FirstUU StLouis logoWinter means AUCTION TIME for many of our congregations!  Recently First Unitarian in St. Louis, MO tried some new things with some surprising results, including paying for an auctioneer. All auction expenses were offset by dinner ticket sales and a 50/50 raffle. Food, decorations and music for the night were donated. The paddle auction raised MORE MONEY than the silent auction. Read on to learn more. If you have questions, contact Emily at

We recently held a successful church auction without a large number of high dollar auction items. We focused on “intangibles:” services, event tickets, dinners, and group outings.
In addition to raising money, my goals were:

  • Minimize logistical headaches
  • Provide opportunities to participate at all income levels and length of membership.

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By Ian Evison, Congregational Life Consultant and Lead Staff for MidAmerica Region, with the assistance of Kenn Hurto, Congregational Life Consultant and Lead Staff for the Southern Region

In the 1950s the family therapist Murray Bowen introduced many ideas about systems. The concept of triangulation is one of the most applicable to congregational leadership. It is, in brief, when John is frustrated with or concerned about Mary, John looks to Jane to deal with this. In organizations that have had unhealthy experiences of conflict or where indirect expression of conflict is culturally normative (the Midwest!), triangulation can become deeply problematic.

If you find yourself in the middle of someone else’s squabble, you are being triangulated. If you find someone else wants you to take responsibility for their communication, you are being triangulated. Those who most habitually take the role of the responsible ones—and this is most of our congregational leaders—are most susceptible to being triangulated. From a systemic point of view, triangulation is a means of reducing anxiety. The more anxious a system, the greater the tendency to triangulation. Those who are most anxious will have the greatest tendency to triangulate.

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