Newsletter: December 2014

Everyone welcome from
all districts!
Renaissance Module on UU History - webinar series begins

Our Whole Lives - 7 to 12
Facilitator Training

Master Class: The Message of Music--Finding Ourselves in the Rhythm

Our Whole Lives - 7 to 12
Facilitator Training


January 31, 2015

Youth Ministry in the 2K's 


January 31, 2015 

Master Class: Youth Ministry 

Next Gen


Master Class: Living on Purpose--
The End of Strategic Planning 

GRACE Community Learning Gathering
Master Class: Multigenerational Worship--Moving From The Exception to the Norm 


Collegial Conversations for Ministers, DREs, Admins, Music Directors - Living Into Mystery: 

March 11, 2015
Master Class: Lifting Up Your Spiritual Leadership for Church Administrators


Master Class: Naming Culture; Practicing Change

And What Exactly Do You Do? 

Rev. Parisa Parsaby Rev. Parisa Parsa
Director of Congregational Development

The Advent season is a time set apart. In the midst of our realization of how broken the world is, we anticipate new light, new hope, new ways waiting to burst forth.  


Every year I find myself struggling a bit to remember my faith in that arrival, wrestling with my impatience and frustration at the ways of this world. I strain to attend to the smaller movements of spirit that bring goodness to life, that let love take root and push through the tough crust of our defenses.


This year is no different as we hit the streets and sit in prayer over the lost lives of black and brown men, as we receive news of scandalous and immoral behavior by our Central Intelligence Agency, as we read of preventable deaths around the world that go on because poverty and violence are unchecked.  


It puts the work of the church and the work of our associational structure into some perspective. Our effective functioning as congregations and a connected, engaged faith is crucial. Our patience for the institutional conflicts and smaller differences is tested. These side-by-side truths operate in tension this season and in church life.


There is an active preparation to Advent that is the cultivation and movement of spirit and flesh into readiness for the shape of things to come: it is very concretely preparing the way for what we don't yet see or know. Having just made the transition from parish ministry to your regional staff team, I am realizing that the UUA's Congregational Life system is in a sort of advent time. We are moving toward what is not yet, intentionally practicing and experimenting with some changes that might meet the challenges of our congregations and communities, engaging reflective practices in which we question our own assumptions, try out new possibilities, and deliver the best of what we have gathered to equip congregational leaders to meet their own challenges. Sounds great, right?


New England Region UUA Staff
New England Region UUA Staff

You can call anyone on
our regional staff team to think through your organizational challenge - whether it's a growth-induced challenge like the move to two services, or the resource question of whether you will continue with full-time ministry or anything in between.

Call us for
  • support on questions related to ministerial transitions,
  • help with congregational conflicts, and
  • consultation on congregational staffing, mission and stewardship processes.

We offer 

  • facilitation of board retreats and ministerial startup workshops,
  • collegial conversations and master classes for religious professionals, and
  • learning opportunities for congregational lay leaders on a wide variety of topics.
And on July 1, 2015, with the official addition of Northern New England District, we will become the regional team we have been growing into.
FEATUREAnd What Exactly Do You Do? [continued from top]
Most of the communications I've received from folks in congregations this fall have begun with: "I don't know if you're the right person to contact for this..." Our current work (quite intentionally) doesn't fit neatly into the paradigm many of our congregations and communities have known. We are working creatively, dynamically and collaboratively to fulfill current needs and to anticipate and support the next phase of religious life for our communities.


One of the trickiest things in the midst of organizational change is getting the word out about what we're doing while we're doing it and seeing it change before our eyes. You might rightly be wondering:

  • What happens when a District Executive becomes a Regional Lead?
  • What does it mean to have a staff team shared across a fairly large geographical area?
  • How are staff roles differentiated? What do those titles actually mean?
  • When is it appropriate to call regional staff, and when should I just try to figure it out on my own?

You may be used to calling on a District Executive for letters for Ministerial Search Packets; questions related to ministerial transitions; help with congregational conflicts; consultation with congregational staffing, mission and stewardship processes.


It may be a little challenging to know what to do with a staff team with titles that are new to you when you need to ask someone, anyone, about a challenge in your congregational system that is also new. The answer is that you can call anyone on our staff team to think through your organizational challenge - whether it is a growth-induced challenge like the move to two services or the resource question of whether you will continue with full-time ministry and anything in between. If the first person you speak with isn't the one with the expertise or the portfolio you seek, we will refer you to a regional staff colleague or connect you with other resources (peer consultants, leaders from other congregations, or ministers who have worked through similar challenges).  


We delight in learning about what you are up to and how congregational life is shaping wherever you are. Whether you need our direct assistance or simply an ear, if you're wondering whether to call, go ahead and do it! (If you ever want to get more familiar with the details of what each staff member is up to, feel free to call and ask. It's more than can fit in a newsletter article, and a journey we're glad to share.)


We are a highly collaborative team. Guided by our Regional Lead, the Rev. Sue Phillips, we work to build our respective areas of expertise and also to dispatch the most qualified people for the needs of our congregations. We are constantly in touch about what is happening with each of our work areas, and also continually asking and educating ourselves about the exciting experiments and creative initiatives you are taking on in your communities.


The Congregational Life team of the UUA - the field staff across our five regions in the US - is guided by the core purposes of fostering interconnection, innovation, and impact in our network of covenanted communities.


In supporting our core purposes, you will likely find us asking you a lot of questions when you call us. We are listening for opportunities for interconnection, innovation, and impact, and considering how any or all of those purposes are served through our work with you. We still do much of the things we always have: coaching on organizational challenges; offering board retreats and ministerial startup workshops (17 since June!); collegial conversations for religious professionals; writing letters for search packets and helping with congregational conflict transformation.


Increasingly, we're looking at how we can offer learning and development opportunities that facilitate you learning both from us and with each other, drawing together two or more congregations for the extra spark that comes from learning about each other. We're working to support religious professionals and lay leaders with "master classes" that offer opportunities to go deep with a particular issue that is at the edge of what we know and see what creative possibilities emerge.


While the landscape of our association changes and the work of congregations shifts and grows, we attend to each other: to our deep hopes and our movements toward the edge of despair and back again. The advent for us will not be finished at the moment of the arrival of Christmas or solstice, but we are offered the reminder that paying attention, staying connected, and nurturing hope are abiding gifts of the spirit that see us through, always.


As we pray for peace, let us remember to bring each other goodness, this and every season.