is valued at $175 with Continuing Education Grants available. Live sessions Jan 31, Feb 7, Feb 21 Course work available approx. Jan 24. Registration is open.

System Theory Renaissance Module

System Theory

February 02, 2024 to February 23, 2024.
Central to our understanding of congregational systems is a grounding in the awareness that “everything we do is faith development; everything we teach is Unitarian Universalism and that the congregation is the curriculum.”

That expression, by Connie Goodbread, is the first part of going deeper into congregational systems, yet the second part must include an immersion into System Theory.
The “System Theory” Renaissance Module will:

  • Examine human beings as emotional, intellectual, and physical beings. Everything humans create, discover, destroy, and build is born out of our humanity.
  • Explore and clarify what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist.
  • Discuss the human qualities that help and hinder the growth of the beloved community.

The overarching lens of System Theory will ground the experience and aid religious educators, and other religious professionals, to apply these learnings to their own professional context.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Registration for this Renaissance Module is limited to 24 participants and will close on January 31, 2024 . Registration today!

Better Together Blog: Governance Trends in UU Congregations: A Recent History

Headshot of Rev. Renee Ruchotzke

by Rev. Renee Ruchotzke

There is an old narrative that the UUA tells congregations what to do, in particular when it comes to governance.

I want to clarify that the UUA doesn’t dictate any particular governance model for congregations because of our congregational polity. Each congregation gets to decide for themselves. We at the UUA do try to lay out the options available to congregations. Currently, we list several models in LeaderLab along with useful resources about implementation.

Read the rest of the blog post

Would you like to receive this weekly blog in your inbox? You can! Sign up!

You may also be interested in

A Time to Pause
We again find ourselves in a time when we look around this Earth and see some of our worst of humanity. We have renewed violence in the Middle East, the ongoing war in Ukraine, coups in Africa, and natural disasters on multiple continents. We see threats to democracy, increases in antisemitism and Islamaphobia, continued violence against BIPoC and LGBTQ+ people, and threats and violence against justice advocates.

Read the rest of the article

News from the UUA

Just a reminder that the UUA's Open Enrollment for UUA Health and Dental Insurance Plans and the new Hospital Indemnity Plan runs from November 1 through 30th. Employees scheduled to work at least 750 hours per year (about 15 hours/week) and are on payroll for at least a year are eligible for UUA insurance plans. As a reminder, hours worked at multiple participating congregations are combined for eligibility purposes. Read the Open Enrollment Memo from Rev. Richard Nugent (PDF).

The UUA's Lifespan Faith Engagement Office seeks a developmental editor for congregational resources for an upcoming UU Common Read, Authentic Selves. We seek an experienced adult curriculum developer or developmental editor with an idea for how UU congregations might process this book from a faith development perspective in this moment. This is a consulting role starting in November 2023 with benchmarks leading to completion in April 2024. Please see the full description on the UUA website. You'll find guidance for submitting a proposal by November 10, 2023 at the UUA website.

Don't miss any of the great fall programming being offered by Side with Love. The Skill Up Series will look at Risk Discernment for Congregations in October and Faith Out Loud in November. Faithful Gatherings, which are an hour of spiritual sustenance and grounding are each month on the 4th Thursday at 7:30 pm ET. Monthly Mixers are the 2nd Monday at 8 pm ET. Get the details and learn more at the Side with Love website.

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. Learn more about the work of the Disaster Relief Fund. 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 a list of virtual speakers, check it out to see who is available! Visit 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 - Announcing the 2023-24 UUA Common Read: On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unapologetic World by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (Beacon Press, 2022). Now available for pre-order are: The Tending Years: Understanding Your Child's Earliest Rituals by J. L. Shattuck, A Fire at the Center: Solidarity, Whiteness and Becoming a Water Protector by Karen Van Fossan and Through the Lens of Whiteness: Challenging Racialized Imagery in Pop Culture by Diane S. Grimes and Liz Cooney.

The UUA is hiring for several positions. Find job descriptions and application information at their Job Openings webpage. Make sure to check out the positions in Congregational Life for both the New England and Central East Regions.

Calendar Items and News

For events, webinars and congregation news and events visit the following pages: