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 TopClara Barton &
Massachusetts Bay Districts
of Unitarian Universalist Congregations

NEWSLETTER: September 2013
In & Around the Districts
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Upcoming Programs
The following programs can also all be found on the 
CBD-MBD Calendar.

Learning Congregation Workshops
October 5: Adaptive Leadership 202 with Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh  (FULL)  
November 9: Faith Out Loud: Talking About What You Believe with Rev. Galen Guengerich

November 23: Creating and Supporting Lay Pastoral Care Teams with Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh

December 7: Transforming Congregational Conflict: Essential Leadership Skills with Dr. Eben Weitzman

January 11: Growing Better Religion with Rev. Tandi Rogers

February 1: Unitarian Universalist Spirituality: A Wellspring for Lay Leaders with Rev. Jen Crow  
March 1: Building a Vocal Community with Dr. Ysaye Barnwell

March 22: Speaking of Class with Meck Groot 


May 17: Sermon Writing for Lay Preachers with Rev. Sue Phillips    


May 31 and June 7: New Board Member Orientations with Douglas Zelinski   


Lifespan Faith Formation and Religious Education
October 28: Social Media Ministry with Karen Bellavance-Grace 

November 13: What Comes Next? Implementing Faith Formation 2020 with Karen Bellavance-Grace

February 12: DRE/Ministers Collegial Conversation: Full Week Faith with Karen Bellavance-Grace

March 12 and 13: Renaissance Module - Worship for All Ages

Our Whole Lives Facilitator Trainings
Grades 7 to 9 and 10 to 12 Grades K to 1 and 4 to 6
For Religious Professionals
October 6: Adaptive Leadership 202 Master Class for Ministers with Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh

November 8: Nurturing Faith in an SBNR World: Why Theology Still Matters
with Rev. Galen Guengerich (FULL)

January 31: Unitarian Universalist Spirituality: A Wellspring for Religious Professionals with Rev. Jen Crow

February 12: DRE/Ministers Collegial Conversation: Full Week Faith with Karen Bellavance-Grace
April 2: Effective Staff Supervision in Religious Organizations with Rev. Susan Beaumont

Annual Events: Hold Dates!
April 26: Freely Gathered - Third Annual Combined Districts Assembly

May 10: Renewing Our Commitment to Multicultural Ministries - Annual G.R.A.C.E. Team Summit
Talkin' About a Devolution
Rev. Sue Phillips
by Rev. Sue Phillips,
District Executive

Yes indeed I'm a child of the 80's, so I will subject our entire 3800-person readership to bad-punny Tracy Chapman allusions. That's how I roll.


And if this is what it takes to get your attention, I'm fine with that. Because some fascinating things are coming down the pike about district and regional staffing, programs, service to congregations, and some serious new efforts to get congregations connected to one another.


Here's what I know: the MBD-CBD staff - along with our colleagues in the Ballou Channing and Northern New England Districts - is moving slowly but surely toward a vision of a unified regional staff structure under a single Regional Lead. Why does this matter to you? Because we believe this shift will unlock potential for ministry that is currently stuck in redundant administrative and management systems and duplication of program efforts. We can save time, money, and human resources by sharing. It really is that simple.   


We'd be foolish to underestimate the value of improved long-term economic sustainability. The Clara Barton District has about $500,000 in restricted and unrestricted assets, but that number diminishes every year because CBD congregations do not contribute sufficient district dues to cover current staffing levels.  Stabilizing the economics of the staff team that serves you is imperative. 


But saving resources only has limited value on its own merits. Ultimately, saving resources adds extra value when we can maintain or improve high levels of service to congregations at the same time.

We believe we will indeed live into such improvements, because it has already happened here in the Mass Bay and Clara Barton Districts over the last three years since we began sharing everything. We have doubled the number of staff people available to congregations, added a justice ministries position, and improved both the quantity and quality of district programs and services.

Here's where the devolution part comes in. Even as we expand the geographical domain of regional UUA field staff, we will focus intensely on bringing congregations together at a more local level to learn together.  

Here's what we're going to do: 

  • Provide more programs locally. We intend to staff an increasing number of congregation-led and -hosted events where regional staff will come in as trainers and local congregations will choose the topics and invite their neighbors to learn alongside each other.  
  • Expand the number of locally based peer consultants. We trained sixty (60!) gifted congregational leaders this summer as "peer consultants" who will be available to facilitate board retreats, coach congregations in transition, build capacity for youth ministry and other really cool stuff. Peers teaching peers is a powerful model of covenantally-rooted learning.  
  • Support our district boards as they change their focus from governance to stewarding associational connections. You may not be aware of just how visionary the CBD and MBD boards are, but they are leading the nation (IMHO) in truly prophetic re-envisioning of how leaders at the congregational, district, and regional level might connect to make way for a new Great Awakening of liberal religion in New England. 

You might say we are growing bigger to grow smaller.  This is not some obfuscatory semantic fog meant to distract people from scary changes. The changes we are pursuing might indeed be scary to some, but we believe with all of our faithful hearts that our congregations, and our faith, will be well served.    


Send your own bad puns, or reach out with your questions, hopes, or concerns. We are all learning our way through this together! 


In Faith, 



 Additional Resources

Unitarian Universalists Association of Congregations Regional Map.
District staff is increasingly working across district lines in five regions:

Regional Map
  • Central East Regional Group (green)    
  • Southern Region (orange) 
  • MidAmerica Region (yellow)    
  • Pacific Western Region (mauve) 
  • New England Region (blue)   
For updates about how UUs in other parts of the country are organizing themselves, see:
  • The New Great Awakening of Liberal Religion in New England, by John Laurenson, President MBD Board and Justine Sullivan, President, CBD Board
    MBD and CBD District presidents reflect on increasing collaboration by "joining our energies and our intentions and perhaps our resources...with our fellow UU leaders to help spark a revitalization of our UU faith in New England, the home of American Unitarianism and American Universalism."