Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association
Membership Counts: E-Update
Vol. 3 Issue 11 ~ November 2012

Dear UUMA Member,

"Being a pastor is bad for your health." Thus begins an article in the Christian Century last month about the crisis in clergy health. The article articulates the health issues facing ministers and describes the Clergy Health Initiative, a program studying and teaching health and wholeness for North Carolina Methodist ministers. I enjoyed the article while finding it a sobering reminder of the toll ministry can take on our lives. One portion of the article was especially true in my experience: "The profession discourages them from making close friends. All of this translates, studies show, into clergy having higher than normal rates of obesity, arthritis, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and stress. But research also says that pastors' lives are rich in spiritual vitality and meaning. Pastors say they have a profound calling and are willing to sacrifice to fulfill it."

I'm not sure if ministers are unique in this paradox of loving their work and paying a high price for their devotion to their calling. I suspect some of these statistics would be similar for managers and CEOs who put work before everything else. At least I know I saw some of the same issues and challenges when I worked in the corporate world - in others and in myself. But for people who are in the wholeness business, of teaching, preaching and, hopefully, even practicing it, we might want to figure out how we can do a better job of modeling all forms of health - physical, spiritual and emotional.

How do we do it? We are in conversation with some of our UUA staff on what we can do to encourage and promote health and wholeness for ministers and all religious professionals. It seems we are a lot better talking about things like preaching, governance, the UUA or UUMA foibles than we are about obesity and depression. Maybe we shouldn't be. I'd love for us to create a program similar to what is being done for Methodist ministers in North Carolina. I wonder what we can do with and for each other to help us find the right balance from living our call and living long and healthy lives?

Last month I visited my 20th UUMA chapter. I now have visited every UUMA chapter in North America. What a blessed man I am! For the last three years my ministry has taken me to see hundreds of you and it has led me to read and study everything I can about ministers' formation, education, and well-being. I have heard stories of people thriving and loving their ministries, people who are fulfilling their calls in inspiring and transformation ways. I have also heard stories of people who have had their dreams and ideals crushed and are wondering how, or if, they can find joy and success in ministry. And we all know of people who have not been able to live up to the standards of our profession or whose health has suffered because of overwork.

I don't know the answers but I keep coming back to something that other studies have shown. The number one factor for a minister's success is that they regularly meet with a small group of colleagues who keep each other accountable. Last week I had our annual meeting with my peer review group. We have been meeting for over five years and spend three days each year visiting one of our ministry settings to give feedback, support and counsel to each other and the organization we serve.. This year it was my turn to receive this great gift. They met with the UUMA Board to offer their perspectives and they met with me. These colleagues have walked with me through thick and thin, told me hard things I needed to hear and loving things that I forget too easily. I hope you have such a group of people in your life.

The work of ministry, of saving the world and ourselves, is hard work. So is the work of staying healthy and fit. I, perhaps like you, probably do the first better than the second. Or at least I spend a lot more time trying. Being a pastor shouldn't be bad for your health. What can we do - together - to make sure it isn't?


Don Southworth

UUMA Executive Director

Membership Renewals Due Nov. 15

According to the UUMA Bylaws all membership dues are payable on September 15th and due by November 15th of each year. The easiest way to renew is to log in to your UUMA profile and click on Membership Information (the last link on the right hand side "My Profile" menu). Each year we revisit and adjust the dues structure to better serve our membership - this year the biggest change is the addition of a separate dues scale for those members working in community ministries. To review the new dues structure visit :http://uuma.site-ym.com/?page=dues.

Special Note: The webpage is going to send out an automatic reminder of your need to renew on Nov. 14 (only if you have not yet renewed).Please do not be alarmed by the generic nature of this message, it is simply intended to be a gentle reminder of the renewal process. You will receive this email even if you have an automatic transaction (which will post on Nov. 15). To check to see if you have an automatic transaction waiting visit your Membership Information Page (Log in to the site and visit http://www.uuma.org/members/membership.asp)

The 2013 Institute For Excellence in Ministry - Something for Everyone!

Over 425 colleagues and family have registered for the 2013 CENTER Institute will you be joining us? If so, time and room is running out so register ASAP! Three seminars have sold out but there is still room in five great sessions: Reaching (and Doing) More by Being Less, Power with Love, Currents: How Are the Shifting Tides Changing Your Church Today?, Awakening Bhakti Workshop: A Celebration of Divine and Human Love, and Religion and the American Radical Tradition. These sessions are led by some of the best and brightest minds from Unitarian Universalism and liberal religion. In addition to great seminars you can count on wonderful music and worship, good food, a relaxing beach and fun surprises. The deadline for registration is December 15, 2012 so don’t wait. To register click visit: http://uuma.site-ym.com/events/event_details.asp?alias=institute. To register for you housing (which must be done separately) visit this site: http://uuma.site-ym.com/event/institutehousing. If you have registered already be on the look out for an email with information on your seminar this month and a pre-conference packet in early December. Let us know if you will need child care and/or if you have any questions.

News from the UUMA Board of Trustees Meeting

Your UUMA Board of Trustees met in Louisville October 22-25. We began making plans for 2013 Ministry Days (which will begin with a special reception on Monday June 18 *mark your calendars*), met with local colleagues, reviewed job descriptions for the three new Board positions we will be electing next year, and discussed recommendations from the Retired Ministers Task Force and Task Force on Excellence in Community Ministry. In November we will be having a conference call with chapter leaders to review what’s happening (it’s a lot). If you are interested in serving as an elected UUMA leader on the Board of Trustees or Nominating Committee now is the time to apply. Click here for more information. If you’d like to read the task force reports click here.

Reminder: In addition to the above mentioned task force reports, you can always review minutes of the of the Board meetings at: http://www.uuma.org/?page=exec_minutes. We have recently posted approved minutes from the Board's June 18 meeting in Phoenix and September Conference Call. 'Highlights' from the October meeting will be posted after the chapter leader call and minutes will be posted after approved at the next meeting.

Feedback on Changes to UUMA Guidelines Due January 25, 2013

Your UUMA Guidelines Committee reminds you that they are asking for chapter and cluster feedback on the proposed changes to the guidelines by January 25, 2013. Feedback can be given by clicking on the button on the lower right hand of the UUMA home page (click here if you are a member giving feedback) or by sending an email to guidelines@uuma.org. The Guidelines Committee will recommend the language for a final vote to the UUMA Board who will put in on our June 2013 annual meeting agenda. In addition to member feedback, the committee is also looking for feedback from those who facilitated chapter conversations. (Click here if you are facilitator giving feedback)

Connecting with UUMA Staff

Now that the UUMA Staff is growing there are more people available to help! To reach the entire staff you can email staff@uuma.org. To reach us individually our emails are below. Let us know how we can help!

Rev. Don SouthworthExecutive Director
General UUMA Questions including funding, programs, and collegial support
Janette LallierDirector of AdministrationMembership, registrations, general administrative questions.
Jennifer ChanninProgram CoordinatorUUMA Program Questions
Allison PalmOffice AssistantWebsite assistance, registrations, general administrative questions.

 Be In Touch!
Please share your questions, feedback and ideas!
Thank you for your service in the world and for your commitment and passion for ministry.

Rev. Don Southworth, Executive Director
UU Ministers Association

25 Beacon St. Boston, MA 02108
617-848-0416 (phone) ~ 617-848-8122 (fax)