Tuesday, June 30, 2009

GA--Youth Caucus.....MUST READ!

At GA the youth get to have a rockin' fun time with the big leaders. Like say.....Rev. Dr. Bill Sinkford.

He talks with them, it's heart to heart. Good stuff. They come up with good ideas, good plans of how to revolutionize the world with multii-generational ministry. Or our faith anyway.

It's a good list of things that we can all really do to create dynamic youth ministry for and with our youth.

You can sqint and read Jeff Lamicela's photo here....or check out the formal list below.


This year at FUNTIMES at GA, Rev. Bill Sinkford spoke to the youth caucus about multigenerational community, and facilitated a brainstorming exercise of how such a community should look. This is the list we came up with:

A Multigenerational Congregation

- Energy in Services

- Youth Votes / Youth Members (age 14)

- Youth Group Participation in services

- Youth Accountability, Putting in the Time

- Youth Observers + Representatives

- Multigenerational Activities

- Seen first as a member, second as a youth

- Youth aren’t just bodies

- Multigenerational Services

- Talk to each other!

- Youth Planned Worships (more than once a year)

- Adults invited to youth groups/events

- Have faith in youth – they can be leaders too!

- Sensitivity towards/Inclusion of Youth

- Special Interest Multigenerational Groups

Michael Kusz


Finally, we're finally all going to be in the same state again. Yesterday Michael came home from Salt Lake City, home from his role in the UU Youth Caucus, home from GA-land, home. Today my husband comes home from wherever he was on the East Coast.....by some Great Lake......Erie? No it's not like the smarmy governor from South Carolina, I could know where he was if I were paying attention and he has been answering his cell phone, he's just gone so much I can't always keep it straight.

I know that this is the way my family life is headed, we'll scatter again. Soon, actually. My husband leaves again next week for...well, for someplace. My kids all go to Korean Identity Development Society camp next week--it's the first year they're all going to the teen sleepover camp. Then we have fencing and drama day camps for the youngest, and a two week wilderness adventure camp for our middle son, all the way on the Canadian Border in Northern Minnesota.

And we'll scatter again soon to gather in shorter and shorter bursts. This is likely to be Michael's last year at home. The family will march off one by one, gone to school and lives of their own. It's what I want, of course it's what I want. But oh it's going to be hard. You have to rip chunks of your heart out and send them off into the world wrapped in the body of your child. Oh my gosh.

So, here we are, we're coming together tonight from work and sports and games and travel. We'll grill some steaks and play cards on the patio and watch our little dog roll in the grass. A family. Our family. And it's so good. And I know full well it will not always be this way.

Monday, June 29, 2009

GA--'Live" Blogging from "How to Get Published by the UUA"

note--I didn't have wi fi in the convention center, but took notes for all my writer friends out there in blog land. I only had time to stay for Deb Weiner and Chris Walton's portions of the presentation. I notice that the PDFs from Skinner House and about Self Publishing are available at uua.org. Please excuse the unpolished nature of the "live blog" ! ~k

Deb Weiner

Director for electronic publications:

Contributions for congregational life

--stories directly from you, life in your congregation, news. Write the story, send in some “good” photographs, use in 8 categories of congregational life

-social action, generosity, worship, joys and concerns and more….

UUA .org Worship web, compilation of worship resources, general leadership of Rev Wickstrom, lay or ordained, written a prayer, chalice lighting, opening words, sermon, homily….submit to worship web worshipweb@uua.org

Features that show up on UUA.org, feature two thumbnail items and stories, in members can feature three more, leader, three more items can be featured. (if you are a military person could write about veteran’s day, pagan who values the solstice, etc…)


Images: looking for good photos. Congregations and congregational life. Illustrate something extraordinary going on in the life of your church, blessing of the animals.

Blog posts, Sara Robinson, professional blogger. Reflections on ga last year, wrote a piece after the shootings in Knoxville, 15 ministers wanted to use her post in the pulpit. Can self promote blog posts by sending them into Debra Weiner.

At GA have a web team of volunteers, people who are bloggers and writers and photographers, who love doing something for the assn. bringing GA to the wider world. Contact Deb if you are interested in volunteering for the Minneapolis GA.

Chris Walton

Welcome from Salt Lake, Chris is from Salt Lake. Director of periodical office. Three, UU World, a quarterly magazine, 127,000 households. UU World.Org on the internet. Weekly emailed news magazine. Depends on your tips, your reporting of what is going on in your congregations. Uuwold.org, more aimed at the broader world,

Interconnections: 10 years a quarterly newsletter for uu leaders, changing to a monthly email newsletter. Weekly updates, and archive of resources on the internet.

Looking for storied from your congregations and your own creative work. Flooded by submissions. Most likely response is thank you but we can’t use this. Get so much good content with so little space that it’s hard to fit it all in.

Looking for: story idea about something happening in your UU institutjion, a person doing good work, send in tip. World@uua.org. Press releases, helpful to the UUA is helpful. A tip based on something, interconnections@uua.org.

Writers who want to see your own work shared with UU audiences. Pay attention to what the magazine already publishes. Features by professional journalists, exerpts from addresses and books. Those are the big articles. Hardest bar to cross. Other areas, reflections section includes first person essays, poettyr, sermon exerpts, slice of life from congretational life, adaptations from sermons, pay attention to what goes in that section. How does your faith enrich your life? Tell that story. Also publish book essays. Some by ministers and journalist some by people found in other ways. Letters section, don’t get as many letters. If you have a response, write, they are likely to publish it. A couple of words about how to impress Chris Walton with your work. That you are eloquent, articulate in expressing your work. “We are not a writing school!” send in your best work. Show it to other people before you send it in, find other venues to share it first. UU World will be there a while. UU related blogs. How many new writers have been introduced to UU World by blogs. Doug Muder was first a blogger. Hadifa Aquia’s writer on her UU blog. Ways to find an audience.

Submissions guidelines, about us, click the submissions guidelines, send in a hard copy. Send in your best work, don’t give up.


Worship web—are materials published there credited? Yes, also publish a note about appropriate use.

2500 people subscribed to the weekly newsletter, 30 -40 k hits a month. Low of 3750 and 6500 visitors to UUA. Org every day

Cross pollinate? Send to both Deb and Chris—Deb more likely to take what you’ve written directly. Never a bad idea to send it to both.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

GA--And..... Home

I am home safe and sound. Oh it's so good to be back home. I really missed my kids--well my kids that were not on the floor of the plenary hall calling the vote on Amendment II. Michael is still in Salt Lake City for the wrap up meeting for the Youth Caucus. Lots of people seem to have been really pleased with the youth and their preparation for the issues at this GA. My son, Michael Kusz was involved in all of the youth caucus business at pleary and he ran for youth observer to the board, but he did not win. I think a young man named Joe Gayeski won--from Mr. Barb Greeve's congregation this year if I'm not mistaken. Good guy by all accounts. Regardless, it seems to have been a good year for the youth caucus at GA.

And it is good to be home.

But my husband is off to the east coast. He left Seattle a couple of hours before I landed here. He parked the car at a park and fly and I picked it up a few hours later. Between the two of us we'll hit four airports in about six hours. Funny world!

All is well, all is really well.

Posted by Picasa

GA--The Last Day

Clearly I look as tired as I feel! Time to go home.

Safe home everyone, safe home.
Posted by Picasa

GA--Dear Rev. Morales

Dear Rev. Morales,

Congratulations on your victory in our UUA presidential election. I congratulate you and your family in this exciting moment. I also thank Rev. Laurel Hallman and her supporters for giving their all this past year and beyond. We are a lucky faith to have two highly qualified people strive to lead us.

Religious Educators are a key part in making your vision of our faith a reality. You have spken of your commitment to Laurel's supporters to hear their message about spititual depth, and to retain our youth and young adults. We are your allies in this work, as not only educators of course, but as leaders in congregations and as the people who envision and design the programs that begin with our smallest children to create an identity as strong Unitarian Universalists who have experienced good worship, good fellowship and a sense of belonging that will in and of itself help our young people stay connected. You cannot begin in the youth room, you must begin with the whole church while our children are babies in the nursery.

You have spoken to us so well about your desire to warmly welcome the visitors to our congregations, and keep some of them as members. Many, many people come to us seeking not only a place to worship but faith home for their children. Excellent ministry to families is vital in our growth. Not just children or teens, or parents but the family as a whole. That's what we do in our role as Religious Educators, we do ministry to families.

You have spoken of a depth of spirituality in our movement and that we can do this piece better. I as a Religious Educator believe that we stand right there beside you with a resounding yes, many of our congregations now have Religious Educators that hold a Lifespan charge in their communities. We know where to find the classes for adults that, as Gail Forsythe-Vail said yesterday, are UU 201 and 301 and beyond, building a spiritual depth. We can help bring the spirituality from the pulpit to the streets.

I look forward to the next four years as our faith continues to mature and reach out to a world that is ready for our message of faith and hope. We will see you at our LREDA Fall Conference in Providence, until then.....

Welcome and let's get to work!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

GA--Morales' Day

The halls of the convention center were filled with people buzzing about the presidental election, about the moving Ware lecture, about our Unitarian Universalist movement as a whole. I turned and walked back to the quiet hotel room. No going for a drink or tea and cookies. No celebrations or comiserating. Nothing.

The emptiness is colossal.

I was not a Hallman supporter, I'm not bereft, although some are. I was not a Morales supporter, I'm not let down that the long fight is over.

I trusted the process, knew that our good people would make a choice that was deeply considered. I believe in them. They made a fine choice, Rev. Morales is a good man, he will lead us well.

The people of this beloved community have drawn a line, some on one side, some on the other. The rift is deep, I feel it. It scares me. I want us to wrap our arms about one another and say "we begin again in love, we begin again in love".

This is what happens when you love your faith with a fierce and abiding passion. It matters. For just this moment my trust has fled.

And I pray that I wake up and find it curled in a ball on the foot of my bed.

GA--Local Scene

I went to the worship serive this morning. Ethical Eating. I did enjoy it but it was probably more than I needed at 8am! Gah!

Then a friend and I walked over to the Temple Square. It was beautiful.

And it was inspiring right here in the middle of the city.
The temple is huge, statues everywhere, fountains, gardens. Lovely space. Until I remembered the book "Under the Banner of Heaven" and some of the history behind this very land.

We sat down on a bench and had a great coversation about church and governance and boards and ministry and corporate america and ethical eating.

I confess, I swore out loud, three times. I'm sure I will never get to their heaven now. But it's OK, we stole ourselves a little piece of heaven on earth for just a short hour this morning, and for me? That's good enough!

GA--Online Coverage

The online coverage is really filling in now. Check here to find the pieces you're looking for.

I am busting buttons proud of my son all over again, reading the coverage of the Synergy Service. He really did nail multi gen community! And the Fahs lecture was just phenomenal. Go browse, the links to watch the video are at the top of the coverage if a blub doesn't do it for you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

GA Youth Caucus

The youth caucus this year seems to be very active and engaged.

My son is already about 83 so he doesn’t need me to be involved at all, but I lurked outside the youth caucus room for a while, just listening to FUNTIMES (the business session) today, I wanted to hear him do his youth caucus thing

He’s amazing. Shhh, don’t tell him I said so, it will totally embarrass him.

Tonight I did get to go out to dinner with him. Food works. While we were waiting at the beautiful Olive Garden we chatted with a group of three youth from the east coast. They were friendly and nice, and when they got seated first they came back and asked us to sit with them. We had a lovely dinner together!

Man, do we have an amazing group of youth, our UU young folks. They know a lot about the issues, and they care a lot about, well about everything!

GA--Standing on the Side of Love

All week the Jason Shelton song, “Standing on the Side of Love” has been going through my head. It’s the new campaign from the UUA, inspired by the shootings in Knoxville last year apparently. We are called to stand on the side of love in everything involving human rights—immigration, marriage, water rights, voting rights. Everything.

There are yellow banners, yellow shirts, stickers, buttons—signage everywhere. And you can have a picture taken of yourself Standing on the Side of Love. Even a video made I guess although I’ve been too busy to see anything up close and personal. Maybe tomorrow.

Want to get involved? There are lots of ways. Check it out.

GA—A wonderful Day

Sometimes you gotta sit when the spirit says sit. Like today. I’ve been feeling really guilty that I’m not filling my hours learning a lot of new things for my congregation. I should be figuring out how to bring in more people and to keep more kids—or family ministry or better curriculum or something that will revolutionize our dingy rental space—like maybe how to conjure virtual windows and classrooms. So, this evening during sessions I set out to face one of my weakest weak spots. I headed for a workshop on dance.

Oh dance makes me cringe-y. I have seen spiral dance done really well, I’ve even seen spiritual movement taught that was really spiritual. But me? No, I’m the little, fat, red-haired girl with bad teeth and a patch on my eye. Dancing is just not for me. No thank you.

So there was this workshop on dancing. It’s actually based on a new dvd that’s out—both of them named “Inter generational Dances for Worship Made Easy”. OK, my stomach hurt. I didn’t want to go, but I steeled myself and headed for it.

Thank GOD I’m not a detail person. I got the location of the workshop completely wrong and by the time I figured out that it was in the MARRIOTT Grand Ballroom, it was way too late to get there. Phew. I lucked out on that one!

Instead I went and saw comedian Kate Clinton. I laughed so hard, well I won’t tell you what almost happened, but oh. Funny. Funny! And good, cathartic funny. Yes, we all did need a 100 days in recovery pin after Obama had been in office 100 days, I was in recovery, for sure. And the three former nuns who made up the “Vessels of Sin” back up singers as the closing? Oh yeah. Good. You can’t watch it, they didn’t tape it, but you can buy her new book from Beacon Press—“I Told You So”.

Now, I’m just sitting outside the youth caucus room—yes there is a lot of cold pizza on a table, waiting for my son. We’ll have to fight the storms, I hear that the tower holding our banner “Standing on the Side of Love” has glass panels breaking from a wicked thunderstorm. But we’re old Midwesterners. We can handle it. Especially after my laughter therapy. Good stuff, mister.

GA--Busy Day

What a busy day. I guess that's true for every single day this week, though. I'm tired and I have a headache and I need way more coffee than the little itty bitty samples they give you at the UUSC booth. But I'm not weary.

I spent the morning with my people in the LREDA Suite Talks. I wish more folks would have stopped by, but we may re think it for next year. Ideas? Booth talks? I don't know, but I'd love to have little groups of folks gather. GA gets so big, it would be nice to size it down to a person size once in a while. Especially for first timers, oh it's so overwhelming that first year.

This afternoon I was back at The Olive Bistro just off a busy street down from the Convention center. I met with my colleague from LREDA, Cindy Leitner who presently holds the GA work. She gave me all the information and all the secrets, no not the secrets of the temple! It was a lovely meeting with much sharing and lots of pieces of information I will be sure to need.

The lovely young waiter at the restaurant, Seth, took great care of us and even re charged my laptop for me. Nice young man. I'm so old! Reminds me of my son. Old.

After the meeting with Cindy I just held onto my seat and waited about 90 seconds for my next meeting. Outside, great service, fresh air, lovely jazz....why not meet there! Keith Arnold, the music director from Jefferson Memorial--yes Peter Morales' church, and also the president of the UU Musician's Network and I are doing some work together to prepare for a panel we'll present together at the UUMN Conference this July. Oh, what a wonderful man. I feel like he's been my friend for ages. We're close in age and philosophy of ministry. It was an exhilirating meeting. I'm excited to join the musicians in Portland. I sure hope they don't make me sing or **gasp** play the guitar!

This is why I'm flying. I'm fed by all these amazing people. And their energy, and commitment and passion.

Best part of the day. My dinner date tonight. I might even go back to my hotel and change my clothes, it's a big one. Who am I so excited to see? Guess.

Yep, my son! I'm a lucky mom.

GA--LREDA LREDA Suite Talks, Skinner House books

Please comment with any questions. 11 am mountain time.

Patricia Frevert Publisher at Skinner House
Mary Benard Managing director at Skinner House

Booklets coming out for children about the principles with activities pages.

--professional support of Program Consultants
--membership in professional groups (LREDA)
--PC, DE and RE District Staff support congregations, not the religious professionals. (Program Consultants, District Executives)

Book ideas for a brand new DRE--
--Pat Ellenwood has a workshop called "Begin as you mean to continue", could that be a book?
--Transitioning from being a member to a professional?
--importance of Religious Education, almost a manual
--a manual that is more accesible than "Essex Conversations"
--two different books: one for new DREs and one for general importance of Religious Education
--something in a book that encourages Religious Educators to professionalize their work
--primer for families?

Primer for children is coming out. "Sunday and Every Day, My Little Book of Unitarian Universalism"

Question from Mary. Would we like some of the stories that are in the Tapestry of Faith published in an attractive book? Collection or individual?

Last year there was a workshop led by Gail Forsythe-Vail, with questions like "Do All Churches Use the Same Curriculum?" So who is responsible for professional support of new Relgious Educators?

Chatter in the room:

Should we have a tab on our LREDA Website that is just for new DREs? Information that would help? Where to look for information and resources?

70% of our congregations are under 150 members

"Education is the only miracle" from the Buddhist tradition

Tension note "preaching and teaching ministry" tension in the greater world, to suggest that Religious Education is the core of our movement, but to lift up Religious Educators feels like it's not as accepted by all Unitarian Universalists.

LREDA has a document on best practices already in place.

Do we need a "book list" for new DREs?

We have a tendency in overall UU publishing to publish to the insiders on lots of fronts.

Much thanks expressed to all from Skinner House for the great publications for families and children and the close connection between LREDA and Skinner House.


Good but requires way too much time to cull the materials and assemble into a lesson
Too much material, we wind up printing too much.
Volunteers are overwhelmed by the amount of material and chosing what to do.
Perhaps Tapestry should have a core lesson that is a basic hour lesson and the other things as options.

GA Live chat about Religious Education Credentialing! Join in....

((Comment with questions))

Jan Devor, LREDA Suite Talk about Religious Education Credentialling:

this new process is about the process, honors our identity as Relgious Educators.

RECC is the Religious Education Credentialling Committee appointed by the UUA. Goal is to have people who being in this profession have it be a profession. Professional Standards, guidelines and education. Sets the standards for education. The program is five years old and has just been revised.

There are three levels of credentialling.


Revision has cut the work load, the standards are as high as they were but the work load was opressive. More accesible and more logistical for real life religious educators.

Masters Level: Used to be you had to have a Master's Degree, but the revision allows a way to become a "master" without an outside degree.

Credentialed and Master's level require you to come before the RECC to present, you can choose a portfolio component, but there are selections.

RECC sees candidates in Boston in April to evalute if they have achieved the level they seek.

UUA Pay scale guidelines follow the credentialling levels.

The levels can feed each other--you can become credentialed at the Associate level and then build on that to achieve the Credentialed level.

If you are thinking of credentialling save a record of the things you do: workshops, trainings, services you do.

(RECC Continum of Compentencies is a guide to recording the things you've done that have related to creating your compenencies...guidelines on keeping the record)

Beth Williams is the UUA director of the program. Jan Devor is the volunteer chair of the committee.


Do we need support of our senior staff?

You can do it without, but it's such a value to the congregation seeking support and financial support is a good idea. Some people have added the credentialling process to their RE Covenant.

Do the Renniasance Modules fit into this? You need 75 hours of time, it does not all have to be Ren Mods.

How long do we anticipate it taking people to complete each level?

Too hard to say how long it could take years perhaps but it can be done faster, especially if you've gathered materials over the year.

GA Live chat about Family Ministry! Join in....

Ministry to and with Families, with Aisha Houser, Children and Youth Programs from the UUA:

All about relationships, getting to know each other so we can reach out.

Who is in your congregation? Do you know names, interests, what their story is? How can you find out?

Listening, being relational, connection.

Reniassance Module for Pastoral Care is in the works.

Pastoral care is like triage; listening, finding appropriate services. Set clear boundaries. Listen in crisis, refer them on as appropriate. Pastoral care is appropriate, counseling is not. Pastoral care is something the whole church can do for each other.

Tapestry of Faith: "Taking it Home" portion of each curriculum can enhance family ministry.

Pastoral Care Teams in congregations: People with different areas of expertise meeting monthly to coordinate pastoral care for the congregation. (administrator as the first point of contact, should know what's happening with pastoral care)

So we also have a difference between Pastoral Care and Pastoral Counseling.

Great book reccomendation:

The Helper's Journey: Working With People Facing Grief, Loss, and Life-Threatening Illness

Also keep in mind that LREDA Good Offices is there for you if things start to get sticky and difficult and you need support figuring out boundaries or talking it out.

(((Aisha says hello everyone!))

We're here RIGHT NOW (9:30 mountain time) if you want to add a comment and ask a question!

Smaller churches:

Sometimes it's easier to be together with all generations, all know each other and share together. Support of all for each other.

Random conversation you might want to pay attention to.....

W.E.B. DuBois: The Souls of Black Folk, essays that help you understand the decisions that led to the "separate but equal" standard we still struggle with.


Today's topics...

Friday 9-10 Aisha Hauser: Ministering to families

Friday 10-11 Jan Devor: RECC and the new credentialing requirements

Friday 11-12 Mary Benard: What's new from Skinner House? Do you have ideas
for new publications.

Room 1819 at the Hilton

Thursday, June 25, 2009

GA--Synergy Day!

Tonight's Synergy Worship Service was wonderful. It included a lovely ritual bridging where the youth who were done with high school crossed the stage and were welcomed into adulthood by the young adults (18-35) with lovely inspiriational service pieces by a number of people but the absolute best piece was by this young man. Everyone was well spoken and brought many good points to us, but this young man, there was something about him....
He was the "Youth Voice" in a service with four voices "Youth, Young Adult, Adult and Elder. But of course, this young man was by far the best. I hear he's from a smallish congregation in Seattle. He spoke about how Multi-Generational ministry isn't bi-generational, it's not youth and adult. It's the 40s and the 60s and the 80s and the post millenials who are really young--everyone. We have to take it all into consideration. What impressed me is that he is clearly deeply connected to his home congregation because he knows the issues they face. Rock on young man.

What a lucky group!
Oh yeah, and I could mention, he's my son, Michael Kusz! Way to go, Michael.

I am one lucky mother. Thanks to all the Synergy Service folks for a great worship!

GA--More Bloggers

Joel Monka in the elevator at the Hilton.

Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

GA--and our own RE Saint, Sophia Fahs.

If there were a saint of Religious Education in Unitarian Universalist circles, it just might be Sophia Lyon Fahs. Each year the Unitarian Universalist Liberal Religious Educators honor her memory with a lecture at the General Assembly of Unitarian Universalist Congregations.

This year our honored guest lecturer was Rabbi Sandy Sasso. She is the long time rabbi of a congregation in the US heartland. She's an acclaimed author. But more, she's a wicked amazing speaker! Why? Because she tells stories. She told us parables, and stories about her father and her daughter and her parishioners.

It was fun and inspirational. There were over 250 people laughing and applauding, by my count. It should be up on the video from the UUA but not yet. Watch it when it comes up!
The core of the message was that children can handle theology, not adult theology, but our theology. If we don't give them space and time and a little of our image, they pick it up from the 5,000 messages they get each day. So step up, step in, and talk about the big questions with kids!
Oh and hey all you LREDA members, don't forget to donate to the Fahs fund when you fill out your membership forms this year!

GA--Thursday, well....Day!

I have been wildly excited for the worship service of the Church of the Larger Fellowship. In Portland and in Fort Lauderdale it was one of my very favorite sessions. So this morning, despite staying up way too late watching CNN and blogging I got up and went to the service.

It was very good, I love Jane Rzepka, the CLF minister. She's wonderful. And the seven musicians participating were the newly credentialed UU Musicians and will be honored in the Service of the Living Tradition tomorrow.

The whole service was great. OK, two complaints. I like to sing UU hymns and while yes, we did sing some Holly Near music and heard some Holly Near music and we claim that music, and we did UU Sarah Dan Jones amazing "Meditation on Breathing", I'm wanting some more stuff written by us. Picky! I am. The other thing was that in that moment, I didn't want to listen to Bill Schultz talk about unions and worker's rights. I wanted more soaring theology, and maybe it was going there. But at that moment I discovered I had left my memory card back in the hotel.

Oh NO! How could I miss photos of the Sophia Fahs Lecture during the very next session!

I high tailed it out of there. If you watch the video you'll see me, the orange sherbet colored streak-outta there!

But while I am picky, and find fault where there is none, it was a really wonderful service, and I will never miss the CLF service at GA. Ever.


Hey all you wi-fi hungry bloggers and Internet users! There is free wi-fi at The Olive Bistro on 200th, just past the Hilton from the palace.

You can sit outside, order lovely wine or cheese and enjoy the variety of UUs passing by. Oh and I guess they have other food too, what more could you need?

GA--And the Truth

At last night's opening ceremony we learned something that I'm sure other folks knew, although it doesn't sound like too many of us did.

Just after the civil war, word went out that it was time to enact the (white) manifest destiny in this country. Civilize the Indians. And guess who the government called on to help with this action? The churches. So each denomination took an " agency" for which they agreed to bring white people's clothing styles, family life and agriculture to the people already living there.

The Unitarians took the Ute People.

President Sinkford read to us from the American Unitarian Association writings from the time. It set forth a plan for how to bring civilization to the Ute People. We heard an excerpt from the written reports by the ministers sent to do this work.

It was awful for me to hear, but so necessary. I know that the reason Rev. Dr. Sinkford left our faith as a young adult was because of the decision not to make reparations. Right? It's been long couple of days for me, but I think that's right. So for me, to hear him tell the gathered congregation of the General Assembly that he was deeply apologizing to the Ute People and asking for forgiveness so that the reconciliation could begin--in completed the circle. Kind of. Deeply moving and very poetic. Two representatives of the Ute People spoke to us, the younger man (no names, I'm at a loss, so sorry) accepted the apology personally, not for his people, but for himself. And then the elder spoke to us in a quiet and shuffly voice. He took space and time, and then he blessed us with a prayer that he sang.

I am sorry too. I am deeply sorry. This was my people who participated in the genocide. In the theft. And I am very sorry. I hope that the truth can help us see the reality and perhaps, begin again in love. May it be so, please, may it be so.

GA More bloggers!

I forgot to say, one of my very favorite bloggers is here and preached tonight! Rev. Sean is hosting us all, and really, he'd better have an awful lot of party mix because there are a lot of us.

Really though, what a pleasure and an honor to hear him, even just a little tonight.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

GA---Opening Worship, Happy Day!

Now, I should go to sleep, but I just have to process this out, bear with me and remember I TOLD you to unsubscribe. So no complaining.

The evening begins like this. You've been busy all day, traveling or sight seeing or like me, working for 12 straigt hours already. Everyone is tired, it's a huge room, just the size and number of people make it overwhelming.

Then of course, you are there with people you love, well you probably are. Like my church gang here, the minister, her husband our president and our favorite seminarian.

And then these banners representing all the congregations and affinity groups and ministries come swirling through. We had banners from the Phillipines and all over. I cried when the Iowa banner about equal marriage rights came through. Our banner is not here, don't talk about it, some of us are kind of verklempt about it, but not me, it'll be here next year.

The room is huge, and the music is beautiful. The images are awe inspiring. The work people have done to make this happen is huge. It's amazing. I cried when Gini Courter introduced President Sinkford.

I cried when Ysae Barnwell sang. I cried when Rev. Sinkford gave his final report. I cried at the stories of Africa and the passion he has for our fractured and flawed faith.

The homily by the young woman who looks 16 but must be older and is going to Harvard Divinity school, oh....she said what I try to have us teach in our RE program. Faith matters, you can't believe anything, we are holding ancient philosphy of love in our faith and yes, it does matter.

I pretty much cried the whole night. If you missed it, go watch the video on the UUA website. You'll find it, I'm too tired to help. And if you're here, and I didn't mention it to you in the elevator on the way up to my room....wasn't it just great? Oh yeah.

GA--Bloggers All Around!

So far I've only seen Monkey Mind (James Ford) strolling past the LREDA booth, I did not run up to him and tell him how much his post yesterday touched me. Too much pride, darn it.

And I saw Jeff Liebman, from uujeff's muse kennel and pizzatorium. I first met Jeff at my very first GA when I'd been a Religious Educator for about three minutes. I was looking for great curriculum and spent hours at the UUCARDS booth. Jeff pulled up a chair for me, and chatted with me for a long time about programs and youth. Toward the end of the week he teased me that if I came back one more time, I'd be a curriculum geek. Yep, I came back and he called out from across the booth "Curriculum Geek!" he's been my friend ever since. (and his curricula are really effective with youth, too!) I had a nice conversation with Jeff, and I'm so jealous about his life right now. I want to live on Long Island and go to seminary too, me too, me too!

I hope to see more bloggers and blog readers here. I live at the LREDA booth, they tuck my cot away during the days. Well, I'm not there all the time, but stop by if you're here!


The Liberal Religious Educators Association or LREDA Professional Day was today, and oh it was a good one. We gather in our huddle of people who do similar things and have experiences that are alike and to be with people who can just nod and pat your hand and say "oh, I know, I know" and you know, well you know that they really do understand.

I love time with colleagues. And it went well. We had a pretty smooth registration, with only a few snafus that didn't even really snaf at all.

We had presidental candidate Peter Morales with us for breakfast. This is a photo of Peter with one of his supporters long time Religious Educator and author, Pat Ellenwood, also pictured is Cory Ness and I have no idea who she's endorsed, but I do know she got stuck in Atlanta for a night on the way here, but arrived safe and sound in plenty of time for breakfast.

Our morning session included a worship that honored our Religious Educators with 20 years of service, this year two PNWD folks, Erin Fitzgerald and my partner in GA antics, Cindy Leitner. We also remember the Religious Educators who died this past year. There were readings and a sweet homily and singing, and Religious Educators can really sing, ahhh. Lovely. It was a good service.

Emmie Schlobom the Religious Educator from Boisie was so kind to continue to reply to my frantic emails over the last two days with a friendly "yes" I would say "chalice! we need a larger chalice" "chime! we need a chime!" "nametags, we need name tags!" She came with all that and even sharpies (wide and thin) and altar cloths, just in case. A gem. Thank God! We had all we needed, and a lot of markers, too!

Our big breaking news at this meeting was a revamping of the Religious Education Credentialing process. I will link to it when it's up on our new website, but for now, know it's more accesible and logical. Good work by the Religious Education Credentialling Committee.

The key note speaker? Oh gosh, I wish we could have videotaped it and put it up on Youtube right now. It was Rev. Dr. Nancy Jay Crumbine, and really, what it felt like was following a bouncing brain with heart. She was very free flowing and moved into song that invited us to join. The kernel of the message was this "do you realize how important you are?" and isn't that just what we all need to remember? Do you?

I hope so.

The afternoon session I went to was also led by Nancy and included free write time and singing. I I think I just might have to follow her around like a puppy from event to event. It was wonderful and I learned a new SONG! Love that. That's worth tonight's hotel price alone. The core of my free write was this: we have only this moment, and now this one, and now, this one. Yes, clearly I'm on the puppy trail here, quick, who can pay my way to Lifespan RE Week at Star Island? That's where she'll be next.

I can't wait until the next LREDA Professional Day, and I hope all 600 members of LREDA come, I'll find a room in Minneapolis big enough, I promise. And maybe we'll have lefse, but I promise no lutefisk. Promise. Cross my heart.

GA and the first big day

It was a beautiful morning to gather Unitarian Universalists from all over the world.

The Salt Palace is a lovely convention center, but on the Hilton, Marriot, Shilo side, the construction is brutal! Steel tipped boots recommended to cross the street.

This year I have an exhibitor badge because of my role in LREDA so I got to see it all before it was pulled together.

Doesn't it look completely desolate?

And here's our LREDA booth before set up....

....and after! Transformation!

The new LREDA logo is beautiful, and our fearless leader, president Anne Bancroft is all about clean lines and inviting presence--it looks fabulous! And after a few hours of staffing it this afternoon I think it's working! If you're a Religious Educator who is missing GA this year, tell folks from your congregation to stop by, we'll send home a care package for you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

GA and Too Tired Tuesday....zzzzzz

What a great finish to our LREDA Board meeting. Laura Spencer from the UUA came to talk with us about the Mosaic Project Report and the Youth Ministry Working Group report. It was a good meeting. We are all going to miss Laura Spencer as she moves on from work at the UUA.

I think if you haven't yet read the Mosaic Project or the Youth Ministry Working Group Report you would enjoy them. Go do it. And don't skip the apendix, the resources could fill your adult RE for the next year. One book Laura specifically recommended was "What if All the Kids are White". We could all read one book on trying to build a multi-cultural program this summer, right? Sure, why not. And as far as youth goes? How about one invitation to a youth to participate in a service....not a special service, just a service. Or two youth, that's even better. More likely they will.

It's a start. And sometimes that's everything.

Tomorrow is Professional Days for the Religious Educators and then we get rolling on the full on GA. Can't wait! But for now, I'm zonked. Zzzzzzz.....

GA, Too too Tuesday!

We had a lovely lunch today. The morning agenda items all went long, of course! But there were important things to talk about that we needed to cover.

So, by lunch time it was well, way after lunch time. We walked over to a lovely little real Italian Bistro that advertises itself as "organic!". And the food is fabulous! But unfortunately we didn't have time to eat in this lovely courtyard.
Instead we hauled our to-go boxes back to our little hotel room on the top floor of the Hilton to inhale our food and be ready for the next work. The afternoon is dedicated to talks with our LREDA Integrity Team and with Laura Spencer (from the UUA) to discuss the Mosaic Project Report. Yes, these conversations could each take a week. But they at least have a few hours.

Then I'm going over to the convention center to set up the LREDA booth. If you'll be at GA, stop by! We have free stuff! And candy! We also have a new lovely banner that has our new lovely logo on it. If you'll miss GA, well, I'll post pictures.

The city is just beautiful. The people are kind and friendly, and the company I'm keeping here? Well...it's world class!

Wish you were all here!

Monday, June 22, 2009

GA, Monday

Quick, think of the longest, most boring meeting you've ever sat through. Now, double the length, but turn it around into a deeply meaningful, hilarious and wildly productive work session.

That's what today's LREDA Board meeting was like. Long. Deep, and a lot of fun.

We had reports from or about 20 committees and groups. We had reports from most of the board members about their specific "portfolios" or areas of responsibility: the treasurer, administrator, president, LREDA Fall Conference specialist, the General Assembly professional days specialist and the combined work on the Fahs lecture. There were so many details we could have spent hours on each item, but there is a full day of material to cover tomorrow. We had to keep going. Funny thing is, it never felt like we were in a rush, everything is valued and these amazing people remember during each minute just how important it is to support all Religious Educators in all sizes of congregations all across the Unitarian Universalist faith.

But there were some funny moments. In an effort to reduce paper many of us tried to read those 20 reports from emails sent over the last few weeks....with our laptops in front of us it sometimes looked like we were a table full of rabble rousers in a coffee shop trying to boss each other around. "I sent it last Tuesday, check last Tuesday's email" and trying to access google docs en masse with an odd patchwork of permissions to do so--then watching the numbers magically change before our eyes as someone else modified the document. At one point someone stuck their head in our little room--and there was Gini Courter giving us merciless grief because hotel staff had tried to deliver our extra chairs to her room at dawn-thirty.

There are great things happening, so much action and good work.

And there was also dinner out with our Board.

(front row: Anne Bancroft, me, Jennifer Halperin. back row: Kathy Seggel, Millie Rochester, Patti Withers and Cindy Leitner, not pictured: Lori Allen)
Yes, it does king of feel like flying, but not so scary because someone is holding on. It's good.

Involved in Religious Education? Will you be at GA? Stop on By

Join colleagues
at the Hilton (suite 1819) for the following

Thursday 3-4 Judith Frediani: The latest in Tapestry of Faith from the UUA trends and visions

Thursday 4-5 Open,bring your stories, concerns, and questions for LREDA

Thursday 5-6 Laura Spencer: the Mosaic Project and diversity/identity issues

Friday 9-10 Aisha Hauser: Ministering to families

Friday 10-11 Jan Devor: RECC and the new credentialing requirements

Friday 11-12 Mary Benard: What's new from Skinner House? Do you have ideas
for new publications.

Sunday 3:30-4:30 Joyce Stewart

Sunday 4:30-5:30 Open, bring your stories, concerns and questions for LREDA

Stop on by for some great conversations!


Well, I've decided I'm in over my head and I'm getting on a Greyhound bus and going back to Seattle. The LREDA board? What was I thinking?

OK, not really.

What amazing people serve on this LREDA Board! Wise and funny, dedicated, hard working and so in touch with a vision of what Unitarian Universalism can be. And here's the thing.....I think they know some of the ways to get there.

So, I'll cancel my bus ticket and sit by and learn. This is very good stuff.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

UUA--GA Arrival Day

I am here in lovely Salt Lake City. I cannot remember the last time I had such a short flight, it went up, leveled out and before I knew it we were bumping down through some weather for a landing.

This would not have been my very first choice, to run the first Sunday of summer and then tear off for the a big huge week long meeting. Nope, I'd have chosen to have a nice quiet morning with my family enjoying scones while a team of lovely, well paid servants cleaned my house and packed my neatly pressed clothes and well filed paperwork. Ha! Well, we can have our little fantasies.

It was a lovely morning at church. I'll admit it here, but please, don't tell anyone; I forgot to plan the yearly Solstice at the Beach service. We've had them for the past four years! Oh no, I just completely forgot about it, and by the time I remembered we were too far into this plan to get out. Oh well! I did get to spend some nice time with some of our little ones who are not quite ready for family style programming, and I got to chat with teens after church. All good stuff. Maybe we'll make it up with a winter solstice at the beach....for the sunset at 3:15 or whatever the heck it is. Noon. 8am. Early. I'll think about that one later. Ish.

I've seen almost nothing of the city. The Valley Shuttle has a deal for UUA folks for $7 so I got on my shuttle, discovered Susan Archer, past LREDA president, had a lovely chat, checked in and unpacked. Now I'm drinking tea and ready to curl up in a ball and rest, OK honestly I'm ready to dissolve into the sleep of the "far too busy for the last three weeks".

I did get some reading done while on the plane. I'd skimmed both the Mosaic Project Report, back when Happy Cindy charged us all to read it "like there was gonna be a quiz" and I'd read the Youth Ministry Working Group report, well, because my son was on the YMWG and you know, just because we should. But this time I read it like I have some chance to implement the things that I read. I read it like we all have a chance to create something amazing here. Maybe it's the fact that I'm about to really be with my people, maybe it's the second read? Maybe it's the high altitude? But it's good.

We'll talk about these reports at the LREDA board meeting these and two whole days worth of things. But I promise, they won't get lost in the rush. We have a long, long way to go to create inclusive, "expecting" congregations, but as we sing "we are going, heaven knows where we are going, but we know the way...."

And.....because my dear husband travels all the gosh darn time he has some fancy elite status so......I got a free upgrade to the Executive Floor. I have no idea what it means, but the view is darn pretty. Best part? The wireless is free!

Due to schedule conflicts, we will have to reschedule the annual Father's Day celebration, please pardon our mess......

I leave for Salt Lake City today, our LREDA Board meeting begins at 9am tomorrow, and while I could have been just a little late had I left Seattle at dawn tomorrow, I'm leaving tonight. I hate starting marathon meetings exhausted.

But today is Father's Day. And my dear husband is a great father.

I felt just awful, but he is a good sport and offered to reschedule Father's Day, renaming Saturday as the official Father's Day for our family. It was a great day with made to order omlettes and strawberry pancakes for breakfast, a nice afternoon at the zoo to see the new penguins, and a late dinner (after one evil and unexpected soccer practice) at a local new restaurant. We've lifted the restriction on tools of our trades for gifts, which means I got a stand mixer for my birthday and he got spooling air hoses and power cables to hang from the ceiling in the garage for Father's Day. Being in our 40s sometimes really rocks. Of course we want these things and can't bring ourselves to actually buy them, so getting them as gifts is perfect. We were stupid to wait so many years. And yes, I do still adore the steam cleaner I got last year. He's a great dad and it was a great day.

So, off I go to church, having written the Story For All Ages last night at 11pm. Then a quick final pack, and off to Salt Lake City for GA. I think I have all the reports that I need to read for the Board Meeting, and I'm almost done re-reading the Mosaic Project report. There will be no Vanity Fair purchased at the airport to read in the air, it's work-work-work, and then you know, a little more work. The agenda for the board meeting is packed, and shadowing Cindy Leitner, the current board member holding the GA portfolio will take all my focused energy to be sure I understand what to do next year. But I'm excited. I'm giddy. I can hardly wait!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Decided, the best part of General Assembly

So, I think I've come up with the one thing I'm looking forward to the very most at the upcoming GA.


Not one specific worship although if I had to pick just one it would be the Church of the Larger Fellowship service. Last year it was phenomenal.

But when you go to GA there are worship services every day, all the time. There are morning spiritual practices every day, and big services filled with reverence like the Service of the Living Tradition. The music is always phenomenal, preaching inspiring. And the people you sit near, a fast friendly congregation.

I don't go to service much, I work on Sundays--you know as a Religious Educator. Even when I sit through a service I don't just sit through a service of course. I'm up and down and paying attention in a different way. It's great, I love it. Fantastic work. But it's not the same.

But, when I go to GA, ahhh.........I get to sit in services--sometimes three a day! I pray with other folks, I sing songs I might not even know, and I don't feel like I need to lead the group. I am filled heart, soul, mind and being.

Of course, I take these things home and share them with the children, youth and families, and sometimes with the adults. So it is kind of like work, later, when I'm paying attention again. But in the moment, during the week when we are the Gathered Congregation of the General Assembly--well, then I'm just a dry veggie bed and GA is the sweet summer rain.

Of course.....I will miss my family, and my little doggy, and I will miss my garden! Mmmm...Time to go eat Rhubarb Crisp-- which of course has absolutely zero calories.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Very BEST Part of GA

In just a few days Untarian Universalists from all over the continent, from all over the world, will gather in Salt Lake City for our General Assembly of Congregations. I am getting excited and even though my kitchen table is completely covered with the reading I have to do before the start of our LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators Association) Board meetings, I can hardly focus on one thing at a time for long enough to check anything off the list. It's like we're leaving for summer vacation and my dad is packing the car. Almost here!

I have been trying to think of the one thing I am looking forward to the very most. There are so many amazing things that happen at GA, I can't even start to decide. What am I looking forward to the very most? Well, um....yes. Yes. All of it. Yes. Worship and music and workshops and the Ware Lecture and the Fahs Lecture and oh the CLF Worship. Yes. And exhibits. And the conversations that happen while you are in line for coffee. And the banner parade. OH and the Synergy Service. Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes!


I can't wait!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Children, Youth and Families

Every week I stand up in front of my beloved congregation and say "my name is Kari Kopnick, and it is my honor to serve this congregation as your Director of Religious Education for children, youth and families" and I really mean it. It is a huge honor.

This past Sunday I led the worship service. Now, I've done this before of course, this is my fifth summer solstice as a Religious Educator, but this RE Sunday was different. The RE Celebration Sundays that I had been involved with as a child, as a parent as a RE Committee member and as a DRE had all been pretty straight forward "kids perform, classes present about what they did this year, teacher recognition, DRE appreciation, sometimes teacher recruitment for the following year, sometimes a bridging ceremony. But pretty much "let's show off for the adults!"

It has been combined with Flower Communion the past four years. And yes, we were always there until about Monday afternoon.

I was kind of done with that.

So this year, inspired by the LREDA Fall Con and a successful Thanksgiving Multi-Gen worship,we shoved all past convention aside. And we made a lovely multi gen RE Sunday!

I happen to work with an amazing Music Director, she's just amazing. Did I mention? Amazing. She's musically talented, of course. But she's got this lovely sense of drama, timing, and what's going to work. So she told me I was crazy, but said it in a nicer way--to have a six-year-old cellist play the prelude, and she was right. She responded to my Friday afternoon email with no fewer than FIVE exclamation points in the first line with "no problemo" and she had our choir, two youth and the minister and I perform (with help on the refrain from the congregation) the third movement "All Lifted Hearts" from Jason Shelton and Kendyl Gibbon's Sources Contata.

The Cantata took my breath away at GA last summer, my son too. We both knew we wanted to do this at home with our congregation. Our wonderful Music Director made it happen.

So our service opened with the Green Day song "Good Riddance, Time of Your Life" with electric guitars on "distortion" and yes, they were my sons. We sang "Come Sing a Song With Me" but didn't sing the verse with "Come Do Laundry With Me". We had a lovely "movie for all ages" with a short slide show and movie overview of each class, the RE Council and youth events. We had good joys and sorrows with children sharing along with the adults.

We had a lovely prayer with improv on piano by our (did I mention amazing?) music director--I read the first and last verse of "May Nothing Evil Cross This Door" and then we turned down the lights and had the cantata. Wow--narrated by amazing youth with James Earl Jones voices. And yes I had to sing the refrain at the very tip top of my vocal range and sometimes beyond that, but I did it with the help of the lovely minister I work with. I stood there and watched people close their eyes, tears streaming down their faces. Beautiful. It was just beautiful.

There was a brand spanking new bridge finished the night before by my dear husband with a lovely bridging ceremony. We had a nice half-a-homily along the theme of "Turning" directed to the adults, youth, children and families. And then we had an offertory accompanied by a women's ensemble and lovely soloist singing "Turn Around" no, there was not one dry eye in the sanctuary. Then, well, a quick Emily Dickenson poem read by a fourth grader, and our chalice was out and we were singing the "Amens".

Good service. One short hour. All children engaged for the whole time. And it was lovely.

It is an honor, how could it not be?!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Loving Day

In my family we have a dadand a momand three kids

and a little dog.

And because of the supreme court's decision in Loving vs. Virginia (1967) we can legally marry in any state. We have the legal advantages of marriage, and more. Our basic human right to marry the person we love is protected.

And our children can't give us a hard time about being rebel-hippies, although sometimes they still do that.

Happy Loving Day. Cupcakes for all!