A Religion for Our Time
The Unitarian Universalist Association and President Peter Morales are pleased to present a new video series, “A Religion for Our Time.” These short videos highlight inspiring work in Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations, including innovative projects relating to worship, religious education, social justice, membership, and fellowship.
Please share the news about this exciting series and watch for new installments to be released every couple of weeks between March 2010 and General Assembly 2010. Join in recognizing and celebrating Unitarian Universalist congregations as they build “A Religion for Our Time.”
- Episode Eighteen, "Unitarian Universalists Rebuilding New Orleans" shows how three UU congregations in New Orleans, like the city itself, were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. However that devastation became an inspiration, not an obstacle, to the members of all three churches. Their resilience and determination have been in evidence every day of the last five years as they rebuild not only their churches, but the city of New Orleans itself.
Watch Episode Eighteen: UUs Rebuilding New Orleans
Download Episode Eighteen (MP4) (right-click to save the file).
- Episode Seventeen, "Greater Good Project" shows how the First Unitarian Church in Rochester, New York has developed an amazing holiday tradition.Congregants decied how much they spend on the holidays and then give half of that amount to the church! The children then decide what local and international charities the money will support. After five years, this remarkable project provides a whole new meaning to the holidays for hundreds of UU families and for the people they help.
Watch Episode Seventeen: Greater Good Project
Download Episode Seventeen (MP4) (right-click to save the file).
- Episode Sixteen, "Worship For All Ages!" shows how Reverend Erika Hewitt and her worship leaders increase attendance by creating the magic of story-based intergenerational worship at the Live Oak UU Congregation in Goleta, California. Based on the concepts illustrated in Hewitt's book, Story, Song & Worship (published by Skinner House), this is intergenerational worship that engages kids and adults alike.
Watch Episode Sixteen: Worship For All Ages!
Download Episode Sixteen (MP4) (right-click to save the file).
Episode Fifteen, "An Auction with Heart!" spotlights the Outreach Auction at Central Unitarian Church (CUC) in Paramus, New Jersey. Inspired by a charity auction at the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City, members of CUC are in their tenth year of holding two annual auctions. While the spring auction raises money for the congregation, every dime from the Outreach Auction in the fall goes to local charities.
“Don’t listen to any naysayers, just do it,” says Celia Mendelsohn, co-coordinator of the Outreach Auction. “You will raise funds, even if it’s what you feel might be a modest amount, it’s going to grow over the years. You will not lose money to pledging. You might even see your pledges increase, because it’s a wonderful feeling to belong to a church that does this.”
Watch Episode Fifteen: An Auction with Heart!
Download Episode Fifteen (MP4) (right-click to save the file).
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- Episode Fourteen, "Joining Voices," gives a behind-the-scenes look at the joint Association Sunday service planned by seven Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations in South Central Pennsylvania.
Thanks to more than two hundred volunteers, the November 2010 joint service included an orchestra, an intergenerational dance troupe, a robust choir, and a sermon by Unitarian Universalist Association President Rev. Peter Morales. Worshipping together builds community among the congregations and gives participants a sense of the broader UU movement.
"Many of our members have never been UU’s anywhere else," explains Rev. Judy Welles, co-minister of the UUs of the Cumberland Valley congregation. "So to come into a much larger context…where they see, 'oh we’re really part of something much bigger,' is very healthy."
Watch Episode Fourteen: Joining Voices
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- Episode Thirteen, "Opening the Doors to Diversity," illustrates how First Parish in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has begun the process of transforming into a multiracial and multicultural congregation. For years, the congregation talked about becoming more diverse, especially as their surrounding neighborhood became home to more and more immigrants.
After learning about the Diversity of Ministry Team (DOMT) Initiative of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), First Parish turned talk into action, and made a commitment to participating in the DOMT Initiative. With support from the UUA, the congregation has engaged in an intentional process of education and conversation about multiculturalism, established a Transformation Team, and called Rev. Lilia Cuervo as the congregation's first settled Latina minister.
"The most difficult part is the preconceptions, the prejudices that people have..." explains Cuervo. "We try to open to other cultures, to appreciate other cultures. Not to 'tolerate,' but to really understand, get to love, and get to embrace other cultures."
Watch Episode Thirteen: Opening the Doors to Diversity
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Episode Twelve, “Worship That Rocks!” explains how First Unitarian in Albuquerque, New Mexico, attracts a diverse group of worshippers through a contemporary service on Sunday afternoons.
As the sanctuary became more and more crowded during the two Sunday services at First Unitarian, members of the congregation had a decision to make. They didn’t need to deliberate over whether to add another service, but about what kind of service to add. A survey pointed them in the direction of contemporary worship, and now the congregation rocks out with the house band each week.
“When I put together a service, I look not only for music that will be energetic,” explains Vance Bass, contemporary worship director at First Unitarian. “I also look for music that encourages a sense of community, both in terms of the lyrics, and also in terms of the encouragement to stand up and clap, sing along, dance in the aisles.”
Watch Episode Twelve: Worship That Rocks!
Download Episode Twelve (MP4) (right-click to save the file).
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Episode Eleven, "Connect, Respect, Protect," features the outdoor education program for 9-12-year-olds at Jefferson Unitarian Church (JUC) in Golden, Colorado.
How do you keep pre-teens interested in going to church? Parents at JUC came up with an idea that puts enthusiastic young people right in the middle of the 7th principle. With the motto of “Connect, Respect, Protect,” the Nature’s Keepers religious education program helps participants engage with and learn about the great outdoors.
According to Nature's Keepers Co-Founder Kristi Reeves, "There’s no curriculum except 'nature happens.'" She adds, "One of the things we learned was that it was not so much about figuring out a big, fancy activity. It was just getting out in the interconnected web of which we are all a part."
Watch Episode Eleven: Connect, Respect, Protect
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Episode Ten, "Multicultural Ministry," shares insights from the fifteen-year journey of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis (UUCA), Maryland, toward becoming a more diverse congregation.
"So the question is, how do you in your church begin to move toward this multiracial, multicultural paradigm?” asks UUCA Associate Minister Rev. John Crestwell. "And it's simple. It has to become a conscious, deliberate, and determined effort of the congregation. You've got to look at every aspect of your ministry and make every aspect of that ministry speak to the reality that you seek."
Watch Episode Ten: Multicultural Ministry
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Episode Nine, "Deepening Faith through Service," shows how the social justice program at the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena, California, engages the congregation in a range of projects and facilitates participants' spiritual growth.
As Associate Minister Rev. Hannah Petrie observes, "Some of our most spiritual moments–-where we're really connected with the divine–-happen when we're in service to others and service of a more just and peaceful world."
- Episode Eight, “Cluster on the Cutting Edge,” profiles four enthusiastic Unitarian Universalist congregations in upstate New York that are determined to grow by working together. Their Capital Region Unitarian Universalists of New York cluster is producing remarkable results, including a brand new congregation!
Watch Episode Eight: Cluster on the Cutting Edge
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- Episode Seven, “Multicultural Worship,” illustrates how worship at All Souls Church, Unitarian, in Washington, DC, is designed to serve a diverse community. Worship planners at All Souls ask themselves every single week, "How will we reflect in worship the experience and traditions of many different cultures?” Honoring the multiculturalism of the congregation and the neighborhood is an intentional process at the heart of All Souls. And it's a process that can be used in any Unitarian Universalist congregation.
Watch Episode Seven: Multicultural Worship
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- Episode Six describes how the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, California, transformed itself from a graying congregation into a multigenerational one. How is the congregation’s commitment to young adult and campus ministry programming grounded? Through a staff person focused on eighteen- to thirty-five-year-olds!
Watch Episode Six: A Passionate Commitment to Young Adults
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- Episode Five explores the creation of an alternative worship service at the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church (ORUUC) in Tennessee. When several congregants at ORUUC realized two years ago that they yearned for a worship service with more music and interaction, they started working with the minister to create a "celebration service." They call it a work in progress.
Watch Episode Five: Celebration Worship Service
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- Episode Four presents a creative approach to youth programming from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wilmington (UUWF), North Carolina. What's a compelling way to engage teenagers in a deep, yearlong discussion of theology and Unitarian Universalist principles? How about a curriculum designed around the Star Wars movies? It's working like a charm at UUWF.
Watch Episode Four: The Theology of Star Wars!
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- Episode Three spotlights the building campaign of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart (UUFE). In a small Indiana town that's been battered by the recession, the members of UUFE knew they were the only liberal religious voice in the area. That knowledge made them determined to go ahead with a building campaign, and a very successful one at that!
Watch Episode Three: A Building Campaign for All the Right Reasons
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- Episode Two shows how the ministers of three remote Washington State congregations have joined together to create the Living Tradition Institute of the West Puget Sound. By offering team-led programs, they expand the religious education and social justice opportunities in each church and help members connect with other Unitarian Universalists.
Watch Episode Two: Better Together: Creating Congregational Partnerships
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- Episode One features the Ogden OUTreach Center, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden’s drop-in program for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender (BGLT) youth and young adults.
Watch Episode One: Ogden UUs Reach Out to BGLT Youth
Download Episode One (right-click to save the MP4)
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