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