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TopClara Barton &
Massachusetts Bay Districts
of Unitarian Universalist Congregations

NEWSLETTER: December 2010
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In This Issue
Family Ministry
Books and Resources on Family Ministry
New Resource in District Library

Learning Congregation Workshops
Got Purpose? It Does a Congregation Good
with Doug Zelinkski
(Participation in Part III is not dependent on attendance at Parts I or II. All are welcome!)
Lay Pastoral Care Teams
with Rev. Sue Phillips
Who is in Charge Here?
with Larry Peers (February 12)

Creating and Leading Dynamic Lay Led Worship
with Rev. Sue Phillips (June 11)

Religious Education
OWL Training for Teachers of Grades 7 to 12
Renaissance Module

Youth Ministry Training - Advanced

  • March 26, 2011 (details and registration coming soon)

DRE-RE teams for seasoned DREs

  • April 30 (details coming)
Collegial Conversation with DREs and Ministers
  • May 19 (details coming)
Spring Conference
Governance and Ministry in UU Congregations
with Dan Hotchkiss
May 7, 2011 - details coming

Annual Meetings
  • Clara Barton District: April 9, 2011 - 9:00 AM
  • Massachusetts Bay District: April 10, 2011 - 5:00 PM
Family Ministry
Deb Leveringby Deborah Levering
Director of Faith Formation


At First Parish, we understand that parents are the primary religious educators of their children.

First Parish, Unitarian Universalist, Lexington, MA


We know that most Unitarian Universalist parents are eager to create a faith-rich home environment. Few, however, have the confidence or congregational support to do so. At no time of year is this more evident than in the holiday season.


This is a magical, crazy season for families. Children are silly with excitement, anticipating all the things the season brings. With Advent, Chanukah, Solstice, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, there is plenty of room for frenzy and exuberance. Parents work very hard during December to find a balance between the consumer culture of "more and better" and their longing to share with their children the mystery and wonder that shimmers on the surface of this season. Long dark nights, the bitter cold, the magic of candles and tiny lights are all invitations for families to sit together in stillness, to slow down, to connect to mystery and the spirit of life. Does Unitarian Universalist faith help parents slow down with their children and consider what can be learned in these teachable moments?


Many parents and grandparents hope to build seasonal rituals to pass on the precious and most meaningful traditions of their own childhoods. They want to honor and celebrate the values they hold dear as a family. They strive to balance the traditions of their original and extended families with the unique family they are now. Does their Unitarian Universalist faith help them develop the spiritual tenacity to navigate the emotional pull of their family's multiple generations?


Parents are the primary religious educators of their children. However, Unitarian Universalist congregations sometimes unintentionally assume a parental responsibility by providing child-specific education programs without connecting those back to the home. A parent's active expression of their own UU faith will trump almost any experience a child has in

 [read more]

Books and Resources on Family Ministry
Family Ministry coverGarland, Diana S. Richmond. Family Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Ten articles on Family Faith Formation at

Richards, Michelle. "Family Ministry in Our Congregations: Mission Possible."

Tending the Flame coverTending the Flame: The Art of Unitarian Universalist Parenting. Boston: Skinner House Books, 2009

 Faith Formation 2020Roberto, John. Faith Formation 2020: Designing the Future of Faith. Lifelong Faith Associates, 2010.

 "Religious Education: Families" by the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Intergen Rel Ed - coverWhite, James W. Intergenerational Religious Education: Models, Theory, and Prescription for Interage Life and Learning in the Faith Community. Religious Education Press, 1998.

New Resource in the District Library
You are welcome to borrow books and other resources from the District Office. Please visit this link for more information about our holdings and terms of use. This month, we've added the following resource to our collection:
  • Raising Health Kids: Families Talk about Sexual Health. In this two-volume DVD set (one for parents of young children and one for parents of pre-adolescents and adolescents), parents and young people tell how they discuss sexual health. Experts offer insight to help families start and continue these important conversations. Includes discussion guides. 20 minutes each.
Feature Family Ministry (continued from top)
the congregation. Yet, there is often little intentional strategy for faithfully supporting parents in their influential role in children's spiritual formation. It's hard being a parent in any tradition, let alone Unitarian Universalism! Unitarian Universalism invites families to live their faith in the world, but what about in the home?


I suspect some help would be welcomed.


Rev. Phil Lund, Prairie Star District Director of Faith Development, suggests that "while congregations need to support families as families, the number one priority for congregations should be helping families develop their faith." The emphasis on family faith formation is echoed in the article "Family and Household Faith Formation" which asserts that congregations

are called to nurture the faith of families throughout life, and empower and equip them to learn and, celebrate rituals and traditions, pray, and live their faith at home and in the world. [Congregations] are called to assist parents to develop the faith life of parents so that they develop the confidence, competence, and comfort to with their children.


Let's imagine congregations with a serious eye on families. In such congregations, parents are well equipped to be faith guides for their children. Family life is enhanced by life in the congregation. Families experience significant connections between church and home-based faith practice. Milestone ministry (rites of passage) is a joyful and reverent tradition in the congregation.


Parents are the primary religious educators of their children. Let's build and support powerful Family Ministry.


The district is in a process of discerning and planning how to build the capacity of congregations to engage in family ministry. Please stay tuned for more resources. In the meantime, please share your thoughts and ideas with me. You can reach me at or 978-621-4525.


Many blessings in this season of ultimate possibility.