Sometimes a challenge can offer an opportunity to try something new.
In the Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence Districts of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the sudden illness and extended medical leave of St. Lawrence Congregational Life Consultant, the Rev. Chris Neilson, resulted in an all-hands-on-deck response from the district boards and from district, regional and national UUA staff.
The governing boards of the four districts that make up the Central East Regional Group have been in discussion about moving to a "Primary Contact" model where each congregation has a "go-to" person. The Primary Contact partners with the congregations’ leaders to connect them to helpful resources within the UUA (and beyond) and to strengthen relationships within clusters. The model provides an improved Primary Contact staff-to-congregation ratio in OMD and SLD (1 to 25-30 congregations). Staff will also continue to offer depth with their own portfolio "specialties" for the four districts in the region and connect congregations to specialists as needed.
The Rev. Joan VanBecelaere (lead of the Central East Regional Group) and the Rev. Scott Tayler (director of Congregational Life for the UUA) saw the challenge of the medical leave as an opportunity to pilot this primary contact program. They devised a plan to redeploy existing staff from the districts and region for the duration of the medical leave.
The geographic boundaries of our districts are shifting. New ways of district and regional collaborating are being explored. The District Administrators in St. Lawrence and Ohio-Meadville, Sue Tabone and Beth Casebolt, have been working together on our joint District Assembly preparation for the last two years. Karen LoBracco, Program Consultant for Lifespan Faith Development, has been jointly employed with both districts to assist all 79 congregations. St. Lawrence district's Congregational Life Consultant, Rev. Chris Neilson, also serves the four districts in our region, the Central East Regional Group (CERG), as Stewardship Consultant. And Rev. Joan Van Becelaere serves CERG as Regional Lead and Congregational Life Consultant in Ohio-Meadville.
From the Rev. Susan Karlson, CERG Disaster Response Coordinator
As the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaches on October 29th, many of us yearn for some way to commemorate what a difficult year this has been for many suffering after Hurricane Sandy hit our shores. Here are some worship resources I compiled with permission from each author to post them on the Central East Regional Group (CERG) Sandy Recovery facebook page and on the CERG website. Here is a link to those materials ( https://www.facebook.com/CergUUSandyRelief/posts/607184235993847) or you can go directly to https://www.facebook.com/CergUUSandyRelief and check out the facebook site for Sandy Recovery information which is updated frequently.
The North UU Congregation in Lewis Center, OH and the North Hills UU Church in Pittsburgh, PA are among the six congregations selected for the Central East Regional Group (CERG) Threshold Congregation program. They join the nine congregations selected last year and the nine congregations selected in 2011. Other OMD Congregations participating in the program include First Unitarian Church, Pittsburgh, PA (2011), UU Church of Akron, OH (2012) and UU Fellowship of Wayne County, Wooster, OH (2012). Read the full article on the CERG website; or learn more about the Threshold program.
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