Congregations and Beyond

Rev. Peter MoralesThis page contains resources and information related to the “Congregations and Beyond” white paper  released by UUA President Peter Morales on January 20th, 2012.  Includes links to related resources including how to use social media to join the conversation!

Description from UUA website: In Congregations and Beyond, the Rev. Peter Morales, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), offers a vision of the opportunities and challenges that face Unitarian Universalism as an international movement. He presents a strategic direction for Unitarian Universalism consistent with our core values and historic willingness to push beyond pre-determined boundaries. All Unitarian Universalists are encouraged to read, discuss, and share Congregations and Beyond.

The Paper

The following video is a screencast of a prezi presentation by Terasa Cooley describing a new strategic vision of the Unitarian Universalist Association.


President of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, the Rev. Peter Morales, preaches at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA on February 12, 2012. He suggests that “What do you believe?” is the wrong question for our liberal religious faith to ask or answer. The purpose of our faith pre-dates, and goes beyond religious beliefs.
Video by Barbara Johnson.

February 2012 “Orlando Consultation”

In her blog post  “A Vow and A Vision” Terasa Cooley, UUA Director of Congregational Life, reflects on the “Congregations and Beyond” vision, explains her role in ” championing this initiative” and announces  February 1 – 3, 2012 consultation  held in Orlando, Florida.

UUA ConversationShe writes, “Toward that end we will be holding a consultation in early February to explore some new strategies we might employ.   Included in this consultation are a collection of people who have been doing some of the most innovative work in reaching out to Unitarian Universalists in a multitude of ways.  We know there are many others who are exploring these concepts and we hope this consultation will be just the beginning of creating multiple learning communities.

I am honored to have been one of the participants. Most exciting for me was collaborating with other participants to bring ideas into the consultation via social media.  As we moved through the facilitated process, I shared many of the questions in the  Congregations and Beyond Facebook group while Rev. Naomi King did the same via Twitter.  Very quickly ideas from across the UUA where being woven into the conversation. We even held a tweetchat during lunch one day so we could have a focused conversation  with those participating online.

Terasa Cooley and Harlan Limpert at #congbeyond Tweetchat wall. Photo by Peter Bowden.


9 thoughts on “Congregations and Beyond

  1. I am very happy to see that the work of many UU ministers and lay people who have been practicing various forms of ministry in the digital world has helped pave the way for the recognition and a call to action by Rev. Morales. For two years, the 1,000 member UU of Arlington, VA,, has extended its church life online – primarily with its own social network and also through twitter, facebook and YouTube. We have learned much. First and foremost: No amount of great content and transparency in online ministry is guaranteed to cultivate new comers who stay. My church has attracted, according to Google Analytics, about 40,000 unique individuals to its site in two years — 94% from the USA, and the rest from 170 countries viewing content in 94 different languages. We are struggling to turn this overwhelming interest into new physical members. Unless there is a coordinated, multi-pronged (marketing) effort to maximize this good fortune, digital ministry by a congregation will only help retention. New people who come to our services, thoroughly check us out online and come because they see us in action and get to know us. But after the one or two services they attend, we lose them because of follow up challenges. I believe, the UUA could help us significantly in working with congregations make this conversion possible. Second: When a congregation extends its practice online, it extends its liberal religious voice into a very large, worldwide conversation. Together, our congregations, the UUA and the Church of the Larger Fellowship can effectively consolidate a UU Identity that is understandable to all and seen a leader in restoring liberal religious voices in our national and local issues. I hope to offer a few ways of doing this in the grant work I have through the UUFS to create a model online ministry program. I will be completing it this spring, when I should be able to release it online. I’m in debted to many lay folk and clergy who have been working and experimenting in this effort long before me.

  2. Need a Vision Before We Go Beyond:
    I’ve been thinking a lot about the paper and have been in conversation with people at my church about it. I’ve written more about it and focused on a bigger picture rather than on just the social media components.

  3. In my present “longtime UU but presently un-churched” status I rely heavily on the internet resources of local congregations, especially those from All Souls in Tulsa (my former congregation before I moved to another city). All Souls still is, in significant ways, my home congregation. If they were to start some form of extension or hybrid-membership status I would be happy to pledge my support to that, and I believe there are others (in this country and beyond) who also would do the same.

    I’m currently in conversation with their media people to have their live-streamed Sunday services made available on their All Souls page so that we can also use the chat feature to interact with one another (globally) before, during and after the services, even though we are unable to physically attend the services. (CLF does something similar with their pre-recorded services.) This combination of live streamed video and personalized interaction (possibly including staff from All Souls) I think is very much in line with the Congregations and Beyond philosophy.

    And, yes, I also agree with June that the congregation’s sense of vision and mission must precede and make possible such extension activities, rather than vice versa.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Ron. I’m expect we will soon see many more congregations using live streaming, chat and new membership categories to allow people to participate in “local” congregations I this way. What CLF is pioneering via online worship will, I suspect, become part of what many congregations will offer in the not too distant future.

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