Showing posts from June, 2011

FYI, Apps!

Just FYI, the UUA is in the process of designing a UU app.  A couple of weeks ago they put out a page where you can submit ideas.  As is often the case, however, I can't find it easily by searching for it through the UUA's page.  Problem number one is that "phone" and "app" are too common.  "Submit ideas for mobile phone app" doesn't turn it up, either.  Fortunately, I have found it for you.  It's at

But, if you can't wait to see what the UUA will turn out, the Church of the Larger Fellowship just put out a very nice app, "Quest for Meaning."  The Android version is available; the iPhone version may still be "coming soon."  It was free when I downloaded it during GA, and features four options -- reading joys and sorrows, posting a joy or sorrow, lighting a chalice (along with a reading), and podcasts.  It's a nifty little thing.  I found it hard to located.  In my apps st…

Blogging GA: Plenty O' Plenaries

This morning's plenary sessions at the UUA General Assembly dealt with several housekeeping bylaw changes (some of which will have to be voted on at next year's "Justice GA"), and the Actions of Immediate Witness.  Four AIMs were proposed, and three passed.  Interestingly, the one that didn't pass was on opposing the war in Afghanistan.  Arguments against ranged from that it's not an immediate issue (since it's been going on so long) to that it instructs us to instruct the people of Afghanistan in how to run their country, which is inappropriate.  It's significant to note that a similar AIM was rejected last year at the General Assembly.  But both of these also follow on the heels of the 2010 Statement of Conscience on Creating Peace.  AIMs have to pass by a 2/3 majority.  The AIM on the war was so close that our moderator had to call for the vote three times before it was clear that it didn't pass.  Those we did pass were on supporting supermarke…

Blogging GA: Meadville Lombard

As a Meadville Lombard Theological School alum, one of the regular GA events I attend is the Meadville Lombard alumni dinner.  After everything Meadville Lombard has been through this year, I wasn't sure what the mood would be of the room this year.  Often the event is a mixture of school pride, nostalgia as we hear 25 years and 50 years in the ministry speakers, and silliness as we hassle the president or scribe and bark (literally--it's a long story) our approval for various statements or motions. 

This year, after Meadville Lombard has sold its historic building and cancelled the plans to join with Andover Newton in forming a new theological university, and has now leased space in the Chicago loop area (location still mostly undisclosed, but alums are in the know now).  It's been such a whirlwind year that when you go to, you land now on their news page -- that's what they're putting first on the web, because it's so significant.  Compare …

Blogging GA: Social Media

There were only a couple of workshops on social media this year at General Assembly, and one of them was at the same time as another big lecture I wanted to attend the other day, so I happily grabbed the one today that was sandwiched between the plenary sections.  It was led by four ministers who talked about how they use social media.  What was really nice was that they all saw use of social media as a valid piece of ministry -- not just something they do on the side -- and they also talked about how it shows the congregation a different side of the minister, through seeing snarky blog posts or goofy cat videos or exposure to the different interests and social groups a minister interacts with.  And they all seemed to think this was largely positive for congregations to see this side of ministers.  As someone who has friended congregation members on Facebook, I have to agree.  My facebook friends see more of me than they would otherwise, and that's largely good.  (Although an amus…

Blogging GA: Ethical Eating

Today the UUA General Assembly had one main issue before them in the short (comparatively) plenary session: to vote on the proposed Statement of Conscience on Ethical Eating.  There were two main debates that were held about the SOC.  The first was about the elephant in the UUA room: classism.  The proposal put before us in plenary included two lines that urged us to tell food sellers and producers that we will buy and pay more for ethically produced food.  One fellow from my own economically devastated state of Michigan urged people to vote against the SOC because of this.  He shared with the gathered delegates that while he wishes he could pay more for food to follow ethical eating guidelines, he's on food stamps.  As another person put it, it's all about the math. 

The second issue was around a sentence that says, "Minimally processed plant-based diets are healthier diets."  The complaint was that this speaks for everyone, and calls on all UUs to be vegetarian.  W…

Blogging GA: More on Ministers and the Code & Standards

Okay, so I've now figured out what was unclear to me before.  Here's what we've voted in that is now in our "Standards of Professional Practice" (our unenforced part of the document, or "best practices):

G. Personal or Romantic Relationships
1. A minister of a congregation, or a community minister affiliated with a congregation, who engages in personal friendship or pursues a romantic attraction with a member or participant of that congregation, or whose family members or existing friends join or participate in that congregation, must take into account the following considerations:
 a. Such relationships will change the dynamics of the congregation as well as of the ministry, potentially in negative ways that may persist beyond that minister’s tenure.
 b. Members of the congregation who have special relationships with the minister must often refrain from positions of visible leadership or systemic influence for which they might otherwise be eligible.
c. It m…

Blogging GA: Thursday

Today I dropped my daughter off at the UU Kids Camp for the first time.  She had a good day; they took a field trip to the science museum.  She's in the camp for three days, and it's field trips each day.  I confess to a little disappointment around this.  I've been so longing for her to have a UU camp experience.  (See this article from a UU World blog on more about UU kids camps.)  It seems like this great opportunity at General Assembly to have a camp that's integrated around UU principles and heritage and to tie it to our values.  What is in fact the case is they contract the kids camp job out to a local child care provider to run.  I suppose this is not the primary goal of GA, to provide UU experiences for children, but it's a wasted opportunity, if you ask me.  All the same, I hope to continue doing this bringing my daughter to GA and putting her in the camp, hoping that I'll have additional opportunities to expose her to the larger world of UUism beyond …

Blogging GA: Ministry Days

Today was "Ministry Days" (a misnomer, because it's one day and one evening, really).  The two highlights for me of Ministry Days are the 25/50 worship service and the Ministerial Conference at Berry Street.  The 25/50 worship service features a speaker from that group of ministers who have been in the ministry 25 years, and also one from that group who have been in the ministry 50 years.  It's always a delight to hear their stories of their experiences and how things have changed and yet been the same.  We have a similar thing at the Meadville Lombard Theological School alumni dinner, which will be later in the week.  Can you imagine about 800 Unitarian Universalism ministers singing "Turn the World Around"?  (We were some fewer than that, I think, but I can't remember the number.  The total number of UU ministers is now in the 1700s.)

The Berry Street lecture is, we were informed, the oldest running lecture in the United States.  It was started by Wil…

Blogging GA: Ministry Days & Chapter Leader Training

I got into Charlotte, NC yesterday afternoon for the 50th annual UUA General Assembly, which begins tomorrow evening.  Before GA begins, however, there are "Ministry Days," and before Ministry Days this year there is Chapter Leader Training, which began yesterday evening and continued through the day today.  As Heartland Chapter President, and still feeling my way around the job, it was a welcome opportunity to hear what other chapters were doing well and where we all were struggling -- mostly around membership questions, welcoming, and technology.  It's become clear to me that something we need is a Chapter Connections/Technology officer in the Heartland.  Luckily, I seem to have found someone for the job, and it's not me.  Members of our chapter will not be surprised at the wonderful techie colleague who has indicated her willingness to step forward.

Don Southworth, the UUMA Director, started us off in worship today at Chapter Leader Training by talking about those…

Letter to the Editor

My letter to the editor today in response to this article.  Don't read the comments to the article if you don't want to feel sick or angry.  I'm sure if you read the CitPat you'll see the article within the week.  They're very good about printing letters, and I haven't written one in a while.
Dear Editor, Your article on the Gay Straight Alliance at Columbia High School quotes people saying “They shouldn’t get to push it down other students’ necks” and “If you support your homosexuality, then we shall support our heterosexuality.” First, heterosexuality is universally supported—at every church, school, and family, and by the state.These things aren’t labeled “heterosexual” because it’s the dominant norm.Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, too, support their heterosexual relatives, classmates, teachers, and friends.The Gay STRAIGHT Alliance also supports heterosexuals. Second, how is supporting students by allowing them to be themselves “pushing it” at p…