Thursday, June 30, 2011

Growing Our UU Churches

On Friday at General Assembly (GA) I went to a session called: Church of the New Millennium: Scenario for Success by Rev. Dr. Galen Guengerich, Senior Minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City. Dr. Guengerich told us that according to surveys 92% of the people in the USA believed in God (or a higher power). Thus if we, as UUs want to grow our churches we need to find a way to bring God into our UU group/church/society etc as 8% is not a large enough group for  us to pull from and grow.  Something to think about.

This does not bother me as I have always believed in one God or higher power or the force or what ever you want to call it. I have witnesses miracles and I was with my dad when he died and I felt his spirit or soul leave his body.  

I went to the Ware Lecture with Karen Armstrong and she is a great speaker, but I was a little disappointed in that she had asked us to read her book, 12 Steps to a More Compassionate Life (paperback or kindle), and I was expecting more or an addition to the book. Her speech was great, but more for those that had not read her book. Oh well, I did enjoy her book and for the most part really agreed with it, but I think we do have a soul or a spirit.*

Then I read a posting about how DREs (Director of Religious Education for UU churches) are just staff. Really?!

And so I have been thinking for the last few days about: Why are we not growing? In the 1800's if we had merged we would have been the largest religious group in the USA. What has happened?

Maybe it is because I was a DRE and now I am not, but I think we need to look at ourselves first. 

When I was the DRE I had some people that were great supporters and some that just took Religious Education for the children for granted and some that just treated me as staff others as a gopher and some that never thought about it. But this is not about me {but I do wonder about the experiences of other DREs} it's about what is happening in our UU group/church/society etc. 

Have you looked at the qualifications of your DRE (or LDRE or DCRE or whatever the title) lately? They no longer are women or men that are just parents or adults. They are professionals with degrees. Some have BA or BS in Education or Religion; others have MAs or MSs in Education or Religion, and some even have doctorate degrees in Education or Religion. Many are over qualified for their jobs and have great ideas. But sometimes they lack support and personpower to implement them. 
Attribution Some rights reserved by MAMJODH
  • So how does a UU group/church/society etc. grow? 
  • Is with the older members of our group? 
  • Is it with our families? 
  • Is it our minister?
  • Is it whether we believe in God or not?
  • Is it our Principles?
  • Is it us?
  • We need our older members to help us remember the past and to help us not redo the mistakes of the past. But not to tell us that "we don't do that here" or "that is not the way we do it."
  • We need to have good programs for our children and youth starting with our nurseries. 
  • We need to get families to come into the building and then we need to keep them. 
So I have been thinking and researching (this will continue) and have come up with the following:
  • According to the American Religious Identification Survey, religious belief varies considerably across the country: 59% of Americans living in Western states (the "Unchurched Belt") report a belief in God, yet in the South (the "Bible Belt") the figure is as high as 86%. **
  • On paper Unitarian Universalism looks wonderful.  
  • But are we giving people what they need?
  • So we need to ask them "What do you want?" 
  • Would it threaten you or the governing board of your UU group/church/society etc to send out a survey asking what people want?
  • So what do you need out of your UU group/church/society etc.? And are you getting it?
  • And maybe we should think about doing something about upping the status of our DREs. A start could be with the UUA/GA fees. Give them the same consideration that you give retired ministers.

* And to my friends that questioned why I was reading the book, my answer is that no one can be compassionate enough, even I sometimes forget that we are all human and need compassion.
** Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar (2009). "AMERICAN RELIGIOUS IDENTIFICATION SURVEY (ARIS) 2008" (PDF). Hartford, Connecticut, USA: Trinity College. Retrieved June 30, 2011. & Newport, Frank (2008-07-28). "Belief in God Far Lower in Western U.S.". The Gallup Organization. Retrieved 2011-06-30.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

GA 2011 Charlotte, North Carolina

Well I managed to finish my volunteering for UUA at GA - 24 hours of teaching people about recycling, composting, and landfills. Plus I did 2.5 hours helping at the Standing on the Side of Love booth and an hour at the Church of the Large Fellowship booth.  This did not leave much time for sessions, but I did get the the CLF's once-a-year service and saw Meg Riley get installed as Senior Minister.
I also attended part of Church of the New Millennium: Scenario for Success with Rev. Dr. Galen Guengerich part of Friendly Presence: SocialMedia and Ministry with: Rev. Stefan Jonasson, Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein,Only part of those two as I had to go back to my volunteer jobs.
Rev. Meg Riley, and Andrea Lerner.
I did meet a lot of new people, made new friends, and visited with some old friends.
 We saw history being made on Friday night with New York passing their same sex marriage law!
Tonight I will attend the Ware Lecture by Karen Armstrong and then go back to the hotel to pack and get a good night's sleep.
Tomorrow Sunday I take the train to Raleigh to meet up with friends from the past.
Come back on Thursday as I will premier a great poster that I got at GA from my new friend Terry.
So all in all a great trip and a renewal of my faith in Unitarian Universalists.

Blessed be,

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chalica: Not just a winter holiday!

 Phoenix Chalice
This last year was a tough one for me and I found myself thinking about the 7 Principles a lot of the time. The more and more that I think about it I have come to the conclusion that while the whole setting aside a special time and place for a Chalica celebration is a great idea; we should also think of using part of Chalica in times of need. One of the things that is helping me get through this year is been to think of helping others. I spent a lot of time in solitude wanting to not connect with people and I found that I didn't seem to heal, but then I started to read one principles each day and do something to exemplify that principle. Nothing on a grade scale, just taking contacting a friend, or helping someone out. And finally I began to heal. There are still issues I am dealing with but I will take it just one day and one person at a time. 
Welcome to our new viewers! I must admit I had to look up the Republic of Mauritius! 
Check down at the bottom left you will see I have added my Chalica Twitter feed.  Please feel free to follow it and or this blog!
 Blessed Be,

Kathy KZ