Friday, August 29, 2008

Four ways to find things on the UUA Website

The following is adapted from a short workshop for lay leaders I have been doing in my travels around the District. I would love to visit your congregation too!

The website of the Unitarian Universalist Association is without a doubt the best resource for all things Unitarian Universalist - whether it is a history of our faith, resources for social justice activities, or practical advice for church administrators, Board members, or canvass chairs. The problem is: how do you find it?

The UUA staff has been working to add tools to help us do that. Here are my top 4 picks on how to find things on the UUA site - note that you can jump to the web page I am describing by clicking the blue link:

1. By position (yours): go the and click on the leaders link. You will see a list of various leader positions - click on one and you will see a list of resources relevant to that position.

2. By Topic: go to and click on “I am interested in”. You will see a "pull down" menu of various topics - click on one and you will get a list of resources available on that topic, including books, Internet resources, and DVDs.

3. Internal Google search: go to and input what you want in the search box. This is my least favorite way of finding things as you often get too many choices - try putting as much detail as possible into your search, putting quotation marks around things that belong together - instead of marriage equality, for example, put in "marriage equality". According the UUA staff member Susanna Whitman
The key to searching the Leaders Library is to use quotes around your search terms. And that if you do not find what you seek, to let know about it. If you let know about it, then they (or the relevant staff) will be able to add more search terms as a feature of the page to sharpen it.

4. Contact the UUA Staff: identify a UUA staff person with responsibility for the area you are interested in, and ask them where to find a particular resource. For example, email Tim Brennan, UUA Treasurer (, to find financial information or Susanna Whitman, Growth Service Program Manager ( for marketing resources. The email convention is (first initial)(last name)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Between Trapezes in Petaluma

One of the privileges of being a UUA Trustee is that I am invited to be part of the service at some of our congregations. Last Sunday was with the Unitarian Universalists of Petaluma, with the "world premier" of my sermon on change and transition, borrowing liberally from William Bridges' work, including a description of the place in between beginnings and endings: "like being between trapezes, like Linus when his blanket is in the dryer".

UUP is a lovely congregation - they meet in the Petaluma Woman's Club, a beautiful historic building with a nice feel - and have been working with the Rev. Ben Koch-Myers to see what they can do to evolve to a part time minister. I was impressed with the people I met, who were articulate about what they were trying to do, and who provided a service experience with warmth and sincerity.

Another benefit of sermon preparation is that you are forced to think through many of the things you are talking about. I included a story about a method of catching monkeys in Thailand that involves drilling a small hole in a coconut shell just big enough for the monkey to get his paw in, filling the shell with rice, and fastening it to something that cannot be moved. The monkey puts in his pay, grabs a fistful of rice, but cannot get its paw out without letting go of the rice. As the story goes, the monkey will be caught rather than let go of the rice.

I could tell from the look on many of the faces Sunday that this story hit home - as it does for me. How often are we "caught" because we cannot let go of something when change is happening?