Opportunities for Connection ~ January 2024

By Central East Region of the UUA

Featured Resource: 30 Days of Love Resources

Save the Date. January 15-February 14, 2024. 30 Day sof Love. spiritual Nourishment for the long haul. Red background with a heart.

This annual event offers a month of spiritual nourishment, political grounding, and shared practices of faith and justice.

30 Days of Love runs from Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 15) through Valentine’s Day (February 14).

Each week, you can expect to receive several different kinds of offerings, each from a different voice within Unitarian Universalism. Within each weekly theme, which will connect with one of our intersectional justice priorities, we plan to offer prayers, blessings, grounding, and meditative practices, a story or time for all ages, as well as a reflection from one of Side With Love's program and field staff.

To get an idea of what to expect or to enjoy some meditative breaks during your lunch now, see last year's offerings at the Side with Love website.

CER Leadership Skill Ups - February Is Practices of Intergenerational Connection

Dark blue galaxy background with starts. Words read: CER Leader Skill Up. CER Leadership Skill Ups for Changing Times. Practices of Intergenerational Connection. February 1st, 7-9 pm. Image of brown and tan hearts around the edge.

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, 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.

Elementary Our Whole Lives Training - In Person

OWL Training Graphic

Our Whole Lives Facilitator Training for Elementary Levels, February 9-11, 2024, Washington DC. Registration for OWL Faciliator Training is open! We must have 10 people registered by January 12 to make this training go!

If you need training online or in other locations please check the OWL Calendar.

Our Whole Lives (OWL) is an excellent, comprehensive sexuality education program that offers participants the opportunity to explore their values and gain accurate information about topics that are often not easily accessible. The overall goal of the Our Whole Lives program is to help participants gain the knowledge, values, and skills they need to lead sexually healthy, responsible lives. The goals of this workshop are to prepare the participants to implement the curriculum as well as the Sexuality and Our Faith component. Through a varied program including practice and participation activities, the trainers will cover implementation techniques, curricula details, and technical information.

Jubilee 3 Anti-Racism Training Offered

image of a chalice on a rainbow scarf with a singing bowl beside it on a grey carpet.

A Community Experience: Building Capacity to Dismantle Systemic Racism

Paula Cole Jones leads an updated version of the unique and acclaimed program partnering with experienced UU trainers Dr. Leon Spencer and Lutricia Callair.

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!

January 12-14, 2024, sponsored by the UU Church in Akron, OH. Do note this can be taken online or in person with a team at your home congregation. Registration for Jubilee 3 is open!

Lifelong Faith Formation as Antiracist/Anti-Oppression/Multicultural Transformation

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."

Mosaic National Learning and Practice Gatherings support organizations and congregations’ long-term commitment to carry out AR/AO/MC transformation. These 90-minute virtual gatherings include a mix of facilitated learning from trusted voices in the movement for AR/AO/MC transformation and opportunities to be in conversation with fellow UUs.

Join us for the next Mosaic National Learning and Practice Community: Lifelong Faith Formation as Antiracist/Anti-Oppression/Multicultural Transformation. Monday, Jan. 22 (3pm HT; 4 AT; 5 PT; 6 MT; 7 CT; 8 ET). With guests: Joy Berry, UUA Children and Families Faith Development Specialist and Rev. Dr. Mark Hicks, Angus MacLean Associate Professor of Religious Education at Meadville Lombard Seminary.

Registration for Mosaic is open.
For questions and/or more information contact Dr. Melissa James at mjames@uua.org

Reimagine with Energy Democracy

Image of a head with bright flowers coming out the top. Reads Reimagining with Energy Democracy.  Embrace a visionary approach to clean energy as a human right.January 25, 7 et.

For the last in our webinar series on Clean Energy as a Human Right, we invite you to explore the power of Energy Democracy and the ways our congregations can reimagine energy for our communities. Energy Democracy helps frontline communities build power and liberation by reimagining how we organize our lives toward new systems that support the health and wellbeing of our communities and ecosystems.

Join the Energy Democracy Project, Cleveland Owns (OH), People Power Solar (CA), and POWER Interfaith (PA) for Reimagining with Energy Democracy on January 25 at 4PT - 5MT - 6CT - 7ET. RSVP today!

Interested in accessing federal grants for green building improvements? Unsure how these pragmatic investments are actually radical acts of justice? Check out Visionary Approaches to Federal Clean Energy Funding and Creating Hubs of Climate Resilience, the first two in our workshop series on Clean Energy as a Human Right. Then RSVP to join us for the final webinar in the series, Reimagining with Energy Democracy, featuring the Energy Democracy Project.

Coming in February – UUA Legacy Giving Webinar

Saturday, February 10, 2024 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET
The UUA’s Legacy Gifts Office offers a number of services, including an online workshop to assist congregations and other UU organizations in creating legacy giving programs. The webinar on Saturday, February 10, 2024 covers the basics of legacy giving and aims to equip legacy giving committees with the knowledge they need to start or refresh their program. To register for the webinar or to reach out with a question about legacy giving, email us at legacy@uua.org or call (617) 948-6509.

New Resources for Emerging Adults!

Image of young adults in a photo facing the camera. Reads the emerging adult ministry T.E.A.M. For 18-24 year old UU's. Join u s for news about programs and offerings. bit.ly/uuteaministry

Do you have a recently bridged emerging adult (EA)?

Plug them into our newly minted EA Database and The Emerging Adult Ministry (TEAM)! There they will find resources to connect with other EA's, have access to small groups, local congregations, pastoral care, online hangouts and more!

For more information about TEAM or the leaders who help put all this together (NEAT - National Emerging Adult Taskforce) check out their Facebook page and Instagram, respectively.

New Emerging Adult Chaplains Announced
The UUA has hired two wonderful contractors to provide pastoral Care to our Emerging Adults (18-24 yrs) - nationally! Please meet Martha Durkee Neuman and Rev Natalie Malter. You can connect directly to these incredible Chaplains by emailing or calling our helpline at eapastoralcare@uua.org / 617- 948-6418. To learn more about Martha and Rev Natalie, you can check out their bios.

Chalice Lighter Call Supports New Sign and Beginnings of Solar Infrastructure

photo of a church sign in a grassy area alongside a busy highway.

The UU Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, has a project designed to both spread the word and protect the environment: the installation of an electronic sign that will announce their presence alongside a busy highway in a rural area and provide the infrastructure for future installation of electric vehicle charging stations and solar panels. Your generous donations will provide the funding for 80% of the cost of the project.

Donate to support this project today!
Learn more about Chalice Lighter program and how your congregation can apply for a grant.

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 for WI is open! Early Bird registration closes January 15 and full registration deadline is February 11.

Peer Pastoral Care Training for Youth

a young person with dark skin and curly black hair and glasses puts their head in their hands. There is a little grey cloud above their head. The background in light blue. Text reads "What is pastoral care? Learn the basics to support your friends"

Do you know a youth who wants more skills around what to do when their friends are having a hard time? Check out this Peer Pastoral Care course on UU institute that can be facilitated by a religious professional and youth or young adult lay leader. This course helps youth practice a variety of listening techniques, build awareness and skills regarding boundaries, cultural contexts and self-care, and know when and how to expand the circle of support.

Pastoral care isn’t about knowing how to say just the right thing, being able to fix someone else’s problem or having all the answers. Pastoral care just means being able to show up as a listener, pay attention to your friends' feelings, and knowing who to go to when help is needed. In this pastoral care course youth get the chance to practice these skills in a safe environment with supportive friends and mentors. Learn more.

UU Cultivators Collaborative

A young green plant growing out of a clump of dirt
  • Are you a spiritual innovator—a religious professional or a lay leader—who wants to start a new community but you don’t know where to begin?
  • Did you just launch a project and feel like you need colleagues who understand your joys and frustrations?
  • Do you feel a yearning to build a local community but get overwhelmed by the idea of raising money and budgeting?
  • Are you committed to seeking spiritual growth, liberation, and healing for communities in your midst?

The UU Cultivators Collaborative is designed to support those innovators and teams who are ready to realize their wider vision for Unitarian Universalism with tailored support at critical junctures along the way.

The UUA and Beloved are excited to host a cohort of UU spiritual innovators (both religious professionals and lay leaders) in February/March 2024 for a one-year intensive followed by a co-created alumni experience. Learn more about eligibility and find the application.

Green Sanctuary Webinars

Green background. readsGreen Sanctuary 2030 Celebration. Wendesday January 17, 4 pm ET, 7 pm ET

Green Sanctuary Celebration
Wednesday, January 17 at 7pm ET
Let's celebrate the good work our congregations are doing to create Green Sanctuary in our communities! Green Sanctuary teams will share how they're transforming their communities through congregational transformation, climate justice, mitigation, and community resilience. Join the fun!

Teams can fill out this short form to let us know that you plan to share what you’ve been up to. This can be celebrating a win, or sharing how you’re reframing your work when things went sideways. We just want to hear from you! Presentations need to be no more than 3 minutes long so we can make room for everyone!

Green Sanctuary 2030 Orientation
Wednesday, January 3 at 7pm ET
Get to know the new Green Sanctuary! Join the monthly orientation session to get a better understanding of the program and learn how your congregation can engage in ongoing climate action. Green Sanctuary 2030: Mobilizing for Climate Justice can transform your congregation through climate justice! Orientation meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month at 4PT - 5MT - 6CT - 7ET. Registration now open.
Missed January's? These happen monthly and on the first Wednesday of the month. Sign up for the month that fits your calendar.

Side with Love January Events - Skill Up, Mixers, Webinars

Dark Blue background, reads Side with Love Fall 2023 Skill Up Series. Summoning Courage. January 2024 Community Safety and Security

Skill Up: Community Safety & Security
Sunday, January 21 at 4pm ET
Unitarian Universalists are called to grapple with the question of what is safety? Black liberation organizers say “We Keep Us Safe" as a way to proclaim that true safety comes from relationship, community and structures of care and mutuality outside of state structures of violence and control. How do we build our political and theological commitment to keeping each other safe in the face of state and interpersonal violence? In this skill up, Nora Rasman and India Harris will define safety and security grounded in abolitionist practice, discuss our spiritual mandate towards building sanctuary and concretely outline what we can honestly offer to ourselves and each other. Register to join us.

Side With Love Monthly Mixer
Monday, January 8 at 8pm ET
We know that these times ask a lot of us and that we need one another to stay in the work with hope, joy, impact, and accountability. Join us if you are doing the work on the ground, if you are showing up for and with Side with Love, and/or if you are just learning about Side with Love. Come connect with one another, build community across issues, and have some facetime with our staff. This gathering happens monthly on the 2nd Monday of the month at 5 PT, 6 MT, 7 CT, 8 ET. Registration for the Monthly Mixer is open.

Not Just Stop Cop City: The issues at the heart of the movement – Session Three: Police Foundations & Policing
January 11 at 8pm ET
Join Side With Love, the American Friends Service Committee, and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee for this political education series to learn more about the fight to stop Cop City. The fight to stop cop city is not just about the people of Atlanta. With similar projects sweeping cities across the nation (like in Baltimore, San Francisco, and Colorado Springs), this is our collective work. Understanding what is happening in Atlanta equipped us to understand the battles for justice and democracy in all the places we call home. Together we will dig deeply into the history of this plan, interrogate the interests of its corporate backers, and reflect on our values and the moral call to democracy and justice. Learn more about Not Just Stop Cop City.

Faithful Grounding
Thursday, January 25 at 4:30pm PT / 7:30pm ET
Join our Side with Love Fun & Spiritual Nourishment Squad for an hour of spiritual sustenance and grounding with others organizing on the side of love. Come drink in the music, meditation, play, and prayer. We end with a Connection Cafe for those who wish to talk together. Show up as you are, whatever is in your heart, and with your camera on or off as you need. This gathering happens monthly on the 4th Thursday of the month at 4:30 PT, 5:30 MT, 6:30 CT, 7:30 ET. Register today

Upcoming Events

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 for the DRE Series 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.

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

Hands striped in LGBTQ flag colors, making a chalice with a flame that is rainbow striped. Reads Building Beloved Community Beyond the Binary. save the Date 4.27.2024

Beyond the Binary Coming in April

Join us Saturday, April 27, 2024, at the Beyond the Binary: Building Beloved Community Event. “A place to find community with transgender, nonbinary folx and our allies. A conference for us to gather, learn, and grow.” In-person and online! Registration will open in February 2024.

Better Together Blog: Dealing with Disruptions in Worship

Rev. Sunshine Wolff

A video blog by Rev. Sunshine Wolfe

Watch the blog and read the resources with the video post

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

News from the UUA

Clergy Grants available to attend Star Island Conferences
The Isles of Shoals Association Unitarian Universalist (ISAUU) in partnership with the Star Island Beloved Community Project is pleased to present the Clergy Grants for the 2024 season of conferences on Star Island. Grants are offered to Parish Ministers, Ministers of Religious Education, and Community Ministers. Applicants must be first-time attendee at a Star Island conference, a member of the UUMA, serving and/or affiliated with a UU congregation. Grants cover room and board expenses only. Grants are available to Unitarian Universalist ministers and their families to spend a week on Star Island at a conference of their choice. The intent is to introduce UU clergy to Star Island conferences, to support personal and professional relaxation and rejuvenation, and to promote Star Island with UU clergy and their congregations. For more information about the Grants, visit the ISAUU webpage, for more information about Star island's conferences, visit the Star Island site.

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!

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: