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 TopClara Barton &
Massachusetts Bay Districts
of Unitarian Universalist Congregations

NEWSLETTER: November 2012
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Grant application deadline for CBD Spring 2013 Chalice Lighter program is February 29, 2013. [Details
Upcoming Programs for Congregational Leaders

Creating and Supporting Lay Pastoral Care Teams with Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh:
December 1

Faith Formation for the Twenty-First Century with John Roberto:
December 11

O.W.L. Facilitator Trainings Grades 7 to 12:

Beyond Fundraising: Building on Strengths to Create a Culture of Generosity  

with Dr. Wayne Clark:
January 26


Collegial Conversation for Religious Educators and Ministers:
February 27
(snow date: Feb 28)


Renaissance Module: UU Identity:
March 21 to 22 


Navigating Difference in the Beloved Community with Meck Groot:

April 6


Districts Assembly:

April 27 


Evaluating Congregational Ministries with Rev. Sue Phillips:

May 11


Renewing our Commitment to Multicultural Ministry with the GRACE Team:

May 18 


Orienting New Board Members (CBD) with Doug Zelinski:

June 1


Creating and Leading Dynamic Lay-Led Worship with Rev. Sue Phillips:

June 8   


Orienting New Board Members (MBD) with Doug Zelinski:

June 15

Districts Assembly  

APRIL 27, 2013 
Hold the date!

Embracing Our "What if" Faith

by Karen Bellavance-Grace, Karen Bellavance-Grace

Director of Faith Formation 


Imagine Thanksgiving Day with no children's table. Whole families gather around expanded tables. The turkey is the centerpiece, but it shares space with the Tofurkey that vegan cousin Clare brought. Great-great-grandma's traditional stuffing sits next to Grandpa Hank's heart-healthy whole grain stuffing, and Aunt Marge tried her hand at African Akara bean cakes for her beloved goddaughter. The twins, Alan and Aisha, will polish off the sweet potatoes, and cousin Nora insists on bringing the green bean and fried onion ring casserole. Little Macy will only eat dry turkey and dinner rolls, which she asks Uncle Marc to pass. Uncle Marc is a little uneasy asking collegian Chris to pass the basket, ever since Chris began his gender transition. He wants to know how to talk to his niece, er, nephew - he's still getting used to it. When the time comes to say grace, Uncle Marc gives Chris' hand a squeeze he hopes will say more, because the one thing he knows for sure is that this Thanksgiving table is where they both belong.  

I believe we are in a Thanksgiving moment for our congregations. The role of church and of religion in [Read More]  


Congratulations to our own Karen Bellavance-Grace for her selection as one of three national Fahs Fellows!  The Fahs Fellowship is a new collaborative sponsored by the Meadville-Lombard Theological School that supports innovation in UU faith development.  Along with the other Fellows, Karen will be supported as a "public intellectual" who offers pedagogical strategies that breathe fresh air into how we teach, learn, and grow.
 Additional resources
UUA LogoThe UU@Home blog has great ideas for families to bring their faith home all year long.

The UU Media Collaborative creates vibrant graphic images with powerful UU connections to hang at home or in church kitchens or classrooms.  Download and print your favorites. Holiday gift idea: Download a dozen and make your own UU Calendar for 2013!
Faith Formation for the 21st Century 
John Roberto The 21st century has brought dramatic political, economic, social and cultural changes affecting virtually every dimension of American religious life. On December 11, the Districts will present "Faith Formation for the 21st Century: Designing the Future of Faith Formation," a workshop for religious professionals led by John Roberto, President of LifelongFaith Associates. This presentation will help you understand the new context for faith formation, develop a vision and model for 21st century faith formation, and explore a variety of strategies for bringing the vision to life. Cosponsored by our local chapters of LREDA and the UUMA. Click here to register or for more information.

AEmbracing Our "What if" Faith 

(continued from top)

American life is shifting radically - it's happening around us, and we don't have any control over that. What we do have some control over, however, is how we choose to respond to the world we live in. This can be an exciting time for people of faith, a time that calls for all of our voices to participate. Together, we get to discern the core of our faith, those things so central to who we are that they take primacy of place alongside the traditional turkey and the generations-old stuffing. Together we get to imagine what we are willing to try in a new way.


Imagine no more children's table. Imagine church where religious education is not only for children. Imagine if everyone sits at the table and partakes in Faith Formation. It has been exciting to talk with religious educators and ministers and lay leaders over the past year about faithful responses to 21st century church. I sense excitement about possibilities, passion and creativity about creating something new. I sense worries too, about what we may lose, about how hard change is, about how uncomfortable it often is to not fully understand our role anymore. This is a dynamic time, and not without bumps in the road.


Imagining an intergenerational community of faith formation is one place to start - it's like imagining the whole family at the Thanksgiving table and giving up the segregated kids table.


This Thanksgiving moment invites us to imagine our congregational lives not just outside the box, but beyond it. Tandi Rogers, at the UUA's office of Growth Strategies calls us to imagine the family as the first "Beyond" in our conversations about Congregations and Beyond. What if families were at the center of our faith formation ministries instead of children? What if we affirmed parents as the primary religious educators of their children and youth, and our professional religious educators and ministers equipped parents with tools and resources to help them live into that privilege?


What if we stopped fighting against the soccer practices scheduled on Sunday mornings, and fielded a UUteam instead, another of Tandi's 'what if' wonderings? What if it was okay for us to sleep in on Sunday mornings sometimes, and show up all together on Wednesday night for an evening of worship, food, and faith formation for all ages together? What if one Sunday a month we worship in the world? Maybe fixing up a neighborhood playground, or walking through the downtown picking up trash and painting over graffiti wearing our First Parish UU Church tee shirts, standing on the side of love together, bringing our faith beyond our walls. What if people saw us working in the world and asked, 'who are you guys?' We could tell them 'We are your neighbors, we are Unitarian Universalists. We worship down the street there, but once a month we worship in the world, and try to do something important.' What if the Sunday bulletin call for RE volunteers asked for "bright and friendly youth to work with our seniors to learn how to Skype, download the UUA Illuminations app, and set up a Pinterest page." What if our DRE job descriptions, instead of saying, "must work well with children," said "candidates who feel called to share their faith with all ages are encouraged to apply." What if ministerial search committees prioritized candidates who felt competent to lead children's chapel once a month?


Some of these things are happening in our congregations already. Religious professionals and their lay partners are making faithful experiments and learning together. I invite you to carry these 'what-if' conversations to your own congregations. The December program by John Roberto on Faith Formation for the 21st Century will be a terrific conversation generator. I strongly encourage our ministers and DREs to register early! These are exciting conversations to have. It is a privilege and a joy to participate in shaping a Jubilee table with room for all of us at our faith's table. Know that your District staff is here, ready to listen to your ideas, share your experiments, and learn together with you those things we can carry forward to spark a renewal of our faith for the next generation, right here; right now.