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 TopClara Barton &
Massachusetts Bay Districts
of Unitarian Universalist Congregations

NEWSLETTER: January 2013
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Grant application deadline for CBD Spring 2013 Chalice Lighter program is February 29, 2013. [Details
Upcoming Programs for Congregational Leaders
O.W.L. Facilitator Trainings Grades 7 to 12:

Grades K to 6:

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

with Dr. Wayne Clark:
January 26


Designing 21st Century Faith Formation for All Ages in Congregations 

with John Roberto:
February 5


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


Small Congregations Program:
March 9 


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


The Exceptional Moment of                      Our Unique Faith 

by Doug Zelinski, Doug Zelinski

Director of Leadership Development 


If the crux of Unitarian Universalism were reduced to a few points in space and time, they would be those potent moments just before and just after we keep a promise, or we break it. All that is exceptional about being human and becoming whole is crystalized in these decisive microseconds:
  • Will I say "hello" to the visitor standing awkwardly near the sanctuary door or not?
  • Do I stay connected to Miguel even though he just voted against my idea?
  • Do I acknowledge the tug on my heart and wallet that asks me to really wrestle with the amount of my pledge?
  • Will I or will I not risk feeling unsure and uninformed as I step outside my comfort zone and spend time with those of other races, classes or generations on their terms rather than mine?
  • Will I expose my need for wholeness, my hope for forgiveness, my longing to belong, and my desire to matter?
People in all faith communities face microseconds like these.  Sometimes we "live into" these moments and consciously wrestle with our instinct to fight, flee or freeze. Rising above these instincts to respond rather than react is what makes us human and what moves us toward wholeness.  That this power to become whole is so concentrated in these common moments of experience is what makes them extraordinary.

Sometimes we subconsciously squelch these moments by automatically retreating into the ideology of our particular belief or non-belief. We may then spend time feeling wounded or righteous, debating, competing or even warring over religion.

Unique among the faiths, Unitarian Universalism proclaims the ordinary but decisive moments of human agency as its center rather than a particular system of belief. Instead of aiding a retreat into ideology, UUism invites the moral codes of religions and ethics to inspire and support individuals, but it refuses to let those codes blur or distract from the key questions of all

                                              [Read More]
Additional resources

Beyond Belief, the welcome page to UUA President Peter Morales' blog.

Alice Blair WesleyThe Lay and Liberal Doctrine of the 
Church: The Spirit and the Promise of Our Covenant, Alice Blair Wesley,
The Minns Lectures.

The Sharing Sacred Spaces Project, a video documenting some first steps in reaching across barriers to create covenant.

Behavioral Covenants in Congregations: A Handbook for Honoring Differences by Gilbert R. Rendle, Alban Institute.

Practicing Right Relationship: Skills for  AL304
Deepening Purpose, Finding Fulfillment,
and Increasing Effectiveness in Your
Congregation by Mary K. Sellon, Daniel P. Smith, Alban Institute.

Bottom0113The Exceptional Moment of Our Unique Faith  

(continued from top)
humanity: how do we strive for communities of wholeness, with ourselves and with creation; what must we promise to make this so; how do we "begin again" after we break our promises? These are the questions of covenant.

The exceptional moment of our unique faith is not only the microseconds when we decide to make and keep covenant, but also this larger cultural "moment" in history. Worldwide social media has made it abundantly clear that we are connected to and reliant on each other despite our religious differences.  Increasingly, people are looking beyond institutional religion for communities that matter.  Unitarian Universalism speaks most directly to the covenantal necessities of these emerging communities.  We are not exceptional in our perfection of covenanted community, but we are called to be exceptional in our promotion of it.

And this is why it is important for us to shed the historic (and justified) fear of "exceptionalism" as vain individualism and adopt the humbling realization that because our Faith is, as proclaimed by UUA President Peter Morales, "the faith beyond belief," we are the stewards of a great gift desperately needed in this day and age.

To share this gift we need to extend ourselves further into new and different kinds of communities, bringing the message of covenant.  And to share this message with humility, we need to remember how difficult it can be for us all to rise above our instincts during the extraordinary microseconds of living in covenant and to marvel at the Grace that makes it possible at all.