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This November, 2007 issue of our electronic newsletter, The Midwesterner, is full of the wonderful news in the Central Midwest District. There is so much going on in our five-state district, as well as nationally - so we hope you will read about the great events, the thoughtful reflections and much more! In order to continue supporting so many important events and opportunities, our district board voted to increase the contribution per member for our district from $19 to $21 per member, effective July 1, 2008. We are doing this because of what you have told us you wanted.

Increasing Per Member Contributions – July 1, 2008

Dori Davenport Thexton
Dori DavenportDuring the past year, we have heard from lay and professional leaders across our district about needs and desires for strengthening our congregations. We have heard from you that you want support from the district for attracting, integrating and retaining the youth and young adults who grew up in or visit your congregations. We have heard that you want a better district web site, where you can find resources from other congregations in our districts who may have tried something that you are considering. We have heard that you like getting together with leaders from other congregations to explore various aspects of leadership development and congregational health. We have heard that you are excited about the 11 emerging congregations in our district and want to support them. We have heard that you want social justice programs that can engage the entire congregation in living out our Unitarian Universalist values. Read more...

UUA Trustee November 2007

Justine Urbikas
Chilly November Greetings! CMwD's UUA Trustee, Justine UrbikasI returned nearly two weeks ago from my first UUA Board pilgrimage to our Mecca in Boston. I say two weeks and it doesn’t really sink in. I feel as though I just got home a few days ago from those four and a half jam-packed days of meetings, meals, discussions, retreats, trainings, and of course, some fun.

I’ll start out by saying that while I was up on Beacon Hill with the Board I felt a sense of belonging. I am greatly looking forward to my future with the Board, with Unitarian Universalism. I am really looking forward to the future of our faith.

There is something that clicks in a person when they achieve a sense of belonging. Many people who find Unitarian Universalism after hurtful or nonexistent religious pasts know that click. This ‘click’ is a sort of niche we all strive for; to find it, is this cove, easy to slip right into -- like finding the next jigsaw piece you needed for your puzzle.

Sharing Abundance

Rev. Daniel OConnell
Rev Daniel OConnellThe first quarter has ended in some schools, and all the schedules – church, school, work – seem to be speeding up toward the end of the calendar year and the quiet of winter. Even the leaves of trees move through their colors and cycles at a quickened pace.

Despite our speeded up schedules, November is the time to remember to be thankful. We take a moment to celebrate the abundance around us. This time of celebration can help us to enter winter’s chill with a feeling of warmth and fullness.


How Are We Doing - Nov 2007

Ian Evison

Rev. Ian EvisonSome years ago I was much impressed by an article in a Harvard Business School newsletter arguing that leaders often lead most powerfully by the questions they ask (http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/3858.html). I watch this happen as new leaders emerge in our congregations and in the district as a whole. One of the questions that our new district president, Daniel ÓConnell , has brought most strongly to us is this: how do we close the loop between what congregations need and what we do? Last year we help a series of meetings and our district board phoned congregations. It was on the basis of this information we planned this year’s program—with such events as the one-day leadership development event held September 22 at Third Unitarian Church in Chicago.


Combating What IS, Working For What SHOULD BE

Victoria Mitchell
(Article by Victoria Mitchell. Identity: white, heterosexual, Canadian-American, middle class, female with fibromyalgia)

In my years in the UU youth community, I can best describe the people I have met as ‘open-minded.’ I have also strived to be open-minded in every aspect of my life, mostly due to the inspiration of the youth and advisers who have supported me. However, this summer at Youth Council in Boston, I encountered the challenge that alone, no matter how open-minded you are, no one can overcome: racism. And, despite my hatred of clichés, I wholeheartedly admit that my first Groundwork (Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression) training changed my life. For me, racism was once the justice issue that is the most obvious but also the one that no one wants to honestly talk about. Now, I cannot stop thinking, talking, analyzing, and learning about it. This training gave me a chance to finally discuss the experiences, rationalizations, confusion, concerns, guilt, misunderstandings, and helplessness that I have felt. And finally, people who have admitted to and are working with the same struggle provided me with acceptance and suggestions. Read more...

Groundwork Anti-Oppresssion Analysis Development

Kimberlee Tomczak
Countryside Church UU, Palatine, ILSave the DATE! Jan. 18-19, 2008 at Countryside Church UU Palatine, IL

CMWD will be offering a Youth & Young Adult

By discussing different types of oppression and how they are both linked and divided this training will focus on developing a stronger anti-oppression analysis. By using race and racism as a powerful example we will look at our own multiple identities and how we interact with society.

what is groundwork?
groundwork is the anti-racism training and organizing program of Unitarian Universalist youth and young adults.

Focusing on Real Families

Michelle Richards

Phil Lund For too long the conversation about families and family ministry has been dominated by conservative religious leaders who claim there is only one definition of "the family." We religious liberals know that families come in all configurations – and that every family matters. Join us for our annual Religious Education and Lifelong Learning (REALL) weekend when we will help put family ministry into the context of lifespan faith development, so that everyone who comes through our congregations’ doors will have the opportunity to know what we mean when we say, "We are all family and we all have value."

The Rev. Phil Lund, Lifespan Program Director for the Prairie Star District will be the featured speaker for this year’s REALL weekend as we explore topics in the area of family ministry for religious educators. Ministers of RE and professional Directors of RE are encouraged to bring along members of RE committees at their congregations. A parallel program for small congregations looking to build their religious education programs "With Only A Few Children" will also be presented on Saturday.


Call for DA Workshops

Gretchen Ohmann

Would you like to present a workshop at the District Assembly in St. Louis next April?

Our theme is “Church for the 21st Century: Shaping Our Religious Future.” Please submit your workshop proposal online or print and mail this form. Proposals are due by January 7, 2008. You will be notified by February 1 if your proposal is accepted. Workshops should be of interest to all congregations. We are especially looking for workshops in the areas of stewardship/finances, retaining young people, growing the church and creating healthy church communities.


General Assembly, A Meeting of Congregations

June 25-29, 2008
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Common Threads

Mark your calendar now! General Assembly (GA) is the annual meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. General Assemblies shall make overall policy for carrying out the purposes of the Association and shall direct and control its affairs. Voting at each regular and special General Assembly shall be by accredited delegates from certified member congregations, certified associate member organizations, and trustees.

The popular and worthwhile UU University will also be held again during the day and half prior to GA. Read more about UU University.

Tapestry of Faith

Michelle Richards

UU Tapestry of Faith What would it mean to have a series of curricula for all ages that was created just for your congregation and was available free of charge? After years of development, focus groups and visioning, this dream is becoming a reality. At the recent LREDA conference in San Antonio, Texas, the staff group from the UUA's department of Lifespan Faith Development was on hand to give us a preview of what this new curriculum will be like.


Annual Program Fund - November 2007

Neil Lichtman
Neil LichtmanAs I promised two issues ago, I would keep this Midwesterner message short and on-topic. So, for the third straight month, I write about pledging.

As of this writing in early November, of our 69 affiliated congregations in the Central Midwest District, 49 have pledged to our UUA for the next Fiscal Year, and 20 have not. And, 60 have made a pledge to the CMwD for the next Fiscal Year, and 9 have not.

As I reflect on this, I find that all of us buy into the basic premise that those who have pledged have made a promise to support the UUA and CMwD, which means they have made a promise to support every congregation because one way or another, every congregation benefits from the UUA and in our district, from the CMwD. There seems to be a consensus that those congregations that have not pledged are causing concern about their intention of support.

Chalice Lighters sign up online

Chalice Lighter Committee
Did you know? You may now sign up online to be a Chalice Lighter! Or make your Chalice Lighter donation online using your credit card. Follow the links listed below or...

Call the District office if you have questions, 312-636-9724.


Rev. Shirley Ranck at North Shore Unitarian Church

Women and Religion Committee
Dancing on the Threhold of BalanceNorth Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois is the site of the CMwD Women and Religion Committee's 20th annual WomanSpirit Conference, February 22-24, 2008. "Dancing on the Threshold of Balance" will feature keynote speaker Rev. Shirley Ranck, PhD , author of the ground-breaking adult religious education curriculum "Cakes for the Queen of Heaven." * Rev. Ranck is currently interim minister of the UU Fellowship of Northern Nevada in Reno.


Second Unitarian Celebrates 150th Anniversary

Michelle Richards
Second Unitarian in Chicago will celebrate its 150th Anniversary on November 18, 2007. In order to commemorate this special event, the Rev. Bill Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, will be on hand as the keynote speaker during the worship services and as a special guest at an after-service luncheon. Reverend Sinkford is well known for his outspoken opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, Reverend Sinkford was one of the initial signers of the Save Darfur Coalition unity statement and continues to be an advocate against the genocide in Sudan. Read more...

Development in Our New Website

Ian Evison

cmwd-screenshot.jpgAfter a year of hard work we have a new website and new electronic newsletter that is fully functional. Since last January the visitor sessions to our website have doubled from about 2,000 a month to 4,600. We have now made an online survey a standard feature on the front of our website (http://www.cmwd-uua.org -- scroll down, the Poll is on the left). For our first survey we asked you what you thought needed work next. While only a few responded to this survey (23), it confirmed what we knew already. While a lot more people are coming to the site, it is a work in progress. A third of you said it “needs some work” and another third that it's “not straight-forward but I worked it out.”