Where Leaders Can Find Help

Welcome to a new church year!

To our new congregational leaders, we say welcome! To our returning ones we say welcome back! And to all of you we say thank you for your commitment to your congregation and Unitarian Universalism.

As the church year starts you may start having questions. Where do you find this resource? How do we start this program or try out this idea? If you need help, it’s just a phone call or email away – just start with your primary contact.

What is a primary contact you may ask? This is a CER Staff person with whom you can build a close, working relationship, who will have an intimate knowledge of your congregation’s blessings and challenges, and can be proactive in helping you to share those blessings and meet those challenges. Your Primary Contact can help you to navigate all the support and opportunities available to your congregation from your cluster, region and the UUA.

You can find your primary contact by selecting your congregation in this form.

This map shows you the congregations in our region and their assigned primary contact. Most primary contact assignments match up with our clusters. If you need help finding your primary contact please contact us at [email protected].

There are several other sources of information we highly recommend. Please check out the CER website at uua.org/cer and sign up for our monthly newsletter. You can subscribe to one or more of our calendars from our calendar page.

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Capital and Northern Virginia Cluster Clergy Release Statement

The clergy of the Capital and Northern Virginia Clusters released this statement this week in reaction to the ongoing violence in the United States.

Dearest congregations,

Design by Shane Montoya, using Wordfoto App. From UU Media Works.
Design by Shane Montoya, using Wordfoto App. From UU Media Works.

We are your clergy–those Unitarian Universalist and Ethical Culture clergy serving congregations in the DC metro area–and we want to write to you in this time of national anxiety and pain. Every week it seems there is another mass shooting or another terrorist attack. America has seen an increase in hate speech and racist and xenophobic language. And we are in the midst of an election season that holds challenging possibilities for our country, and encourages anxiety about our future, both as a nation, and a people united.  We have been hearing from you, our members, about how it feels to be living in this world: scary, disheartening, hopeful, disturbing, disorienting. We feel this, too, and just as you have turned to us, we have turned to each other.

As colleagues, we are working together to coordinate our response to these times, sharing information about healing spaces and vigils, and supporting each other in ministering to you, our communities and the world. We wanted you to know that just as none of you stand alone, neither do we stand alone; indeed, this is a time that reminds us how grateful we are to be connected to each other, part of a engaged religious movement which reaches across the country.

Beginning in September, many of us will be offering a shared moment of connection and meditation during our Sunday services. We will ring a bell three times, inviting all into a space of solidarity and support with each other, remembering all who have been lost to violence in the week past, and honoring our commitment to a different world. As you experience that bell ringing in your congregation on Sunday morning, know that Unitarian Universalists and Ethical Culturists across the area are experiencing it as well, and that we are united in our care for this country and its people.

You are the reason that we have hope: your work for justice, your faith in humanity, your commitment to our shared  values and beliefs.

We are grateful to serve you, and we are grateful that we do so as part of a larger whole. May we remember our connection to each other, may the long arc of hope keep us connected in these challenging times and may that connection sustain us and lead us forward.

  • Randall Best, Leader, Northern Virginia Ethical Society
  • The Rev. James Gibbons Walker, Chaplain, UU Fellowship of Southern Maryland
  • The Rev. Louise Green, Minister of Congregational Life, River Road UU Congregation
  • The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg, Minister, UU Congregation of Frederick
  • The Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig, Associate Minister, UU Congregation of Fairfax
  • The Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister, Cedar Lane UU Church
  • The Rev. Dan King, Minister, UU Church of Loudon
  • The Rev. Christina Leone-Tracy, Faith Development Minister, UU Church of Annapolis
  • The Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd, Senior Minister, River Road UU Congregation
  • The Rev. Aaron McEmrys, Senior Minister, UU Church of Arlington
  • The Rev. David A. Miller, Senior Minister, UU Congregation of Fairfax
  • The Rev. Rebekah A. Montgomery, Assistant Minister, UU Congregation of Rockville
  • The Rev. Dr. Susan Newman Moore, Acting Senior Minister, All Souls Church, Unitarian
  • The Rev. Dr. Linda Olson Peebles, Minister of Faith in Action, UU Church of Arlington
  • The Rev. Amanda Poppei, Senior Leader, Washington Ethical Society
  • The Rev. Anya Sammler-Michael, Minister, UU Congregation of Sterling
  • The Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael, Minister, Accotink UU Church
  • The Rev. Lynn Strauss, Senor Minister, UU Congregation of Rockville
  • Hugh Taft-Morales, Leader, Baltimore Ethical Society
  • The Rev. Dr. Kate R. Walker, Minister, Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church

More clergy will sign onto this letter upon their return from summer leave; it represents the collaborative work of the entire DC metro area.

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Leveraging Their Location

Maumee Valley SignWayside Pulpits” have been mainstays at UU congregations for decades. They started out as outside display cases that hold an uplifting quote from a famous sage (or other respected source) printed on heavy poster-sized paper.  Some examples are:

  • Goodness is the only investment that never fails. — Henry David Thoreau
  • For a thought to change the world, it must first change the life of the person who carries it. — Albert Camus
  • I defy the tyranny of precedent. — Clara Barton
  • Never lose a holy curiosity. — Albert Einstein


Designed to pique the curiosity of passers-by, the quotes served as subtle evangelizing tools, especially for intellectuals.  What kind of church quotes women, existentialists and scientists?


Originally printed by the UUA and sold to congregations, they are now available in pdf format so that congregations can have them printed locally.   Of course, congregations can also choose their own quotes and create their own Wayside Pulpit posters.


But with modern technology and the advent of affordable electronic signs, the Wayside Pulpit can be a more effective evangelical tool.


The Maumee Valley UU Congregation in Bowling Green, Ohio is located on the main highway between the college town of Bowling Green, and the city of Toledo (to the north) with a lot of traffic and not much else to look at.  Because the sign is electronic, it can be easily changed to offer a connected series of messages such as:

Be Good to Yourself.     Be Excellent to Others.     Do Everything with Love

We Believe in:
Freedom, Reason & Tolerance
The Necessity of the Democratic Process
The Transformative Power of Love
The Power of Beloved Community
The Never Ending Search for Truth & Meaning
Freedom of Religious Expression


They can also respond to current events with agility:

Rainbow Flag Up, Confederate Flag Down
Pro Black Lives, Pro Police Lives


The minister of the Maumee Valley UU Congregation, The Rev. Lynn Kerr, reports that many of the first-time visitors to the congregation say that they visited because they were intrigued by the different (and sometimes edgy) messages on the sign. (The rainbow flag sends its own message.)

Perhaps the folksy wisdom in the electronic version of the Wayside Pulpit might create a bigger tent for the faith in our postmodern age.

Here are more samples that MVUUC has displayed on their sign.  Feel free to borrow them for yours:

  • All Welcomed, All Loved
  • Are You a UU and Don’t Know it?
  • Atheists, Agnostics, Religious, All Welcome
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Black Lives Still Matter
  • Be the Change
  • Celebrate Everything
  • Cold Hands, Warm Heart
  • Come As You Are
  • Compassion is the Answer
  • Find Us and You Shall Seek
  • For the Beauty of the Earth
  • Hate Free-Love Filled
  • Journey Inward
  • Justice is What Love Looks Like in Public
  • LGBTQ Friendly & Affirming
  • Leap and the Net Will Appear
  • Live Now-Love Wastefully
  • Love, Courage, Wisdom – Found & Given Here
  • Make Your Voice Heard- Vote
  • Not All Who Wander Are Lost
  • Our Only Doctrine is Love
  • The Path to Peace Begins With Us
  • Peace Can Only Be Achieved Through Understanding
  • Peace is Possible
  • Small Church, Big Heart
  • Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn
  • Speak the Truth, Even if Your Voice Trembles
  • Speak the Truth in Love
  • Standing on the Side of Love
  • Stop Hate.  Together.
  • Truth and Love Always Win
  • War is Expensive, Peace is Priceless
  • We Are All Immigrants
  • We Put Values into Action


Rev. Renee Ruchtozke, primary contact for the Maumee Valley UU Congregation

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CER Hires Shannon Harper as Youth and Young Adult Coordinator

Shannon Harper
Shannon Harper

The Central East Region’s staff is excited to announce the hire of Shannon Harper, our new Youth and Young Adult Coordinator.  Shannon will be starting on September 1st and is already scheduling trips to meet youth, young adults and professional religious educators around the region. You’ll be sure to meet her soon. Welcome, Shannon!


Shannon Harper has been serving the Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Dayton, OH for five years as their Director of Religious Education.  In addition she’s served as the OWL and Youth Event Coordinator for MidAmerica Region for a year and as a contracted staff member before that. She’s served on staff at Youth Midwest Leadership School for four summers and most recently as co-dean at the school.  Over the years she’s served as adult advisor on the Heartland Area Youth Council, supporting youth leaders as well as coordinating and attending dozens of youth CONs, trainings and workshops.  She’s also served as Youth Caucus Staff for GA, Adult Chaplain at the UU United Nations Spring Seminar, Teen and Youth Staff at the Southeastern UU Summer Institute (SUUSI).  Some people have joked that wherever UU Youth congregate, Shannon is there. In addition she served as Youth Committee liaison on the Heartland LREC and as at large member of MidAmerica Youth Advisors Network (MAYAN) Board.


When she’s not hanging out with other people’s teenagers she enjoys kicking back with her own teenage and young adult daughters and her brand new granddaughter.  Shannon is an artist at heart and although she doesn’t find much time to get into the pottery studio right now she’s always looking for ways to express her creative spirit.


You can contact Shannon once she starts at [email protected].

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Resources for Congregational Leaders

CER VerticalIt’s almost time for a new church year and you have new congregational leaders. Where do they find resources and training they need?


Here are a few resources we think can help:

  • The UU Leadership Institute is an online leadership school. Classes are $30 each and run over a full semester of about 16 weeks. Modules are released every 2 weeks and you can complete them at your own pace. Occasional webinars are scheduled for face to face conversations with classmates and the instructor. Topics vary from Healthy Leadership 101, Outreach and New Member programs to Stewardship and focus on Small congregations. The fall semester begins September 2 and registration is now open until October 31. Find the full course list and details at uuinstitute.org
  • CER YouTube Channel has videos of workshops, keynote speeches and short videos created by our staff. Topics cover the full range of congregational life. Some topics and events are organized in playlists. Find it at www.youtube.com/cerguua1
  • The CER website contains several sections that can be of help to those looking for resources and help. The Events and Webinars section can show you what events are current scheduled around the region and give you details for those that are open for registration. The Programs section has detailed information on programs we regularly offer in the region with current offering listed. The Resources section has links to resources for Chalice Lighters, Guest In Your Pulpit, and the Link2Lead Program.
  • The On Demand Learning Center has recordings of past webinars and workshops, resources from workshops and made for online learning classes. This site requires registration but all classes are free to access. Do be aware that this site is in the process of being moved to the CER website over the next 6 months. Learn more at www.cerguua.org/ondemand.
  • If you are looking for information about your cluster, please visit our Cluster page. Here you can find information about the congregations in your cluster and links to any social media or other sites we have for the cluster. If your cluster’s social media links are missing, please send them to us!
  • And finally, every congregation is assigned a regional staff person who serves as your Primary Contact. This is the person your congregation should contact for assistance on any topic. If they can’t help you, they know who can. Learn more about this program and find out who your Primary Contact is at our Primary Contact page.


As always, if you can’t find what you are looking for you can always contact your Primary Contact or me, Beth Casebolt, CER Communications Consultant at [email protected].


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