DISTRICT ASSEMBLY 2015
This year's District Assembly is a joint effort with the Ohio-Meadville District and the St. Lawrence District. District Assembly will take place March 27-28, 2015 at the Niagara Falls Convention Center, Niagara Falls, NY.
The Rev. Scott Tayler is the keynote speaker. His keynote address is titled The Space Between: Building a new day by strengthening the ties that bind. Gould Lecturer is Rev. Thomas Chulak, speaking on The Sum of the Parts.
Eleven workshops will be offered in two time slots covering an array of topics important to congregational life. CERG (Central East Regional Group) staff are attending as workshop presenters and to answer questions by members about CERG services and resources. There is time allotted for conversations about regionalization and what it means to our congregations, clusters and districts.
Learn more at the District Assembly Page.
RE-VISITING SELMA: THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY
I invite you and members of your congregations to “join Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President Peter Morales, the UUA Board of Trustees, voting rights movement veterans, and others, as we return to Selma to affirm our solidarity with all those engaged in the ongoing struggles for human dignity, human rights, and social justice.”
Next spring will be the fiftieth anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference appealed to people across the United States to join in that struggle for voting rights – many Unitarian Universalists traveled to Alabama to demonstrate their support. An attack on three of these UU ministers left one of them, James Reeb, dead.
Marching in the Arc of Justice: Re-Visiting Selma: A Conference Honoring the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Selma Voting Rights Campaign, will be held in Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham March 5-8, 2015.
The UUA Board of Trustees and President Morales will be there and I encourage you to attend. Jim Key, UUA Moderator, has invited UUs to participate to learn, witness and “renew our resolve, strengthen our commitment, and stand in humble solidarity with our partners in the work.”
The Living Legacy Project is coordinating this event. Keynote speakers include C.T. Vivian: minister, author, and was a close friend of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The infamous Sheriff Jim Clark assaulted him in a voting rights demonstration in Selma. Mark Morrison-Reed is an affiliated faculty member at Meadville Lombard Theological School and the coordinator of the Sankofa Archive there. He is the author or editor of several books from Skinner House Books, including The Selma Awakening: How the Civil Rights Movement Tested and Changed Unitarian Universalism.
Many activities are planned for this conference: tours to historic sites, crossing the bridge, worship and concerts. Information and registration is available at the Living Legacy Project’s web site: http://www.uulivinglegacy.org/
I encourage you to talk about this with your friends and in your congregations. Plan to go.
INTERCONNECTIONS WITH DISTRICTS
Throughout all the discussions regarding regionalization has been a thread of how to keep congregations and their leaders connected. There is concern that some will feel that moving to a larger region will be more challenging to connect with other Unitarian Universalists. So there are many plans, still being developed, on how to stay connected and expand whom you connect with.
A similar connection I have grown to thoroughly enjoy is the District Presidents Association (DPA). Each district president (and in the case of MidAmerica, their regional president) is automatically a member of this group. The DPA “exists to be the voice and the ears for Unitarian Universalist district boards with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) staff, as well as for education and support of district leadership.”
We meet in person twice each year: once immediately before General Assembly and again in the Fall at the UUA headquarters in Boston.
The reason I enjoy this group so much is because I get to chat with people from across the nation with shared interests. I get wonderful ideas about how to approach an issue or start an entirely new initiative. These conversations also include several UUA staff, so I get to hear first hand what our Association is doing. I love making these connections.
Have you attended a General Assembly? Everyone I talk with a GA expresses their joy of feeling connected to so many other UUs. It’s energizing. It’s a very loving environment.
These feelings are what we are striving to recreate within our region: To establish the infrastructure allowing you to interconnect with other UUs and their congregations. To experience the satisfaction and growth that comes from learning how a sister congregation excels in social justice, spiritual development or religious education.
There are so many opportunities for interconnecting with other UUs. For example, there are many UU Facebook pages on special interests. The New York State Convention of Universalists has annual meetings and awards grants and loans to UU congregations. Our region has several staff who offer workshops online, in person, and on-demand. And our UUA has an abundance of resources to help congregations in all aspects of congregational life. Take advantage of all these people and resources – the interconnections we make are not only good for you, as an individual, but for you as part of Unitarian Universalism.
DISTRICT ASSEMBLY WORKSHOP PROPOSALS NOW BEING ACCEPTED
Does your committee or congregation have a great program you'd like to share with others in the OMD and St Lawerence districts? This year we have several workshop slots available at the Ohio-Meadville & St. Lawrence Joint District Assembly on March 27-28, 2015. Congregations, committees, organizations, and individuals wishing to present a 1 hour, 15 minute workshop at one of these events are welcome to do so by completing this application and submitting it to the OMD office.
Thie 2015 theme is Strong Roots, Broad Wings. Workshops that highlight or focus on ways that congregations can or have successfully worked together on projects are highly encouraged. Cluster work is another area we are interested in highlighting. Congregations with innovative programs who would like to share those programs and their success with others are also welcomed.
The deadline to apply a workshop slot is November 10. District Assembly workshops will be selected by December 15th. Fill out the online form to apply.
DISTRICT TEAMWORK SERVES CONGREGATIONS
Sometimes a challenge can offer an opportunity to try something new.
In the Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence Districts of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the sudden illness and extended medical leave of St. Lawrence Congregational Life Consultant, the Rev. Chris Neilson, resulted in an all-hands-on-deck response from the district boards and from district, regional and national UUA staff.
The governing boards of the four districts that make up the Central East Regional Group have been in discussion about moving to a "Primary Contact" model where each congregation has a "go-to" person who partners with the congregation's leaders to find the right resources and specialists from the UUA and region and to strengthen relationships within clusters. The model provides an improved Primary Contact staff-to-congregation ration in OMD and SLD (1 to 25-30 congregations). Staff will also continue to offer depth with their own portfolio "specialties" for the four districts in the region.
The Rev. Joan VanBecelaere (lead of the Central East Regional Group) and the Rev. Scott Tayler (director of Congregational Life for the UUA) saw the challenge of the medical leave as an opportunity to pilot this primary contact program. They devised a plan to redeploy existing staff from the districts and region for the duration of the medical leave.
Beginning July 1, there will be three staff persons in OMD and SLD taking on the role of Primary Contact for different clusters of congregations:
||Rev. Joan Van Becelaere firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-641-5896 (OMD Congregational Life Consultant and CERG regional lead)
||Evin Carvill-Ziemer email@example.com, 330-281-3306 (Program Coordinator for OMD and SLD and Acting Congregational Life Consultant)
||Rev. Renee Ruchotzke firstname.lastname@example.org, 330-554-0828 (Regional Congregational Life Consultant in Leadership Development)
For a quick reference on who will be serving your congregation, please check this map (above) or visit this easy to use form.
Of course, the entire CERG staff is ready to respond when needed and to support our congregations as we strengthen our Unitarian Universalist faith within and beyond our walls.
The staff and district boards will be assessing this program and its effectiveness on an on-going basis. Please share your observations and questions with our regional lead, the Rev. Joan VanBecelaere. Joan can be reached at email@example.com.
View the news archives