Opportunities for Connection ~ August 2023

Featured Resource: Board Training Resources

crew of rafters working together to get a yellow raft through the rapids on a river

It's that time of the year again - new board members are just now starting. Being on a congregational board is not like being on a board of other non-profits and organizations, it takes time to learn the differences, and to figure out how your particular organization works. Your board will need team building, covenant creation and other activities to help welcome and include these new members.

To assist congregational boards in these challenges, we offer several different trainings and gatherings to help everyone with this work. We invite your and your board to join us!

Helpful Habits Board Retreat - Offered online August 5, 2023, 9-12 pm, $15 per person. Includes self-paced pre-work for many different topics, plus a live session where you can engage with board members from other similarly-sized congregations.

Leading Large: Board Training for Large Congregations - offered online August 26, 2023, 12-4 pm ET, $200 per congregational team. Includes self-paced prework, plus a live session you will be able to engage with board members from other large congregations as you work on case studies and creative problem solving.

Can't make either of these trainings? Never fear! We have a free Board Member Training on our LeaderLab website. Use this 12-Part training to onboard new board members, to use as a monthly board in-service training, or for a quick reference during board meetings.

Leaders: Mark Your Calendars for Next Year's CER Skill Ups

CER Leader Skill Up. CER Leadership Skill Ups for changing times monthly calls start with Worship to Center and ground your yeaer. Spetember 7th, 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. Join us on Thursday, September 7th at 7 pm for our worship service launching the year. 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, September 7, 2023 - Where Is the Ground? A Grounding Worship for A New Year
    Kicking off our yearlong Leadership Skill Up Series, we begin with a worship experience created just for you, the faithful UU leader. What kind of community are we creating in this time when everything and everyone is new again - forged new out of collective trauma, out of societal shifting, out of emerging needs and hopes for our world. We can find new ground together in ways that you can bring back to your people. Please join us. Led by Central East Region staff.
  • Tuesday, October 3 - Where Do We Get Volunteers? Fun, Meaning, and Connection
  • 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

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.

UU Networkpalooza - Chesapeake Area

Diverse group Learning

Have you ever longed for a chance to talk with leaders from other congregations who are doing the same work you are? Do you find yourself at workshops just wishing you could pick the brains of all the other worship leaders/justice seekers/treasurers/Board presidents/membership teams in the room? Are you interested in an opportunity to enhance your work in your congregation by learning what others are doing in theirs?

Networkpalooza is a time to treat yourself to dedicated time to talk to others who are helping their congregations the same way you’re helping yours.

Join us September 23, 2023, online, from 1-4 pm ET. Registration is open.

Religious Educator Trainings and Meetings

New DRE Renn Mod course

Settling In: New & Newer Religious Educator Training  (August 11, 18, and 25)

If you are a newer (as in the last year or so) religious education professional serving in UU faith development, this series will provide connection, community, and content! Rev. Marisol Caballero, Rev. Sarah Gettie McNeill, and Nancy Combs-Morgan (Credentialed Religious Educator-Leadership Level), will facilitate the training, along with a number of guest speakers. Learn more and register today! Registration deadline is August 4th.

Religious Educator Professional Meet-ups (August 1, November 7, February 6, May 7) 
Religious education professionals from across the continent are invited to virtually join members of the UUA’s Faith Development Co-Lab for a time of connection with other religious educators around a theme. The August 2023 connection theme will be "Threshold Conversations" - what they are, and discussing what they might mean for you. Future connection themes will be announced at the end of each meet-up. Registration is open!

Resources for Responding to Far Right/White Nationalist Threats

Side With Love Logo with Hearth

As UU congregations are increasingly being targeted by right-wing hate, our communities should be prepared to respond to threats with skill and courage while also remaining grounded in our spiritual values. Side with Love has a webpage where you can access a recent recording of UUA staff from Congregational Life, LGBTQIA+ & Multicultural Ministries, and Side With Love as they share observations regarding national trends, offer resources for assessing security threats/creating safety plans/discerning and growing risk tolerance, and support building connections to fight back against overwhelm, fear, and isolation. If you have question, please reach out to your Primary Contact or Regional Safer Congregations' Team Member.

Leading from the Heart

Two Red Heart Flowers in a pot

In this 3-part series for budding and experienced leaders, participating will ground you in your own spiritual soil, acknowledge roots, discern flowers, find abundance, and preserve seeds to keep the harvest going. Topics will include: UU and ancestral theology, the synergy of passion and mission, living out of conviction. Register for sessions on either Wednesdays Sept. 6, Oct. 11, and Nov. 1 from 5-6:30 pm ET or Thursdays Sept 7, Oct. 12, and Nov. 2 from 10-11:30 pm ET. Details and registration on the UUA website.

UU Wellspring: Spiritual Dive into the Proposed Article II

UU Wellspring Proposed Article II Logo

Updated to include the five amendments passed at the June 2023 General Assembly, this four-session program engages you in the Purposes, Values and Covenant, Inspiration, Inclusion and Freedom of belief of the proposed Article II which will be voted on at General Assembly 2024. You can bring this four-session program to your congregation and run as many cohorts as possible between now and General Assembly 2024 for a one-time cost of $150. Individuals can also sign up to be with other Unitarian Universalists from around the continent in sessions run by UU Wellspring at a cost of $100 per person. An optional journal is available to companion you in this program and keep all of your growing ideas and experiences in one place. Join a UU Wellspring cohort and see how Article II resonates with your heart! Check the Wellspring Website or email Linnea Nelson, Executive Director: Director@UUWellspring.org.

Save the Date: Upcoming Fall Events!

Upcoming Events calendar icon

Fall events are being planned now, so start marking your calendars!

National Safety Training, October 20, 2023, sponsored by the UUA Safety Team. Details and registration available in early fall.

New York State Convention of Universalists Annual Meeting, October 20 and 21, 2023, at the UU Congregation of Binghamton, NY. Keynote Speaker is Rev. Verdis LeVar Robinson, speaking on "The Audacity of Universalism". Details available beginning August 2023 at their website

Better Together Blog: How to Hold a Board Retreat

Sana Saeed

by Rev. Sana Saeed

It’s that time of the year again, when new leadership joins congregational boards. Summer is a time of transformation for some congregational leaders. I often receive questions around this time on how to hold a board retreat. Last year, Pat Infante and I held a webinar on holding a board retreat.

One key takeaway from that webinar was to think about a board retreat as a time to build relationships and do some goal setting. A church board is not like a corporate board or a non-profit board. Leadership on a congregation’s board are community members of a spiritual home. They have a personal relationship with the church as a place of spiritual nourishment and belonging. So, we encourage you to think about board retreats as places that welcome building more relationships and doing less business. This includes having elements in the sample agenda that engage the spiritual like a chalice lighting, music, or brief guided meditation to get started.

Read the rest of the blog post

News from the UUA

The Three C's of Staff Relations Training - Good staff relations are a vital element in supporting healthy and vibrant congregations. Whether you are in a new transitional ministry position or serving a congregation where you are settled, connecting to and building collaborative relationships are of primary importance. The Guild of Interim Religious Educators invites you to explore “The Three C’s of Staff Relations – Covenants, Conflict, and Communities.” , September 28, 2023; 11:00 – 2:00 ET. Congregational professional staff are invited to attend as a team or as an individual.

Flower Communion Resources in honor of the 100th anniversary of flower communion can be found on the UUA website. They include music, readings, and an in-depth conversation with Rev. Dr. Petr Samjosky, who serves as minister of the Prague Unitarian Congregation.

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 is Authentic Selves: Celebrating Trans and Nonbinary People and Their Families edited by Peggy Gillespie.

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:

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