In 2012-2013 a momentum has been building to sustain and nurture congregational youth and young adult ministries in Central Midwest District, and the evolving MidAmerica region. We are truly blessed in the Central MidWest District with a robust and sustainable youth ministry experience created by talented leaders from our congregations who step up to organize the Fall and Spring Youth Cons.
The success of these youth events is enabled by the DRE’s, ministers, and congregational leaders who heartily welcome events and then help to make them a reality and success. The successful partnering of congregational leaders with our veteran youth conference coordinators, such as Heather Godbout, from Unity, and Kim Tilford from Palatine, who have made these events possible. Also, I am so pleased with the willingness to open up these conferences to leaders from the entire MidAmerica region.
An example of a premium event, which is one of the highlights of my program year, is the Youth Midwest Leadership School in Beloit, WI. This last July was no exception, for YMLS continued to be a remarkable experience. I was so moved at the commitment of CMwD congregations who intentionally raised funds to send youth to YMLS. We celebrate the talents of many of the CMwD youth and adults, who have been asked to serve on the faculty for YMLS. Included on our 2013 faculty are Andrew Connet, a youth from Naperville, IL and Andy Singleton, an adult, from Deerfield, IL.
YMLS is an amazing face to face experience, but we do remain committed to offering virtual opportunities for leaders to share and learn. Our MidAmerica webinars have been well attended, and in the last year I offered webinars on: Basic Youth Advising; Chaperoning Children and Youth; Sustainable Youth Ministry; New Trends in Young Adult/Campus Ministry, and a webinar for new DRE’s, “Start As You Mean to Continue.” One totally new virtual opportunity is a collaboration with Rev. Phil Lund, where we are offering a 6 session online course on “Youth and Young Adult Ministry.” Our target group has been religious professionals, and in particular, members of the RE Credentialing program. This experience galvanized my own professional development, and in February I was accepted into the UUA’s Religious Education Credentialing program. I am excited about this new endeavor and hope to have other religious educators from the MidAmerica region join as well. What a blessing it is to be part of any intentional learning community.
One such intentional learning experience, has been a series of virtual and face to face open meetings on the future of youth and young adult ministries in MidAmerica. I took part, with Phil Lund and Dori Davenport Thexton, in a series of “Thoughtful Conversations,” which were held from August 2012-December 2012. The results indicated that: Youth and Young Adult ministry in the MidAmerica region is highly valued. Congregations are thirsting for more for more leadership development opportunities; for more skills, resources, and opportunities to connect youth and young adults. Congregations are ready, and in many areas are already hosting, and even co-hosting with other congregations, terrific youth and young adult conferences. Leaders are naming the need for a regional body of youth and adults working together to maintain a greater vision and structure of accountability. The language being used is the emergence of a “Youth Ministry Advisory Group.” The YMAG would work directly with MA staff in mapping out multi-year plans for enriching youth training opportunities (which congregations are not equipped to handle solo); to provide feedback on staffing for our Youth Midwest Leadership School; to provide opportunities for youth and adults to become co-trainers for such events as Basic Youth Advisor workshops; Spirituality Development conferences; Pastoral Care/Lay Chaplaincy trainings; Leadership Development Conferences, etc…. The YMAG will also be the communication portal for congregations to contact when they want to host a conference. The advisory group will have trained and talented Con Coordinators who can assist congregations in realizing their goal to have a successful event. The YMAG will also be working with staff in creating and sustaining service trip opportunities for youth groups in the region.
There is clarity that current Young Adult structures need to be fostered and to deepen/grow support for YA’s in MidAmerica. Leaders expressed a vision for a Young Adult Ministry Advisory Group, focusing on the entire region. Current YA groups, such as the CMwD Young Adult Steering Committee, who have been on the forefront of using a regional lens in their programming and vision, will hopefully be working in solidarity with other YA leaders throughout the region, and our MA staff, working directly with congregations who want to hold a YA conference. Also, there would be YA’s, who are serving on the YAMAG, to work directly with congregations and clusters of congregations who want to deepen their commitment to young adult ministry. Having engaging service trip opportunities for young adults, as well as strengthening support for campus ministry in our region were all expressed as clear goals. Linkage with our Midwest Leadership School is seen as an excellent goal, to make sure that congregations have a commitment to send young adults and for funding/scholarships to be available to realize this goal. We are currently partnering with the leaders at People’s UU Church in Kalamazoo, MI, who have requested to have their leaders trained in Young Adult OWL. Thanks to a grant from our national UUA Youth and Young Adult office, we will be able to host this training in late spring or summer of this year, which will be open to Young Adults in CMwD and throughout the region.
There was a consensus throughout all of the conversations on youth and young adult ministry that “safe congregations” issues remain paramount. Congregations are wanting standards clarified by the region on what specific criteria is needed to make sure that any experience provides the highest standard of safety for all participants. One participant expressed the hope that the MA region would have a safety and liability document, posted, to make sure that all congregations would be striving to maintain those same safety practices in youth ministry. With regard to young adult ministry, there was discussion of have and maintain a statement of ethical standards, which are currently being used at young adult events. I plan to continue in partnering with our regional Directors of Religious Education around issues of safety and liability in youth and young adult programming.
For the future, I dream that we partner together with the shared pursuit of growing Unitarian Universalism: Growing our faith by raising lifelong UU’s, and by having an outward and invitational element to all of our endeavors.
With confidence in our future,
|As approved by CMwD Board 2/2/2013||sub total||MidAmerica Total||CMWD Fallback||HL Fallback||PSD Fallback|
|Program Registration Fees||61,600|
|Lifespan Religious Ed||7,000||3,080||1,750||2,170|
|Youth MidWest Leadership||15,000||6,600||3,750||4,650|
|Youth Ministry Events||4,700||2,068||1,175||1,457|
|Young Adult Ministry Events||4,000||1,760||1,000||1,240|
|Camp Star Trail||10,000||10,000|
|Social Justice Fund||300||300|
|Transfer from Dedicated||3,200||800||2,400|
|General and Office Expenses||8,700||4,650||3,115||16,900|
|Equipment and Leases||10,750||1,000||5,050||3,300|
|Contracted & Other Services||9,400||5,600||1,800||2,500|
|Board & Governance Exp.||21,800||5,800||7,200||9,400|
|Social Justice Fund||300||300|
|Regional Staffing Costs||175,508||77,223||43,877||54,408|
|Regional Staff Prof. Exp.||7,000||3,080||1,750||2,170|
|Cofunded Staffing Costs||297,830||131,045||74,458||92,327|
|Cofunded Staff Prof. Exp & Travel||72,000||31,680||18,000||22,320|
|Camp Star Tral||10,000|
|Program Support & Resources||6,250|
|Young Adult Ministry||2,400||3,000||500||1,000|
|In addition to the above amounts, the UUA contributes a further $280,362 toward cofunded staff salaries and benefits|
The Women and religion Committee has had a very successful year. We worked all year to revise our policies, create and set up a new Web site and move to a system of monthly telephone conferences. We now meet face to face three times a year, in May, Oct and January.
This year’s conference in Milwaukee, at Unitarian Universalist Church West, was ably facilitated by Kathy Bradshaw, the local committee chair. 125 women attended and the Saturday evening concert attracted additional music lovers. The District Committee worked for 15 months with singer Holly Near, who was to be with us for the weekend. Unfortunately Holly was terribly ill and could not fly, per Doctors orders. She sent in her place, Melanie DeMore, an African American Lesbian Feminist singer, who interprets spirituals and gospel music mixed with her own compositions to uplift the connections between people. Melanie has performed with Pete Seeger, Odetta, Judy Collins, and Holly Near. Ronnie Gilbert says of Ms DeMore.“She is Womanpower wrapped in velvet”. Melanie was this and more. Melanie was an unexpected gift given from a potentially terrible situation. Everyone was thrilled with her performance and theology. She says, “I use music to weave a tapestry of community.” She was a blessing to all of us.
Next year’s conference will be held in Naperville, Il, February 7-9, 2014. Our speaker is the world famous feminist and spiritual writer, Sue Monk Kidd. Author of “The Secret Life of Bees”, The Mermaid Chair”, Traveling with Pomegranates” , The Dance of the Dissident Daughter” as well as much writing on Spiritual Discipline.
The Conference Title is: “WISDOM FOR THE JOURNEY: A Weekend with Sue Monk Kidd.
This year the Committee will be expanding our membership. We also will be evaluating our summer program. This program has been undersubscribed and we have sent out a survey to past attendees to ask for feedback about future directions. We want to have programs that meet our members needs and provide support for the variety of circumstances of women’s lives.
MidWest Leadership School (MWLS) is a cooperative undertaking of the Prairie Star (PS), Central Midwest (CMWD) and Heartland Districts (HD) of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). It is officially sponsored by the Central Midwest District (CMWD).
MWLS Mission Statement
The mission of MWLS is to develop leadership skills, framed by the principles and purposes of Unitarian Universalism, of members of congregations, and seminary students not yet in Candidate Status, within the three sponsoring districts.
MWLS Leadership Definition
“Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes.”
[Rost, Joseph (1992). Leadership for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Praeger.]
MWLS Finances and Authorization
MWLS is a self-supporting, self-managed, non-profit training organization, sponsored by CMWD, in collaboration with PS, and HD of the UUA. It is one of several UUA leadership training entities. MWLS Staff include lay personnel, ordained ministers, and representatives of the three sponsoring UUA districts. On an annual basis, staff set tuition and fees for participation, approve a budget, and contract for services required to operate the training experience. Staff members are responsible for marketing and recruitment of participants. Staff select officers and define roles needed to operate MWLS. Staff meet as needed (at least quarterly), to plan future MWLS training institutes and evaluate previous training institutes. Operation of MWLS is governed by policies contained in the MWLS Staff Handbook.
MWLS Goals and Objectives
Members of the MWLS staff endeavor to create a stimulating and safe environment in which personal boundaries are respected, and participants can share their personal religious paths, challenging themselves and others to experience spiritual growth. Participants attending MWLS can expect to increase their understanding of how their faith informs their active participation in congregational life, developing personal, interpersonal and organizational skills. During a one-week intensive learning experience, MWLS offers programming and resources that:
• enable participants to utilize skills in creating and strengthening shared ministries;
• develop skills in communication, organizational development, leadership, conflict management, decision making, implementation, and evaluation;
• encourage a sense of connectedness among Unitarian Universalists;
• build trust in group processes and dynamics;
• impart knowledge of and appreciation for Unitarian Universalist history and theological issues;
• encourage a sense of denominational awareness;
• develop skills in working effectively with boards of trustees and committees; and
• encourage exploration of issues of personal spiritual growth.
MWLS served 36 students from across the Midwest in July 2012. Districts were comparably represented with CMD = 14, Heartland = 9, and PSD = 13. The session commenced on Sunday afternoon, and closed the following Saturday at noon.
Sessions covered the gamut of topics on leadership, working in organizations, small group dynamics, organizational change, and so forth. Significant time was spent exploring the origin and history of the Unitarian Universalist community and its theology and culture. Each participant was involved in a variety of small group activities. In addition to education on the meaning and preparation of worship, participants were involved in eleven worship service experiences during the week.
Participants worked in six OD groups to expand their organizational and leadership skills, seven Credo groups to share and clarify personal and spiritual values, and nine worship groups (in participation with Youth School members) to better understand the worship experience by preparing and delivering a worship service.
Professional Staff Members
REV. DAVID BREEDEN, History and Theology Presenter, is minister at Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship, Bloomington, Minnesota.
REV. IAN EVISON, Organizational Development and Leadership Presenter, is Congregational Services Director for the Central MidWest District.
REV. RENEE RUCHOTZKE, Organizational Development and Leadership Presenter, is Regional Consultant for Leadership Development for Central East Regional Group.
REV. LISA PRESLEY, Chaplain, is District Executive for the Heartland District.
Lay Staff Members
DAVE BECKER, School Chair and Group Facilitator, is a third year staff member and member of the UU Fellowship in DeKalb, Illinois.
SYLVIA CRESWELL, Registrar and Group Facilitator, is a third year staff member and member of the UU Fellowship in Topeka, Kansas.
JIM LAUGHLIN, Technology Coordinator and Group Facilitator is a third year staff member and member of the UU Society of Iowa City, Iowa.
JENNIFER HUNDLEY BATTS, School Dean and Group Facilitator, is a second year staff member and member of UU Church of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
REBECCA GANT, Treasurer and Group Facilitator, is a second year staff member and member of the Unitarian Church of Lawrence, Kansas.
RYAN THOMAS, Technology Coordinator and Group Facilitator is a second year staff member and UU Church of Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.
SHANNON VAN LANDINGAM, Bookstore Coordinator and Group Facilitator, is a first year staff member and member of the Unitarian Church of Lawrence, Kansas.
MARIA WILSON, Technology Coordinator and Group Facilitator is a first year staff member and member of the First Unitarian Church of Omaha, Nebraska.
ROB KOCH, Assistant Treasurer and Group Facilitator, is a first year staff member and member of the UU Fellowship of Topeka, Kansas.
Collaboration with Youth Leadership School
In 2009, the Youth Leadership School was initiated to provide a Midwest Leadership School to high school age youth. Housed in separate facilities at Beloit College, collaboration between the Adult and Youth schools has involved shared participation in and preparation of worship services.
Comments from MWLS Participants
“It is my congregation’s tradition to send the President-elect. I’m hoping to help increase the number attending dramatically”.
“ As an extrovert, I learned a tremendous amount about working with introverts without overwhelming them. My congregation thanks you.”
“MWLS was a profound and moving experience which deepened my faith commitment, my understanding of our faith, and my intention and capacity for spiritual growth”.
“MWLS was a transformative experience for me. As rewarding and interesting as the academic aspect of it was, the spiritual aspect of it was unparalleled in my life. I have rarely formed so many deep, cherished connections with so many people so quickly, and feel powerfully blessed that it was within a religious tradition and community”.
“MWLS has reinforced my desire to serve my congregation as well as continue outreach with other UU congregations”.
MWLS 2013 Dean
The past two years have been a momentous time for the three districts of our MidAmerica Region. Last year (2011-2012) we began developing a joint administrative and program structure that will allow us to serve you in new ways even as it reduces costs and frees resources for new endeavors. This year (2012-2013) the boards of our three districts have taken the lead in creating a proposal for a regional governance structure led by a new regional board. Now at this assembly, you, the delegates to our Central MidWest District Assembly, make the crucial decision of whether to endorse this proposal.
We commend our CMWD board along with the boards of the Heartland and Prairie Star Districts in their deep and thoughtful work on every detail of this proposal, on their careful communication with you as it developed, and on integrating many rounds of your suggestions into the proposal. The work of our boards in this region is something for us to be proud of and has set a very high standard for other regions. The result is that—if the proposal is approved by our three districts—you will have an exceptionally capable structure with which to work with our staff in envisioning how we together can act most effectively, both locally in our region and for the larger purposes of our association, as you hold us accountable for our part in that work. We on the staff endorse this proposal and look forward to working with the new regional board.
This proposal for working as a regional arises out of the same questions every congregation must wrestle with of focus on mission, sustainability, and agile response to shifting needs. We all need to create structures which empower and which do the best job of both focusing and freeing energy for support of crucial work. We write this report as the Supreme Court considers two important cases bearing on marriage equality and so are reminded of the many issues facing us in our work in the world as we stand, not only in our congregations but also in our region—together--on the Side of Love.
The challenge for us this year has been to continue to serve you even as we worked to create new frameworks. We thank you for both the massive support you have given us in this and the patience and understanding you have shown when we have been slower than usual in responding to your requests. We look forward to getting beyond this time of structural preoccupation and getting back to what we love, working with you, in new ways and old, face-to-face and online.
It is an honor to serve you. We thank you for all you are contributing to creating our new ways of working.