Thursday, February 28, 2008

Elections - endorsements vs. accountability

I just listened to a Speaking of Faith program featuring Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics. One of the many comments Wallis made which struck me addressed the issue of endorsing candidates.

He shared that he and his organization, Sojourners, has avoided endorsing candidates. Instead, they have worked to hold ALL CANDIDATES accountable to their agenda.

I've had my thoughts about the candidates for President of the USA as well as President of the UUA. But I haven't done enough to shape the debate.

Over the course of the campaign for President of the UUA I hope you'll join me in working to shape the debate BEFORE we campaign hard for either candidate.

Both UUA Presidential candidates have started posting youtube videos. We should start posting questions for them. I'd also love to host some discussions with the candidates via digitally recorded conference call.

What process ideas do you have for framing the debate?
How can we use web to increase participation in this UUA election?

Campaign Websites
Hallman - Morales

PS - I've already had a number of conversations about the cost of running for UUA President. Me, I'm going to give equally to both campaigns... You can do the same. Each of their sites have quick, easy and safe Paypal donate buttons.

Top Ten Moments in the Race for "Pastor-in-Chief"

I just received an email from the Interfaith Alliance - great organization - sharing the top ten moments in the race for "Pastor-in-Chief." The video and top ten list are below...

The Interfaith Alliance presents
Top Ten Moments in the Race for "Pastor-in-Chief"

10. Mitt Romney is asked if he believes "every word" of the Bible
(CNN/You Tube debate (11-28-07).

9. CNN's Soledad O'Brien asks John Edwards to "name his greatest
(CNN/Sojourners town hall 6-26-07).

8. James Dobson tells a reporter he does not think that Fred
Thompson is a Christian

7. Barack Obama distributes a campaign flier describing himself as
a "Committed Christian" (1-21-08).

6. Hillary Clinton said we need to "inject faith into policy"
(CNN/Sojourners town hall 6-26-07).

5. Mike Huckabee explains his rise in the polls by invoking the
Biblical story of two fish and five loaves feeding a crowd of 5,000
people (11-28-07).

4. Tim Russert asks all the Democratic candidates to "name their
favorite Bible verse" (MSNBC 9-26-07).

3. John McCain says the Constitution established the United States
as a Christian nation and that he would prefer a Christian president

2. Barack Obama asked a congregation to help him "become an
instrument of God" and join him in creating "a Kingdom right here on
Earth" (10-17-07).

1. Mike Huckabee tells a crowd: "What we need to do is to amend the
Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's
standards" (1-14-08).

The Interfaith Alliance offers the following ways to get involved...

Let the candidates know what you think.
Use our Candidate Quick Contact to tell the presidential candidates your thoughts about the place of religion on the campaign trail!

Explore our Election Year Resources.
The Interfaith Alliance is making a difference in America by promoting the positive and healing role of religion in public life; encouraging civic participation; facilitating community activism; and challenging religious political extremism. Click Here

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You'll get a summary of news stories where religion –either positively or negatively – has played a role in a political candidate’s quest for elected office. This will cover political campaigns, their affiliating organizations or independent groups seeking to influence the outcome on an election, as well as what TIA is doing to protect religious liberty and maintain the sepparation of church and state. Click Here

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Your support helps us continue our great work. It will be an immeasurable help to us in the coming months, as we work to keep the line between religion and government solid.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

UUA to end funding of Continental YRUU Leadership Structures

Just read about changes to UUA funding of continental YRUU leadership structures on iminister. A quick search led me to the new YRUU UUlogy blog.

While I'm sad to see the change, I've worked with many ministers, DRE's, youth advisors and youth leaders who would love to see funding for more staff to directly support congregational based programming. It would be great to find an amazing and seasoned youth advisor who has gone on to become a minister and pay her to support & develop material for all us locals.

I think we need to treat our youth ministry as seriously as we treat our adult ministries. We need high quality staffing by people who are grounded in experience in congregations. From my experience I can understand the move by the UUA to flip their support from continental everything to support for the congregational level. That's the mandate.

Hopefully this will lead to amazing events and conferences about kick @$$ youth ministry.

Letter from the continental YRUU Steering Committee:

To whom it may concern,

As the continental YRUU Steering Committee, it is with great sorrow that we inform you that on June 30, 2008 the UUA will cease to fund YRUU youth activities at the continental level. Therefore, Youth Council will not be held this summer or in the years to follow and YRUU Steering Committee 2007-2008 will be the last. The UUA will continue to fund and support Youth Caucus at GA and the Chrysalis training program. The work of youth ministry within the UUA will shift to a congregationally based focus.

This change has been in the works for several years. At the Long-Range Planning Meeting in 2003 between YRUU and the UUA, a "Common Ground III" was proposed. “Common Ground” is in reference to the two meetings in the early 1980's that dissolved Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) and created Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU). The Common Ground III resolution, drafted in consultation with Bill Sinkford and the Board of Trustees, stated that further goal setting and re-imagining of youth ministry and YRUU was needed. At Youth Council 2004 consensus on the resolution of Common Ground III was blocked preventing it from passing, and in the following months the UUA Board of Trustees convened the Consultation to and with Youth that conducted a survey and congregational, district, and stakeholder conversations related to UU youth ministry. The Consultation process culminated with the Summit on Youth Ministry in July 2007. The Summit resulted in a vision for the future of UU youth ministry that focused largely on congregationally based programs. To carry out this vision, the Youth Ministry Working Group was formed, charged with implementing the objectives outlined in the Summary Report on Ministry to and with Youth. The Youth Ministry Working Group has a heavy UUA staff presence but also includes volunteer members, four of whom are youth. The working group held its first meeting February 8-11, 2008.

Although official YRUU structures will cease to exist at the end of June, youth programming on the district and congregational levels will continue relatively unaffected. Current youth resources available from the Office of Youth Ministries will continue to be available.

YRUU Steering Committee will now be advocating for the creation of a strong continental youth leadership body that would have the explicit goal of serving congregations and that would be empowered to direct the resources of the Office of Youth Ministries. We will also be advocating for support of anti-racism/anti-oppression work within youth ministry. The YRUU Steering Committee calls on the UUA to support the Groundwork collective of trainers, the Youth Social Justice Training (YSJT), and identity-based ministry groups like DRUUMM YaYA.

As representatives of the larger UU youth community, we value feedback on our blog at Thoughts, memories, rants, and love notes are appreciated and welcomed. There you will also be able to find current information about the youth ministry transition process.

In Love, Struggle, and Faith,

YRUU Steering Committee

Elisabeth Moore
Rose Roberts
Will Floyd
Kimberlee Tomczak
Kasey Neiss
Paul Rickter
Noah Hurowitz

UPDATE: Feb. 18 Letter from Rev. Bill Sinkford clarifying situation....

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Technology grants and training for growth?

The Alban Institute just made a MAJOR upgrade to their website and technology. New features include podcast promoting new books and upcoming seminars -- 5 to 11 minutes each.

First thing I did on the revised site was subscribe to the podcast and start listening. NOTE you can use itunes (free) to subscribe to audio podcasts and listen to them on your computer even if you don't have an ipod. I don't.... Anyhow, so I started listening. Then I started wanting to GO to these workshops held everywhere BUT in New England.

The point, listening instead of reading got be engaged.

This led me to think, what would happen if all of our congregations had audio or video podcasts. ALL OF THEM.... What would THAT do for growth?

Imagine. Instead of the UUA funding new congregation startup projects, what if they gave technology grants and training to congregations everywhere. I would wager that an association wide investment in technology would immediately lead to real growth.

Hmmmmm..... What's happening with all that Association Sunday money? Friends, now is the time. Time to catch up to the times. Time to be smarter with our shared resources. Time to put out money where the growth is.

Thousands of people are sitting at home, connected to the internet, waiting for us to open our doors to them -- digitally.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Me? I'm for Obama

I see the blog postings in support of various candidates rising. Yes, seems many UU bloggers are for Obama. Me, I'm just glad to see so many American's engaged in the political process.

Yes, I'm for Obama too. I love the coalition he is building. I also think he has the vision, ideas, character and experience we need in the White House. It is nice to be inspired for a change...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Survival is not enough, especially for UUs!

Visiting our congregations as a guest speaker, corresponding with people about congregational change across the US - one thing is clear. CHANGE is still a four letter word. Yes, I know it has six letters....

While many of us are embracing growth and changing our ways, the truth is it only takes one person in most of our congregations to put on the breaks. In my home congregation I've watched them investigate hospitality, membership, growth multiple times, each resulting in the conclusion that there is a need for a part time volunteer/membership coordinator. Three cycles and a decade later their at it again. Who will put on the breaks this time? I love 'em, but they are stuck. Trying to drive into the future while somewhere someone is pulling on the emergency break. Or maybe its the steering wheel they are grabbing.

The author who turned me into a UU evangelist -- he gave me the tools and the attitude -- is best selling marketing author Seth Godin. Seth has a number of books out which UU's should read. My most recent read is Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change.

This is one I'd buy a stack of an give to your board. They'll love you for giving them a book that is a great read, not "churchie", and totally relevant.

Curious about this Godin guy, check out his blog. One business blogs on the planet Earth.

Church Marketing Lab offers free design ideas

Looking for some inspiration for posters, fliers or other church marketing materials? The people over at Church Marketing Sucks has developed a flickr group where people can share their designs. They are calling this the Church Marketing Lab.

One of my favorites is the design for the Crossroad's High School Ministry. They have worked in an atom symbol and a bio-hazard symbol. I have no doubt that their students where t-shirts with these designs with pride.

Watch a slide show of the some of the images in the lab....

Church Marketing Sucks