And the Survey Says!…

Spring 2016 Central East Region Congregational Life Advisory Council Survey


CER VerticalNow that our staff has transitioned to being UUA employees, you’ve probably heard about the Congregational Life Advisory Council (CLAC). We gather feedback from congregations, professional groups, clusters and other constituencies and share these specifics with our regional staff and Congregational Life at our UUA to shape priorities and programs in our region.


The CLAC has completed our high level spring survey here in our Central East Region. We are grateful to the 149 folks, who participated in our spring survey. Thanks much for your help. Now we will like to share some findings from this survey.


You’ve let us know that our Central East Region congregations are getting real, concrete help from staff. 64.6% of participants reported that participation in district/regional events, programs, and/or coaching somewhat to very extensively shapes the way their congregations approach important issues. Congregational stewardship, leadership development, and social media communications were the most valued programs offered by regional staff. In addition, over half of survey participants, who are active in their clusters, found this work to be valuable to very valuable. It is perhaps no surprise that youth programming was consistently well-liked.


We’ve also heard you express hunger for stewardship information and creating income streams outside of pledging to take church into the 21st century. Another need identified by participants was a clearer, more transparent expression of services available and events scheduled within our region.


We will share your full feedback with our Central East staff, so they may move forward with a good context of your experiences to shape priorities for the coming season. Again, thanks to everyone who participated in our high level spring survey here in our Central East Region.


The CLAC will meet soon to plan for our fall engagement of in-depth conversations with selected representatives of our region around specific topics. Please be willing to spend an hour or so with one of us, if you receive an invitation to participate.


Now that your CLAC has completed and reported out on our first year of activities, we hope you are as excited as we are about our new direction and potential. Unifying our staff has allowed our congregations access to stronger services and has allowed our staff to have a fairer and more empowering experience.


You can reach your CLAC by visiting our web page on the CER section of the UUA website. We welcome your feedback and participation.


The Central East Region Congregational Life Advisory Council.

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Three Congregations Converge for Joint Board Retreat

Two rivers flow along the Southern Tier of New York—the Chemung through Big Flats and the Susquehanna the Susquehanna through Binghamton–and converge just south of the border in Athens, Pennsylvania before flowing south to Towanda. Another convergence occurred when the UU Congregation of Binghamton played host to a joint leadership training and board retreat for the three smaller congregations:  The UU Church of Athens and Sheshequin, the Big Flats UU Fellowship, and the Towanda UU Fellowship.

participants in the joint board retreat
Participants in the Joint Board Retreat

The three congregations share a minister, the Rev. Darcey Laine. (Rev. Darcey is the called half-time minister of UUCAS, the consulting quarter-time minister of Towanda and is a contract minister for Big Flats, preaching once a month and providing pastoral care.) Rev. Darcey and the board presidents of the three congregations met via Zoom conference call with their shared CER Primary Contact, the Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, to plan the day.

The morning program—which was open to all three congregations’ leaders–focused on hospitality and growth, starting with the video What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? A Parable, which served as a case-study for ensuing conversation. After lunch (which was organized by Binghamton member and out-going SLD president Jeff Donahue), the boards met separately to set goals for the upcoming year, which they then shared with one another at the end of the day. They also planned a January check-in web meeting with one another to share their progress toward their goals.

The day was a lovely example of interdependence in our UU movement!

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke


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Defying the Nazis Airs September 20

#wedefy then and nowWhat does the inspiring legacy of two Americans who worked to end the WWII refugee disaster mean for us now? Join the conversation on September 20 while, only a few blocks away, the United Nations will be talking about the worst refugee crisis since WWII. Come get a sneak peek at Ken Burns’ new documentary Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War, which will be airing that evening on PBS at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central. Attend in person or watch online to hear about the sacrifice and courage of Martha and Waitstill Sharp, with clips and stories from the film and guest presenters who are working on the refugee crises of today.


The preview and discussion will be held from 3:30 to 5:00 pm.



Ken Burns, co-producer of Defying the Nazis

Artemis Joukowsky, co-producer and director of Defying the Nazis, and grandson of Waitistill and Martha Sharp

Hon. Tom Andrews, CEO, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

This event will be livestreamed, details to follow


You do need to register for this free event, please do so here.


How is your congregation carrying on the Sharps’ legacy by defying hatred and discrimination today? Islamophobia and the Syrian refugee crisis are modern day parallels to the bigotry the Sharps fought against. Download tools and materials to help plan events and projects, and add your congregation’s action to the map available on the UUA website.

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Day of Moral Action Scheduled September 12th

Rev William Barber
Rev William Barber

The Moral Revival led by Rev. William J. Barber, who was a speaker at our General Assembly in June, will be holding a Day of Moral Action at state capitals across the country. From the website:

On Monday, September 12, 2016 at State Capitols around the nation, at 11 AM in every time zone, justice will roll across the country as faith leaders from diverse traditions, people impacted by poverty, racism, and injustice, advocates, and activists come together rally and to deliver to our elected leaders and candidates the Higher Ground Moral Declaration, which calls on governors, senators, state legislators and candidates for office to move away from extremist politics and policies that benefit the few and move toward policies and laws that are just and fair and guarantee a better life for the majority of the people.

The Moral Declaration that has already been delivered to the RNC as well as the DNC will be read, proclaimed, and delivered to our Governors, US Senate candidates and state party officials.The format will be simple and will be the same in every state.

At this time, we will not engage in civil disobedience because the first step must be petition.  We will be acting as one to send the same message to our state leaders and through the media to our communities and nation that it is time for a moral revolution of values that challenges the narrow construct of those who purport to represent the, so-called, “religious right.” We will sing the same opening and closing songs, recite the same litany, and the same chants on the walk around the State Houses.

To learn more about what is happening in our region, we checked in with our state advocacy groups. The ones with information on their websites are listed below.

Download the toolkit (word doc).




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