Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rev. Peter Morales elected president of Unitarian Universalist Association

Tonight the Rev. Peter Morales was elected 8th president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. According to the UU World Magazine Morales won by a vote of 2,061 to 1,481.
UUA President-elect Peter Morales won the UUA presidency decisively with 59 percent of all votes. He won 55 percent of the absentee vote (1,020 to 827) and 61 percent of the on-site vote (1,041 to 654). His margin of victory is 580 votes. Seven ballots were disqualified for discrepancies; one vote was cast for "No."
On his campaign website Peter offers a message to all UUs:

Dear UU Friends,

As many of you know, I have just been elected President of the Unitarian Universalist Association. But this victory belongs to all of us. I may have been the candidate on the ballot, but we were all in this race together. The real candidate has been our shared vision of what is possible.

I have trouble expressing how profoundly the generosity of people in this campaign has touched me. I can only say, in the Spanish phrase, mil gracias, "a thousand thanks." Continue reading...

We should take pause to thank both candidates for their service and dedication to our association and to our faith. Running in the election alone is a huge sacrifice.

Thank you Peter.
Thank you Laurel.

Friday, June 26, 2009

5 ways to experience REMOTE or VIRTUAL GA

I was disappointed to not be at this year's General Assembly - we're filming for the TV shows I work on this week and had to pass. However participating in the new media side of GA a.k.a "Remote GA" or "Virtual GA" has been great.

1) I'm watching much of the live GA video stream and can watch what I miss online once the video is uploaded by the GA webteam.

2) I'm following people writing twitter updates about GA - they just add a #uuga2009 tag to their tweets to mark it as GA relevant. There are also at least three official UUA twitter accounts providing up to the second info: @uua, @uuga2009, and @sslove.

3) The UU World is reporting on GA online, no more waiting for the next issue of the magazine to catch up...

4) There is even a General Assembly 2009 blog.

5) Okay, that's four. I'm sure I'm missing something. If you know of other facets of the remote GA experience let me know. Email me.

Thanks to all the many staff and volunteers and content creating participants who are making this a rich long distance UU experience ;-)


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Join UU author Robert Thorson for "Walden to Wobegon" tour

A member of our congregation, Robert Thorson, is launching a tour of kettle lakes across the Northern US. Professor Thorson, a.k.a "Thor," will be blogging as he travels from "Walden to Wobegon."

This tour is part of the PR tour for the publication of his book Beyond Walden. Part geology, part history and culture, if you're a brainy UU you'll love this title. The tour kicks off June 26th. You can visit his blog and sign on to follow the journey.

Visit the blog at

Monday, June 15, 2009

Groups are the key to building a Lifespan UU Ministry

Friends, this is an article I wrote in 2004. Given that we are electing a new president of the Unitarian Universalist Association and we are still working on re-structuring our youth and young adult ministry it seemed like a good time to share it.

We've been working on restructuring our youth and young adult ministries. We can take everything we have learned about adult SGM and everything we know, love and value about youth & YA ministry and share across the age-spans.

Anyone interested in this topic, feel free to contact me -

Toward a True Lifespan UU Ministry
Solving the problems of retaining born UUs via a lifepan group ministry model.
(c) 2004 Peter Bowden

In our Unitarian Universalist congregations, we retain only 10% of the children we raise as UU’s. Why do we lose 90% of our born UU’s? I believe it is because they are not integrated into our community early enough and that ministry to children and youth is perceived as being significantly different from our adult offerings. Though our culture is starting to change, historically we have maintained a system that is designed to encourage them to leave.
Ministry with children has a tradition of strong small groups (classes) and worship (chapel). After coming of age, ministry for our youth has focused on a single strong group (the youth group) lead by adult advisors, with little worship outside of the group and minimal connection to the larger church. Our adult ministry has been centered on Sunday worship.

In the context of small group ministry the problem of retaining born UU’s makes sense. We start children off with strong small groups and dynamic participatory worship, move them to a nearly 100% small group experience, and then ask them to move to attending adult church services.
For the majority of born UU’s, pew-based church isn’t going to cut it. Once you give them intimate and meaningful small groups you can never take that away. If you do, you lose them. It doesn’t matter how old they are. As an adult who has participated in a small group ministry would you attend a church without a small group ministry?

Where does this leave us today?
To retain them we have to create small groups for adults of all ages – youth, young adults, and adults. In doing so we can create continuity in the ministry we offer and move youth into our adult community efficiently, preferably before they have the chance to graduate from high school.

How to keep them
It is my opinion that we need to focus our attention and resources on cultivating an explicit culture of small group ministry in our congregations for people of all ages. Just as we talk about integrating small group ministry into the life of the church (the adult church), so too must we integrate it into our children and youth ministries. This involves using similar meeting formats and language with people of all ages and starting formal small group ministry at an earlier age.
Small Groups: Instead of talking about classes, talk about small groups. This alone will create a connection with “small group” ministry and further serve to distinguish church groups from school classes.

Common Format:
Right now a huge percentage of all groups in our congregations have adopted a basic format for their gatherings. This includes an opening ritual, check-in, core topic or activity, likes/wishes (a group process check) and closing ritual. Regardless of what core content is covered, this basic format can be used with children of all ages.

Empowerment with a goal:
When our children “come of age” we start to shift from teaching to empowering and advising. In many congregations the meaning of empowerment is not clear. Leadership development is very clear in the small group ministry model. We empower individuals to lead small groups of 8-10 people, ask them to mentor less experienced group members helping them step into leadership roles, and expect new leaders to share our faith with others by leading new groups. Can we do this with youth? Absolutely! Go ahead and ask them…

Creating Continuity:
In our youth small group ministries we can share a Lifespan vision of small groups, give all youth experience both participating in and leading small groups, show them how to mentor their peers as leaders and equip all outgoing youth with the resources they need to start small groups wherever they go.

Closing the Gap:
The best place to create leaders for our young adult and campus groups is in our youth small group ministries. When our youth leave youth group as seasoned small group leaders they will start ministries wherever they go. We need to equip them to do this important work.
Adult Ministry: An important step in creating a continuous lifespan shared ministry model is to see that our youth and young adult ministries are adult ministries. Instead of being the end of our children’s ministry, these should be intentional starts to participation in adult ministry. When we use a more intentional small group ministry model with youth leaders and advisors, they may be included in the support structure of the adult small group ministry system.

Age Affinity Groups:
There is no question that many youth and young adults desire to be in groups with their peers. When we support these age affinity groups but include them in a larger adult small group ministry system, youth will no longer be looking to get away from children. Instead, they will feel valued and respected as participants and leaders within the adult community. They will know they belong with us.