Jeff DonahueJeff Donahue
CERG Transitions Team Chair


I retired from Binghamton University in 2010 and a year later I was elected to serve on the St. Lawrence District Board.  Two years later I was president of the district and shortly thereafter I began serving as the chair of the newly formed Transition Team for the Central East Region.  My presidency ended after our delegates voted to dissolve the district in favor of our region at District Assembly a few weeks ago.  And at the upcoming General Assembly the Transition Team will conduct its final meeting.  It’s time for me and many others to move on.

thanksgivingwordle50I am amazed how much was accomplished in the last few years.  We established a new course for Unitarian Universalism in our region and to some extent across the country.  The number of details the Transition Team and our four boards attended to is astonishing.  The level of commitment and dedication of our regional lay leaders, ministers and staff is astounding.  Gini Courtier challenged all of us in her final Moderator Report at General Assembly to stick with the hard work before us.  I took that seriously and the Transition Team, four boards, and the staff got it done.

I am deeply grateful to so many for their fine work, commitment, dedication, and love.  My fellow district presidents in the Central East Region became very close and supportive of one another.  Mia Morse, president of Metro New York, kept going with her full-time job, nursing classes, and raising her teenage daughter.  The president of the Joseph Priestley District, Dennis Wellnitz, continued his full-time job in astrophysics at the University of Maryland.  And Rev. Matt Alspaugh, president of the Ohio-Meadville District, served his congregation, the First UU Church of Youngstown, Ohio, while helping all of us transition from districts to our region.  These people are super heroes in my book.

The members of our Transition Team came from our four district boards — two from each — along with two incredible staff members:  our Regional Lead, Rev. Joan Van Becelaere, and Rev. Scott Tayler, the director of Congregational Life at our UUA.  Each of these team members contributed so much to our process and the successful outcome.  With my deepest appreciation, I thank all the current members of our Transition Team, including:

Laura Conkle, Ohio-Meadville
Margaret Harlow, St. Lawrence
Paul Pinson, Joseph Priestley
Charlie Schott, Metro New York

Given the amount of time it took to do this work, perhaps it was inevitable that the sorrows of life would join us.  Two of our leaders passed away during our effort:  Lillian Christman, president of the Joseph Priestley District, and Rev. Christina Neilson, Congregational Life Consultant.  The loss of each of these dedicated individuals was heartbreaking.

So many UUs from across this country advised us throughout the process.  Ministers, lay leaders and UUA staff from the MidAmerica, Southern, New England, and Pacific Western regions all contributed vast perspectives that helped us discern our own path.

I have met and befriended so many UUs in the last few years.  Seeing many of them at General Assembly is a great joy.  Tears are coming to me just thinking about seeing them again.

This effort has been so time and energy intensive, many of us are beginning our own discernment as to what to do next.  For me, I’ve made my decision.  I spent the last three days in Baltimore with a group of about 30 UUs from across the country, all being trained to be members of the newly formed Ministerial Transition Team.  I’ll be helping congregations who are in search for a new minister.  I am very excited to have this new ministry to share.

It’s been so amazing to have directly contributed to improving Unitarian Universalism.  This work has been extraordinarily gratifying.  I thank you, my friends, for giving me such a great opportunity.

In Faith & Service,
Jeff Donahue

Step by Step…..Inch by Inch

Joan Van BecelaereRev. Joan Van Becelaere
CER Regional Lead


I love that old vaudeville routine that Abbot and Costello used to do that was sometimes called “Niagara Falls.”  You know the one – where one of the characters tells his complicated story to a stranger,  and it eventually leads to the lines:   “Then slowly I turned…..step by step.….inch by inch…..

This old sketch reminds me of the next phase of existence of our Central East Region (CER), as we work on all of the steps and stages that are part of our regionalization transition this summer and fall.

Slowly I Turned:

Now that all of four of our districts have voted and approved plans to dissolve and move the locus of governance to the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Association, we can implement the details of the regionalization plan that our Transition Team has been working on for over two years.  Yes, it was a long time of discussion and planning, and the details are many, but this should all serve to facilitate and support a smooth transition.   Our turning was slow, but deliberate.

Step By Step:

footsteps-962147_1920Metro New York and St Lawrence Districts have the most complicated transition.   They have had to create dissolution and final distribution of asset plans that met the regulations of the state of New York, have these plans approved by a District Assembly and then submit the plans to the State Attorney General for final approval.   Of course, all of this required legal help and both districts were fortunate to find an excellent UU lawyer to guide them through this.  It may take several months, perhaps into early or mid-fall, for the New York legalities to be finalized.

Joseph Priestley District in Delaware and Ohio-Meadville District in Ohio are only required to submit a simple form to the Secretary of State for each of their locations.  These forms are relatively easy to file and can be submitted at any time.

As of July 1, all of our CER events and workshops and conferences will be covered under the larger UUA insurance umbrella.  Each district is currently submitting the paperwork to close out the different insurance accounts each kept and paid for separately.  We are moving step by step to update, revise and transfer our four district websites into a single regional site hosted by the UUA servers (with great savings to the region). And the lease on our Wilmington DE office and the copier there are being transferred from the Joseph Priestley District to the CER.

Meanwhile, regional staff, including our CER Financial Manager, Cristina Sanchis, are working out all of the nuances of transferring the assets and various restricted fund accounts from all four districts to the special Central East Region section of the UUA accounting and banking system.  CER will continue to handle all its own funds, annual budgets, expense forms and bookkeeping, but enjoy the benefits of being part of the larger UUA accounting and finance system.  It is planned that all of the financial matters be transferred by the end of July 2016.

It is astounding how complex some of our district accounting structures have become over the years. But slowly and surely, step by step, the various elements are being reviewed, listed and set up for transfer.

Inch By Inch:

If all goes as planned, all of these financial and legal and administrative steps and stages will be completed by October 2016.  We will then be left with the ongoing relational task of building our regional networks of communication and clusters and congregational collaboration.    The relational task take time and move in small increments, inch by inch.

But whether we are moving ahead step by step or inch by inch, we are moving ahead –  we are CERGing Forward – together into a new way of living out our Unitarian Universalist mission and faith.

Ten Reasons Why I Plan to Attend General Assembly This Year…

… And Why You Should As Well

Paul Pinsonby Paul Pinson
Joseph Priestley Board member


I’m going to General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio this year. If you’re undecided about going, here are ten reasons I have for going that you may wish to consider.


  1. UUA GA 2016 LogoThis year’s General Assembly is in our region. It’s less than a day’s drive, so we’re planning to carpool with friends. No airport security checks, cramped airplane seats, layovers, etc. – and cheaper.
  2. I’ve made so many friends working on cluster, district, and regional efforts, I’m looking forward to being with them all in person rather than on videoconferences.
  3. A minister I’ve worked with closely is receiving final fellowship this year, and I want to cheer when she is recognized in the Service of the Living Tradition. We’ve also lost a long-time minister who passed away this year. He’ll be recognized as well.
  4. As one who has difficulty carrying a tune, I can only really sing out loud when surrounded by several thousand other UU’s. Feels good.
  5. Incredible worship services – wonderful music, terrific speakers, thoughtful messages.
  6. Plenary sessions are amazing examples of how to run meetings effectively, despite the challenges of size and issues. Our moderators are and have been impressive to watch.
  7. Ware Lecture – always incredible – this year Krista Tippett.
  8. There are always more workshops I’d like to attend than time in my schedule. Have to pace myself, but really get a lot out of the ones I can attend.
  9. We’re likely to get our first real insights into the candidates running for President of the UUA, and in a forum much more rational and issues-based than other campaigns I can think of.
  10. I always come back from General Assembly energized in more ways than I can count (even though exhausted in some other ways).


You may have even better reasons for attending … Go ahead and comment!


Hope to see you there!


Jeff DonahueJeff Donahue
Chair, CERG Transitions Team

Three of our four districts recently met and delegates overwhelmingly voted to dissolve their districts in favor of our region, the Central East Region. Metro New York meets on May 7 to have their debate and vote. What brought so many Unitarian Universalists together on these votes?

Most of us have already experienced what it will be like to be a region. The staff in all four districts have already become one: they are all UUA employees with one boss and a common structure for salaries and benefits. And our congregations have experienced what it’s like to have such great depth and breadth of expertise among our staff.

Cluster DiagramWe’ve seen our district-only programs grow into multi-district or fully regional programs. The leadership development program in St. Lawrence and Ohio-Meadville, has transitioned over the last few years from EAGLES to UULTI to H-UULTI to UU Leadership Institute that not only serves our region, but has international students. Ohio-Meadville’s Commissioned Lay Leader program has expanded into St. Lawrence and at a retreat this weekend discussion will occur regarding its expansion and future.

I heard a lot of enthusiastic comments about our emphasis on building interdependence between our congregations and UUA. Clusters are developing with a stronger and sustainable structure. We have new ways for our congregations to directly communicate with the UUA, such as our operational Congregational Life Advisory Council.

Some UUs were pleased to hear we are eliminating some bureaucracy. This will free up time and energy of our district leaders who can now devote that energy to the ministry of their choosing, perhaps a social justice issue, a spirituality retreat, or improving a radically hospitable environment in their church.

Many ministers offered their perspectives, often theological, on our transition to a region. It was good to be reminded that our seventh principle calls us to respect our interdependent web of all existence, including our sister congregations in other districts. It was good to be reminded that we are indeed better together.

Overall, I heard a sense that our district leaders did a good job of working through the multitude of details in this transition and people were ready to take the next step: to dissolve our districts in favor of our Central East Region. I support Metro New York’s delegates who are doing their discernment of what the best future of their district is. I hope you join the other three districts in coming together to officially form the Central East Region.

Wisdom Seekers

schottBy Charles Schott
Member Metro New York District Board and CERG Transition Team

The initial goals of the Wisdom Seekers were to facilitate linkage between our Central East Region congregations and our UUA Board, and to identify replacements for our District Assemblies. The Transition Team discussed a variety of approaches to achieve these goals and established a Working Group to explore them in depth.

The conclusion of the Wisdom Seekers Working Group regarding linkage was to build on existing channels and mechanisms and to encourage and expand their linkage activities. They first identified what exists today and soon realized that a whole new structure would be largely redundant and could compete with and dilute our existing mechanisms.

In the past our district boards were one agent for congregations to communicate with our UUA Board. However, in the future any 15 congregations in the same district or region or across regions have the authority to bring an issue to the General Assembly. This implies a level of inter-congregational connection and communication. A primary mission of our Central East Regional Staff is foster, nurture and strengthen these connections.

CER LogoOne conclusion of the Working Group regarding District Assemblies was that a regional assembly would impose an unfair level of cost and burdensome travel on too many. While congregations could still choose to continue DA sized events, the Working Group and Transition Team strongly recommend building on the growing interconnections among congregations and explore all the many ways we can network and collaborate together. Our regional staff and Congregational Life Advisory Council will work with our congregations to facilitate these connections and events.

Just a couple weeks ago on April 9th I had the opportunity to experience first-hand what our future working together can be. There are only three congregations in the Central East Region from Connecticut. We were each invited and all attended a “Cluster Connections” event with nine other Connecticut UU congregations at the Unitarian Society of New Haven. It was a marvelous day of workshops and widespread networking. There are now new collaborations among these twelve congregations in a number of areas including alternative services such as vespers, lay-lead services, governance and social action.

This geographical and affinity clustering encourages and facilitates the innovation that often starts with our individual congregations. These initiatives can then be readily shared with other congregations in the region and beyond with our UUA. This empowerment, innovation and collaboration at the congregational level is precisely what our UU faith needs to adapt and thrive in our rapidly changing world.

Final Steps

alspaughMatt Alspaugh
OMD President

Ohio Meadville and St. Lawrence Districts both hold their Annual Meetings this first weekend of April. The big item on the agenda of each meeting is the decision to dissolve the district. Joseph Priestley and Metro New York will be considering the same question next week and next month, respectively. These dissolution decisions are among the last steps to complete the creation of the Central East Region.

CER LogoI’m sure some may be thinking, “Why can’t we just keep these districts around? What’s the harm?” It could seem innocuous enough. After all, there are many decades of history in those districts, good memories and good works.

I’ve moved my home three times in the last ten years – from Denver to Berkeley to St. Paul to Youngstown. Each move was necessary in my career. I look back on each move with fondness, for I became a wiser, better person through these moves. But that doesn’t mean the moves were easy.

Each move brought choices about what to keep and what to let go of. These were often difficult decisions. Giving away tools and hobby supplies meant realizing that a phase of my life might be over. Selling off some family furniture meant another kind of letting go, to make space for something new. Yet, on the other end of each move, I found that I cherished the things I did keep because keeping them had been a conscious decision.

I think of the dissolution of the districts in the same way. We’re letting go of things that no longer serve us well, old governance structures in particular. We’re keeping things that are important, like Summer Institute and Commissioned Lay Leaders. And we’ve expanded some things — like our staff and youth programming — so we can serve our congregations better. Because we have made conscious choices about what we keep and grow, and what we release and dissolve, we can better appreciate our new regional structure and the programming we will continue to do together.

It’s Time to Vote on Regionalization

Jeff DonahueJeff Donahue
President, St. Lawrence District

After years of planning, preparation, debate and step-by-step implementation, delegates at our four district assemblies this spring will be asked to vote to dissolve their district in favor of our Central East Region.

CER LogoMuch has already been decided and implemented by our four district boards in conjunction with our staff and the UUA. You won’t be voting on these items – these are components of our region already in place.

  • Staff in all four districts are now UUA staff. Everyone now has one supervisor and a common foundation for salary and benefits.
  • Each congregation has a primary contact, a staff person to contact when a need arises, as well as access to the expertise of all 13 staff members.
  • Our Congregational Life Advisory Council provides a mechanism for all congregations in our region to communicate with our UUA staff what your congregations needs and desires for programming and services are.
  • Wisdom Seekers, linkage mechanism between our congregations and the UUA Board of Trustees, is under development and expected to be implemented in the next few months.
  • Building and supporting congregational clusters is underway and a major goal of our staff.
  • District programs will continue to be supported and developed into regional and in some cases national programs.
  • Event registration and meeting planning is handled by our regional staff. Staff will explore greater efficiencies by uniting this work with the national office.

The four district boards have also agreed to several steps that will be taken after the votes to dissolve our districts.

  • The locus of governance will shift from the districts to the UUA. No intermediate judicatory (district or regional governing body) will exist.
  • District assets will be held in restricted accounts in the UUA’s Common Endowment Fund. Only the region will have access to these funds – the UUA will not have access.
  • The UUA’s Stewardship and Development office is developing a new mechanism for determining and collecting “fair share” contributions. It is expected there will be one request each year that combines the former districts and the UUA.

The vote to dissolve our districts is the final chapter years in the making. The fundamental goal throughout the process has been to improve services to our congregations. We are creating efficiencies; bringing our staff together to work in teams; building clusters for congregations to be more inter-connected; and freeing up loads of volunteer time that’s been dedicated to the governance of our districts that can now be used in the ministry of each volunteer’s choosing.

We are 90% into regionalization. Your vote to dissolve our districts in favor of our region will complete this process of making us better … together.


Mia MorseMia Morse
President, Metro NY District

Last Saturday, the MNY BOT hosted the district Prestidents to talk about regionalization.

As we started down the road of introductions, the incredible aspect most of us had in common is that we’re in search,
hoping to begin a search, or looking for innovative ways to increase the salary to attract a minister.  This was an amazing fact.
one that I’d never experienced.  Out of the 20 Presidents, over half reported some search activity.  This is both exciting and
overwhelming at the same time.  Rev. Maria Valentin sums it all up.  Enjoy!

Rev. Marta Valentin
Rev. Marta Valentin

Guest blog: Turning as One
By Rev. Martia Valentin, Ministerial Transitions Lead, New England Region

Right now, for some congregations in our region and around the country life is simply “the business of ministry as usual.” As we move deeper into 2016, we are busy doing church in all the ways we know and love, finding newer/bigger/better ways to welcome the stranger among us and bring them into our circle of mindful caring. We are chugging along, accepting the challenges that unfold before us as stepping-stones into a new and unseen part of the journey. We are stretching our hands across aisles and pews to touch each member of the family with a knowing force held by our Unitarian Universalist center of gravity. Life is good in all its guises because at some visceral level we recognize that we are not alone. For all our independence, it is our inter-independence that is our saving grace.

In this spirit of interdependence, as a new member on your New England Region team, I have the honor of ministering to congregational leaders for whom the business of church feels as though it has stopped in its tracks with the impending departure of their minister. I like to call this process acompañamiento – Spanish for “accompanying.” I also have the privilege of being a “minister to ministers” as I listen and hold all the reasons a departure is necessary. Endings of any kind are a mixture of glee and grief to varying degrees.

And so, under cover in the darkness of winter, search committees are doing their clandestine work, drilling down in search of answers to important questions. The hope is that with clarity, they will find the minister best poised to accompany them into their future. One congregation’s ministerial loss can be another’s gain. We turn as one but cannot see the whole from our distinct vantage point.
There are congregations feeling the sting to ears and hearts of the announcement that the path between them and their minister is about to diverge. Though these announcements are inevitable, they are still a surprise. The long and distinguished ministries of the past are a rarity today. Yet the spiritual gifts that live within each acompañamiento is the reality that even when the paths diverge the initial experience that brought minister and congregation together cannot be taken away. Even if the divergence is painful and consequently sought, the lesson contained within (which I will not presume to name) can deepen a sense of ministry for both the minister and the congregation. That, I imagine, is the desire.
Change Ahead SignIn my own transitioning experiences, I have felt the comforting hand of another who was accompanying me, for which I am grateful. Now, that gratitude manifests into the privilege of accompanying the transitioning congregations and ministers. Sometimes it is with great joy, other times with heartbreak, but both are pieces of the circle of life. In a time of many changes, what appears to the untrained eye as a kind of chaos, the trained eye sees as a weaving happening as congregations and ministers receive the resources they need for the next part of the journey.
Some search committees have been deep into the Settlement Handbook that guides them step-by -step. Others, still in the middle of the feelings that arise when an end is near, are beginning to turn the pages of two resources for “the in-between time”:
This time is a gift that many have overlooked in the past, viewing the interim as a momentum-crushing placeholder. Yet, used wisely it can be an exciting time of claiming the past, looking inward at strengths and challenges, assessing leadership structures, strengthening connections to our UUA and, using all this new found knowledge, turning (as one!) to look outward for the minister who will collaborate with them on their desired future.

Under cover in the darkness of the wintertime, may all of you who are turning remember you are not alone. Together with my New England Region colleagues, I welcome the chance to accompany you. We can tell you what to pack for the journey. We can remind you amidst the do’s and don’t to pack a smile and a sense of humor. To trust the process and let it unfold before you. To take deep breaths knowing that each breath brings inspire-ation. But mostly to help us all remember that from “here” to “there,” the New England Regional staff’s ministry is to accompany you toward a new light and watch you shine. And when that has happened, we know, we have truly turned as one.

Beloved Community

Margaret HarloeMargaret Harloe
Vice President, St. Lawrence District

This is District Assembly season. Throughout the Central East Region, professional staff and dedicated volunteers are busy, busy, busy preparing programs, organizing schedules and attending to the final logistics. Recurring themes in our assemblies this year are covenant and working together both within and beyond congregational walls. As we prepare to vote on dissolution of our districts in favor of the Central East Region and our UUA, these themes will be important reminders that as UUs we are a family that extends beyond a congregation’s walls and a people who reach out to engage and help the wider world. Perhaps you have attended District Assembly for years and are looking forward to (and already registered for) this year’s with anticipation, or maybe you are thinking about attending your first DA. If the latter – there is still time to register and to participate in a monumental vote.

CER LogoIf you have been following this blog, you know that the four Districts that make up the Central East Region will vote to formally dissolve (and if you are new to this blog, scroll down to learn more). In many respects, the Central East Region is already functioning to serve our congregations and to strengthen the UU network throughout the northeast. From northern New York south to West Virginia, and from western Ohio east to the Atlantic Coast, we are linking arms as never before with a unified professional staff and congregational clusters that are based on geography or interest areas such as social action or small church partnerships. And with the greater efficiencies achievable through regionalization we have been able to stretch limited resources farther.

I joined the UU Church of Canton, New York, because I found a loving, accepting and supportive community, and I stepped into leadership because I wanted to do my small part to help my community continue on for those who came after me. Along the way I have learned that being in intentional community is challenging. We are a very diverse bunch and we certainly don’t always agree, but we share a deep connection with and commitment to one another. Over the years my church community has changed in many ways – we’ve mourned losses, celebrated new additions, added space and even renovated our kitchen! Change wasn’t always easy for us, but we were able to lean on and learn from one another and we grew together. Ours is a most beloved community indeed.

I am hopeful and optimistic that the regionalization proposal will be strongly supported at our upcoming District Assemblies and that the Central East Region will thrive as our beloved community writ large. Yes, we are a diverse group and undoubtedly we will not always agree, but we share an abiding commitment to our Unitarian Universalist faith and a covenant to each other. May we step into the future together and work together to create the next chapter of our story.

Remember – there is still time to register for your District Assembly!

A Unique Central East Style of Lay Ministry

Joan Van BecelaereRev. Joan Van Becelaere
CER Regional Lead

“Gentlemen, let me remind you, Jesus was not a parson.”

This quote by the Unitarian theologian Dean William W. Fenn of Harvard Divinity School was famous among Unitarian theological students early in the 20th century.   Dean Fenn emphasized to his students that Jesus was a lay person, not a member of the priestly caste in Judea.

Later, the Unitarian Universalist (UU) theologian Dr. James Luther Adams wrote eloquently about the radical laicism that Unitarian Universalism has inherited from our roots in the radical branch of the Reformation, speaking again and again about the creative and transformative call of lay people to the priesthood and prophethood of all believers.

Ministry is the way in which the faith community promotes the creation of the Beloved Community and the transformation of the world.  Dr. Adams believed that all Unitarian Universalists receive a call to participate in this mission.   When lay people carry out sacred and justice oriented work in society, which is the priesthood and prophet hood of all believers in action, many people call this lay ministry.

Rev. Gordon McKeeman
Rev. Gordon McKeeman

In the 1970’s, the UU minister, the Rev. Gordon McKeeman in Akron, OH, noticed that there were scores of lay people willing to step up and take on long-term vital roles of service and lay ministry in their congregations.  But there was no UU program to support these lay leaders in their efforts to obtain the knowledge and skills they needed to be truly successful in their ministries.  And there was no formal means to give these lay ministers public recognition for their outstanding service to UUism.

To address this need, the Ohio-Meadville District (OMD) Board, with the creative guidance of Rev. McKeeman, created OMD’s Commissioned Lay Leader (CLL) program in 1976.  The program’s focus and structure drew on Rev. McKeeman’s deep understanding of our Universalist legacy of the importance of strong lay ministry and the need for leaders that emerge from within congregations.

The CLL program recognizes that many talented lay leaders hear a call to serve but are not necessarily called to the ordained ministry.  For these lay leaders who desire to take their commitment and service to a deeper level, the CLL program over the years has offered a satisfying alternative to becoming a professional clergyperson.

Other denominations have similar programs of lay service and call them by various titles: Deacons, Local Pastors  (if they are serving in a congregational pastoral role), Ruling Elders, Lay Ministers and more. For years, OMD has called these lay people engaged in service “Commissioned Lay Leaders”, but increasingly, the simpler, more easily recognized term “Lay Minister” is being used.

In the OMD program, qualified individuals, supported and selected by their congregations, engage in an individualized training program and mentored experience to learn to serve their own congregations more effectively. The OMD program enables CLLs/Lay Ministers to partner in positive ways with professional UU clergy and religious educators and learn from them and with them. Individuals who satisfactorily complete the study and mentoring requirements, are evaluated by the CLL Committee before they are recognized as CLLs/Lay Ministers.

In many American faith traditions, the number of lay ministers are now increasing. “Local pastors”, trained but not ordained ‘elders’, are numerically on the rise in the United Methodist Church where they serve in a range of different positions and church sizes.   The Presbyterian Church in the USA is seeing a rise of “Commissioned Ruling Elders.” These are knowledgeable, trained lay leaders who act as part time pastors in churches, serve on ministry teams in larger churches, act as chaplains, organize social justice efforts, and engage in other specialized forms of ministry.  Faith traditions are coming to realize that more service, more ministry to people is urgently needed in all congregations, whatever their size, as people struggle with today’s stress, confusion, and anxiety.

A growing number of lay persons have also prepared for and are engaged in service and leadership in UU congregations of all sizes in the OMD.  Dozens of these CLLs/Lay Ministers have served in:

  • Pastoral Care
  • Chaplaincy
  • Worship Team Coordination
  • Social Justice Organizing
  • Performing Rites of Passage (weddings, memorial services, etc)
  • Adult Faith Formation
  • Denominational Connections
  • And more.

The Rev. Peggy Clason, Minister Emerita of the UU Society of Cleveland, has been involved with the CLL Program since its beginning.  A couple of years ago, she noted that the CLLs have successfully served congregations both with and without settled ministers: “The program started as an arena for training leaders in congregations without ministers.  It then grew to also become a training ground for lay leaders in congregations with ministers.  Having worked with a number of different CLL’s, I personally know how a skilled and well-functioning CLL contributes to the well-being of the institution and the minister.”

Throughout the regions and districts of the UUA, there are not many truly “unique” programs.  But in the OMD, this one successful and historically unique lay ministry program developed and is actively growing today.  It is now in the process of being reviewed and updated for the changing needs of the 21st century. And UU lay ministers will be more strongly encouraged to communicate and connect with one another, knowing that we learn best when we learn with and from each other.  The updated program will then be introduced to other districts in the Central East Region.

To learn more about the OMD’s Commissioned Lay Leader/Lay Ministry program, see the OMD Up Close feature from 2009 and the OMD CLL webpage.