Southern Region: What’s Happening in 2019

By Carlton Elliott Smith

Greetings of the New Year to All!

And what a year it will be. Here are some of the exciting developments coming your way over the course of the next 12 months as we make our Unitarian Universalist values real in the Southern Region and beyond. Some of these are Southern Region-sponsored events, and others are ones in which the Southern Region is a partner.

Mississippi UU Cluster Gathering, March 22-24 - We will gather at the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum to reflect on the intersection of our state’s history with the promise and possibility of Unitarian Universalism. We will tour the museum and be joined by the UUA’s new Director of Congregational Life, Jessica York!

Arkansas UU Cluster Gathering, March 29-30 - Listening, Learning, Leading. Join us at the UU Fellowship of Fayetteville as we listen deeply to each other and address questions that have bubbled up from our Arkansas congregations. How do we recruit volunteers? What is actually going to make a difference in our Sunday worship, our pledge drive, our congregation? Friday night features a concert by the local UU band, Something Better.

Ships Ahoy - will be finishing up in March at UBarU - this is an amazing journey for youth 14 -18 into Unitarian Universalism which prepares them for membership and leadership in congregations and the Association at large.

The Point - July 21-26: This is our customizable Unitarian Universalist retreat for all ages. Imagine five days of UU covenant and community in a resort-like setting on the shores of Lake Murray in Oklahoma. The Point offers personal growth, faith renewal, learning opportunities, spiritual practices, community worship, music, excellent cuisine, sustainable practices, social gatherings (trivia, bingo, talent show, game night, star-gazing, s'mores and sing-alongs), outdoor activities, programming for all ages and interests, and an engaging theme speaker. Each day begins with worship and ends with a sunset talk, but how you spend your day is completely up to you! All Southern Region Staff will be there, and we hope to see you there too!

Southern UU Leadership Experience (SUULE) - a full immersion experience living into what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist leader. Participants are invited into a covenanted religious community that is a living expression of Unitarian Universalist core values. The core pedagogy is grounded in Systems Theory and Unitarian Universalist Theology. Save the date - our next SUULE will be in Wirtz, VA, October 20-25, 2019.

Extended Leadership Experiences (ExLEs): These carry our foundational programming from a weeklong intensive experience in a retreat setting to clusters of congregations throughout the region. We are completing an ExLE in Metro Atlanta now and have slots for two more coming up. If you would like to have an ExLE in your area please contact Kathy Charles at

In addition to these highlights, there are these other happenings coming up …

New Staff. We will soon announce a new hire to the Southern Region Team, a member who will have a specialty in Faith Development and Youth.

Continuing Cross-Regional Work. Your Southern Region Team will partner with Congregational Life Staff in the other four regions on Ministerial Transitions, Conflict Transformation, Leader Lab, Presidents’ Webinars, Faith Development Webinars and Disaster Relief. This includes a joint “team huddle” between the Southern Region Team and the Central East Region Team in February.

Adjunct Team: We now have 11 Generalist Adjunct Team members ready to extend the work of the Southern Region Team. They are as excited as we are to contribute to our UU congregations as we share our good news with the world.

We are partnering with both UBarU and The Mountain to develop strong relationships and a commitment to programs that support the needs and interests of our congregations and congregational leaders. Save the date for an event Connie Goodbread and Kathy McGowan will be leading at The Mountain: Braving Space - Congregational Leadership Retreat, September 6-8. This will be an opportunity to talk of deep values and explore what we, individually and as a movement, are being called to be and do in the world.

We continue to have open office hours on the third Thursday of each month from 7:00 - 9:00 Eastern.

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As you can see, there is much to look forward to this year. To keep abreast of everything going on, please make sure you are subscribed to our regular newsletter. You can sign up here!

We are delighted to be in partnership with you, now and always!

In faith,

Your Southern Region Team

About the Author

Carlton Elliott Smith

Rev. Carlton E. Smith is the Regional Lead for the Pacific Western Region. From 2013 to 2020, he was a member of the UUA Congregational Life Staff Group serving in the Southern Region....

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