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 TopClara Barton &
Massachusetts Bay Districts
of Unitarian Universalist Congregations

GA2012"At this GA, we did more than talk about our faith - we lived it. We lived it in our partnerships, our cultural humility, our love, our witness."
Rev. Sara Huisjen,
UU Ellsworth, ME

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Upcoming Programs for Congregational Leaders

Gatherings of Boards - retreats for multiple boards together:  

Presidents & Ministers Convocations:

Congregational Staff Team Start Ups:  

Ministerial Interim Start Up: October 13 


Small Congregations Development Initiative:

  • October 20
  • March 9 

Renewing Our Commitment to Multicultural Ministries: May 18, 2013

Learning Congregation Trainings

(* indicates those followed by Master Classes for religious professionals from 2 to 5 PM the following day)

  • Revitalizing Your Congregation with Rev. Gordon Dragt: November 10 *      
  • Creating and Supporting Lay Pastoral Care Teams:
    December 1       
  • Transforming Stewardship with Dr. Wayne Clark:
    uary 26
  • Navigating Difference in the Beloved Community with Meck Groot:
    April 6        
  • Evaluating Congregational Ministries with Rev. Sue Phillips: May 11 
  • Orienting New Board Members: June 1 (CBD) / June 15 (MBD)      
  • Creating and Leading Dynamic Lay Led Worship with Rev. Sue Phillips: June 8 
Upcoming Programs
in Religious Education 
Grades 7 to 12:
Grades K to 6:

Chrysalis: Chaplaincy Training - Pastoral Care with Youth

November 2 and 3  


Religious Educators and Ministers Collegial Conversation

February 27


Ren Mod: UU Identity - coming in March  


Districts Assembly  

APRIL 27, 2013 
Hold the date!

GA is Dead. Long live GA. 

by Rev. Sue Phillips,
District Executive

General Assembly felt different this year. I'm a veteran of something like 12 GAs at this point and I make a living coaching people how to understand congregational dynamics, but the best way I can describe what happened in Phoenix is that crackly energy of purposeful good will ran throughout this General Assembly. This is the year we really showed up, when all those strands of individual experience, opinion, and purpose felt woven into a single beautiful fabric.


Justice GA wasn't that different structurally from previous General Assemblies. We still had plenary sessions, and a huge exhibit hall, and workshops, and hundreds of happy UUs cavorting in the hallways in questionable outfits and comfortable shoes. The difference was not that we stopped conducting "business as usual" - in fact we still attended to the issues of the day in the same format as every other GA.


The difference that made a difference    [MORE]


Making the Invisible Visible  

MeckGrootby Meck Groot, 

Justice Ministries Coordinator  


I'm not much of one for rallies, demonstrations, marches and other forms of protest. In that way, I make a lousy "activist" and tend not to identify as such. It's not that I am not passionate about the issues. There's plenty to rail against. But I often fail to understand the purpose of demonstrations. So often they seem no more than reactive habit. Most of them remind me of a workshop I went to years ago with Nora Lester Murad in which she effectively revealed to us our tendency to choose justice-seeking strategies not for their effectiveness but for our level of comfort and familiarity with them.


Frankly, I generally get bored at these actions. So often, speakers do not inspire but recite what we listeners already know; the chants are dull; and turnout is paltry. I'd rather be where the press is: at home. I ask myself, "Who was that for? What was the point? What difference did that make?"


I had an entirely different experience at a vigil held outside Tent City and the Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix   [MORE]  

General Assembly Highlights   

For those who were not able to be in Phoenix for General Assembly or who would like to revisit their experience, here are ways to review Justice GA:

GA is Dead. Long Live GA - continued from above 

Featureis that congregational delegates and UUA staff reoriented ourselves around faith formation rather than institutional maintenance. Almost everything we did was focused on developing a deeper practice of using our faith to fuel our commitments in the world. 

GA 2012 Vigil

Social action, justice-oriented workshops, and public witness have been essential elements of GA for a long time. What was different this year was the emphasis on partnerships - we were literally called to show up in solidarity with a specific group of people in a specific place around specific issues. The theme of partnership infused GA and was embodied by participants from Arizona-based justice organizations and interfaith partners in virtually every public event. We worshiped with our partners, heard testimonials during plenary, and witnessed against Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Tent City together. These partnerships broke us out of our collective habitual insularity and helped us practice what Dan McKanan in a recent blog post calls "the 'cultural humility' that enables common work for justice." 


I arrived in Phoenix with assumptions that turned out not to be true. I had assumed that social action would trump worship and theological reflection. I assumed that strategies like activist-oriented political organizing would be elevated above congregationally-based justice ministry. I was wrong, and I left more hopeful than ever that Unitarian Universalism has turned a corner away from secular activism toward spiritually mature witness in service of beloved community.


Even as we celebrate the vision and reality of this GA, I think it is important to acknowledge that it came at a cost. Lots of folks came to Phoenix, but many more stayed home. Some of our movement's most committed justice activists were disappointed that we didn't do more to move out of our comfort zones. There was contention and bitterness behind the scenes throughout the two-year planning process for this General Assembly. The spiritual practice of humility so in evidence in Phoenix can serve us still.


Our mantra here on the MBD-CBD staff team is that clear and prophetic purpose fuels meaningful ministry and energizes growth in Unitarian Universalism. Justice GA was this mantra writ large, and it was a wonder to behold how common purpose amplifies intent and impact.


Internal challenges to our religious movement melt in the face of our country's shameful treatment of our undocumented cousins. I for one will never forget Tent City, or the arms waving behind narrow prison windows as we sang resistance songs in Spanish. Our partners in Arizona gave us a priceless gift: they called us to stop doing things the way we always do them and to work in partnership to discern our call. Unitarian Universalists heard this call in a new way, and Justice GA is one way we answered - each of us a shimmering drop in a sea of blazing yellow.