Opportunities for Connection ~ December 2023

By Central East Region of the UUA

Featured Resource: Mosaic Resource Hub

Mosaic logo is the word Mosaic multicolored gradient triangle shapes of orange, red, blue, green and black. The tagline line is "Fostering belonging and liberation in Unitarian Universalist congregations and communities."

The Mosaic is an online hub of connection, resources, and support for Unitarian Universalists dismantling racism and oppression. Through resources, programs, training, groups, and gatherings, The Mosaic fosters belonging and liberation in Unitarian Universalist congregations and communities. Our work for collective liberation can be as colorful, multi-faceted, and diverse as the tiles of a mosaic.

One resource congregational leaders may find helpful are the Learning and Practice Groups. Mosaic Skill-up Learning and Practice Communities are facilitated small group experiences helping leaders develop the skills and accountability they need to engage in effective anti-racism transformation work in their context. These 90-minute virtual gatherings (meeting approximately twice a month over 4 months) include a mix of learning from trusted voices in the movement toward anti-racism transformation. By participating in a skill-up group you will form meaningful connections, receive support and feedback as you implement your learnings, and tend to your own spiritual well being.

The purpose of the gathering is to deepen our collective understanding and skills around issues related to transformation work; build community through connecting individuals and congregations across our movement; and help us stay rooted in our Unitarian Universalist tradition. Sign up at the Mosaic webpage.

CER Leadership Skill Ups - December is Raising and Protecting Funds for Your Congregation's Mission

star background. Reads: CER Leader Skill Up. CER Leadership Skill Ups for Changing Times. Raising and Protecting Funds for Your Congregation's Mission. December 5th, 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.

  • Tuesday, December 5 - Raising and Protecting Funds for Your Congregation's Mission
  • Thursday, February 1 - Practices of Intergenerational Connection
  • Tuesday, March 5 - What is Shared Ministry, Really?
  • Thursday, April 5 and Tuesday, May 7 - Watch This Space! Topic to be determined when we see what the world is like in 2024

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

Nominations for Distinguished Service to UU Being Accepted

image of a heart outline in flames. Text reads Call for Nominations, Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalims

The Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism (often informally referred to as the Distinguished Service Award) is one of the most prestigious awards given by the UUA. Recipients of this award have strengthened the institutions of our UU denomination, clarified our message in extraordinary ways, and exemplified what Unitarian Universalism stands for.

The Award Committee seeks nominations from throughout our Association so it may select from a broad range of the most exemplary leaders in our movement. The deadline for receipt of nominations is January 1, 2024.

Please visit the award webpage for more information on how to submit your nomination.

Final Version of Article II Revision Available

The final draft of the Article II revision is now available as is an updated version of the flower graphic you can use.

Next steps:

  • Read this new version. Absorb it. See how it resonates with you.
  • You may want to amend it. If so:
  • We have created a submission form:

Please remember:

  • All amendments need to be endorsed by at least 15 certified congregations (including the proposing congregation).
  • Endorsement is by an action of the governing board or a vote of the congregation.
  • The deadline for submitting an amendment is 11:59 p.m. Eastern on February 1, 2024.
  • Specific details for submitting amendments are described in the form.

All qualified amendments will be considered at General Assembly 2024. Article II amendments require a 3/4 approval vote to be incorporated. Once any amendments have been resolved, a 2/3 approval vote is required to adopt a new version of Article II.

Thank you for your engagement in this process. This is one of the ways that Unitarian Universalism is alive in this world.

Seeds for the New Year Worship Service Coming!

An illustration of a blue hand holding small red hearts and "planting" them as seeds. The dark blue ground is sprouting red hearts growing on dark stalks. The message says "Seeds for the new year: an on-demand worship collection for UU congregations" and the url "UUA.org/2024"

What seeds are you planting for the new year?
How are you weaving your magic into your relationships with others?
How can we center beauty and goodness and love in all that's ahead?
These questions are at the heart of the homily, story, and other worship materials being offered by WorshipWeb and Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, in a worship collection that will be shared on the WorshipWeb webpage on December 15, 2023.

This collection is designed to be used by UU congregations on December 31, January 7, or any Sunday that feels right to worship leaders. The resources provided will include, as separate components:

  • A homily by Rev. Dr. Betancourt
  • A time for all ages
  • A reading
  • Two different chalice lightings to choose from
  • Three different pieces of music
  • ...and more!

Digital Security 101 for Congregations: A Two-Part Virtual Training

Image of a phone with icons surrounding it. Reads: Digitual Security 101 for Congregations Monday, January 22 & Monday, February 5. 4:30 pm PT - 6:30 pm PT/7:30 pm ET - 9:30pm ET. Side with love logo

Session 1: Monday, January 22, 2024, 7:30pm ET - 9:30pm ET
Session 2: Monday, February 5, 2024, 7:30pm ET - 9:30pm ET

Increasingly, our congregations are finding themselves the targets of online harassment, phishing, doxxing, and other forms of digital hate – often as a result of the ways we are embodying UU values in the world. Unfortunately, many of our UU communities do not have the skills and the infrastructure to protect themselves from malicious digital targeting that is constantly evolving.

Equality Labs' Digital Security For All Workshop is a dive into the world of digital security, and what that means for you and your organization. We will develop some common ground and shed light on types of attacks and security concerns that affect our communities, engaging with you at a strategic level as you plan for your organization.

We cover everyday, practical steps to mitigate online harassment, fraud, and other forms of cyber attacks. We look at how the data broker ecosystem coupled with open-source intelligence (OSINT) from social media increases security risks to individuals and organizations. We then look at key preventative measures including data broker scrubbing, phishing awareness, multi-factor authentication, password management, VPN, and other tools that can be immediately applied in anyone's daily lives.

Open to all congregational leaders but especially targeted to those who manage secure information such as congregational websites, social media accounts, databases, and communications.

Cost: $100 for congregational team of up to 5 attendees for both sessions. This cost is highly subsidized so we can bring this impactful training to our congregations. Register your team of up to 5 attendees.

GA 2024: Love Unites, Stories Ignite

Red letters G and A, with silhouette shapes of people in front

Are you looking forward to GA 2024? This year it will be all virtual! Our theme is Love Unites, Stories Ignite. Watch this video to learn more.

GA Program Proposals are now being accepted for the 2024 Virtual General Assembly's on-demand library. We welcome submissions from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, with a special emphasis on historically marginalized communities, people of color, and the voices of our youth. Your proposed programs should offer enriching learning and skill-building experiences, all while aligning with our designated focus areas. Let's collaborate in creating an inclusive and impactful virtual experience for all. The program proposal deadline is Friday, January 12, 2024. Learn more about submitting a proposal.

The tentative program schedule is now available! There are many opportunities for networking, to hear featured speakers and engaging in General Sessions and business.

Winter Institute is Back!

Mountain stream in winter, snow upon ice.

Winter Institute (WI) is a long-held tradition of gathering over President’s Day weekend for a mid-winter retreat at Salt Fork State Park in Cambridge, Ohio. This retreat was the brainchild of a group of Summer Institute (SI) attendees who wisely determined that a year between SI gatherings is just TOO LONG to wait to gather with extended Beloved UU Community!

Over the years, this relaxing weekend has been an intimate gathering for UUs of all ages. There are frosty outdoor activities like sledding, hiking and cross country skiing. For those who choose to stay in their slippers all weekend, there is a beautiful lodge with its many cozy corners and fireplaces. The pool and hot tub are truly a wintertime treat. There are fellow UUs always ready to play board games or to join in the community jigsaw puzzle(s). We have wonderful community worship services in the morning and evenings.

This year we will gather February 16-19, 2024 at Salt Fork. Registration is open! Early Bird registration closes January 15 and full registration deadline is February 11.

New Congregational Incident Report Form Available

congregational incident form, image of hands of different skin tones creating a heart.

Over the past couple of years, UUA Congregations and related organizations have seen an increase of outside threats and destructive incidences at our UUA congregations. In planning for ways to be supportive and affirming of your congregation’s ministry, it would be helpful to us to have a way keep track of these incidents.

We have designed a Congregational Incident form to help you help us keep track of these incidences. This simple form provides a way for congregations to inform the UUA of a threat or disruptive incident that comes from outside the congregation itself.

All forms come to the Safe Congregation Program email. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Did you know? Professional Development Programs Available!

Blueish purple background with a white, fading circle around a flame in the middle. Under the flame, it reads Renaissance and under that, "Professional Development for Your Faith."

The Renaissance and Music Leadership Professional Development Programs provide Unitarian Universalist Religious Professionals learning communities within which they can easily access applicable skills and tools for religious leadership. Courses are also open to interested lay leaders.

Check out the lists of classes, these are great resources!

From the UUA Office of Church Staff Finance: Resources and Reminders

Office of Church Staff Finances Logo (OCSF)

Compassionate Terminations
Involuntary terminations are never easy. We've created a new LeaderLab resource, Compassionate Staff Terminations, to help congregational leaders and staff supervisors ensure the best possible outcomes for the congregation while offering kindness and respect to the employee. Treating a departing staff member well is good not only for them but for the congregation.

Form I-9 Documents
Form I-9 provides proof of identity and authorization to work in the U.S. Verifying an employee's documents and completing the I-9 is a crucial legal aspect of the hiring process. You must inspect an employee's I-9 documents carefully. Expired documents, for instance, cannot be accepted. The I-9 Form was recently modified, and the new version is required as of last month. You'll find everything you need to know about completing I-9 forms at I-9 Central.

Congregational Salary Program Updates
Because so many congregations begin planning and budgeting for the next program year in the late fall, we revise our salary information in November for the following July through June. All of the updated resources can be accessed from our main Congregational Salary Program page.

Our Monthly Publication
Are you a leader whose responsibilities support staff (board, finance, personnel)? A supervisor of staff? A staff member eager to stay in the loop about employment-related information? Sign up for Compensation and Staffing News for monthly tips and resources on compensation, benefits, and personnel matters.

DUUngeons & DragCONs Young Adult Conference

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.

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.

Offerings for Religious Educators

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

New and Newer DRE Series
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
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: A Time to Gather Around the Hearth-fires

headshot of Lenore Bajare-Dukes

by Lenore Bajare-Dukes

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

At this time of year – a cold bite to the air, long dark nights – I feel a deep, almost primal impulse to huddle around a hearth-fire, spending time with people dear to me. At a recent CER skill-up call, we reflected on the impulse of humans living in seasonal climates to gather together around hearth-fires in these late fall and winter months. Do you have some hearth-fires in your life? Perhaps it’s a kitchen stove, working to feed yourself and your community around harvest time. Perhaps it’s a flickering movie screen. Or a literal fireplace with some games.

Read the rest of the blog post

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News from the UUA

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. 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 Sermon Series webpage.

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 order are: 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.

Calendar Items and News

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