Metro NY Minute – May 2013
News from the District
The Fall 2012 Chalice Lighters Call is for Original Blessing, a new UU congregation being planted in Brooklyn NY, the first new congregation to be started in the District in nearly 20 years. The Rev. Ian White Maher is the congregation’s minister. For more information about Original Blessing, visit the Facebook page.
Help send youth and young adults to General Assembly 2013 or the Living Legacy Pilgrimage. Congregations and individuals are asked to contribute to the Phoenix Witness Project scholarship fund via special offering plate collections and online through Paypal. Checks can be made out to UUDMNY with “Phoenix Witness Project” in the memo line, and mailed to Ira Lerner, Phoenix Witness Project, 1507 Windmill Lane, Breinigsville PA 18031. To apply for a scholarship, click here. For a flyer to post, click here .
Registration is now open for UU Leadership Team Institute (UULTI) on Hudson August 14-18 at Stony Point Center, Stony Point NY, and UU Leadership Institute by the Lake July 31-August 4 at Dame Retreat Center, Canandaigua NY. UULTI is a multi-day residential learning experience that seeks to renew and deepen one’s understanding of the call to leadership and to equip individuals and congregational teams with practical tools and powerful ideas that can transform their congregation.
A variety of opportunities are available for virtual participation in General Assembly 2013, including off-site delegate participation and registration, online discussions during General Assembly, watching General Assembly online, and showing a General Assembly Video at an event.
Murray Grove Retreat and Renewal Center offers a variety of programs for late spring and summer 2013, including The Dreaming Mind and Our Collective Journey Toward Wholeness May 31-June 2, 2013 (for a flyer, click here ), Heritage Week July 7-11, 2013 (for a flyer, click here , for a registration brochure, click here ), Drum and Dance Fest July 19-21, 2013 (for a flyer, click here ), and Camping in the Grove August 4-8, 2013 (for a flyer, click here ). Read more . Gift certificates for these programs are available by contacting Murray Grove at 609-693-5558 or email@example.com.
The UU Small Group Ministry Network will hold the UU Small Group Ministry Institute on July 22-26 at Murray Grove Retreat and Renewal Center in Lanoka Harbor NJ. Participants will learn about and practice Small Group Ministry through hands-on workshops, presentations, daily group sessions, worship, and networking; explore the impact of Small Group Ministry Groups in congregations; build facilitator skills, including problem resolution; create and select effective sessions, including the use of art, music, and movement; hone their capacity to build Small Group Ministry for specific audiences and congregational sizes; and take home a plan for Small Group Ministry Groups specific to their setting. For a detailed flyer, click here . To register, click here.
More Good Stuff to Check Out!
Worship Service Providers available to District congregations
RE-Sources for religious education leaders
CERG Resources by Topic for congregation leaders
CERG On-Demand Webinars for congregation leaders
Job Opportunities around the District
InterConnections for lay leaders
Congregational Bulletin, UUA monthly email
uuworld.org, the UUA online magazine
UU Service Committee news
Small Talk newsletter for UU congregation
Mia Morse, member of the Unitarian Church in Summit (NJ), was elected District President at the 2013 District Annual Meeting May 3-4 in Morristown NJ, succeeding Ted Fetter, member of the UU Congregation of Princeton (NJ). Elected as trustees at large of the District board were George Collins, member of the Unitarian Church of All Souls (Manhattan), Athena Drewes, member of the UU Congregation at Rock Tavern (NY), the Rev. Kathleen Green, Minister at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood (NJ), Ryan Novosielski, member of the Fourth Unitarian Society (Manhattan), and Jennifer Stevens, member of the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn (NY). Elected as members of the Nominating Committee were Bonnie Mykel, member of the UU Congregation of Central Nassau (Garden City NY), and Jennifer Sappell, member of the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn (NY). Read more about those elected. Immediately following the Annual Meeting, the District board met to appoint the Rev. Jude Geiger, Minister of Religious Education at the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn (NY), as trustee at large to complete the term of Mia Morse who resigned her position on the board in order to accept the role of president.
Nine 2013 District Awards and four 2013 District Scholarships were presented at the 2013 District Annual Meeting. Congratulations to all!
Award for Excellence in Religious Education: Chris Buja, Director of Lifespan Faith Development at the UU Congregation of Somerset Hills (Somerville NJ)
Jai Berg Young Adult Leadership Award: Jai Berg
Jerry Davidoff Award for Lifetime Achievement: The Rev. Don McKinney, Minister Emeritus at the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn (NY)
June Z. Gillespie Award: The Rev. Hope Johnson, Minister at the UU Congregation of Central Nassau (Garden City NY)
Mendon W. Smith Award: First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn (NY)
O. Eugene Pickett Award: UU Fellowship at Stony Brook (NY)
Unsung Unitarian Universalist Award: John Murray, member of the First Unitarian Society of Westchester (Hastings-on-Hudson NY)
Winifred Latimer Norman Award: The Rev. Susan Karlson, Minister at the Unitarian Church of Staten Island (NY)
Youth Empowerment Award: The Rev. Emilie Boggis, Assistant Minister for Youth at the Unitarian Church in Summit (NY)
Scholarships: Robin Cornell, UU Congregation of Rockland (Pomona NY); Kelly Johnson-Sally, UU Fellowship at Stony Brook (NY); Adam Ludwigsen, UU Congregation of Somerset Hills (Somerville NJ); Zaivy Luke-Aleman, First Unitarian Society of Westchester (Hastings-on-Hudson NY)
Delegates to the 2013 District Annual Meeting approved revisions to the District bylaws. For a summary of the approved revisions, click here . For the now current bylaws, click here . Delegates also approved a resolution supporting marriage equality. In support of the resolution, a march and rally to the Morristown Green was held May 3. Speakers included the Rev. Alison Miller, Minister at the Morristown (NJ) Unitarian Fellowship, Gordon Sauer of the Gay Activist Alliance in Morris County, Michael Maher, Field Manager of Garden State Equality, and Annette Marquis, UUA LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager and keynote speaker at the Annual Meeting. Olympia’s Daughters provided musical entertainment. Watch a YouTube video of the rally.
Annette Marquis, UUA LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager, delivered the keynote address at the 2013 District Annual Meeting. Her talk, titled The Journey Toward Inclusion is available on YouTube in three parts. For part 1, click here. For part 2, click here. For part 3, click here. Also available is the 2013 District Annual Meeting photo gallery.
As a follow up to his workshop, A People of a Powerful Faith, at the 2013 District Annual Meeting, District Growth and Vitality Consultant Chris Buja asks, “Have you or your congregation gotten stuck in a mission covenant writing process? Maybe the issue is distinguishing between what is "mission" and what is "ministry." Read more .
Central East Regional Group (CERG) scheduled webinars offered this spring include: Youth Ministry 102 Series: Curricula and Structured Learning, May 15; Articulating Your Faith, May 16; Ministry to Families: Supporting Families in Good Times and in Bad, May 16; On Being the Non-Anxious Leader: The Power of Emotional Intelligence, May 16; Managing Anxiety in the Church System, June 13; Planning Rites of Passage, June 17. For more information about scheduled CERG webinars, click here. New on-demand webinars include Mission in Action, Introduction to Generational Theory, and Grow Your Congregation with Hospitality Teams. For information about on-demand CERG webinars, click here.
News from the UUA
The Rev. Peter Morales, UUA President, is featured in a CBS documentary, Religion & Spirituality in a Changing Society, exploring the dramatic changes in Americans' religious behavior and what Unitarian Universalism offers the growing population of individuals who have no religious affiliation. Watch the documentary.
The UUA Board of Trustees and the administration agreed at the board’s April meeting to hire a consultant to help resolve long-standing tensions over monitoring reports that the administration is required to submit under policy governance. The board proposed that $100,000 be added to the fiscal year 2014 budget to hire a consultant to work with the board and the administration on connecting the administration’s strategy with the budget and UUA’s ends. Read more. For a summary of the board’s meeting by Tom Loughrey, Secretary, click here.
Membership in UU Congregations is flat in 2013. The UUA reported 160,100 congregation members and 1,048 congregations in 2013, a decline of 1,407 members and six congregations from last year. But almost all of that drop in membership took place in one congregation: the UU Church of the Philippines. If that church’s data are excluded, 2013 shows a statistically insignificant decline of 181 members, or 0.1%. The UU Church of the Philippines, which posted a drop from 2,235 to 1,014 members this year, is an anomaly in the UUA because it is the only national church body directly affiliated with the UUA. The church consists of 29 local congregations, and it changed its membership reporting rules this year to include only Filipinos who contributed at least 25 pesos a year. Read more.
The Office of Church Staff Finances (OCSF) has completed a review of the Geo Index listings and Salary Guidelines. Updated information, effective on July 1, 2013, is available now. The OCFS urges you to review information now regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will be implemented by January 2014. Employers, including congregations, must learn about the ACA and make decisions regarding benefits and health insurance. To subscribe to ACA alerts from the OCSF, email Insurance Plans Coordinator Patti Angelina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The. Rev. Harlan Limpert (pictured) will become the Chief Operating Officer of the UUA on July 1, the first time the UUA has given a senior executive the title of COO. The new position will replace the office of the Executive Vice President, which Kay Montgomery has held since 1985. After Montgomery announced in February that she would be retiring in June, UUA President the Rev. Peter Morales hired an outside organizational consultant to review the structure of UUA staffing and to make recommendations to him. As COO, Limpert will report directly to the President. There will no longer be an Executive Vice President. Two executives reporting to Limpert will round out the top staff: Tim Brennan, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, and the Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley, who will lead the Office of Program and Strategy. Read more.
The UUA’s Bridge Connections Program helps keep youth who are transitioning ("bridging") into young adulthood connected to UU faith communities and campus groups when they go off to college, get their own apartment, or start a new job. Each spring, the UUA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries sends to every certified congregation brochures/cards with a link to the online Bridge Connections Form. Bridging youth have the opportunity to provide the contact information of their new location on this form. In the fall, the UUA notifies local congregations and campus ministries of those recently bridged young adults moving to the area, so that they may welcome them and notify them of services and programs in that area.
If your congregation is starting, growing, or revamping its planned giving program, the UUA can help. Click here to find customizable resources that will help you promote your program and build awareness about planned giving for your members. The UUA's Legacy Gifts Office also offers free workshops on planned giving, providing guidance and support for congregational leaders working to make their planned giving program as strong as it can be. Email email@example.com to discuss the possibilities.
The Rev. Peter Morales, UUA president, issued a statement on May 3 applauding the legalization of same-sex marriage in Rhode Island: "Today, we celebrate marriage equality in Rhode Island. I want to thank and applaud all who worked tirelessly to secure this victory.” Read more. He also issued a statement on May 8 applauding the legalization of same-sex marriage in Delaware: “Yesterday, the governor of Delaware signed the marriage equality bill that made Delaware the 11th state to ensure equal rights for its citizens. I applaud the great efforts of all who helped secure this victory.” Read more.
Delegates at the Central Midwest District annual meeting voted on April 27 to give up their district structure and become the MidAmerica Region along with the Prairie Star and Heartland districts. Delegates in the Prairie Star and Heartland districts had voted in April in favor of regionalization. At all three meetings, the votes were overwhelmingly in favor. One final approval is needed: Delegates at General Assembly in June must approve the creation of the region. No major opposition is expected. Read more.
Over 200 UU young adults who care about climate justice have come together from all over the United States and Canada to form a network. The members connect the UU faith to the work for justice for the web of all existence. The focus for the group is on creating ethical living systems -- inter-generationally, internationally, among communities, among species, among ecosystems, and with Earth. To join the network, visit the UU Young Adults for Climate Justice Facebook page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. UU Young Adults for Climate Justice is funded by donations from members of the UU Ministry for Earth and by grants from the Fund for Unitarian Universalism and the Cedar Tree Foundation. Continued support is needed. To make a donation, click here.
The UUA Retirement Plan Committee (RPC) is proposing changes to the UUA Retirement Plan. All congregations and other participating employers soon will receive an invitation to provide feedback on the proposed changes. The RPC will finalize the new plan and submit it to the UUA Board for its consideration. Once the UUA Board approves the new plan, participating employers must adopt the new plan and file a new participation agreement by December 31, 2013, if they wish to remain in the UUA Plan. To review the proposed changes, click here.
News from Congregations
Milestones and Transitions
The Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson and Dr. Janice Marie Johnson and will graduate on May 18 at 10:00 am at Riverside Church in Manhattan with Doctorates of Ministry in Multi-Faith Ministries from the New York Theological Seminary.
The Rev. Kathleen Green, Minister at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood (NJ), organized a gathering of interfaith religious leaders from Ridgewood NJ and Newtown CT on April 25. Ridgewood's leaders traveled to Newtown to host a luncheon in honor and support of the religious leaders in Newtown and Sandy Hook who are ministering not only to their own congregants but to all residents who were impacted by the tragic school shooting that took place in December 2012. Said the Rev. Green, “The diversity of faith traditions that afternoon was inspiring: AME Zion, Episcopal, Jewish, Christian Reformed, Baptist, Baha'i, Lutheran, Catholic, Muslim, Quaker, Presbyterian, Hindu, United Methodist, and Unitarian Universalist.”
The First Unitarian Society of Plainfield (NJ) (FUSP) joined forces with the Plainfield United Church of Christ and the Rahway Plainfield Society of Friends to pass a resolution urging legalization of same sex marriages in New Jersey. The four-paragraph resolution says the three churches, as institutions that "affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all people," have an imperative to call "for the rights of all people to love those whom they love, with full rights to marry and enjoy the benefits of life-time commitment to their loved ones without restriction." John Hawkins proposed the resolution to the FUSP welcoming committee last year. It was then brought to the 180-member congregation for a vote and approved unanimously. "We just felt that as a religious community that valued the inherent dignity of every person that we owed it to speak out," said Hawkins. Read more.
The UU Congregation of Queens (Flushing NY) hosted on April 20 guest speaker Fatoumata Gassama, a Senegalese woman who faces deportation to Senegal and is applying for political asylum in the U.S. If she is deported to Senegal with her children, the daughters will be subjected to female genital mutilation (FMG), a painful, life-threatening procedure. To improve her chances of gaining asylum, she needs to demonstrate that she is an activist working to oppose FGM and foster awareness of the issue. Her talk was followed by a showing of a film Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter, a documentary about another African woman in a similar situation.
The Fourth Unitarian Society of Westchester (Mohegan Lake NY) held two Death Cafes on April 17. Death Cafes, a growing movement in the U.S., provide a space for people to talk about death related topics of their choice. The Society’s Interim Minister and Hospice Chaplain, Pastor Jef Gamblée, and Funeral Director Michelle Carter facilitated the two events. Two more Death Cafes will be held on May 28 at 12:00 pm and 6:30 pm. All are welcome. Along with a brown bag meal, attendees are invited to bring a dessert to share. For more information on the Death Cafe movement, click here. Pastor Jef can be reached at 917-370-9711.
The Music Ministry of the UU Congregation of Princeton (NJ) held two shows of the musical "Aladdin and his Wonderful Magical Lamp" on April 28. Written by congregation member Pam Hughes, this musical has been produced hundreds of times before, but this was its Princeton debut. Fun and energetic, with wonderful music, great costumes and sets, and good humor, Aladdin tells the story of the young scamp Aladdin and the beautiful Princess Jasmine. Twenty or more congregation members from the ages of 6 to 80 joined in the cast, including Princeton’s minister, the Rev. Bill Neely, in a special comic role, with more in the crew that helped make the event a success for all. The congregation’s Music Director, Marjorie Herman, producer of the show, said "The benefits of having an intergenerational effort are profound and too many to count."
Carol Huckabee, member of the UU Congregation at Danbury (CT) (UUCD), writes at newstimes.com about how Unitarian Universalism inspires her to help those in need. “Each Sunday we have a food offering at UUCD and . . . this food is later brought to the Association of Religious Communities to be appropriately packaged and distributed to our neighbors in need . . . As UUs we are challenged in our religious work to reach out to all sorts and conditions of people, to be open to the individual character of all human religious experience. We believe every human being is holy.” Read more.
Members of the UU Fellowship of Northern Westchester (Mount Kisco NY) and the Fourth Unitarian Society of Westchester (Mohegan Lake NY) joined forces and repaired a home in Yorktown Heights on May 4 as part of the HomeFront Program. Led by Leslie Heffernan, Paul Fargis, and Patricia Compton, volunteers pulled together to clean up the yard, power wash, install a stove, repair plumbing, build a door, replace railings, and paint. HomeFront fields volunteer teams across Connecticut and New York to repair homes of those in need.
Other Noteworthy Items
The Living Legacy Project is sponsoring the 2013 Living Legacy Pilgrimage to civil rights sites in Alabama and Mississippi from September 21-28. The Pilgrimage provides an opportunity for UUs and friends to discover the history, courage, and commitment of the struggle for civil rights in this country. Along with visiting historic sites, participants will meet with civil rights movement veterans. Participants will explore what today's racism, white privilege, and barriers to equality look like in the Southern towns they visit, and in their own hometowns. Early bird registration runs through June 30. Pilgrimage leaders will be the Rev. Hope Johnson (pictured), Minister at the UU Congregation of Central Nassau (Garden City NY), Janice Marie Johnson, Judy Gibson, Reggie Harris, and Annette Marquis.
Murray Grove Retreat and Renewal Center invites volunteers to help improve the facilities and grounds on May 18 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Afterwards, volunteers can relax and enjoy the peaceful serenity of Murray Grove, and/or explore our local attractions: parks, ocean, live bluegrass music, canoe/kayak, Popcorn Park Zoo, Historic Tuckerton Seaport, and more. Volunteers are welcome to use the kitchen for meals and stay overnight Saturday without charge. To volunteer, call 609-693-5558 or email email@example.com by May 15.
The New York State Convention of Universalists will hold its annual meeting on October 25-26 at St. Paul's Universalist Church in Little Falls NY. The keynote speaker is Christine Hart, Policy Associate, Policy and Government Affairs at Women Thrive Worldwide. All UUs are invited to attend.
Upcoming Meetings and Workshops
Long Island Leadership Institute Session 6: June 1, UU Society of South Suffolk, Bay Shore NY. For more information, contact Chris Morris.
UU Leadership Team Institute by the Lake: July 31-August 4, Notre Dame Retreat Center, Canandaigua NY. For complete information, click here.
Goldmine Youth Leadership School West: July 31-August 3, Notre Dame Retreat Center, Canandaigua NY. For complete information, click here.
UU Leadership Team Institute on Hudson: August 14-18, Stony Point Center, Stony Point NY. For complete information, click here.
Goldmine Youth Leadership School East: August 20-24, Stony Point Center, Stony Point NY. For complete information, click here.
Ministry with Youth Renaissance Module: August 20-24, Stony Point Center, Stony Point NY. More information to come.