Friday, December 29, 2006

The interdependent web of all CLONED existence

We know its ALL connected. Everything. We are what we eat. So how does taking meat from cloned animals to market impact our health? What does cloning the best looking produce do to the genetic strength of our food supply?

I have no idea. But neither does the US government. I'm of the mind that it is better for us to know which foods are genetically engineered, cloned, and/or irradiated
. How about we maintain the integrity of our food'gene pool, minimize the gamma radiation bombarding the meat in the US school lunch program. UUJERRI sent me an email with a link to the Center for Food Safety. They seem to have good information and offer a number of "Take Action" email campaigns you can use to let congress know what you think.

Check out the Organic Consumers Association's
2006 Genetic Engineering News.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Church Geek Heaven

To my fellow UU church geeks, I just set up a new bookstore. Check it out and please, recommend titles to me.

As for book recommendations I am particularly interested in titles that are necessarily about church, but make you go AHA! that's what we should do... For me the book PURPLE COW is a great example of this.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Purple Alien "Save the Planet" video stats

For those of you interested in the Purple Alien "Save the Planet"video on, I've been tracking of the stats.

Date - Time Online - # Views
October 14, 2006 - New on
October 16, 2006 - 2 days - 200 views
October 28, 2006 - 2 weeks - 1,500 views
November 1,2006 - 2 1/2 weeks - 2,701 views
December 14, 2006 - 2 months - 5,025 views

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Revolution Church - One Punk Under God

Have you heard about Revolution Church, Jay Bakker's church? I just heard about it on CNN. That's right, son of Jim and Tammy Faye has his own ministry and now TV show - One Punk Under God. It looks very cool. Check out some of these the slogans from their merchandise page:

"Equal Rights is a Moral Issue"
"Jesus Is The Saviour, Not Christianity"
"Religion Kills"

I love that Jay is working to move beyond whatever the church has been (and his parents) and is getting to the heart of Christian teaching. Can we UU's do that? Please pretty please? Oh wait. We don't need anyones permission. All we need is some institutional BS to cut through. Wow! We've got plenty.

I know. Peter, you say it over and over. True. But I'd still love for us to do a better job as UU's figuring out - bottom line - what we are about and go do it. And not only do it, but evaluate and measure our success. If more of our congregations new what they were trying to accomplish and how to evaluate THAT we would see a lot of changes.

What do you measure in your congregation? Anything? People and money? Make sure you keep the ones you got and get'em to give more? What? I'd love to know.

My favorite idea person and marketing guru is Seth Godin. In his book Purple Cow he talks about the importance of being remarkable. Good doesn't cut it these days. Life and time are short. Want to grow? Want to matter? If you aren't worth talking about why should any of us bother?

In the book Creating Community Andy Stanley shares that his church is focused on being a relational church. They KNOW what matters and focus. Specifically there are 3 relationships they focus on:

1) Connection or relationships within the congregation
2) Relationship with God
3) Influence outside the congregation

Maybe those are good things for us to do in our own little UU way. We can go with 1 and 3 as is. First, keep track of relationships - make sure everyones connected, caring for others and being cared for. Second, we help people learn to put their faith in action to help in the larger world and to be one more UU voice in the world. Bill Sinkford's voice isn't enough. As for #3, do you know what your equivalent is? Can you state it 50 words or less? If you can get it down to 50 please tell me. The fact that most can't is a stumbling block for us. The point, the objectives need to be clear.

Back to Revolution. Looking over this Revolution Church website I first felt annoyed that we didn't grab the name. I'd love Revolution to be a UU church. That name does more to communicate our values and ministry than anything I've seen. Even more than that little purple alien preaching the cosmic UU principles with a chipmunk voice.

Second, I started thinking about how close our churches are to what a church would look like if some of our younger ministers and/or members were to go out and start new churches. I've heard about the Church of the Younger Fellowship that CLF has. What would happen if that turned from a cyber church into a cyber church planting boot camp?

Tell me what you'd do if you were going to start your own UU Revolution Church. What would it look like? Contact info & anonymous feedback form here.

Check out Bakker's Revolution Church:

Check out the show:

Rockridge Nation Launches Today

I'm a big fan of the Rockridge Institute. How often do you hear the words "frame" and "framing" used these days? All the time -- thanks to George Lakoff, author of Thinking Points and Don't Think of An Elephant. Today the Rockridge Institute launched its "Rockridge Nation" website/campaing.

You should take a look, get involved, and help frame the debates our nation is having (or should have).


From the Rockridge Press Release:

Rockridge Nation Launches Today
Join the web community of progressives working to frame the debate.
Last week, we promised you that we would soon launch an online community of progressives working together to advance our values and vision more effectively. Now, we are excited to be able to invite you to join Rockridge Nation by going to today and becoming a member.

Rockridge Nation is the people-powered website that we have created in response to your suggestions. We built it with the confidence that progressives who recognize the importance of framing can work together to restore progressive values—rooted in empathy and responsibility—to the center of public life.
If you have ever needed help from other progressives in framing an issue or wanted the Rockridge Institute to become a more timely source of analysis and insights, we have built Rockridge Nation for you. For progressives who believe that citizenship demands more than just voting, Rockridge Nation is your community to stay engaged each day as an active advocate for the progressive vision that we share.
As you offer your questions, stories, and commentary, progressives around the country will be able to lend a hand, give encouragement, and foster a productive dialogue. By working together and learning from each other at Rockridge Nation, progressives will become more effective in defining the issues and expressing our values in compelling ways. The Rockridge Institute team will also be following carefully. While we will sometimes comment on your ideas, pointing out relevant resources or asking questions, we believe that the cooperation of a large, diverse community of progressives who understand framing will yield many effective ways to promote our principles.
I and others at the Rockridge Institute will also participate regularly by writing on the Rockridge Nation blog. The blog will draw attention to the ideas of Rockridge Nation members and help amplify your voices. It will also draw upon news from diverse media sources and blogs to foster dialogue at Rockridge Nation about the framing and values of the issues of the day.
To encourage you to join and share your ideas today, we will offer Charter Member status to the most active participants in the spirit of Rockridge Nation between now and December 31, 2006. Charter Members will be eligible to receive more exposure for their writing and additional opportunities to help shape the future of the Rockridge Nation community. We will provide more details this week in the Rockridge Nation blog, but you can get a head start now. Visit the participate section and start adding your questions, framing stories, and nominations, once you understand the purpose and policies of the site.

Is Lay Ministry at a Dead End?

Those of you sharing my interest in turning our congregations, our ministry and our movement inside out and upside down will probably enjoy the following article by KATHYRN PALEN. This is from a previous issue of the Alban Institute's CONGREGATIONS magazine.

Yes, it is true. If UU navel gaze long enough UU and your congregation can accidentlly turn outside in and downside up. Is that why the primary cartoon featured in the UU World is mont after month of character all twisted and inverted? Ahaa!!

A Ministry of All

The headline read “Lay Ministry Is at a Dead End.” I took a deep breath before reading the accompanying article. This was not how I had expected to begin my participation at a national convocation of people working in the area of lay ministry. I had arrived at the event excited about spending a weekend with others who shared an interest ....

Continue reading at

More info about
Alban Institute

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Fountain of UUth?

Are you following Fountain Street's growth and development? If not, you should. Just take a look at their "Century Vision" document. It includes some very clear statements about what liberal religion is about AND a real action plan.

I LOVE THIS because they are aspiring to be a beacon for their exisitng members, not just for their immediate community -- they're in it for the world. That's right. Life change and liberal religion for all who want it.

- Liberal Religion is about spiritual liberation.
- Freeing people to be truly alive is the mission of liberal religion.
- A liberal church exists to make this happen. It does so in three ways.
1. by proclaiming the liberating vision
2. by helping people pursue a life of spiritual liberation throughout life, and
3. by living that life, personally and as a community, in the wider community.

One aspect of their plan is to develop resources other churches can use. WHen this happens I have little doubt that the very UU-like vision of their church and their ministry will spread.

I'm very interested to see what happens with this. Will Fountain Street become a national player like Willow Creek and Saddle Back? I hope so. I hope your church will too. Do you have a plan?

Where will people go to find a liberal religious home over the next 20 -100 years? The UUA member congregations or will they go to the Fountain???

Read Fountain Steet's "Century Vision"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Video of UUA - UCC meeting this October

This October there was a meeting of the presidents of both the UUA and the UCC. If you missed this event, you can watch a video of this event on the following site.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

George Bush and Our Whole Lives

Take action by clicking the link below. Thanks.

This "political" action alert is being shared as the issue is one which directly challenges long established UU values. If you agree with our association's position on sexuality education please take a moment to

1) sign this position
2) share this post with others.


Many of you know that the UUA and the UCC published a comprehensive lifespan sexuality curriculum called "Our Whole Lives". As a movement we value teaching our children, youth and adults what it means to be in healthy relationships and, at the appropriate age, the facts of life.

George Bush doesn't agree with us. Yes, he is entitled to his personal position. BUT we do need to look at how this position manifests as policy. Empashis on the LOOK OUT!!!!

Our President has just appointed a man in charge of our country's family planning program who is clearly opposes contraception and is against distributing information about birth control.

How can someone with this position faithfully carry out his duties? That's like putting a hard core pro-life in charge of research and development for the PLAN B pill. Uh, not a wise decision. Would George Bush put a Christian peace activist in charge of the Pentagon? No. You've got to be willing to kill if you're going to be in charge of the military.

You can help send a message to our government about the inappropriate nature of this situation -- send kind of a virtual smack upside the head. Hello!!!

Take action by clicking the link below. Thanks.

More from Planned Parenthood:
Eric Keroack was the medical director of five so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" hat oppose contraception and do not distribute information promoting birth control. In Keroack's new role, he will oversee hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding meant to provide access to contraception and reproductive health information. This politically motivated appointment is not in the health interest of women and families.

Thanks for taking action on this one. I hate watching as our country slips backwards in terms of liberty, civil rights and the values we've worked hard for. I guess we have to remember that when we win certain rights we are only winning them for now...

In faith,

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

UU Oval Car Sticker Spotting

It happened! I saw my first UU oval car sticker on the road! A while ago I designed some UU bumper stickers including a UU oval bumper sticker. Over the weekend I attended my district's Fall conference. On the way to the event I pulled up behind a car with one of my bumper stickers on it. How cool is that??

You can order bumper stickers at or through If you have an idea for a bumper sticker let me know or make your own through .

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why Mega Church is Mega-Irrelevant

Peacebang, Chalice Chick and others have shared some great points related to a my recent mega-church related post. Below our 10 mega-points and my follow up thougths.


But first, why mega-church is mega-irrelevant (and small group ministry too)

For me behind the mega-talk is the point that the world is hurting badly and needs some group to get organized and lead the way. Not convert people, but bring people together. Faith groups have played a huge role in so many revolutions.


The point is changing lives, our culture(s) and saving the planet. On the relevant side, I don't give a hoot about small groups. I care about accomplishing the work and ministry of our congregations more efficiently. Of doing church in a way that doesn't necessarily limit our growth. I think we need to be more outward focused and to do that we need to know how to welcome people. Do you know how to "do church" for 5,000? Others do. We need to figure that out pretty darn quick. The lives of those 4,900 people who aren't in your 100 person church yet rely on it.

I think it is possible to create a UU inspired movement of spiritual progressives to accomplish this. But if you do that, and it is to be successful, you need to house and sustain this mega-scale movement.

Below are some of the great mega-points and my follow up thoughts.


Mega-Point #1: I don't think it's accurate to say that most UU leaders don't know how to lead small groups.

Peter: I see very few leaders who are leading systems of small groups in ways that lead to growth. In the context of small group ministry and growing larger churches, small groups are intended to produce new leaders, to grow, to serve, and much more. The reports I'm getting suggest that UU's are struggling with this. To me this is a leadership problem. Yes, people are successfully leading individual groups, but the skill at leading groups (plural) is weak.

How are things going where you are? If you have a small group ministry email me with a brief "snapshot" of how things are going in your congregation. Please include your congregation's name and location and if it is growing, shrinking or holding steady.

Mega-Point #2: It would be more realistic to admit that there's a large segment of UU leaders who simply don't believe that in small groups lies the salvation of our movement, even as it may have led to some numerical growth in some congregations.

Peter: Oh so true. And personally, I wish these leaders would step aside. My favorite definition of empowerment is to remove those blocks keeping someone from succeeding. I think this attitude shows a lack of trust in lay people, an unhealthy conception of what ministry is, and keeping us minister focused. I personally think we need leaders who are going to help our "members" see themselves as ministers. The books I read - and they are Christian - talk about making ministers out of members and focusing staff time on leadership and minister development. This strikes me as very UU, to have our trained, ordained, called and compensated ministers focus on making new leaders.

TRY THIS - Rev, what's your GQ?
To your staff evaluations add the following. How many leaders have you developed over this past year? And how many of the leaders you've "raised up" have mentored new leaders? As a leader of leaders (and not a doer of everything yourself) how many new leaders and lay ministers have are working to serve our community because of your efforts over the past year? Give us a number.

Let's call this your minister's GQ, her or his growth quotient. If you want our movement to grow, pay attention to your minister's GQ.

If you are a minister, read the following:

Roy Phillip's book Letting Go: Transforming Congregations for Ministry
Andy Stanley's book Creating community and The Next Generation Leader

Mega-Point #3: How do you build a mega-church without a simple, persuasive theological position? I don't think it can be done; not when Unitarian Universalists come with such wildy divergent theological positions that they expect to hear reflected back to them from the pulpit. (Full disclosure: I am a life-long UU and am not implying that our highly critical institutional and individual approach is a bad thing. It does keep us mighty small, however.)

Peter: How do you build a mega-church without a persuasive theological position? You don't. You build it on the absence of one and on something else instead. Is there any vision and purpose big enough to bring humans together in community besides Christianity? I think so.

To start, you can't call it a Unitarian Universalist congregation. That's the kiss of death, or at least a commitment to being a "small" movement. What are we? Many of our congregations are not Christian. They're not Jewish.

To me they look like a beautiful mix of people of spiritual progressives. These churches -- or spiritual progressive communities -- if they identified as a places for people who do not fit in to any single one religion yet still want to be in community with others, lead great lives, help each other, and heal the world together, I think they would grow. Would we do more good if we empowered our congregations which are more "multi-faith" in nature to embrace that identity and drop the UU label that might be holding them back? I think it is a good question. What do you call a heretic in a community of heretics?

Mega-Point #4: There is an inherently fractured quality to UU congregations -- we sign up for that by being open to just about any theological belief under the sun -- and because every single person in the pew feels entitled to have a say, and an influence, in what message gets preached and what theology (or "theology") gets promoted-- that creates a particular kind of congregational leadership among us. And it ain't the kind that leads a mega church.

Peter: You know it! So what do we do? I think we can be explicit about signing people up for something besides ambiguity.

When you come to Wonder Church, America's home for Spiritual Progressives (TM), you will find a thriving community of people who are united in their shared values. A church is a congregation of people joined in common purpose, not a single set of beliefs. Our purpose is crystal clear. We are dedicated to helping all people lead great lives and healing our hurting world. How do we accomplish this? To be continued....

Would you sign up for something like this? I think I just might. In fact, I'm hungry for it...

Mega-Point #5: How do you create a mega-church (or "mega-church-like" --can you explain what you mean by that?)Unitarian Universalism that's all about the power of small groups? What's the compelling, life-saving message there that you really think will bring thousands into a community?

"Come Join a Small Group of People To Explore Spiritual Topics And Your Life Journey With Twice a Month"?
"Make Friends And Drink Great Coffee: Join a UU Church"?
I'm not trying to be snide, I *really* want to know. [emphasis added]

Peter: I'm so glad you want to know! I bet others do as well.

To accomplish the purpose of my UU inspired Wonder Church with its mission/purpose of helping all people lead great lives and healing our hurting world (there may be a better vision but that's where I am) WE MUST realize that we can only do this if we organize people in small groups where the growth, mentoring, accountability, coaching, intimacy, etc... happens at the group level. In fact, it would need to be a congregation OF small groups, not a congregation WITH small groups. Worship is focused on the celebration of what we are accomplishing in our groups and our ministry & mission efforts. Small groups are the cells of the larger community. Worship is uplifting and celebrating the vision.

To me MEGA BOILS DOWN to being big enough to require a cell group structure to survive (and thrive). At that size you need to have a MEGA vision to attract people and a social & ministry architecture that is capable of including bazillions of people.

Mega-Point #6: What no one seems to want to admit is that Mega-churches are CHRISTIAN.

Peter: Mega-churches are Christian until the time a group of us build a community of mega scale that is also a church. I'm a church geek. I love church. I want to us (UUs) to create something of the Saddleback Church, Willlow Creek and Lakewood Church scale. I think we can do it, though I believe you need to start it from scratch, not change an existing church.

If you're in my neighborood (Boston/Providence) and are interested in a talking about how we might desing a community with a mega-vision, let me know. Maybe we can start a "LAB CHURCH" where visionary UU mad-scientists can get together. Note, mega-churches are often started by one single group of leaders with a unified vision.

Mega-Point #7: Therefore, megachurch small groups are centered in prayer practices, common religious language, shared beliefs about how God is working in people's lives, and a common appreciation for a set of values and for the urgent rightness of the preacher's Sunday message.

While I do not doubt that megachurch folks have their own moments of skepticism and criticism, they are members of a Christian movement that operates on the assumption that there is theological unity among them-- they are the Body of Christ-- , and therefore, the person who must constantly interrupt a group process to assert their own individuality, or to question everything is not indulged. They are brought 'round to the "right" understanding.

Unitarian Universalists do not share spiritual practices, beliefs (heck, we don't even agree that there IS a God working in anyone's life), or uncritical acceptance of a preacher who charistmatically leads us according to what he claims is God's will. We want to be able to parse meaning, hold firmly to the nuances of our own position even in the midst of an encounter with another position, and to affirm our right to question the validity of EVERY spiritual practice.

Until Unitarian Universalists set aside their penchant for fine-tooth-comb critical engagement with everything that comes out of each other's mouths and decide together to engage on a different kind of level than we have ever engaged before, I doubt we will ever create a mega-church.

Peter: Bingo! That's the key. Peacebang, you get it. We have to engage on a different level than we have ever engaged before.

Here's a question for you. Why is there a booming life-coaching industry? To me this industry is meeting the life change needs that my Wonder Church should be addressing. Church should be about life change. Does going to a UU church guarantee life change? What if we designed a church you couldn't participate in without people holding you accountable to your dreams.

Mega-Point #8: The success of small group ministries among some Unitarian Universalist groups is heartening. I personally believe, however, that to look to SGMs as the salvific ingredient that will lead the movement to huge growth and a possible UU Megachurch is certainly premature and probably highly unrealistic.

Peter: Yup. Just as unrealistic as curing cancer and building a world with peace, liberty and justice for all. To me creating authentic live saving loving communities dedicated to healing the world is not premature. It is necessary. What's sad is that our vision isn't bigger than most of our congregations.

Think bigger. If we don't love, organize and kick butt on a MEGA scale we are doomed. Doomed to what? To the consequences of global warming. Maybe a world enslaved by the Neo Conservative agenda. Perhaps a planet dominated by the vision of the powerful minority of the religious far far right. Maybe there are technology threats we should watch for too. How about artificial intelligence replacing workers. Why do we exist if we aren't needed for labor? The point is that the tide is taking our world one way and we need to swim upstream, hopefully taking millions with us.

As for the state of the world,
Are you scared yet? Are you on fire?

You should be. If you're not on fire - and by fire I mean a passion to change the world that is consuming your heart - I ask you this, what is your church doing? In Zen Buddhism they sometimes say if you find the Buddha while on the road, kill him! Concepts can be limiting, even the Buddha. In the same spirit, if your UU church isn't setting the hearts and minds of its members on fire, something is very very wrong.

If, while on the path to change the world, you come upon Unitarian Universalism blocking your way, what do you do?

A. Sit on the log and invite as many others to join you as can fit
B. Set it on fire and walk across the coals

Mega-Point #9: P.S. The insulting and arrogant assumption I have always read in the "EVOLVE" Darwin fish is that all Christians must be creationists.
Do we feel entitled to borrow, and mock, the symbols of any other religious tradition? What makes the Christian fish fair game? It belongs to ALL Christians, not just the ones going to court to teach Intelligent Design in the schools.

Peter: You're right. I never thought about the "not all Christians are creationists" before.

My use of the evolve fish was based in the notion that UUism evolved out of Christianity (the fish), but is something different now. What are we now? What is our core, our mission, our purpose? What are we called to be? How do we create an effective church based on that. I think we are called to unite people. To heal the world in a way that is not about converting people.

Mega-Point #10: And when we hunger after the "megachurch" experience, why do we never lust after the huge mosque experience? Or the big huge sangha ? What is it about the Christian megachurches that puts a sparkle into the UU organizer's eye?

My guess is that it is not so much a seeking after a shared experience of religious intensity in and of itself that some UUs long for in looking to the Christian megachurch model, but the political clout and money that comes with having such numbers.

Peter: The Mega in my mind and heart, that UU Mega sparkle in my eye is about teaching the world that we need not think alike to love alike, that we can come together in communities that are not founded on common belief, but common purpose. That is a purpose big enough to unite us.

When you believe in your heart that thousands, if not millions, are suffering because they don't realize communities life ours exist, you become passionate about sharing it with them (I hope). If we want to share our faith, our way of life & community with millions we have to teach that old UU dog some new ways of doing church.

Christians have published volumes of books on how to create build faith communities with MEGA-PURPOSE and MEGA-GROUPS. I don't see the mosque's and sangha's cranking out the resources.

I'm reading all of the resources I can find that I think will help me (and others) to design a new kind of a church, a new UUism, and a movement that is in its design contagious. If you have a non-Christian resource you think I should read please tell me. Send me the title of your mega-relevant resource or, even better, since I've got a limited book budget (I buy too many already) send me a copy.

In faith,

Peter Freedman Bowden
UU PLANET Ministry & Media
855-0037 Office

Friday, October 13, 2006

You should start a UU congregation

Philocrites pointed me in the direction of Ron Robinson's review of recent "progressive Christian" titles in which he notes the absence of any discussion for the need to start new congregations.

I'd love to see more focus on UU's starting churches. I think our existing congregations would do better within an environment of competition.

Boston & Providence, the larger cities in my area, have room for far more UU congregations. My home church in Providence has at most 400 members. It is practically ON the Brown University and RISD campuses. It should have 900 members easy.

How many people in your community would be Unitarian Universalists if they either knew about US or if your congregation made room for THEM?

If you're a UU in the middle of nowhere. Do me a favor, start a church. All you need to do is start with a healthy understanding of small group ministry. Other denominations use small groups, or CELL MINISTRY, as the foundation for building churches of all sizes. So here's what you do. Start a kick@$$ UU small group out of your home. Just you and your friends. Access all the great info from Read the start up info on this website .

The trick is to not only lead a great group, but from the start to uphold the vision of growing into more groups, developing more leaders, and through this process changing the world. In the process you may create a new church, but don't make that your top goal. Make your goal creating enough liberal groups for all the liberals and progressives on Earth. It is about life change, world change, leadership development, and upholding this vision. Cell ministry is a clearly articulated ministry model with plenty of available resources. Just couple that with a compelling vision of brining people together in community, service and action.

Presto! You're on your way.

If we can't build liberal mega-churches Markos Moulitsas will

In a recent Wired Magazine profile on Markos Moulitsas, the author of the webs top political blog, the Daily Kos, Moulitsas expressed his intention to build mega-church like communities of liberals.

...While working on the mechanics of the sports blogs, he plans to embark next year on building real-world destinations for progressives and liberals throughout the Midwest, "cultural outposts" designed to attract thousands of like-minded liberals. "Each one of these would have a vast left-wing conspiracy component," he says, like leadership training or discussions on progressive issues. It's big talk, even for a guy with an uncanny talent for bringing lonely, passionate people together online. The real world will be more challenging.

So, why don't we do it? Probably because to be successful we'd need to do some things Unitarian Universalists can't or won't do. The successful Unitarian Universalist church of the future most likely will not look like a Unitarian Universalist church by the standards of our present leadership. Know the "Evolve Fish" you see on car bumpers? I like to think of UUism as being the fish that came JUST BEFORE that one. It has almost everything it needs. It just has to figure out how to breath out of the water -- we're so close.

A few UU things that need evolving include a name, a message you can share without a cheat sheet, a pathways or tracks for growth that can be identfied, and the know-how to replicate what works by rising up new leaders with this knowledge. We've got a long way to go. But I do think we can do it.

How do we evolve into a movement that can spread? What do we have to change? I'll start the list and you can chime in.

We need to...
  • Have a viable brand name that can be remembered by the children.
  • Have a vision, mission, and/or purpose and principles that adults - including professional leadership - can articulate clearly.
  • Know that you have to have an environment and coffee that rivals starbucks.
  • Have a clear pathways for personal growth and development
  • Offer leadership development that goes beyond either you're a lay person or your a fully trained ordained called and salaries minister with more debt and responsibility than you'd really like.
  • Develop organizational processes for making statements and taking action that are not so brutal that people choose to leave to find a more efficient and nimble organization to work through.
  • Get clue about youth . Yes, youth want to be empowered, but they want to be empowered to do something that matters.

    For example, I think all UU youth should graduate and head off into the world as trained small group faciltitators who know how to lead groups that are life changing, organize a group anywhere they go, know how to develop session plans (content) and worship for their groups, and know how to train their group members to do everything they know how to do.
  • _________
  • _________
  • _________
What would you add and why? Post a comment or email me with your thoughts.

PS - Dear Mr. Markos Moulitsas, I'd be happy to help you with your project. Most leaders of our Unitarian Universalist movement still haven't grasped the role small groups, leadership development, and grassroots organization need to play in changing the world. You can reach me at 401 855-0037 to schedule an appointment.

PPS - Dear Rev. William Sinkford, I'd be happy to help the UUA as well. You just have to pony up the cash for a consulting or staff position. Your small group ministry budget and staff should be moving towards the size of the Youth Office. Make that happen and you'll be the UUA President who helped the UUA learn to walk on dry land. You can reach me at 401 855-0037 to schedule an appointment.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Teleseminars on UU Evangelsim, Relational Growth Strategies, Small Group Ministry ...

On October 3rd I will be leading the first set of Fall teleseminars. This series is on topics related to Small Group Ministry, UU Evangelism, Leadership Development, and growing our movement. Why offer teleseminars? So Unitarian Universalists across the US to have access the trainings I offer locally, have access to affordable consulting/ministry support in these areas, and so visionary UU's can take a bold step together.

Each seminar is limited to a small group of participants (ten max) and may be paid for by PayPal or via check.

Read more about this series and the schedule for October 3rd.

CLICK HERE to sign up for future teleseminar announcements. This will take you to the UU PLANET E-newsletter sign-up page. If you would like to receive information on teleseminars ONLY please check that box.

Have an idea for a seminar? Let me know.

Hope you'll join me on one of these calls.

Peter Freedman Bowden
UU PLANET Ministry and Media

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tele-Seminars on UU Evangelism, Relational Growth Strategies...


I am preparing a series of conference call based seminars for the Fall. These will be an opportunity for groups of ministers (or lay leaders) to explore and discuss a highly focused topic related to the ministry areas I support as a consultant:

Relational Growth Strategies
UU Evangelism
Small Group Ministry & Covenant Groups
Lay Leadership & Ministry Development

As my work and ministry is focused on emerging ministries and our association's growing edges, I am striving to find efficient ways to meet your needs for support. I believe getting leaders and ministers together in small group via a conference can help accelerate the rate at which we learn from each other. Think of it as a rapid cross-pollenation of visionary ideas and new practices.

This is what I'm thinking in terms of format for each call:

  1. Introduction of participants (based on registration info)
  2. Introduction of topic
  3. Presentation on topic by me or guest speaker
  4. Facilitated discussion /Q&A session.

I'm planning to use a Toll-Free Dial-in Number and allow participants to download a recording of the call.


Does this make sense as a model for bringing leaders together to explore new ideas, emerging ministries, and offer support in areas presently not supported by the UUA ?

Do you have ideas for people who would make great guest speakers for this series? Anyone you'd like to have a small group seminar with?

I would also love suggestions on your ideal call time. Ministers, what works for you? 9am Central? What about lay leaders? A lunch call? Late night? 10PM?

Let me know your ideas. Post comments or contact me via email.

Peter Freedman Bowden
UU PLANET Ministry & Media
Office (401) 855-0037

Friday, July 14, 2006

Still trying to become the most dangerous church in America?

Dear Visionary UUs,

This August the UU Small Group Ministry Network is offering a weeklong Small Group Ministry conference at Ferry Beach. We offered this last year and it was a huge success. This is an opportunity for visionary and passionate UU's of the Small Group kind (SGM leaders, coordinators, ministers, lay coaches, etc...) to celebrate this ministry, learn new techniques, explore new dimensions in small group ministry and covenant groups, for us all to review the essentials for SGM health, growth and transformation and much more. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Register on-line at

Whether your group ministry is just getting started or well under way, I'd like to personally invite you to join us for this exiting week. Come and share your passion, learning, questions and vision for our faith and this powerful ministry.

Why am I so excited for this week?

For me, its about us working together to figure out how to realize our potential, both individually, as congregations, and a religious movement. I'm looking forward to talking to you about taking our movement to the next level. My passion is sharing our faith, doing faith development and spiritual growth via ministry in groups, and turning our small group ministries into leadership (and ministry) development machines.
Have you noticed the buzz around growth?

Our congregations, the UUA Board of Trustees, UUA Staff -- seems like they are all talking growth these days. And remember the call a while back for us to "GET DANGEROUS" -- you know, the story about a top Mormon leader saying if we knew how to retain newcomers as well as they do we'd be the most dangerous church in America? For me, Small Group Ministry is the means by which we can accomplish this.

Take a look at this.

The following is the Rev. Bill Sinkford's conclusion from his "The most dangerous church in America" UU World column:

How can we become the most dangerous church in America? We can stand up in the public square and consistently and clearly voice our commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every person and our commitment to a world community with peace, justice, and liberty for all. We can take action inspired by these commitments. We can offer visitors to our congregations a liberal religious home, a sanctuary from the uncertainty and isolation that may have brought them to our doors, a community that will help them develop spiritually and grow emotionally—and as we do, they will stay with us...

If you look at faith communities that are THRIVING, they know how to do their ministry via small groups. You can't retain masses of people without doing church in groups. In my opinion the only way we’re going to thrive long term as a movement and realize our potential is if we MASTER accomplishing our work and ministry via intentional group ministries.

I hope you'll seriously consider mobilizing someone from your congregation to join us for this very special week. If you can't make it but want to get serious about Small Group Ministry, talk to me about setting up another training.

In faith,

Peter Freedman Bowden
401 855-0037 Office


Ferry Beach Small Group Ministry Week
A.K.A. the UU SGM Network Summer Institute
August 12 - August 18, 2006
Ferry Beach, UU Conference Center
Saco, Maine
Register on-line at


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Did you miss GA?

If you missed General Assembly, have no fear! You can order audio tapes/cd's and videos of many GA programs. I've talked to many people who don't go to GA because of the expense. Because they've dismissed GA all together they haven't realized this service is available. I ordered CD's of the programs I missed last year -- it was great. To see a list of available programs and to order online visit the following site:

If you are a committee leader, check out the available programs and consider having a group viewing (or listening) of programs related to your committee's work. You might even encourage your congregation to start a library of great GA programs for lay leaders.

If you are one of the many congregations struggling to get people to go to GA, showing a video of GA events after a service is a great way to build interest.

LIVING A CALL now available via the All Souls Church Bookstore

You can now order the latest title from Jenkin Lloyd Jones Press at All Souls Church. Living A Call is now available through the All Souls Bookstore. Discounts are available for bulk orders. To order a single copy order online. For larger orders print out the order form.

If you've read Living A Call already I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Living a Call: Ministers and Congregations Together

Did you like The Almost Church by Michael Durall? The Almost Church was the first book published by All Soul's new press, Jenkin Lloyd Jones Press. Now they're releasing title number 2.

JLJ Press has just released Living a Call: Ministers and Congregations Together. The full announcement for this title from the June 2006 issue of the UU Voice is below. Living a Call is edited by Michael Durall. From what I've heard about the chapters this should be an great book. I'm not sure if you can get it yet via the UUA Bookstore. I do know it will be for sale at General Assembly. Thanks to All Souls Church in Tulsa for their vision in creating this alternative press.

The announcement:

Jenkin Lloyd Jones Press at All Souls Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma has just published a new book, titled Living a Call: Ministers and Congregations Together. This book is a collection of 14 essays, contributed mainly by a younger generation of UU ministers. Their views of congregational life and their approach to ministry are considerably different than UUs may be familiar with. Many of the chapters are powerful in content, thought provoking, and challenging. The book is for clergy, lay leaders, and people in the pews.

The book is $13.95 per single copy, $11.95 for 6-10 copies, and $9.95 for 11 or more copies. If a congregation purchases 15 or more copies at the discounted price and believes the book is not helpful, a full refund will given.

Books can be ordered directly from All Souls Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma,, or 918 743-2363. Books are also available through the UUA bookstore, 1-800-215-9076.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Everything our faith has to offer, young adults are ready for more of it.

What are you doing this Summer?

If you are a UU young adult, young adult minister, or religious educator join me this Summer for the STAR ISLAND Religious Education Week. Provided registration is good, I will be leading one of the morning workshops.

The workshop is called "SUPERSIZE THIS! A Young Adult workshop on engaged spirituality, leadership and community." If you are NOT a young adult but still want to hang out on the porch and talk with me, you can still come. There are other workshops to choose from.

If you know of any young adults, young adult professionals, etc... could you forward this to them? Thanks! I'm trying to help the STARlings get the word out.

Here is the full description from the STAR RE WEEK site:

A Young Adult workshop on engaged spirituality, leadership and community

Everything our faith has to offer, young adults are ready for more of it. Aren't you? During this week we're going to take Unitarian Universalism to the next level. We'll start with an honest UU reality check, looking at the assumptions, structures, language/terms that congregations have been using to operate. After identifying what we think has been, we’re going to challenge the status quo! Drawing on wisdom from small group ministry, life coaching and other sources we will look at new ways of doing spiritual growth, leadership development and community building.

Topics will include spiritual leadership in group ministries, covenants and group health, peer spiritual direction and coaching, weaving spiritual disciplines into group life, cultivating relationships that matter, and techniques for sharing our faiths with those who are hungry for it.

Peter Bowden is the director of UU PLANET Ministries, an independent Unitarian Universalist training and resource center (, and a children's television producer ("Peep and the Big Wide World" and "Curious George"). He has worked with youth and young adults since 1990. This work led him to Star Island a number of years ago where he discovered Small Group Ministry and become one of its greatest advocates. Peter is one of the founders of the UU Small Group Ministry Network ( He lives in Newport, RI, with his wife, the Rev. Amy Freedman.

Faith, Culture and Politics

I had a great discussion recently with a small group of frustrated UUs. The claim was made that when issues that we have been championing for years become "mainstream" our members get sensitive about mixing faith with politics.

Is this your experience? Another conversation raised the issue that in our Small Group Ministries it is not okay to talk politics or issues that might challenge people.

I was raised in a UU church where our minister challenged members every Sunday. His colums in the local paper, he rated how good they were by the number "hate mail" letters and death threats he received.

Faith, Culture and Politics. I don't think you can separate these without the church losing its relevancy. Is your church relevant in peoples lives? God I hope so! If your numbers aren't growing, chances are your missing something.

My wife, a UU minister, recently subscribed to the magazing Sojourners. Its subtitle is Faith, Culture and Politics. Since she's subscribed to it I've read every issue. Doing so has been, well, enlightening. It has been refreshing to have regular contact with a liberal Christian perspective, one that can balance what I'm getting from our dear President.

May George Bush be fileld with lovingkindness.
May George Bush be well.
May George Bush be peaceful and at ease.

May George Bush be happy.

Those of you who are ministers, I'd highly recommend subscribing to Sojourners. You can get a taste of SOJO by going to the website and getting their free email updates.

In faith,

Monday, May 22, 2006

"The Da Vinci Code" Resources for Unitarian Universalists

Whether you like it or not, everyone under the Sun is going to be talking about the DaVinci Code. If you are a member, leader or minister of Unitarian Universalist congregation don't miss this opportunity.

A Spiritual Tsunami
Recently I joined a national conference call for Christian Small Group Leaders on how to respond to the movie. For these Evangelicals they described the movie as "a spiritual tsunami" that is approaching. It is one they are preparing well for. There are volumes of resources being developed to deal with the fact that Christians, nonbelievers and everyone in between will be questioning the history of Jesus. They are also using this as an opportunity to talk to about faith, Christ and the Bible with people who usually don't set foot near a church!

Are UU Ready?

This is a great opportunity to talk to friends, family, colleagues and strangers (undiscovered UU's) about our LIBERAL RELIGIOUS FAITH. What better time than when the best selling novel of all time is turned into a movie that questions the very dogma we UU's question?

I hope you and your congregation take advantage of this outreach opportunity.
Do you have plans to do outreach around the DVC? Are you developing resource related to this effort? If so, please let me know! I'd love to share them with others.
Below is a list of The Da Vinci Code resources listed on UU PLANET as of this post.
You can find them at the following URL:

UU Resources on the DaVinci Code

DaVinci Code UU Chalice Order of Service color cover image
DaVinci Code UU Chalice Order of Service black and white cover image
Small DaVinci Code UU Chalice image

The Magdalene code
Deciphering the woman misrepresented by the church fathers and 'The Da Vinci Code.'By Elizabeth A. Lerner, May 2006.

Reflection/Discussion Guide for The DaVinci Code Book
From UU Faith Works, Winter/Spring 2004

Davidson Loehr's Sermons on the DaVinci Code Book
Sermon Part I, September 2003
Sermon Part II, 28 March 2004

Cracking The Da Vinci Code, Sept. 2003
Marlin Lavanhar's Sermons on the DaVinci Code Book

Da Vinci, Jesus, and the Goddess, October 19, 2003
Rev. Michael McGee's Sermons on the DaVinci Code Book

Official DaVinci Code Sites

The Official DaVinci Code movie site

The Official website for the bookDan Brown's website
The authors official website. Includes the following...
Book discussion questions
Breaking news & video clips w/Dan Brown

The Christian Response

Discussing the DaVinci Code Curriculum
Resources for discussing the DVC from Saddleback Church and Lee Strobel.

Video on Demand from Lee Strobel
Movie clips discussing various aspects of the DVC.

The DaVinci Code on ChristianityToday.Com

5 Big Questions from The Da Vinci Code
by Christianity Today magazine Associate Editor Collin Hansen

The DaVinci Dialogue
Site preparing Christians to discuss the DVC.
Remember, let me know if you find/produce more resources for UU's on the Da Vinci Code.

In faith, Peter Bowden
UU PLANET Ministries
401 855-0037 Office

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Don't like UU merchandise? Make your own.

I was guest preaching recently at one of our congregations and the issue of marketing came up in coffee hour. During the children's message I had talked about famous UU's and how most people have NO idea they're UU's at all. This led to discussing ways get UU info out into the world. T-shirts came up. As soon as it did a man came over and started ranting about UU t-shirts all being stupid and that he'd never wear one unitl someone made a decent one.

I suggested that he go ahead and design his own and have them sold via cafepress. That led to a discussion of making an official church logo (they didn't have one) and getting people to buy them to wear around town.

It is so simple to make shirts via cafepress. If your congregation doesn't have a shirt of its own, check out this site and get to it!

What do I wear when I mow the lawn? No. I don't wear a UU shirt. I'm waiting for the official Philocri-Tees....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Calling all UU Evangelists & Bloggers

Just over two years ago I got married. Yes, I married a UU parish minister. Big surprise there! After gettomg married I moved to the city where her congregation is located. This move + being the minister's spouse has provided many opportunities to tell people about our faith.

When I meet someone new it often comes up that I moved to town after getting married. I try to mention that Amy's the minister of the Unitaian Universalist church in town.


I either get that or "Oh yeah, I heard something about UU. What is that?"

I love telling people about our faith. BUT it can get to be time consuming. Being friendly, a minister's spouse, and passionate about sharing our faith means I get sucked into UU conversations all day long. Good? Yes. Convenient? Not always.

Over time I found myself trying to take a short cut and refer people to either the church website or the UUA's site. I found this often leading to looks of anxiety or confusion.

Finally I decided that the best way for me to be a POWER UU Evangelist was to make my own website to refer people to that isn't too churchy or intimidating. Something that is easy to remember. After some thought and review of the work of my favorite marketing guru, Seth Godin, I came up with my own personal UU evangelism site --

It is simple.
It is obvious what its about.
It is easy to remember.

Great! Now for CONTENT. This is a brand new site. All I have done so far is place some basic links on it with a "more in the works" message.

What I'd love to know is what YOU would like to see in such a site. What are the basic questions people are looking to have answered. I want to make this site interesting, engaging, and dare I say FUN? It would be nice to have it evolve into a site that others will refer people to, including those who visit it. For that to happen it MUST have a touch of humor and weirdness to it. Don't you think?

Do you have ideas? If so you please send them to me. If you have other UU evangelism and/or marketing stories to share, send 'em my way too.


UU PLANET Ministries

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Free UU E-Card Service


Have you ever wanted to send someone a free e-card and found yourself longing that one of the major e-card sites had a chalice theme? Recently I wanted to send an e-card to a UU who I saw on telelvision at a Marriage Equality hearing. I wanted to send a thank you that was, well, faith based.

I couldn't find any UU E-cards online so I went ahead and set up a UU PLANET free E-Card service. Through this service anyone can send free e-cards. I've started to add images, categories, etc... I'd love for any of you UU's out there with card or image ideas to send me either ideas or graphics ready to go.

you can check out this free Unitarian Universalist e-card service at

If you have ideas or images please send them to me at

Thanks and happy Easter.

Peter Freedman Bowden
401 855-0037 Office

Monday, January 16, 2006

UUA's Congregational Handbook online

The UUA's new 2005 web based Congregational Handbook is now online. This is a great resource for your you and your fellow leaders.

Below is an excerpt from the introduction:

The online edition is new and improved in a number of ways. It is a Web-based
resource that includes links to numerous documents, Web pages for UUA staff and
contacts, and important non-UUA resources. In 1995, an HTML version of the third
printed edition of The Congregational Handbook was published on the Web.
Therefore, updating the information contained in the third edition as
contemporary concepts of congregational life evolved would have required both
rewriting the book and restructuring the Web pages. In addition, the number of
available congregational life resources has greatly increased since the third
edition, and the costs of their compilation in a multiple-volume hard-copy
congregational handbook would be prohibitive. Thus, this current edition was
conceived as a Web-based source that can be updated and expanded easily as new
resources are discovered. Although this handbook is Web based, parts of it can
be printed out. If you do not have regular access to the Internet or to a
printer, please contact Congregational Services for a printed version of many of
the resources.