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MidAmerica Messenger

Volume 4 Issue 11     |     June 2017

The MidAmerica Region is where UUs visibly live our faith, create connections, grow our membership, and welcome all persons who share our UU values.

In This Issue

MidAmerica Youth Ministry Revival
From One Admin to Another...
Breakthrough Congregations
Nominations for Camp UniStar
Courage for Collective Liberation
Brilliant Bits: Love Resists
Contact Us

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Sharon Dittmar, Congregational Life Consultant

rev sharon dittmar 2016 Welcome to the summer of 2017! This issue is a special June/July issue. Our next issue will appear August 2017.

On June 2, the recent Moderator of the UUA Jim Key died. He had resigned his post in May due to an aggressive recurrence of cancer. He served well and will be missed. Like you, we wait to hear from the UUA Board as to how they will move forward with the sudden loss of a beloved Moderator.

Several of us will meet up at General Assembly in New Orleans, LA (June 21-25) Delegates from our Region are invited to the MidAmerica Regional meeting on Wednesday, June 21 from 5:30PM - 6:15PM. Also, stop by the Congregational Life booth and say "hello!" Several of us will be at GA (Ian, Lisa, Nancy, and Sharon) and we hope to see you there.

As always, be in touch. We know congregational life continues during all seasons and we are here for you. Visit for more information.

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MidAmerica Youth Ministry Revival


September 29 - October 1, 2017, Countryside Church UU, Palatine, IL

matt meyer The MidAmerica Region is sponsoring CommUUnity@Heart as a shared national UU Youth Ministry Roundtable initiative, with talented leaders from the UUA's Youth and YA Office, Congregational Life, and the UU College of Social Justice.

We are thrilled to have Matt Meyer, from the Lucy Stone Cooperative and Boston Sanctuaries movement to help us go deeper in our spirit with music and message, and we have invited leaders from the InterFaith Youth Corps to bring their unique vision on building communities of partnership and pluralism.

CommUUnity@Heart: Youth Revival 2 will provide nurture through music, movement and message for youth and adults to become "mystical warriors" focused on beloved community building. Participant will find ways to go deeper into their own resolve to nurture the spirit within themselves, and their communities, to help create a world where all are treated fairly. It is a wonderful opportunity for teams of youth, youth advisors, DRE's, ministers, and social justice leaders to take part in an experience which will deepen faith, nourish spirit, and lift hearts!

You can register now! We invite youth and at least one of the adults from their team to stay on site, and we have a block of rooms at a reduced rate at a local Holiday Inn Express in Arlington/Palatine. The fee for participants is $60. Per youth and adult, and for teams of 4, the rate is $200.

Hoping to see you there! -- Nancy Combs-Morgan

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From One Admin to Another...   

Dear UU Church Administrators,

Katie Phillips photo by Chuck Bennorth 300wI know your to-do list is 13 pages long, the phone is ringing off the hook, and the financial report is due - I have been in your shoes! I was the Congregational Administrator at the UU Society of Geneva (IL) for 10 years and am now an Administrative Assistant at the MidAmerica Region.

One of my jobs is to update our records of congregational leadership. I know from being in your seat for years that this task is likely at the bottom of your to-do list, but we're going to make this very easy for you this year.


To make sure your leadership receives information about webinars and other ongoing instruction to help them be the best leaders they can be. We do not share a database with the UUA, so the only way for us to get the information is from you.


Anytime your leadership (Board members) or staffing (Minister, DRE, Administrator) changes.

And the biggie - How?

Let's K.I.S.S. on this one - send the information to me ( however it is easiest for you. Your latest directory lists the new Board? Send it to me! Just updated your website? Shoot me a link.

Katie Phillips, UUA MidAmerica Region Administrative Assistant

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MidAmerica Region, Breakthrough Congregations Returns and They are Looking for You!

breakthrough congregations horizontal 300dpi rgbBreakthrough 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 on-going sustainable efforts. This is not based on numerical growth or whole congregation health, though we will consider other benchmarks of health in your congregation.

Are you a congregation in the MidAmerica Region 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? Or 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! For more information and application materials, go to the UUA website. Congregations and covenanting communities can apply - the application deadline is September 1, 2017.

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Call For Camp Unistar Foundation Nomination

Camp Unistar logo The Nominating Committee for the Mid-America Region of the UUA is charged with identifying potential candidates and presenting nominations for consideration to the Regional Board of Trustees for a Position on the Camp Unistar Foundation Board (CUF). For more information, please see CUF's website: The Nominating Committee seeks to identify the most diverse pool of candidates possible. In identifying candidates, we are seeking candidates who have attended or work at Camp Unistar and have a working knowledge of the camp and its operations.

Please feel free to contact the Nominating Committee via e-mail at Thank you for your participation and support for leadership development across the Region.

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Courage for Racial Justice, Courage for Collective Liberation

chris crassWILL BE RESCHEDULED in 2018

Courage for Racial Justice, Courage for Collective Liberation workshop with Chris Crass
co-hosted by MidAmerica and Southern Regions of the UUA
When:  Saturday, February 17, 2018, 9am-5pm
Where:  Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church, Louisville, KY

More information on Chris Crass:

Bring a team if possible. Childcare available. Registration opens September 2017.

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Brilliant Bits from Boston: Love Resists

Sharon Dittmar, Congregational Life Consultant

love resists

LOVE RESISTS is a UUA/UUSC collaboration that provides resources for congregations to stand with undocumented residents and learn more about theologies of resistance, community partnerships, and sanctuary movements Interested congregations and individuals can sign the Declaration of Conscience, pledging to stand on the side of love to protect the most vulnerable, and commit themselves to speak out and to act in support of basic human rights. Check out more resources at You can also share your stories of justice and solidarity - Tweet using #LoveResists and follow the hashtag to get inspiration from others. Follow the UUA and UUSC on Facebook for updates on the campaign.

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We are seeking to covenant with each other to find new ways of partnering and standing together on the side of love for the flourishing of our world, our communities, our congregations and our members.

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MidAmerica Messenger

Volume 4 Issue 10     |     May 2017

The MidAmerica Region is where UUs visibly live our faith, create connections, grow our membership, and welcome all persons who share our UU values.

In This Issue

Saying Goodbye
Regional Assembly Recap
MidWest Leadership School
Black Lives Matter in Milwaukee
Brilliant Bits
Camp Unistar Job Openings
Contact Us

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Phil Lund, Congregational Life Consultant

Rev Phil Lund Dec 2016Regional Assembly 2017 is over and your MidAmerica Regional staff is already moving on to other things - like Midwest Leadership School and getting ready for General Assembly.

My plans for this summer are a little different, however. I'm going to be on sabbatical between May 1 and July 31. My big project will be working on a book about spiritual direction and interfaith leadership. While I'm away, you can contact Nancy Combs-Morgan ( with questions about faith development and Sharon Dittmar ( for queries from congregations in ND, SD, KS, NE, MN, IA. Sharon will also be taking over as editor of the MidAmerica Messenger.

As always, you can contact any member of your MidAmerica Regional staff team with questions, comments, and concerns. We're here to help!

Visit for more information.

As always, we appreciate your comments and suggestions for the newsletter.

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Saying goodbye is not easy

Dori Davenport Thexton

Dori Thexton Dec 2016 I'll be honest - my heart is broken about having to say goodbye to work that I love, to people that inspire me every single day, and especially to teammates who are so precious and dear to me.

Since I got the news almost two months ago that my position was one of the ones being eliminated in the latest round of UUA budget cuts, I've been through the typical stages of grief. There have been days when I've been angry and there have been days when I've been very sad. And there have been days when I've felt relieved about being able to just take some time off and spend it with all of my grandchildren and to do more recreational reading, cooking and baking, and take long walks with my dogs.

But that broken heart's not the first time in my 34 year career in Unitarian Universalism that disillusionment has slapped me in the face. Each time, I have sought counsel from wise colleagues and mentors who helped and supported me through the difficult times. I've been unbelievably fortunate to have this enormous circle of friends over the years who knew how to ask just the right question to help me see things in a new light and find a way forward.

In the 2001 Commission on Appraisal report, "Belonging: The Meaning of Membership," they talk about disillusionment being a necessary part of developing loyalty to and trust in a community or an institution. Once again, I find that, even though my commitment to Unitarian Universalism has been tested, I will not walk away. I love this faith and believe in it and its transforming potential too deeply. I look forward to discovering new ways to be part of our important work.

It is with deep gratitude for all that I have received from all of you that I say farewell. And to Ian, Lisa, Nancy, Phil, Sharon and Gretchen and Peggy - and Nancy Heege, too - thank you for being the absolute best colleagues one could ever hope for.

With love,


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Regional Assembly Re-Cap

Sharon Dittmar, Congregational Life Consultant

RRTeam RvsLisaPresleyScottMcNeillChipRoushAshleyHoranDarrickJackson

Regional Assembly took place from April 28-30, 2017 in Oak Brook, Illinois. Highlights included a great keynote by Lee Barker ("you can either be right or be in relationship"), a live UUA Presidential Candidates Forum with UUA Moderator, Jim Key, a White Supremacy Teach-In, and expressions of heartfelt thanks to Congregational Life Consultant, Dori Davenport Thexton, for 19 years of exceptional service.  She will be missed.

Many thanks also to our Right Relations Team (pictured above: Revs. Lisa Presley, Scott McNeill, Chip Roush, Ashley Horan and Darrick Jackson) and Regional Administrators for their help.

There will be no Regional Assembly in 2018 in order to encourage attendance at General Assembly in Kansas City, Missouri in 2018. 

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MidWest Leadership School  - Register by June 1

MWLS 2016 pink shirts

How will you spend the week of July 9 - 15 this summer? We invite you to join a talented group of UU adults and youth in Decorah, Iowa. This will be a week you'll always remember!

MidWest Leadership School is a week-long intensive program in leadership and group dynamics, for adults and for youth, ages 14 - 18. Led by lay and ordained staff with a deep understanding of UU congregations, MWLS

  • develops both youth and adults into congregational leaders
  • provides leadership tools and skills
  • deepens Unitarian Universalist identity

Grow, thrive and renew

Explore your spirituality and nurture the gifts you bring back to your congregation. MWLS is an immersive and rigorous week of learning in classroom and small-group settings. Our program blends the practical (leadership tools and best practices) with the spiritual (theological exploration and worship) and experiential (small-group challenges) in a safe, welcoming environment. Leaders trained at MWLS have gone on to help their congregations through growth challenges, building new programs, expanding outreach and confronting social justice issues head-on.

"MWLS has changed my life and the life of Open Door Fellowship. I am encouraged every day. ... Thank you all for your strength and encouragement, and for being the beautiful, committed people you are."-- Dixie Collinson, Class of 2015

mwls YOUTH Leadership School logo17 320w More info:

Adult MWLS Flyer

Youth MWLS Flyer

Print out and share these!

Registration is now open for Adults and Youth at:

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Chalice Lighters Grant Aids Black Lives Matter Work in Milwaukee Area  

by Ann Heidkamp, BLM2WUU co-coordinator


On Sat. April 1st, a capacity crowd of 260 people gathered at Alverno College in Milwaukee to work with Chris Crass, UU racial justice trainer and author, at the Racial Justice: The Courage to Act conference. The conference was convened by the Black Lives Matter to WI UU (BLM2WUU) collaboration of the 5 Milwaukee area UU churches. This event, planned in partnership with 15 other area faith and community groups working on racial justice was funded in part by grants from the Mid America Region Chalice Lighters program, the UU Fund for Social Responsibility, local UU churches, the YWCA, the United Church of Christ regional Mission Team, the local ELCA Lutheran Synod, and Alverno College which provided its conference space for free.

BLM2WUU came together in Nov. 2015, following the GA 2015 Action of Immediate Witness to Support the Black Lives Matter movement. Together the 5 churches have over 1500 members.  By combining our ideas, resources and efforts we felt we could have more impact for racial justice within and outside of our congregations. During 2016 and early 2017, the collaboration presented 4 "Beyond the Banner" workshops designed to acquaint our members with a basic understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, and white privilege. About 300 members from all congregations attended.  In conjunction with the workshops and banner raisings, we held BLM witnesses on busy streets outside of our churches. We also engaged in community protest actions around the shooting deaths of 2 Black men by area police officers and in coalition actions to end WI highest in the nation rate of Black male incarceration. The collaboration has a Facebook page: full of information about local and national racial justice issues.


These sessions and other racial justice resources are available on a Virtual Library created after the conference. The link is

For further information on BLM2WUU, please contact Ann Heidkamp at Or visit our Facebook page:

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center for ethical living logoBrilliant Bits from Boston: Hands on Service Projects at GA 2017

Sharon Dittmar, Congregational Life Consultant

General Assembly 2017 is in New Orleans, Louisiana this year (June 21-25)  Those attending GA will be able to participate in hands-on service/learning projects to benefit over 1,000 local residents. Service projects include opportunities such as rebuilding for folks displaced by Hurricane Katrina and information and care packages for youth in local pre-trial detention. In all, there are four service projects. I signed up to work with the Red Flame Hunters. If you are attending GA, I hope you will join me.

Advance registration required. 


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camp unistarCamp UniStar Looking for Summer Staff

Camp UniStar is looking for 2017 summer staff to spend the summer where memories are made and community is cherished. Camp UniStar is a UU family camp located on an island in beautiful northern Minnesota.

Camp UniStar offers competitive pay and lifeguard training reimbursement. Private room and board are included.

Applications open at

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We are seeking to covenant with each other to find new ways of partnering and standing together on the side of love for the flourishing of our world, our communities, our congregations and our members.