MidAmerica Messenger Volume 6 Issue 1 | August 2018


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In This Issue

  • Fall 2018 Webinars
  • Faithify
  • The Future of UU Faith Development
  • O. Eugene Pickett Award
  • Brilliant Bits from Boston
Rev. Sharon Dittmar

Sharon Dittmar, Congregational Life Consultant


To a MidAmerica newsletter full of webinars and news to get you successfully moving into the congregational year. Whether in religious education, board leadership, spiritual development, membership, finance, and/or ministry, we hope you will check out our resources to help you grow!

This summer I was selected to serve on the UUA’s “Organizational Change Design Team.” This is a daunting honor. Our group is tasked with dismantling white supremacy and advancing equity in the UUA’s organizational culture, staff leadership and development, and communications. We will be working closely with Executive VP, Carey McDonald, Director of HR, Rob Molla, and Director of Multicultural Growth and Witness, Taquiena Boston.

For me, one of the hardest parts of the work is uncovering my own blind spots of privilege and discrimination. I have served thirty years in this work, and I have so much more to learn. Humility is my constant companion, as is curiosity. What don’t I know that is keeping me stuck? What is my work? What can I learn when I listen? What am I called to do? I am grateful for the many partners I will have at the UUA as we do this work together.

Our MidAmerica Staff team continues with this work as well. We finished our common read, Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity,and Power in Ministry (Mitra Rahnema, Editor) last spring and have moved on to Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown. We encourage all our congregations to find creative ways to do this work. If you haven’t already, watch the 2018 Ware Lecture by Brittany Packnett.

As always, your MidAmerica Team is here to help! Be in touch!

In Love and Faith, Sharon Dittmar, Congregational Life Consultant

Fall 2018 Webinars

The Fall 2018 MidAmerica Region webinar schedule is ready, featuring a couple of new multi-session events for congregational presidents and religious educators.

September begins with a three-session online series for new, newer, and veteran religious educators hosted by Nancy Combs-Morgan. You can find complete details on the series in Nancy’s article below.

Next up is a perennial favorite from Ian Evison and Tony Sweazy: How to Be a Great Congregational President, which will be offered twice, on 09/06/2018 at 7:45 pm and 09/12/2018 at 7:45 pm.

Lisa Presley will be hosting a terrific follow up to that webinar with a new Congregation Presidents' Webinar Series 2018-19 beginning on September 18, 2018 at 7:30 PM.

And on September 25 and September 26, MidAmerica Region and the UU Association of Membership Professionals will be co-sponsoring a webinar on ways to ensure that people with disabilities are being welcomed into our congregations.

On Tue, October 16, 2018, Rev. Bill Gupton will presenting Green Burial 101, which, in addition to explaining what is a “green burial,” will tell the story of how and why one UU church has gotten involved in the green burial movement.

On Thu, November 1, 2018, Rev. Christina Leone-Tracy will offer a Canvass Conversations webinar, with information on how last year her congregation put a new emphasis on giving as a spiritual practice and had a "reverse offering" with excellent results.

Other webinars are in the works, so be sure to keep an eye out for them in future issues of the MidAmerica Messenger!

Several speakers on stage - Poor Peoples Campaign in Kansas

Faithify Campaign to Assist Kansas Poor People's Campaign

Help support our Unitarian Universalist congregations in Kansas as they engage in direct action and civil disobedience designed to draw attention to the conditions in Kansas and across the country that are causing inequality. UUs from the Topeka, Lawrence, Manhattan, Shawnee Mission, Wichita, and Salina congregations have been working with the Kansas Poor People’s Campaign—a participant in the national Poor People’s Campaign—to highlight the issues of poverty, racism, militarism and the environment and the way in which they are linked. The direct action and civil disobedience has lead to the arrests of numerous people, including UU ministers Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan, Rev. Jonalu Johnstone and Rev. Rose Schwab.

Each participant arrested for civil disobedience likely will spend a minimum of $200. Many participants are themselves low income and several participated in civil disobedience more than once. To help cover the cost of legal fees, the Kansas Poor People’s Campaign has launched a Faithify campaign to create a fund to provide financial support for over 100 people who participated in civil disobedience during the 40 days of the opening act of the Moral Revival for the Poor People's Campaign.

You can make a donation to the Faithify campaign

You can find out more about the Kansas Poor People’s Campaign, and the national Poor People’s Campaign. Read more information on how other UU congregations in the MidAmerica Region and across the country are supporting the Poor People’s Campaign. And if your congregation is participating in the Poor People’s Campaign through direct action and civil disobedience, let us know! We’d love to share your stories. Email them to plund@uua.org.

Nancy Combs-Morgan 2018

Nancy Combs-Morgan, MidAmerica Region Faith Development Director

The Future of UU Faith Development

The future of Unitarian Universalist faith development will be determined by our ways of learning together, here and now. There is a continuum of how we learn and grow, and that continuum is sparked by the engagement of invested lay leaders and religious professionals. You may ask, what is UU Faith Development? Well, it is literally everything we do as Unitarian Universalists! With that broad brushstroke, we do need a sense of focus, practice, and consciousness raising. With both now and future in mind, there will be multiple opportunities for religious education professionals to go deeper, to learn more, and be a part of an intentional learning community.

In September, religious educators from the MidAmerica and the Southern Regions, are invited to be engaged, in thoughtful and intentional ways, in a three-session online series for New, Newer, and Veteran religious educators which will provide an opportunity to share/learn/review:

  • the basics of administering RE programs
  • ways to engage volunteers, and the importance of professional development with the Liberal Religious Educators Association
  • methods to expand the religious education lens to be lifespan, multicultural, and part of the entire congregational experience
  • UU faith development resources/experiential methods that are successful and sustainable and focused on a thriving future.

I will be co-leading the 3 part series with a variety of talented folks, including leaders from the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA), including LREDA Good Officers, and sage religious educators from both regions.

You can register for the Tuesday 3 part series or the Wednesday 3 part series. The registration fee of $35 includes all three sessions. The Zoom meeting sessions will be offered on Tuesday evenings Sept 4, 11 and 25, and Wednesday afternoons Sept 5, 12, and 26.

So looking forward to our engagement with one another,

Nancy Combs-Morgan, MidAmerica Region Faith Development Director

P.S. Also, in October there will be a “Youth Ministry and Beyond” series for youth ministry leaders and religious educators!

Bismarck Mandan UU Congregation

Congratulations to the Bismarck-Mandan UU Congregation

...for winning the Unitarian Universalist Association’s 2018 O. Eugene Pickett Award, given annually to a small congregation that has made an outstanding contribution to the growth of Unitarian Universalism.

The congregation is being recognized for its ongoing commitment to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, its partnership with the InterNātional Initiative for Transformative Collaboration (INITC), as well as 25 years as a Fair Share/Honor Congregation to the UUA through Annual Program Fund gifts. Thank you for your engagement in intercultural dialogue, public witness, resistance, flexibility, and hospitality.

keyboard with social media logos on the keys

Brilliant Bits from Boston: New UUA Outreach Packet

The UUA has a FREE Outreach Packet that is available for congregations.

It includes information on how to find target audiences, social media strategies for outreach, and resources to help you plan and promote events. Best of all it includes professional graphics for your use!