Registration for District Assembly 2016, on April 2, 2016 at the UU Church of Akron is now open for registration. Keynote speaker is Rev. Susan Ritchie. For details on the day and all forms please visit the District Assembly pages of the website.
This year's General Assembly on June 22-26, 2016 will be held at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, OH. Workshop Proposals are now being accepted htrough November 2 at 3 pm.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption is the UUA’s 2015-16 Common Read. Author Bryan Stevenson advocates for those trapped by the U.S. criminal justice system - poor people, people of color, children, and women. The book speaks to justice, mercy, and compassion, timeless and important concerns of people of faith. Begin reading now; a discussion guide will be ready in October. http://www.uua.org/re/adults/read
Rev. Scott Tayler and Rev. Joan VanBecelaere are very please to announce the addition of three new staff to the Central East Region Congregational Life Team as well as several other additions to other regions. Raziq Brown, Rev. Megan Foley and Rev. Hope Johnson will join the team this fall.
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.
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.
Did you know that the UUA Bookstore has discounts and other ways to assist congregations have great booksales?
Assessing Sexual Health: An Online Guide for Unitarian Universalist Association Congregations
Is your congregation sexually healthy and responsible? Rev. Debra W. Haffner, President of Religious Institute, Inc. and an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, has created an assessment guide for congregations on their sexual health policies and procedures. Designed for clergy and lay leaders, the guide consists of 9 check lists known as building blocks. A church could use all or part of the building blocks depending on their size and capabilities and where they are in the Safe Congregation Process.
A new "Congregations and Beyond Discussion Guide" has just been published at http://www.uua.org/documents/congservices/beyond/discussion_guide.pdf
It gives a framework for congregations to discuss the UUA's set of initiatives, new technologies and congregational stories of new methods of reaching out to spiritual seekers. Please join the conversations on Facebook on the page "Unitarian Universalists Exploring Congregations and Beyond" and post your thoughts!