Newsletter: September 2015   
New England Region UUA

2015-2016 REGIONAL 

OWL Facilitator Training - Grades K to 6

OWL Facilitator Training - Grades 7 to 12

OWL Facilitator Training -
Young Adults & Adults

Renaissance Module: Philosophy of Religious Education

Online Event - Date TBA

Renaissance Module: Curriculum Planning

Online Event - Date TBA

G.R.A.C.E. Summit 2016

Embracing Who We Are: Unlocking the Aging Congregation's Gifts 
Online Event - Date TBA
Declaration of Interdependence
by Rev. Sue Phillips, Regional Lead

My favorite congregation, which I can't name because, well, as Regional Lead I'm not supposed to have favorites, is so wise. Good heavens they are smart and soulful! Everything their church does and is is about making Love manifest in their time and place. They know in their bones that how they are says everything about who they are.

Somehow they've learned that people of all ages need help to live faithful, growthful lives, and that it is the congregation's collective job to be that help. In their written materials they address this whole spiritual-but-not-religious thing head-on just in case any newcomers are confused. "One person" alone, they say, "is incapable of being a church". Right there, front and center in their founding document. I love it! They come together so that they can help each other increase the sum of Love in the world.

This community doesn't do "membership". They do "covenant," and that covenant is so strong that each covenant partner accepts responsibility for reaching out in Love to those who wander from the covenant by word or deed. They do this not because they want to punish each other but because they believe no one should ever "be cut off from the privileges of the covenant."   [Read More...]

This article was partially excerpted from Rev. Sue Phillips' 2015 General Assembly workshops:

And also:

Connect with other leaders. Deepen your congregation's impact. Innovate with fresh imagination and strategies for living your faith!

We are pleased to offer your our full slate of regional learning events featured in the left column. Click the linked dates to read more about each program.

Regional learning events explore 
everything from trends and realities in 21st century church life to creating inclusive congregations to justice ministries best practices to revitalizing worship to training OWL teachers and religious educators, and so much more.

You'll have a chance to learn alongside other leaders, get inspired by their best ideas, and bring back tips and tools to your congregation and community.

NEW THIS YEAR - Online Event Offerings!
As we offer events across the New England Region, we recognize the need to be as geographically accessible as possible. Online "distance learning" events are now being offered as a way to close our geographical distance when events are not being offered in your area. 

While this format is being developed and evaluated, you will experience different styles and methods of participating remotely. Your feedback is extremely valuable to us and so with every on-site and online event, you will have opportunities to take a post-event survey evaluation. We invite, welcome and encourage your feedback!
Their organizing document says explicitly that while officers and ministers can be helpful they are not absolutely necessary for the congregation to be healthy. Admittedly, there is a long section in there too speculating about possible roles for ministers, deacons, pastoral visitors, teachers, treasurers and all that. These people are not anarchists after all. They like a good committee as well as the next.

They have a lovely process for being with each other in times of conflict, encouraging people to talk first directly to the person they're having trouble with, and if that doesn't work ask another person to help them reconcile. If the conflict becomes intractable, this community recognizes that someone might need to leave, since the peace and well being of the whole is more important than that of any single individual. But they also promise one another that they won't just leave - they promise not to remove themselves from fellowship on a whim. They specifically say that being mad at another member is not reason enough to leave. They liken people leaving to pulling pieces of timber from a building or limbs from a whole person. Because folks join the community by entering into covenant, folks can only leave by being released from that covenant. 

They avoid using the term "independent" to describe their relationship to other congregations. They celebrate that each church is distinct, with special gifts and challenges, and that while churches certainly don't have control over each other they are nonetheless all connected. 

Here's my favorite part. This congregation lays out in delicious detail the ways they will show up for their neighboring congregations. They promise to look out for their neighbors' welfare, and consult with them when they ask for help. They promise to tell hard truths if they see folks acting in ways that are unhealthy. They promise to worship and celebrate together, to share resources, and to work together to expand their faith in the world.

This, my friends, is a community that understands what it means to be Unitarian Universalist, where independence and covenant alchemize into precious religious life.

Where is this congregation? It is here, in each of us, in our DNA as Unitarians, Universalists and Unitarian Universalists, for the congregations whose story I just told came together in Cambridge in 1648. These are our ancestors, yours and mine, the authors of the "congregational way". The Cambridge Platform - in which the story I tell above comes to life - was not a declaration of independence. It was a declaration of covenant, of interdependence.
As the new church year begins I hope your heart turns to interdependence. I hope you remember that there is a community of congregations and people to whom you belong, and who belong to you.

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Regional Lead Sabbatical
Our Regional Lead Rev. Sue Phillips will be on sabbatical from September 10-December 17th.  Feel free to call the Regional office at 617-948-6415 or be in touch with any Regional staff person if you have questions in Sue's absence.