CHARACTERISTICS OF STRONG UUMA CHAPTERSUUMA chapters have unique histories, traditions and cultures. They come in different sizes and geographic shapes and "lengths”. Despite all these differences, the following characteristics, practices and processes seem to be the most useful for nurturing strong chapter life:
• Members commit to actively participating in chapter life and supporting colleagues in a variety of spoken and unspoken ways. In some chapters this commitment takes the form of a written covenant while in others it is a spoken or lived covenant that is passed on in formal and informal ways.
• Members take chapter leadership seriously and have clear expectations and practices in place. Chapter leaders meet and communicate regularly with each other, with chapter members and with the continental UUMA leadership. Chapter leadership is an expectation (not a dreaded obligation) and support and guidance are provided to new leaders by those who have served before.
• Chapter gatherings include a mixture of program, collegiality, rest, relaxation and fun. Meetings are well-planned with active input and participation as well as support for chapter leaders responsible for designing the program. Programs are of high quality, and time is taken for rituals such as deep sharing, small group work and sharing of odysseys and other practices which encourage deeper connections.
• Chapters have processes and rituals in place to proactively welcome and orient new members to chapter life and to honor and say goodbye to those members who are leaving the chapter.
• Members stay in contact in between chapter meetings: formally, in study groups and clusters, and informally through email, face to face meetings, pulpit exchanges, etc.
• Chapters have processes and rituals in place for reaching out to members who are not willing or able to attend larger chapter gatherings. This includes retired and part-time colleagues, community ministers and students.
• Chapters know that meaningful and high-quality worship is essential every time the chapter meets and worship leaders are given the time and support to provide such an experience.
• Chapters have practices and resources to help support members with financial challenges so they can attend chapter gatherings.