MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
As I travel over the district, I get a lot of common questions: What is fair pay for a minister? How much does it cost for a speaker? What else is going on in the district?
Because it is search and settlement season, and there is a fair amount of shifting going on in the district, I thought I'd share the Unitarian Universalist Minister's Associations (UUMA) guidelines for fairly compensating ministerial services.
The UUMA has recommended fees for all of its members and we do not differentiate between candidates and active/retired ministers. If you are currently paying below the "going rate," (the recommended fees) that is between you and whomever you are negotiating with for services.
- WEDDING: $400; with rehearsal $450; alternatively, 10% of total wedding budget plus current IRS mileage allowance
- FUNERAL, MEMORIAL SERVICE OR OTHER RITES OF PASSAGE: $250; with committal or eulogy $300 plus current IRS mileage allowance
- SERMONS, WORSHIP SERVICES: $250 (one service) $300 (two services) $350 (three services) plus current IRS mileage allowance
- OTHER PROGRAM SERVICES: $75 per hour of presentation plus current IRS mileage allowance
- WORKSHOP OR THEME TALK: $250 for half day or $400 full day plus current IRS mileage allowance
In addition, the UUA website has detailed information concerning compensation for settled ministers. You can find information at this link: http://www.uua.org/careers/compensation/index.shtml There is a range of compensation dependent upon geographic area and size of congregation.
Part time ministers should receive pro-rated benefits in addition to the part time salary. You should be issuing a W2 for all staff, including part time staff, unless they are a one time speaker. The New York Law is pretty strict about this, and you should change this practice if you are still filling out form 1099.
We are hosting many workshops in the district right now. A Healthy Congregations series is starting in the Southern Tier on May 11th. If you are close enough to drive to the workshops, any small or small midsize congregation can join us. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to participate.
Starting in June, the Western cluster and others in that proximity are invited to join the Small Church Growth and Vitality series. This is an application process, and will meet over three years. This is facilitated by regional staff Mark Bernstein. Groups will meet in person twice each year, followed by online check-ins periodically.
We are also planning a stewardship workshop to be scheduled in the fall at First Universalist in Syracuse. Look for the date sometime in October.
The UU Small Group Ministry Network & the Central East Regional Group is sponsoring a Small Group Ministry Institute at Murray Grove, NJ. It is scheduled for Monday, July 22 – Friday, July 26. The description reads: New and experienced program organizers, ministers, religious educators, and congregational leaders will learn about and practice Small Group Ministry through shared experiences, hands-on workshops, presentations, daily group sessions, and networking. Commuter options available.
For Information and to access the registration form
If your church or your cluster are interested in a particular workshop, let me know and I will help you find facilitators to meet your needs. Let me know what you need, and I will try to set it up.
In faith and with love,
BLENDING DISTRICT ASSEMBLIES
I don't know if my district has ever had the President of the Unitarian Universalist Association speak at District Assembly before, but he did this year. And that probably wouldn't have happened if it were only my district. But this year, for the first time, my district agreed to partner with our neighbor, the Ohio Meadville District, to jointly have our District Assemblies in what was called, "Out of Bounds: Moving Beyond Our Congregations."
For me, having the president of our association speak was a real thrill. I love hearing what's happening with our larger association and how it relates to my congregation. Our joint District Assemblies were held in Niagara Falls, a draw for some people to see the spectacular site (and I suspect at least a few people were interested in the giant casino across the street). My Binghamton congregation sent a huge contingent – 24 people! I suspect that was largely to see our minister, Rev. Douglas Taylor, be the Gould Lecturer and to share in his glory!
But there were conversations about the possible loss of identity by sharing the time and space with our sister district. It's always been "our" DA and we don't want to lose our identity or have difficulty reconnecting with our district friends.
My perception of how the joint DA worked is, well, natural. When I was in a workshop, I never had the sense that I was with either "us" or "them" – I felt I was one of the "we." The district boundaries were not evident. I was with other UUs and it was good. I heard questions and insights that were interesting and relevant to me. If I wanted to know which district someone was from, I had to ask. But why bother?
I had read about various aspects of what Rev. Peter Morales spoke to us about, but it was insightful to see which points he is passionate about, where he is concerned for our future. He told us that the congregations at greatest risk are the small and old ones. That describes the majority of congregations in the St. Lawrence and the Ohio Meadville Districts. I'm committed to paying close attention to this and having our board and region ask how we could improve and take action to grow our faith.
I think this joint assembly was a wonderful experiment on what is possible. We can successfully expand the role of our region. We had 217 people register from the St. Lawrence District and 143 from Ohio Meadville District. This is a great number from SLD. But moving to regionalization isn't entirely easy – travel time and expense was a factor for many people in deciding whether to attend. But the sharing of ideas among so many UUs in relatively close geographic proximity was fabulous. And getting to hear and meet our UUA president was very special. Good things are coming our way ... but it will take a lot of work to go into a well-planned future.
Jeff Donahue, SLD President
NEW CHALICE LIGHTER CALL BENEFITS UU CONGREGATION BINGHAMTON AND UU CONGREGATION OF CANANDAIGUA
The latest chalice lighter call benefits 2 congregations, donations to be evenly split. The UU Congregation, Binghamton will use their grant to help them hire a Membership Coordinator. The UU Congregation of Canandaigua will use their grant to help them improve their entryway.
For more information about this call.
For more information about the chalice lighter's program.
SALUTING OUTGOING BOARD MEMBERS
As we approach District Assembly (and what a gathering it will be!), we need to take time to thank those who are leaving the District Board for their service. We are saying good bye to an unusually large number of board members- four in total.
Nancy Reed is cycling off the board after serving two terms, totaling six years. Nancy served as secretary to the Board for a number of those years- an important and often thankless task that she performed admirably. Towards the end of her tenure, Nancy served on the multi-district search team that recommended Rev. Chris Neilson to the Board. Nancy also participated as the Board's representative on the planning team for District Assembly this year- an event that we are all so looking forward to! We will miss Nancy's quiet strength, low-key manner and her wisdom. Board members will also miss the gatherings at Nancy's Canandaigua Lake house during our annual retreats each August!
Two board members resigned this past year. Kathy McGowan, who has so ably served the District, the Capital Region cluster (CRUUNY), her home congregation of Schenectady, and indeed the larger faith- took a position as Congregational Life Consultant in the UUA Southern Region. Kathy plans to move to the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina. While we will miss her great talents, she won't be deserting us completely- we hope to have Kathy as our keynote speaker at the District's annual Leadership Day conference next Fall. Board member Pat Pitcher also had to resign midway through her first year on the board, due to some family health issues. Pat, who brought much expertise and commitment to the Board, served ably as secretary and as a SLD representative on the CERG Strategic Planning Task Force. We hope that Pat can assist the District in other ways in the future.
Finally, we say goodbye to David Friedman, who has served as our UUA Trustee for the past eight years. David has served on numerous committees and task forces while on the UUA Board, including Congregations Come First, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the Finance Committee and the 5th Principle Task Force. During his time as UUA Trustee, David also participated on the District's Futures Team, which oversaw development of the Long Range Plan adopted at District Assembly in 2010. David previously served as treasurer and finance committee chair of the District, and he has been actively involved in the First Unitarian Church of Rochester for many years. We aren't sure how David will now spend those hundreds of hours formerly dedicated to endless UUA committee meetings, but we know he will enjoy spending more time with his wife Linda and extended family, while continuing to travel the globe. Thanks so much, David!
Fortunately, we have a group of very talented individuals who will (presumably) be voted in as new Board trustees in a few weeks. They include Catherine Atherden, the president of the UU congregation of Glens Falls; Sonja Jensen, who serves as the DRE at the UU Church of Buffalo; and Amy O'Connell from the Fredonia congregation. I am very excited that they will be joining
us, and we owe the Nominating Committee (Suzy Farrell, Chair; Rev. Lynn Ashley; Robb Smith; and Lauretta Young) a great debt for all their work over the past few months.
Please take some time at DA in Niagara Falls to thank our outgoing Board members, and to welcome our new ones!
RITES OF SPRING
A few warmer days have graced us as we celebrate winter's end. Despite the plethora of "failed spring" postings on facebook, I still believe that even warmer days are ahead. I've appreciated the lengthening light, the migration of birds, the appearance of buds on the trees and bulbs shooting through the cool earth. I believe this because spring always appears. Even though this is my first spring in New York, I am confident that the earth still turns, the sun returns and the seasons change.
By now you have chosen whether to eat the ears or the tail of the chocolate rabbit first, have shared a meal with friends and family, maybe even attended a Seder at your church. These are the rituals of spring.
We have many rituals in our UU world. Search committees are completing their exhausting search, and those being called to settled ministries are showing up in the "Hot Stove Report." If you are curious, anyone can view this on facebook. By now you may have the name of a new minister to serve your congregation, or you may have been given a notice of resignation. The annual turnover extends to the interim time too- you may be continuing a second year, or moving on with a new pastor. Congregations are evaluating their ministry needs, and many part time transitions are taking place. Ministers are retiring, Ministers are being ordained, Ministers are being honored with "Emerita" status. All of this adds up to a lot of transition and change.
Spring brings revival and resurrection- sometimes in the form of pledge drive campaigns, mission renewal, or reassessment of priorities. The long (very long) winter has given us time to ruminate, and now changes are made to revitalize our communities. Spring brings mud season. No one says that change is easy, it's often messy, but new life emerges from the sludge.
Spring brings annual meetings, and I hope by now that you've taken advantage of the early bird registration for the Joint St. Lawrence and Ohio Meadville annual meeting. We are hoping to merge the best of both cultures, and recognize that the travel challenges are difficult to overcome. St. Lawrence already has a strong showing for the event, and we only need thirty more people to register to meet our "Break Even" number. Spread the word to people in your congregation and help make this meeting a success. Friday night, the fabulous Rev. Douglas Taylor, minister at the Binghamton church will present the Gould Lecture, followed by a communion and social justice activity. The late nighters among you can join us for our Open Mike at the convention center. Saturday morning the Western cluster will lead us in worship, preparing the way for Rev. Peter Morales' keynote on Congregations and Beyond. We have separate annual meetings, followed by a catered lunch (included in the price) and twelve workshops. Our closing worship, led by the youth and Ohio Meadville ministers, will feature a bridging ceremony as that final rite of passage we will celebrate on this weekend. The whole idea of a shared annual meeting is an experiment, and it's not been without learning a few differences in our district cultures, but I hope you will go out of your way to attend this year and make it a successful experiment in our efforts to conserve resources and make things better.
Come on out of your homes and congregations and join in creating community. The sun has returned, and its time to play. Hope to see all of you soon!
Rev. Chris Neilson
COVENANTING ON MANY LEVELS
When UUs gather in Louisville for General Assembly in June, the theme is "From Promise to Commitment." We will examine and renew our covenant to our faith, one another, our congregations and the larger world. I recently took an intensive course at Meadville Lombard Theological School entitled "Ministry in a Post-denominational Age," and read quite a bit about covernants, a bit of which I'd like to share here.
In his article "Leadership Makes it or Breaks It" from his book The Almost Church Revitalized- Envisioning the Future of Unitarian Universalism, church consultant Michael Durall stresses the importance of covenants between congregational leaders. He argues that congregations are only as strong as their leaders are: ". . . the adventurous congregations had chosen spiritually mature leaders who lived out their religious values, served as role models for their congregations, and instilled a sense of confidence in the congregation as a whole. These leaders believed that something important was at stake." Durall calls for the development of a Covenant of Leadership among congregational board members. Elements of such a covenant include the following: leaders believe that they are leading the congregation somewhere, not just overseeing finance and administration; leaders commit to work with the minister to develop a spiritual discipline, so that leadership transcends the work of secular organizations; and the church is the leader's primary volunteer commitment beyond normal family obligations. This is must reading for congregational nominating/leadership development committees!
In his article "How the Principles and Purposes are Leading Us Astray" (reprinted in the book Reverend X- How Generation X Ministers Are Shaping Unitarian Universalism), U Rev. Marvin Lavanhar argues that a widespread misunderstanding of the roles and purposes of the Principles has resulted in their misuse in ways that are negatively impacting UU identity and theology. According to Lavanhar, congregations often adopt the Principles as "an easy substitute for doing the formative work of developing a covenant or theological identity or mission that is specific to them." While the Principles are an affirmation of "the least that UUs hold in common," Lavanhar suggests what is lacking: "Missing ingredients include a sense of sacrifice and human sinfulness and human vulnerability, an articulation of the human need to surrender to something larger that oneself, and a commitment to spiritual practice." Lavanhar calls for the creation of a "clear and binding covenant as a movement, and especially within individual congregations, that inspires true sacrifice and surrender and that includes powerful ways for people to enter the covenant."
We UU's have our work cut out for us!
CERG On Demand Classes
Theology for a Secular World
Leading Change in Our Congregations
Finding Our Common Wealth: Stewardship As Transformational Ministry
A Family Under One Sky: Ministry Across the Generations
Soul Work: Creating Welcoming Multicultural UU Communities
Ministry in the Borderlands
The Emotional Dynamics of Leadership
These classes are developed from the materials of UU University 2006-2009.
See the full list of On Demand Classes at the CERG On Demand Website
Join Us for a Historic Joint District Assembly
Celebrate 50 years of the SLD!
April 26-27, 2013
Niagara Falls Convention Center, Niagara Falls, NY
Keynote Speaker: Rev. Peter Morales, UUA President
Gould Lecturer: Rev. Douglas Taylor, UU Binghamton
Registration information, program details and brochure are available on the District Assembly Page. To see all the information online, visit the OMD DA webpages.
Early bird registration ends March 26th!
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