Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, Weekly News and Reflections

April 19, 2019

For Ourselves and For Us All: A Reflection from our Ministerial Intern


Sana Saeed, UUMA Ministerial Intern

Last week, I spent time as a chaplain at a , an 18-month program aimed at offering discernment support, spiritual sustenance, continuing education, and collegiality to Unitarian Universalist ministers. I witnessed participants leaning into discomfort and doing the hard work of dismantling white supremacy.


As a person of color, I am part of communities where I get to do this work and I make space in my daily life to process internally what I am doing. The work of dismantling systemic white supremacy in our society and within our Association and congregations is hard, painful, and traumatic in itself. Sometimes, I question if white colleagues in our denomination are doing this work at all.


At Deepening, I saw that it was indeed being done. I also saw how messy, emotional, and complicated this work can be, but when you have a group of supportive colleagues and community it’s easier to face than doing it alone. This work is important today, when some researchers are contemplating if we’re living in a time where we are seeing the end of empathy.


Hanna Rosin explains in her how empathy may not be the answer to the political polarization, because today we’re moving from the idea of universal empathy toward using empathy in selective ways. So what does this mean for UUs today and our theology focused on aspiring to see the inherent worth and dignity of all people? Can we recognize people’s inherent worth and dignity without empathizing with them? How should we be approaching social justice work and the work of dismantling white supremacy if not with universal empathy? Is selective empathy a bad thing, anyway?


Rosin goes on to say, “...give up on the idea that when we are ‘empathizing,’ we are being altruistic, or helping the less fortunate, or in any way doing good. What we can do when we do empathy ... is help ourselves.”


Rosin leaves me with a lot of questions. The work of dismantling white supremacy, for me, is the work of everyone in Unitarian Universalism, and the only way to move closer to the promise and fullness of Unitarian Universalism. I know that I am helping myself as a person of color when I commit to working on dismantling the white supremacy that prevents me from living my life fully.


The choice we make by working on dismantling white supremacy is to not only to help ourselves, but it’s a choice to help our larger community, knowing that white supremacy impacts all of us in different ways. This work requires that you use empathy to “expand your imagination” and challenge yourself to reimagine the world we live in for the betterment of all. I don’t know if selective empathy will be the end of our world, but I do know that we have the ability to challenge ourselves to expand our imaginations and do better with hearing the other. So I urge you, colleagues, to take the work you may be doing in retreats like Deepening back into your communities and keep it alive.


Seeking Applications for Ministerial Fellowship Committee Representatives


The UUMA has four representatives to the Ministerial Fellowship Committee and is currently seeking applications to fill one open position. UUMA representatives to the MFC must be approved by the UUA Board of Trustees and serve as full members of the MFC. The UUMA Board of Trustees receives reports from our MFC representatives and also occasionally asks our representatives to present ideas or requests to the MFC on behalf of the UUMA. At this time, we are seeking applicants from people interested in serving on the MFC who possess the following:

  • have been granted Final Fellowship
  • a demonstrated commitment to and understanding of anti-racism, anti-oppression work
  • interest in the future of ministry
  • interest in the health and flourishing of Unitarian Universalist institutions
  • skill/patience/flexibility with institutional change work

If you are interested in being considered for this volunteer role, please no later than April 28.


Volunteer Opportunities at Ministry Days


Some of the best feedback we have received from Ministry Days has included comments from members who have volunteered. Participating in this special way not only helps our events run more smoothly, it is a way to make new connections and experience collegiality. There are several ways you can help out, before, during and after ministry days. While the UUMA is grateful for and dependent upon the many volunteers who give of themselves to help lead the association, we believe there are limits to what may be reasonably expected of volunteers and are committed to compensating for work done on behalf of the association when warranted. Below is a description of how you can volunteer at Ministry Days.


Ministry Days Volunteer Staff: Non-Committee Member volunteers at UUMA Ministry Days are expected to work fewer than 10 hours over the course of three days of scheduled programming and should have no, or very minimal (no more than 2-3hr), preparation time preceding the event. If the expected hours for a staff person are to exceed 10 or if the preparation time required is greater than 2-3 hours, compensation will be revisited. Positions are listed below and can be found online at:


Chaplains (Coordinator: ):

We are now accepting applications from people who are interested in serving on the Ministry Days Chaplain Team with Maria Christina Vlassidis Burgoa who is our 2019 Chaplain Coordinator. Because of the time commitment involved, Chaplains will have their Ministry Days registration fees waived and will receive an honorarium of $250. If you are interested in being considered, please complete by May 3, 2019.


Small Group Facilitators (Coordinator: ):

We invite you to be a leader of a small group that will be meeting on Tuesday morning after the opening worship at ministry days to facilitate a conversation. The service is titled Stronger in the Broken Places: Accountable Nurturing of our Shared Ministry. There will be a training for all small group leader volunteers, before ministry days via zoom. If you’re available and interested, let Sana Saeed know at and we'll get back to you.


Audio-Visual, Registration and Hospitality Volunteers:

For AV, Registration and Hospitality volunteers, there are many volunteers needed for each activity. Your volunteer commitment to a particular task is for one-hour (unless you sign up for more time slots). To help organize volunteers we are using . .


Audio Visual Volunteers (Coordinator: ):

  • Tech Helpers: Assist with the Powerpoint presentations during a section of the programming.
  • Social Media Volunteers: members who will actively post on your Facebook and/or Twitter during Ministry Days event.
  • Off-site Proxy Volunteers: During times when Q&A are included in presentations relay questions from offsite

Registration (Coordinator: ):

  • Packet Prep: Helping to assemble registration packets, prepare registration area, hang signs, etc.
  • Registration: Greeting your colleagues, handing out name-tags, badges, etc and giving directions on schedule or rooms as needed.
  • Ribbon Table: Thank colleagues for involvement with the UUMA and present with appropriate ribbon. Previous UUMA leadership experience is extremely helpful in this role.

Hospitality (Coordinator: ):

  • Greeter: Help colleagues find appropriate check-in tables, ribbon table, and location of childcare, and other rooms.
  • Usher: Greet colleagues for worship services, distribute order of service and assist with the collection during the service.
  • Ministry Days Host: Act as greeters and support staff for Monday opening reception
  • Navigation Guides: Available during programming to help anyone needing special seating navigate the halls (vision/hearing assist, scooter locations, scent-free zones, etc.) and to address issues that may arise with misuse of accessible spaces.
  • Easy Access Guides: Available during meals to assist in navigating buffet lines

Thank you for our commitment to the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.



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