Rev. Dr. Bill Shulz speaking on “The Future of Human Rights” April 5th Melrose, MA

I just learned about this event happening in the greater Boston area on April 5th.  Looks like a great event. The following is an announcement provided by the organizers. Please feel free to share via your e-newsletters, Facebook pages, etc… You may cut and paste this announcement or link to my post.  Hope to see you there! ~ Peter

“The Future of Human Rights” with Rev. Dr. Bill Schulz

On Thursday, April 5, at 7 pm, Rev. Dr. Bill Schulz will be  speaking at the Melrose UU Church, 70 West Emerson St., Melrose, on  “The Future of Human Rights.” He is the current President and CEO of the  UU Service Committee, and past President of Amnesty International. Former  President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, he is a long time  advocate for human rights and has traveled to many places around the world to  work for justice. Anyone who has heard him speak before will tell you -  he is an excellent speaker and eminently qualified to speak on this  important topic.   The church is accessible via the commuter rail, Cedar Park stop. Fair Trade refreshments will be served at the event. For questions, please call Donna Clifford at 781-483-3133 or the church office at 781-665-7504.


William F. Schulz is the President and CEO of UUSC, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, a nonsectarian organization that advances human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world. Previously, he served for 12 years as executive director of Amnesty International USA, until spring of 2006. An ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, Schulz is a former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

He has appeared frequently on radio and television news and analysis shows and is the author or contributing editor of several books, including In Our Own Best Interest: How Defending Human Rights Benefits Us All; Tainted Legacy: 9/11 and the Ruin of Human Rights; The Phenomenon of Torture; and The Future of Human Rights: US Policy for a New Era.


How about broadcasting our UU messages on the public airwaves?

The new UUs and Allies Nationwide Community Radio Network is forming now.

Can you imagine UU community radio stations across the U.S. sharing the good news of our religion along with great local programming?

Can you see us partnering with other like-minded groups in our towns to create a resource that strengthens our outreach and highlights clear thinking, sensible news casting, and local talent?

Thanks to the work of many people, the Low Power Community Radio passed in 2011, paving the way for the release of the LAST 2000-3000 low power FM broadcast frequencies that will be awarded by the FCC to communities in the U.S.

The time to prepare is now. There will be a very short window of time for the applications to be filed this year. Be ready! Some preliminary actions are needed immediately. Prometheus Radio is gathering information on interested applicants in February, 2012. Be one of them! Start talking with interested people and potential partner organizations. Keep abreast of the latest information from the FCC. Sign up for info and training here:

Submit the Group Profile of your congregation here:

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in 2012 that will not happen again.
This is an opportunity we don’t want to miss.
If we don’t capture these airwaves, the radical right will.

Kindra Muntz, Co-Chair
UUs and Allies Nationwide Community Radio Network

Board Members:

  • UU Mary Francis OK (has 2 Construction Permits from the 2007 window, and possibly another to be awarded)—Co-Chair
  • UU Kindra Muntz FL (Co-Chair, UU Legislative Ministry of Florida, Election Reform Activist and author of successful 2011 AIW re: Citizens United)—Co-Chair
  • UU Rev. Chuck Freeman TX (Host of ‘Soul Talk’ radio and activist minister, Live Oak Unitarian Universalist)
  • Ally Sue Wilson CA (Emmy Award winning Writer/Producer of Documentary “Broadcast Blues”)
  • Ally Matt Joplin OK (Founder of Food for Thought–food and learning site for the homeless)
  • Ally Todd Urick CA (Common Frequency Radio Engineer and author of a definitive study on LPFM)
  • UU Tom Killorin WA (Board Member of KSER, and Eliot Institute, a UUA camp)
  • UU David Barbour NM (has 2 full-power radio stations in NM)
  • UU Teresa Allen TX (Member of Pacifica Board and KPFT board in Houston)
  • Ally Al Davis NY (Radio Engineer at WGXC community radio, Hudson, NY and WXPI in PA)

Radical Spirit and “Sh*t Seminarians Say”

A new UU publication, the RADICAL SPIRIT, is about to launch.  To hold you over the publishers have produced the following video spoof entitled “Sh*t Seminarians Say.”  Note there are a number of videos circulating online with similar titles.  High marks for jumping on that meme before its old news. Radical indeed!


Video Description
The Radical Spirit, in a bout of uncontrollable ridiculousness, brings you “Sh*t Seminarians Say,” or “Assertions Seminarians Posit.” We love seminary, including its moments of grace and absurdity. Visit our online Journal of profound and provocative reflection on the future of Unitarian Universalism at: A special note of gratitude to Robin Barraza and Andrew Linscott.

Social Media for Ministry and Outreach 2/25, Metro DC Area

Social Media for Ministry and Outreach
with Peter Bowden

Saturday, February 25, 2012  *  9AM – 3PM
At the UU Church of Silver Spring  (Website | Google Map)
10309 New Hampshire Avenue  Silver Spring, MD 20903

 Register Online Now
Download & Share Event Flier (PDF)

Social media is fundamentally changing how people form relationships, consume information and make important life decisions.  This has significant implications for congregations. For our ministry to thrive in the 21stCentury, we must understand these changes and learn to use the communication tools of our time with purpose, skill and integrity.

Join us for this day-long social media event for congregational leaders with Unitarian Universalist growth, outreach and media consultant, Peter Bowden. With a focus on ministry and outreach, we will explore major social networking tools including blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Clergy, staff and volunteers from all dimensions of congregational life will benefit from this training.  

Peter Bowden is a consultant working with Unitarian Universalist congregations across the United States, as  as well as a TV producer working on multiple PBS programs.  Known for his work with growth, outreach and media, Peter has led trainings for a growing number of UUA Districts, UUMA & LREDA Chapters, at UUA General Assembly conferences, Ferry Beach and the Star Island conference center. Peter lives in Cambridge, MA with his wife, the Rev. Amy Freedman, and their daughter.

Event coordinated and hosted by
the U Church of Silver Spring

Now Booking: Chalice Man and The Flame Dame!

Friends, you’ve heard of them.  They’ve recently been captured on video (below).  Now the burning question, ahem,  is can they come to your congregation, district, region, camp, conference and/or General Assembly…  YES!!!  I’ve confirmed via a trusted source that Chalice Man and The Flame Dame are ready and willing to appear at your UU event.  Booking information and secret Chalice Man and The Flame Dame email follows.   ~ Peter


Chalice Man and The Flame Dame – UU Superheroes promoting the 7 Principles and Expansion of All Things UU

Unitarian Universalists:  you must wait no longer.  Two superheroes have emerged from relative obscurity, and stand ready, willing, and able to assist in your next endeavor!

Chalice Man and The Flame Dame are available to help with any campaign or activity that could benefit from superhero flash and dash.  If summoned to your premises, we shall arrive, clad in high superhero fashion, prepared to deliver an announcement, testimonial, or skit to encourage participation in an upcoming event or campaign.  We are also available to attend events.

Our recent presence at an auction event and as pre-event speakers created buzz, inspired laughter, and generally lifted spirits.  We are prepared to do the same for you!

Write to us at  Our services can be engaged in exchange for travel expenses; depending on the task and the time and travel involved, we may need to charge modest fees on a sliding scale.


Growth, Front Doors and Foyers in the Digital Age

In this post, a call to action for congregations wanting to grow but not fully realizing that their front door and first greeting space has moved online.

Plus information on related UU Labs on Facebook. And yes, I know this is a hard transition.  But it is necessary.  If you’re stuck, ask for help and get movin’ before you lose another potential member and they suffer as a result.  ;-)

It is November 2011, almost 2012!  Do you know where the front door to your congregation is?   Many don’t…

For years your front door was the street-side door to your physical sanctuary with small groups and other connecting experiences serving as side doors.  Today the  front door is your congregation’s website.  Nearly 100% of people visiting a church visit the website first, conduct research, engage with your social media, and “pre-qualify” themselves for membership before they attend. People arrive having had multiple virtual visits to your congregation.

Think of it this way…

You have a virtual front door, your website, connecting to an online foyer, your social media and our larger Unitarian Universalist online space.  People enter your front door and from there connect to information, social media and other related Unitarian Universalist resources and online communities.  After a time in this environment,  if people like what they see and if you engage with them, they will move to through to your physical entry way. Again, nearly everyone travels through your online front door first, that makes it your primary front door.

We need to care for our virtual front door and foyer with as much care as the rest of our congregations.  How does it look? How does it feel?  Do you have greeters in the foyer?  Remember, nearly 100% of visitors start there.

Websites and PR are not PR for your ministry, they are the front line of your ministry and education with newcomers.  Much of the process of educating people and their preparing to join is now happening in these virtual spaces.  All that work you’ve been doing with greeting and hospitality?  It has to start online.  Yes, thanks to technology, the first half of your welcoming and membership process has moved online.

Where does that leave us?  Your website is your most important publication, communication tool and, with associated social media, a critical part of your ministry if you want to grow.  Don’t undermine your ministry with an outdated website and reluctance to use the communication and relational  tools of our time.

Finding Help

I’m now guest preaching on “Friendship in the Digital Age”, a service designed to help people see this shift, and offer related trainings, coaching and consultations.  Contact me to discuss where you are and how I may be of assistance.

I also highly recommend that the people responsible for various aspects of your online ministry (website, social media, minister’s blog, etc…) connect with related UU labs on Facebook. See below.

UU Website and Social Media Labs

For those of you working with congregational websites and/or social media, two related labs on Facebook have spun-off from the UU Growth Lab, the brand new UU Website Lab and the UU Social Media Lab.  Both offer community, resources and inspiration  –  I highly recommend them.  More information below.

UU Website Lab
UU community lab for web administrators, designers and developers, communications enthusiasts and anyone else working specifically on congregation or UU community sites (note that there’s a separate lab for those who doing social media stuff online). Join us for site reviews, tips and tools, and (the ever compelling) much, much, more!  (As of 11/8/11)

UU Social Media Lab
UU Social Media Lab is a place to post social/new media projects, share ideas, and collaborate on ways Unitarian Universalists can develop and use social/new media in justice, service, education, and other practices of our institutional and individual religious lives. (As of 11/8/11)

Surveys and thoughts on Freerange UUs

A new survey for freerange UUs has just been created by the UUA’s Office of Growth Strategies.  I hope you’ll share this with your friends, colleagues and congregation at large.

Here’s the survey announcement:

Seeking Free-Range Unitarian Universalists…
by Tandi Rogers
If you’re a “Free-Range Unitarian Universalist,” please take this survey: The UUA Office of Growth Strategies is seeking to better understand Unitarian Universalism outside our congregations. Help me transform the way we live into our faith. If you’re active in a congregation, but know people who aren’t, but identify as Unitarian Universalist, please pass this on to them. Thank you!!  In faith, Tandi

From a growth perspective,  I think figuring out how to cultivate (not control) a larger Unitarian Universalist movement is critical.   Often I hear people using the words movement and religion interchangeably.  They are very different. A few thoughts on that in older post Is Unitarian Universalism a Religion or a Movement?

For more on the difference between a movement and a campaign, read the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements.  For some inspiration on starting a movement, watch the Ted Talk video Seth Godin on the tribes we lead.

FREERANGE-UU-SEALI’m very happy to see the UUA taking what I call “Freerange UUs” and, if they had a sports team, “the UU Freerangers” seriously.   Since I started tweeting approximately three years ago (via account @uuplanet) I’ve come into contact with freerange UUs who feel that they aren’t allowed to be Unitarian Universalists because they aren’t connected to a congregation.  Some have expressed that they don’t feel like they have permission to be UU in any way other than the building bound form.  My response has been “With all the authority NOT invested in me, I hereby give you permission to be a Unitarian Universalist!”  

Some of my colleagues have challenged me on it being valid to be UU outside of a congregation.  I gotta tell you, if Unitarian Universalism is small enough to be contained in our existing congregations, it is too small of a thing for me.   The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations — this organization is rightly bound to congregations.  But I don’t think our larger faith should be.

Some of you may be wonder, why aren’t these people connected to existing congregations?  There are so many reasons.  Here are some highlights.

  • There is no local congregation
  • The local congregation is Sunday morning centric and they work then
  • They identify with our faith, but not our present demographics
  • They are in transition
  • The spouse they are divorced from is occupying the local congregation
  • They were asked to pledge their third time at the congregation and feel the church is all about money
  • The congregational leadership is constantly begging for volunteers giving a sense that it is a sinking ship
  • The congregation is filled with unhealthy politics
  • The congregation is old and they are young
  • They have accessibility issues
  • They “married out”
  • The local congregation stinks — it happens.
  • And on and on…

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes from the UUA’s Free-range UU survey.  Even more, I’m hoping that the UU Freerangers will start organizing themselves, that a movement will ignite.  There are far more of them in the United States than there are members of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Again, I hope you’ll share the survey.

In faith,

Unitarian Universalist Ministry in an Occupied World?

Also see:  Unitarian Universalists and Occupy Movement page

Yesterday I had a great conversation with a colleague on what role Unitarian Universalists and our institutions should play in the OCCUPY MOVEMENT.  I’ve had a number of similar conversations.  Unitarian Universalist leaders, clergy, members and friends — there is no one way UU’s are responding and certainly no agreement about how we should be responding.

In the video at the end of this post, the Rev. Rick Davis starts his comments at an Occupy Salem, OR event by saying, “I’d like to welcome you to the Universal Church of What’s Happening Now!!!”

I love that line.  “The Universal Church of What’s Happening Now!”  It is my opinion that congregations should be “engines for change” in our world.  And this is a moment when people are gathering in the streets calling for change.

If you aren’t doing so already,  now is the time to start organizing opportunities to discuss how this movement relates to your congregation’s ministry.

Here are the questions I’ve been discussing with colleagues. I’ve also shared them with the UU Growth Lab. I’d like to invite you to consider these questions.  You may comment here, share thoughts on your own blog, but most importantly, make sure your discussing them within your local congregation.  You have my permission to copy this post, excerpt questions and adapt away.  There are sharing buttons at the end of this post including EMAIL and PRINT buttons.

Discussing Our Ministry and the Occupy Movement:

1)  How does the Occupy Movement (and its sub-causes) relate to our congregation’s work and ministry in the world, everything we were doing or trying to do pre-occupy?

2) How do you think individual UU’s, congregations, and related institutions should respond to or participate in the Occupy Movement?

3)  What other questions, challenges and/or opportunities does the Occupy Movement present for Unitarian Universalists and our institutions?
Again, find some forum for discussing this movement and how it relates to our faith, values, and ministry in the world.  Good to start with a conversation among your congregations ministry team and board.  From there, there are so many ways we can be exploring these issues, both within our congregations and in our larger communities — sermons, forums,  panel discussions, small group sessions and more.

Don’t start with “When are we joining? When are we going down?”  Go deeper first. Have real conversations about the issues and how they relates to your congregation’s purpose.  And while doing so, maybe you can bring food and other supplies to your local occupation as a service project.  Every Occupy protest has a daily need for supplies.

GUEST POST: Why even bother with Young Adult Ministry?

The following is a guest post by Tim Atkins.

Tim is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, is 28, and has been a UU for the past five years.  He is a proud and active member of the 20/30s group at the Unitarian Univeralist Congregation of Atlanta, in addition to having served on the Stewardship Committee and served as a RE teacher, youth adviser, and greeting team leader.

Why even bother with Young Adult Ministry?

by Tim Atkins

The future of our faith is at hand, here and now.

That may sound like hyperbole to some, and it may sound scary to others.  But it’s the truth.  Young adults represent the future of our faith, the future of our denomination. In the years and decades to come, the strength of our denomination will come from the labors that we put forth now.  If we want our denomination to have a sustainable future, we must grow sustainable young adult groups within our congregations.

Far too often, young adults walk through the door of a congregation, see no one like them, encounter subtle but significant resistance to their desires of community building and deepening their faith, and don’t return.  Their spiritual needs are not met and they look elsewhere.  They feel isolated, they feel like a token, and they feel unwelcome in the congregational clique that has developed.

They are yearning for a community of like-minded people to bond with, to grow with, and to worship with.

Young adults need this spiritual connection to a community that we can provide. All signs are pointing to the current generation of young adults being among the most disconnected from society in history.  We may have a lot of Facebook Friends, but we are looking for a true, deep, beloved community.  And the place we look for it?  At church.

Yes, there are some congregations with a thriving Young Adult ministry program, but they are in the minority of our Association.  Our congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, is a large congregation with an active Young Adult group that is fully integrated with our congregation.  In the years 2007-2009, 131 out of 240 new members of the congregation were in their 20s or 30s.  Our congregation’s growth is in part tied to the growth of our Young Adult

Research is beginning to show that our faith is in a great position for Young Adult growth.  The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s report, “Religion Among Millenials,” shows a number of interesting trends for young adults nationwide.

“According to the 2007 Religious Landscape Survey, almost twice as many young adults say homosexuality should be accepted by society as do those ages 65 and older (63% vs. 35%). Young people are also considerably more likely than those ages 30-49 (51%) or 50-64 (48%) to say that homosexuality should be accepted.”

Unitarian Universalism is in a unique position to establish itself as a meaningful religious movement for the Millenial generation. Because, in part, young adults are more progressive with their social values that other generations.

According to a study done by the Center for American Progress in 2009, 67% of respondents aged 18-24 and 59% aged 25-29 believe that “religious faith should focus more on promoting tolerance, social justice, and peace in society, and less on opposing abortion or gay rights.”

Young adult values are more in line with traditional Unitarian Universalist values than any other age cohort.  But they are among the least represented in our congregations.

The report from the Center for American Progress also states that,“research on the Millennial Generation shows that, like previous generations, they value spirituality and faith but are far less likely to embrace organized religion.”

Young adults are intrigued by our creedless nature, and young adults are looking for a faith community where they are encouraged to find their own spiritual path.  We have something to offer young adults, and young adults have something to offer to us.

We aren’t living up to our promise if we exclude, intentionally or unintentionally, young adults from meaningful participation in congregational life (ranging from worship to committees to leadership.) We aren’t building a community if we aren’t welcoming to all members of the community. We aren’t making sure our denomination is sustainable in the future.

Young Adults want to belong.  Isn’t it high time we let them?

We’re approaching the 50th anniversary of the merger between Unitarianism and Universalism.  Fifty years from now, what will our faith look like?  If we don’t make the commitment today to build up young adult programs in our congregations, our faith will look, well, empty.

What will you do, what will your congregation do, to make sure our faith is stronger than ever in fifty years?

In this post Tim reminds us of the critical need for Unitarian Universalist congregations, clergy and lay leaders to work to integrate Young Adults into their ministry.  And while they are at it, youth!

Our association is in desperate need of a leadership & ministry make-over.  No small patches or quick fixes, but serious, comprehensive reform.  Many youth and young adults have expressed to me that they wish there would be more national initiatives.  I think our success will come from more people like Tim sharing ideas, connecting, inspiring and leading the way.

  • If you have questions on starting up a Young Adult group, Tim invites you to contact him at atkins.timothy at gmail dot com.
  • If you are a youth or young adult leader and have ideas and opinions to share, please join our conversation.  We can’t have a comprehensive UU growth discussion without you.
  • Check out the “Generation Yes: News & Spirituality for Unitarian Universalists Under 40” blog by Jen Shattuck, my district’s young adult ministry consultant.

- Peter


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers

%d bloggers like this: