General Assembly

Thinking Ahead to Summer?

Are you thinking about summer yet? The warm weather we’ve been experiencing lately seems to be moving my thoughts in that direction.

Summer is a great opportunity for families and friends to spend time together. It’s also a time when there are lots of opportunities for UUs of all ages to engage in a variety of UU experiences from General Assembly, to work trips, to RE Week at Ferry Beach and Star Island to multigenerational and age specific camps and conferences around the country. Have you explored your UU options for the summer?

There are some options close to home -

  • OMD’s Summer Institute will feature Rev. Meg Riley as its theme speaker when they gather at Kenyon College in Gambier, OH on July 8-14. The theme is Reboot your Theology: Exploring UU Connections. This is your opportunity to join 500 to 600 UUs of all ages for a family-friendly UU camp. Registration brochures are now available online and have been sent out to OMD congregations. Learn more about the camp at www.omdsi.org. Online registration will open in mid-April.
  • The Youth Work Camp is a regional trip for youth ages 14-18 to go to Pipestem, WV, June 24-30 to work with those in need in Appalachia and learn about the Appalachian culture and the environmental impact of mountaintop removal. There is still space available for youth on this trip but you need to sign up soon. We will open any remaining spots to interested adults on May 15. Learn more about this social justice oriented trip at the OMD website.
  • The UU Fellowship of Athens is offering their annual Enviro-Camp for youth as well. Taking place in Glouster, OH, June 17-23, this week focuses on a variety of environmental issues and each day is spent working on a different environmental project. Learn more about this camp.
  • UUMAC is another family-friendly camp located a DeSales University in Center Valley, PA. This year they come together July 15-21, and the theme is Living a UU Life in Five Easy Steps. The theme speaker is Rev. Bob Janis-Dillon. To learn more about the week, download the brochure and register, visit www.uumac.org.
  • Murray Grove, at the site where Universalism began in New Jersey, offers a variety of activities year round. They have a children’s camp in August. Learn more about Murray Grove.
  • Unirondak is a summer camp in New York with week-long family camps, youth camps and camps for children. Learn about their programs at their website.

Want to venture a little further afield? Visit the UU Camp and Conference website to find links to other large family friendly conferences like SUUSI and SWUUSI as well as camp and conference centers like Ferry Beach, Star Island and The Mountain Learning Center. There is even a group for UU singles – AMUUSE.

I hope you enjoy your summer and are able to take advantage of one of these great opportunities to meet other UUs, make new friends and deepen your faith.

In faith,
Beth Casebolt

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Are You Ready for Phoenix?

GA 2012 LogoIn case you haven’t heard yet, this year’s General Assembly in Phoenix, AZ is going to be unlike any we’ve ever had before. And its not just the change of the name to a Justice General Assembly that will be different.

Want to know what exactly will be happening? What will be different and what will be the same? Your main source of information is the UUA’s General Assembly webpage. But there are other sources of information that you can also rely on.

The OMD has created a page of GA resources on our website. Find it at www.ohiomeadville.org/headlines/457-justicega

Here is a listing of some of the resources we’ve found to help you out:

  • The UUA has created a brochure, order of service inserts, posters and more that have been posted on the UUA GA website resources page. Visit there to download the information and use it in your congregation to educate everyone about what is happening this year.
  • Want to know more about what is planned? CERG is offering a webinar on March 12th about what to expect. You can register on the CERG website.
  • There is a blog called Cooking Together: Recipes for Immigration Justice Work that has been set up to share what congregations are doing to learn about immigration. One item recently posted was 10 ways to help youth prepare for this year’s General Assembly. Find it at http://immigrationjustice.blogs.uua.org/
  • There are curricula available on immigration for children and adults. Find the children’s curriculum titled With Justice and Compassion: Immigration Sessions for Children’s Religious Education at www.uua.org/immigration/re/192346.shtml . The adult curriculum is based on the Congregational Study Action Issue “Immigration as a Moral Issue” and can be found at www.uua.org/immigration/re/moral/guide/index.shtml
  • The Ballou Channing District is producing a series of very short videos presenting information about immigration, General Assembly programming, GA registration. Three are currently running and more will be coming in the next few weeks. Take a look at www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL164ECDDF4141DFE1

Finally, registration and housing are now open, so you want to get in there and register early! (www.uua.org/ga) Rates do go up on May 1. In addition, financial aid is available from the UUA and the OMD. To learn about different financial aid options from the UUA visit the GA Financial Aid webpage. To learn what the OMD is offering, please check out our Phoenix Witness Scholarship Program.

Phoenix will be your chance to be part of UU history. Will you be there?

Beth C

 

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Resources and New Programs!

I am now freshly back from General Assembly (and vacation) with a ton of resources to share and get organized. Unfortunately, since I am heading out the end of this week for UULTI (UU Leadership Team Institute) and to help with SI (Summer Institute) registration before getting back into the office to stay, it will be the end of July before you see any of them on our website.

But for those of you who want to get a head start, here are some links to help you find them elsewhere.

UUA GA 2011 LogoFirst off, most of the General Assembly big events (worship, plenary, Ware Lecture) were streamed as live video and now are on the UUA website as video you can view. In addition, some workshops have submitted handouts for posting to the website. You can find all of this at the GA page of the UUA website. Those who attended GA this year are able to access audio files of all of the workshops, plenaries and more for free. Information about how to access those files will be emailed to you when the files are ready for download. We’ve heard they will be ready by July 11th. Those who did not attend can purchase audio files of workshops they are interested in from the audio company. Details about this are available at the audio website.

Secondly, there are two new programs that the UUA has unveiled that congregations might want to get involved in.

  • FORTH: A Stewardship Development Program has been launched after four years of input from hundreds of congregational leaders. FORTH has been created because we know that some of the healthiest faith communities focus more on stewardship than fundraising. As noted in chapter one of Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship fundraising emphasizes the need of the recipient; stewardship addresses people’s spiritual need to give. Take a look at FORTH on the UUA website. Start by watching the 8-minute introductory video and decide if you would like more information about how your congregation can adapt this year-round program to fit the unique needs of your congregation. You may also want to look some other new FORTH resources.
  • Gathered Here is a joint initiative of the UUA Board of Trustees and the UUA Administration. It is an invitation to all Unitarian Universalists (UUs) to discover our common aspirations and unleash the power of our faith through one-on-one, small group, and larger group conversations that will take place over a 16-month period (July 2011 to October 2012). Learn more at http://www.uua.org/aboutus/governance/vision/index.shtml
And on the district front, we are in the midst of streamlining our district library right now. We have a number of books that are now available free to a good home. Check out the list and see if any of the books are ones that might be a good resource for you or some one or group in your congregation. Requests will be honored on a first-come, first-serve basis and you’ll need to make arrangements to get the books to you (Leadership Day would be a good time for someone in your congregation to pick them up).
Finally, the fall calendar is already filling up! Registration is not yet ready for most of these events but details will be posted to the district website and registration will be opened soon. So please check our calendar frequently for updates and start making plans for these OMD events:
  • OMD All Ages Intergenerational Conference, September 16-17, 2011, First UU Church of Columbus, OH
  • Building A New Way – OMD Leadership Day, Saturday, September 24, 2011 at First UU Church of Youngstown, OH
  • Catalyst Training (anti-racism, anti-oppression, multi-cultural trianing), October 14-15, 2011 at First UU Church of Columbus, OH
In addition, the Central East Regional Group’s Calendar is filling with Our Whole Lives Trainings, Social Justice Trainings and other events. Check them out at www.cerguua.org
In faith,
Beth Casebolt
OMD District Administrator
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Summertime!

It’s that time of the year again. Schools are letting out, graduation ceremonies are occurring, RE services are happening to celebrate the end of the year. Summer is almost upon us – and the weather has been showing us that with 90+ temperatures this week. Everyone seems to be moving into summer mode.

Summer mode means, for many of our congregations, a change in the type of services offered and even a change in time schedules. RE programs go into a different style of programming if they happen at all. Youth groups tend not to meet. Committees take a break. Members spend their Sundays elsewhere. Everyone wants some time to rest, relax and recharge their batteries. They’ve worked hard throughout the church year and deserve a break. And that’s fine. But we need to be ready for fall.

Before everyone takes off for the summer, I have one request to help the district be ready for fall. Please be sure to submit your district directory update. We need to know who your officers, staff, committee chairs and so forth are for the coming year. While everyone is off on summer break, I will be taking that information and crafting it into our annual district directory. Don’t let your congregation’s information be incomplete or outdated. Please visit the OMD’s directory page at http://www.ohiomeadville.org/news/directory.html for all the details.

Secondly, be certain to keep an eye on the district calendar. We already have fall events on the schedule including Leadership Day on Sept. 24 and a Catalyst Training (AOARMC) on October 15-16. Details will be coming out shortly on these and more events, so keep an eye out. Miss the emails? Check the website for details at www.ohiomeadville.org.

And while I hope you enjoy your summer break, please plan to come back in August. Many people start church shopping in August so they can choose a congregation by the start of the school year. Don’t miss out on these visitors. Be sure your congregation is prepared to welcome them!

As I’ve said before a big part of my summer is attending GA, so I hope to see many of you there later this month. I know I will see lots of you as you check in at SI – I’ll be at the registrar’s table once again. Have a safe and relaxing summer and come back rested and relaxed for a new church year.

See you around this summer!
Beth Casebolt
District Administrator and CERG Communications Consultant

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Family Time = UU Time

I associate UU time with Family time. Each year since 1999 our family has gotten out the map and figured all the different routes to GA and then planned a family vacation around our attending the national meeting. We’ve camped across the country, driven the transCanadian highway, visited more states than I can count and found interesting off-the-beaten-path museums and restaurants. And in the middle of each trip we’ve spent time with other UUs worshiping, networking and learning. For my family it was a way to spend quality time together and deepen our faith. This year will likely be our last big family trip as we go to Charlotte, and I will miss that time together.

Unitarian Universalism offers many opportunities for families who want to spend quality time together in a UU atmosphere. You don’t have to create your own trip across the country and attend GA. You can attend one of our many camps or conferences around the country and get the same thing. In this district, we have Summer Institute. SI, as it is affectionately called, will meet this year on the Kenyon College campus in Gambier, OH July 10-16. Brochures are now available online and registration will open soon. You can check it out at www.omdsi.org.

Not available that week or want to try something a little further away? There are several similar camps around the country -Midwest Summer Assembly will be July 3-9 at YMCA Trout Lodge & Camp Lakewood near St. Louis, MO. UUMAC will be at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA July 17-23. The same week you can attend SUUSI in Blacksburg, Virginia.  A little further west, SWUUSI takes places in Wagoner, OK July 24-29. Plus there are the all summer camps, with programming for all ages including family camp weeks at Ferry Beach, Star Island, Murray Grove, Unirondack and The Mountain. Check out their websites for details and dates. This article titled “Congregations Benefit from Camp Experience” by UU World will help you learn more and provide links to additional sites.

However your family decides to spend your summer, I hope you have fun, learn a lot and deepen your faith together.

Beth Casebolt

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Are You Ready to Celebrate 50 Years?

Since I’m in the midst of the final preparations of our annual District Assembly right now, I don’t pay attention to a UUA GA 2011 Logowhole lot going on in the UU world during this month. But, there is one thing I do pay attention to in March – General Assembly. Seems like a really weird thing to think about in March – an event that happens in late June, but there are reasons for thinking about this now.

  1. Housing registration opened March 1 and the best and usually the least expensive rooms go pretty quick.
  2. Scholarship and volunteer applications are due by March 31, so if you want to attend but need financial assistance, you need to act before the end of March. Visit http://www.uua.org/ga/registration/financialaid/index.shtml for details on volunteering and scholarships.
  3. There are special scholarships just for youth and young adults with a deadline of April 20. The information is on the Youth and Young Adult Caucus Page.
  4. If your congregation is going to do fundraising to support those going to GA on your behalf, you are running out of time. The UUA has some suggestions at their fundraising page.
  5. Registration rates go up May 2, so to keep your costs low, you need to register within the next 6 weeks.
  6. Doing GA on a budget usually requires finding a roommate, finding lower cost transportation to and from the host site and so forth. You need to start now to work that out and find all those great deals.

Are you asking why should I both to try to attend this year’s General Assembly? It’s fairly close to home – Charlotte, NC. And it will be filled with some great extra experiences with the 50th anniversary of the UUA. The Ware Lecturer is Karen Armstrong and UU Musician Nick Page will be leading “New Epiphany Revival Show”. Add in the usual workshops, networking, meetings and more and it’s 5 days of an action packed, rapid fire, UU overdose.

Can’t be in Charlotte on June 22-26? Then watch GA online. You can even participate as an off-site delegate.  Learn more about the off-site program at the UUA website.

Want to learn more about GA? Read the GA Blog, visit the GA website, subscribe to the GA Email List or check out the new GA mobile event guide.

Hope to see you in Charlotte!
Beth Casebolt
District Administrator

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Gathering the Spirit

I flew back from Minneapolis this past Monday (and boy are my arms tired) after attending the 2010 UUA General Assembly.  More than 3500 of my closest UU friends joined me for a week of workshops, worship, celebration, justice, and love.

As we stood in plenary hall singing Jim Scott’s stirring hymn, Gather the Spirit, I thought of the Unitarian Universalists in my home congregation and in the congregations around our district who were not in attendance on this day…and I thought about how wonderful it would be if more of us were together to share this experience.

Gather the spirit, harvest the power!
Our separate fires will kindle one flame.
Witness the mystery of this hour!
Our trials in this light appear all the same.

One of the clear lessons I have learned in this work is that congregations are not alone…even though many feel they are.  We all share the same hopes and dreams and we all struggle with the same fears and challenges.  At General Assembly, Unitarian Universalists come to understand that our strength is in numbers; that we have more in common than what divides us; and that our faith is a strong and good one.

Gather the spirit of heart and mind!
Seeds for the sowing are laid in store,
Nurtured in love, and conscience refined,
With body and spirit united once more.

General Assembly provides us with an opportunity to renew our faith.  It is impossible to stand in a hall with thousands of other like minded and caring people and not feel moved by the songs, by the sermons, by the stories of faith and courage and healing.  General Assembly is rejuvenating.

Gather the spirit growing in all,
Drawn by the moon and fed by the sun,
Winter to spring, and summer to fall,
The chorus of life resounding as one!

Attending General Assembly helps to remind us why we are Unitarian Universalists.  It affirms our commitment to this wonderful religion.  For those who were there in Minneapolis, I hope the spirit of our time together stays with you all year long.  For those who weren’t there, come to Charlotte next summer where the 50th anniversary of General Assembly will take place.  It will renew your spirit, grow your faith and leave you feeling, along with thousands of others, as one.

With respect,

Mark Bernstein

Regional Growth Development Consultant -Central East Region of the UUA

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So What Happened at GA?

General Assembly is now over until we meet in Charlotte, NC next year. Much happened at GA this year and if you were not able to attend, I strongly encourage you to visit the UUA’s GA website and find out what happened. You can watch video of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Service of the Living Tradition, Ware Lecture with Winnoa LaDuke, and all the plenaries. You can also view a selection of the workshops presented on Thursday and Friday. You can find this information at http://www.uua.org/events/generalassembly/2010/index.shtml

I will very quickly tell you that the following actions occurred and you can find details and final language at the UUA website:

  • The Statement of Conscience on Peacemaking was passed
  • The Study Action Issue on Immigration Reform was selected for study for the next 4 years by our congregations.
  • Three Actions of Immediate Witness were approved on a response to SB1070 in Arizona, Gulf Coast Environmental and Economic Justice and Clean Up the Clean Energy Bill.
  • The GA mini-assembly crafted a compromise on the Arizona position. We will be in Phoenix in 2012 for a Justice General Assembly with minimal business to be conducted and the focus to be learning and working with our partners.
  • The election process of the president and the moderator were changed and their terms where changed to one 6 year term instead of two 4 year terms.

UU World blogged about the happenings of GA as well as uploading a number of photos. You can read the headlines, the GA blog and view the photos at their website. You can find other GA blogs to read the GA website blog page.

You will be hearing more about what happened at GA and we’ll be providing you with more information over the next few months.

Beth C

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Updates on GA News

Last week we posted links to various groups and UU World articles about the debate on whether or not to move the 2012 General Assembly out of Phoenix, AZ. Since that blog was written, DRUUMM has changed it’s position. To read about this change, please view the UU World coverage at http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/167177.shtml

To review what we posted last week, please read the blog below.

Beth C

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Important GA Information about GA 2012

This week we want to talk about an important issue that will be brought before the delegates at General Assembly this year.

After Arizona passed SB 1070, the UUA Board of Trustees voted to ask the delegates at General Assembly to approve moving the 2012 GA out of Phoenix, AZ (referred to as the Phoenix boycott). One consequence of this move will be a loss of around $612,000. The original article on the UU World website can be read at http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/162796.shtml

Since then, ARE (Allies for Racial Equality), DRUUMM (Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries), A/PIC (Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus of DRUUMM) and LUUNA (Latino/a UU Network Association have come out in support of the boycott. The Arizona/New Mexico Cluster of Religious Professionals have requested that delegates vote against the boycott and asked instead that the UUA use this opportunity to Stand on the Side of Love. You can read the details of this debate through the UU World coverage at http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/165916.shtml

Yesterday, Rev. Peter Morales, President of the UUA, issued a statement voicing his preference that we not approve the boycott and endorsing the idea of using this as an opportunity to Stand on the Side of Love and work with those who are working for change in the state. You can read his statement at http://www.uua.org/news/newssubmissions/166693.shtml.  The UUA has been invited by several groups that work with immigrants to partner with them in Phoenix and learn more about their work if we choose to meet in Arizona.

The UUMA executive committee met this past week and heard arguments on both sides of the debate. They have decided they will not take a vote one way or another on the boycott proposal. At their meeting, they passed a referendum which stated: “that the UUMA condemns passage of SB1070 in Arizona and urges its members to work for repeal of the law, to resist passage of similar laws in other states, and to advocate for a new federal immigration bill that will respect the dignity and rights of all and will provide a fair, safe avenue to documented status for law abiding immigrants.”

Both sides of the debate have legitimate arguments in their favor. This will be a long and hard debate for the delegates at GA. We hope that our congregations will take this opportunity to discuss this issue so that your delegates will arrive in Minneapolis knowing the feelings and preferences of their home congregation and so all will be educated about the issue. If you have questions or need assistance finding the resources, please let us know.

Beth C

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