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 TopClara Barton &
Massachusetts Bay Districts
of Unitarian Universalist Congregations

NEWSLETTER: February 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:
Breakfast for Presidents:

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


Small Congregations Program: March 9  


Pastoral Care with Youth:

Ballou Channing District

March 16 


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 

On Being a Staff Team  

by Rev. Sue Phillips,

District Executive 


People who know the folks I work with express admiration for our CBD-MBD "staff team." At first I thought this was because Doug, Karen, John, Shane, Meck and Judy are so smart and thoughtful and good at their work. They surely are smart and good. But I think what people notice most about us as a group is a vibe more than particular expertise -- synergy and connection rather than mere smarts.


Even though each one of us on the staff is an "expert" in aspects of congregational life, one of the best things we can offer other religious leaders is our experience of how to work (and be) together. For the CBD-MBD team, it's all about our covenant.


Covenant can be a mushy concept in real time and space, like the space inhabited by co-workers (even religious ones) who can be as idiosyncratic, cranky, pressed for time, over-enthusiastic, J-crazed and P-happy as the next person.


I've been a partner to countless covenants and while some have been inspirational and a few have actually motivated me, none has called me like the one I share with my CBD-MBD colleagues. It's not because the words of our covenant are that special. It's because we


Additional resources

Congregational Staff Team Startup slides, with questions staff teams can use to engage each other in covenant-building conversations. 


"The Exceptional Moment of Our Unique Faith," by Douglas Zelinski in last month's CBD-MBD Newsletter.


"Difficult Conversations: Nine Common Mistakes," by Sarah Green in the Harvard Business Review. Covenant usually requires a commitment to share difficult conversations. This article from the Harvard Business Review is surprisingly relevant to congregational committees and staff teams.


Woburn Fund Grant Cycle
Moved to Fall of 2013
The Mass Bay District's Woburn Fund grant program funding cycle has been moved to the Fall of 2013. MBD is actively working with software developers to design an online application platform that will engage the wider community of Unitarian Universalists in exciting new ways.

Funding guidelines will remain focused on growth and innovation in and beyond our congregations. Keep an eye out for application details this coming summer and fall!

BOTTOMOn Being a Staff Team 

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actually take the soul time to think about how we really want to be together, what we need from each other, and what we can honestly offer in this shared work. There's no BS in our covenant.

There's also no value in there that we don't honestly try to hold ourselves to. We ardently try to live into our covenant, not collectively so much as individually, together.

I have witnessed every member of our team use the covenant to bring us all back into right relation. And I'm not just talking about egregious violations - though we've had a few of those. I'm talking about when we as individual people weren't at our best and needed to come back and ask for forgiveness, or when we felt that someone wasn't living up to his or her promises.

We don't just work our covenant when we're together as a large group. I can't count the number of times a colleague has used our covenant to help me think through how to talk to someone else, or asked me to forgive myself, or gently nudged me away from triangulation.

When I experience those moments, when one of us tries to stay connected in covenant to another, I see that a deep covenant is the midwife of grace. Real grace, earned in the muck of everyday work.

Love grows in the midst of that grace. And that's what I think people notice about our staff team. We love each other. Not because we're all best friends, or because we agree on everything, or because we're perfect co-workers. But because we've struggled together, and tried hard to be the people we want to be, and failed in front of each other, and because we've glimpsed the beautiful, graceful, hard-earned love that we can only create together.

In Faith,