Small and Mighty, Board Development Days and more...


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Small and Mighty Congregations

Did you know that over half of the congregations in the UUA have under 120 members? Our faith has a lot of congregations that are considered small, by the people who look at size differences. Some are congregations of about 100 folks with a modest building and the support of a minister, even if part time. Others are exclusively lay-led groups of about 30 folks, meeting in rented space. Small congregations can be found in big cities and in isolated rural communities. You might say we have a lot of diversity amongst our Small and Mighty congregations.

Sometimes leading a small congregation can feel overwhelming. It includes gathering many needed volunteers from a limited pool of busy members, trying to offer good children's programing when you only have a few kids, and balancing a small budget with a lot of folks wanting a slice of the pie. Often the hardest part of leading a small congregation is managing expectations. If that other UU church has many and varied offerings in Adult Religious Education, shouldn't we? Why don't we have a big choir like the church where I grew up? A group of 50 folks just can't do the same work as a group of 550. Every size has unique gifts.

One of the keys to success for the Small and Mighty congregation is to notice what you do well and do that with pride. Maybe your small congregation has great chalice circles, or creative multigenerational worship. Smaller congregations can often be places of innovation and new ideas. After all, it's easier to maneuver a tugboat than an aircraft carrier. Let go of things that don't work or that you don't have the resources to do well. Bite off what you can chew. A small congregation can certainly take a delegation of protesters to the capitol to march for human rights each month. A small congregation can't singlehandedly create and sustain a homeless shelter. But you could partner with several other congregations on this kind of project and share the load. And there may be historic programs that just don't work any more. The yearly plant sale may have been a great fundraiser 30 years ago, but if it wears everyone out and makes little money, then it is best to let it go. Save your volunteers and your energy for things like good pastoral care programs and welcoming new folks.

The thing the Small and Mighty congregations have in common with their larger neighbors is the importance of the mission. For big and small congregations, it is important to always look to the mission in making key decisions. What is the work your congregation is on this earth to do? How can your congregation help make a difference? Keeping the mission as your guide can help the Small and Mighty congregation put limited time, labor, and other resources where they can make a real impact in the world and in the lives of our people.

Rev. Sarah Schurr
Pacific Western Region Congregational Life Staff

August 3, 2017
In this Issue
  • Small and Mighty
  • Board Development Days
  • Events
  • District and UU News
  • Job Postings
PWR Quick Links
PWR Field Staff

Events, Training and Webinars


Board Development Days are here!

A day for congregational teams (board members and clergy) to explore and learn together. Note: This day may supplement your traditional Board Retreat, serve as part of it, or provide the foundation for it.

  • Are you looking for ways to build or rebuild trust within your congregation?
  • What would it look like if your congregation moved from an "I" to "We" understanding of itself?
  • Are there questions that could break open new possibilities in your congregation?
  • What if it is not so much about our governance systems but who we are as leaders?
  • How do we stay centered in times of change? And aren't they all times of change?
  • Would clarity about roles and responsibilities free up some new energy in your congregation?

Come explore these topics with others.

Currently Scheduled
  • August 19 at Verdugo Hills (Los Angeles, CA) Register now!
  • September 9 at UU Congregation of Salem (OR) Register now!
  • September 16 at Tapestry (Orange County, CA) Register now!
  • October 7 in San Jose (CA)
    Note: This has been changed from Oct. 28!
  • October 14 at Live Oak UU Congregation (Goleta, CA)
  • October 21 in Marin Co. (CA)
  • November 18 at Foothills Unitarian Church (Ft. Collins, CO)
  • December 9 at Florence UU Fellowship (OR) Register now!
  • January 27 at UU Society of Sacramento (CA) Register now!

Plans are currently underway to offer these throughout the PWR. If you are interested in hosting a Board Development Day in the coming church year, let your PWR Primary Contact know.

Multicultural Renaissance Module Registration Open

Multicultural religious education is a way of seeing and thinking as well as doing. It requires us to truly open our minds and hearts to the perspectives and experiences of others. It requires the humility to see those diverse perspectives to be as valid as our own. It calls us to welcome and include the unfamiliar, those who may be outside our comfort zone. It asks us to acknowledge the realities of oppression and privilege. It means we are open to change and growth, and ultimately care more about justice than comfort.

Nov. 6, 5:00pm to Nov. 8, 12:00pm
Denver, CO

Led by: Samaya Oakley and Aisha Hauser

Register Now

Denominational News


Making a Breakthrough!

Is your congregation doing adaptive, innovative ministry in a way that could be replicated elsewhere? Maybe you've found a new revenue stream, or have done something different in worship. Maybe you have a ministry in your community that has become the hallmark of your congregation. Whatever it is, we want to hear about it. Breakthrough Congregations returns with a focus that celebrates and shares innovative ways congregations are adapting to the challenges faced in an evolving religious landscape. We are looking for bold, one-time initiatives as well as ongoing sustainable efforts. Breakthrough Congregations is no longer based on numerical growth or whole congregational health, though other benchmarks of the health of a congregation will be considered. All congregations and covenanting communities can apply. Application deadline is September 1, 2017. For more information and application materials, visit the Breakthrough Congregations website.

Beacon Press Audiobooks

Since launching Beacon Press Audio late last year, Beacon Press has expanded their audiobooks collection to include a broad range of voices. In The Third Reconstruction, listen to the story of how Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II helped start the Moral Mondays movement. Haroon Moghul's struggle to forge an American Muslim identity is brought to life in the audio edition of How to Be a Muslim. Dr. Danielle Ofri's latest book, What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear, reveals the importance of doctor-patient communication. As Beacon Press director and audiophile Helene Atwan explains, "The great tradition of writing can be traced to an oral tradition of storytelling." Whether you're headed to work, traveling long distance for vacation, or preparing dinner, audiobooks are a fabulous way of consuming the written word.

Online Small Group Ministry

Finding places to be seen and heard is an important step on the quest for meaning. Whether your congregation has many small group options or none, you can add an online small group experience to connect even deeper with Unitarian Universalism. The Church of the Larger Fellowship has members all over the planet. Come learn together about what Unitarian Universalism looks like in other places. You might make a friend in another town, state, or country. The facilitated online groups meet twice a month to discuss a theme and connect with one another over a four-month period. Fall groups sign up in late August and September with meetings occurring October through January. If you are interested in joining one of these groups, contact Kevin Jagoe at to learn more.


As the summer wraps up, do you have new young adults from your congregation who are moving away for a job or college? Is your congregation planning to do outreach on a college campus or to young adults this fall? Be sure to check out the HubMap! You can register a group or register as an individual seeking a group or doing outreach. See outdated or incomplete information on the map? Email UUA Young Adult and Campus Ministry Associate Annie Gonzalez Milliken at to let her know.

Welcoming New Staff in Congregations

New for the summer hiring season, the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances has created a welcoming and onboarding checklist. Ensure that new staff receive a proper welcome and that sound onboarding protocol is followed. We're providing a Welcoming and Onboarding Checklist in two formats – in Excel for customizing and/or working with on your computer, and as a PDF for easy printing. This resource is designed to help you prepare for and welcome new staff and ensure that you attend to necessary forms and benefits enrollment steps. Also take a look at the slides from our recent General Assembly workshops. Find these welcoming and onboarding resources on our site.

PWR Job Postings

Ministry Positions
  • Assistant Minister - Quimper UU Fellowship in Port Townsend, WA
    Applications open until position is filled.
At the Broken Places

Mary and Donald Collins, Beacon Press, 2017

In this collaborative memoir a mother and trans son reflect on the emotionally complex journey they shared as Donald transitioned from female to male.


Angela Saini, Beacon Press, 2017

How Science Got Women Wrong and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story. What science has gotten so shamefully wrong about women, and the fight, by both female and male scientists, to rewrite what we thought we knew.