We Unitarian Universalists (UU) talk a lot about interdependence. It’s a core concept in our tradition – but its most common appearances in conversation are around connections between human beings and the natural world, between or within groups of people. However, it occurred to me recently that we don’t often talk about the way interdependence plays into our relationships with the larger Unitarian Universalist community. So today I’m considering a question inspired by recent conversations here at Unitarian Universalist Community of Charlotte (UUCC) about the proposed Article II changes, settled minister search, and your mission and future as a congregation: 

What does it mean to be connected to the UUA? 

In the most basic sense, UUCC is connected to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) because it says so in the bylaws. This congregation was organized as a Unitarian church and at some point after consolidation in 1961 chose to affiliate legally and in name with the Unitarian Universalist movement. That’s a fundamental choice of identity that the founding members of the Community made, and subsequent generations have continued to make that choice. Over the years a congregation builds relationships within the local community and with what we call the denomination or the larger UU movement. 

The larger UU movement is a complex network of organizations, congregations and relationships – and we often use the the acronym “UUA” as shorthand to refer to all of that. But that doesn’t get at the truth of the matter. There has been some anxiety in the UUCC system about “being connected to” the UUA – questions about what that means and how it impacts the autonomy and identity of your community. That’s a great conversation for y’all to continue having. At the same time, there’s an unspoken implication in the question of whether UUCC should be more or less connected to “the UUA” which is that you’re not already connected.  

The list that follows provides snapshots of parts of that interdependent web of Unitarian Universalism and UUCC’s place in that web. I’ve included links to relevant webpages in case you are interested and want to learn more about any of these organizations or services. 

Professional Organizations 

There are professional organizations for each general category of professional religious leader, including the UU Ministers Association (UUMA), the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA), The Association of UU Administrators (AUUA), the Association for UU Music Ministries (AUUMM), and the UU Association of Membership Professionals (UUAMP). All of your professional staff are members of the requisite organization, and we stay connected in many different ways, getting collegial support, specialized training, best practices in our program areas, and so much more.  

For example, we learned about Community Sundays from UUAMP, because while at a UUAMP gathering, Kelly Greene heard about a similar program at a UU congregation across the country. She brought the idea to the staff and led us in adapting it to work for UUCC. 

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)(www.uua.org) is our national denominational organization. It is an association of congregations whose mission is to equip congregations for health and vitality, to support and train lay and professional leaders, and to advance Unitarian Universalist values in the world. The UUA is a non-profit with an elected board of trustees and a professional staff who work together (using a similar governance model to the one UUCC uses) to execute that mission.  

Your board, staff, and teams use many of the different services provided by the UUA to support the UUCC’s day-to-day operations. Some of them are useful or interesting to UU layfolks – particularly the bookstore! 

  • Ministries and Faith Development and the Office of Church Staff Finances which provides information regarding best practices for Employee Compensation, Insurance, Retirement, Contracts and Letters of Agreement, General HR Functions, and more.
  • The Transitions Office, which administers the Settlement and Search process, offers training for Interim and Developmental ministers, and supports both search teams and ministers throughout the process.
  • Congregational Life Staff (including Hope for Us and the Southern Region) are charged to support congregations with information, leadership development, direct support in times of conflict, theological reflection and more. They also host trainings for congregational staff and events such as Taproot, a monthly gathering of BIPOC UUs.
  • UU Institute, LeaderLab, WorshipWeb, Our Whole Lives, the Renaissance Program, and Tapestry of Faith are online resources for staff and leadership trainings, readings and other elements of worship, religious education curricula, respectively. Much of the content is free, though some of the webinars and trainings require payment.  
  • The UUA Health Plan is administered by the Office of Church Staff Finances, covers professional staff and employees of UU congregations as well as denominational and congregational life staff. It is available to congregations that opt in, which UUCC does. There are some benefits included in this plan that are values-based, including increased coverage of mental and behavioral health services, fertility treatment for same gender couples, and gender affirming care for trans folks. This is particularly important as local and state laws are becoming more restrictive in some places. 
  • InSpirit Bookstore (Beacon Press and Skinner House) is where we get books for the Common Read as well as lots of resources for congregational and personal life and chalice and UU themed swag. 

Unitarian Universalist Seminaries/Theological Schools 

Starr King School for the Ministry which not only provides education and training for UU ministers and religious professionals, but also provides programming such as the WEAV Training Pilot Program in which UUCC is participating this year. 

Meadville Lombard Theological School, also providing education and training for UU ministers and religious professionals and the Fahs Collaborative, “a feisty cohort of religious educators who support people in living meaningful, socially conscious, and spiritually grounded lives.” 

Legislative and other Justice Advocacy Organizations 

UUCC has begun building a relationship with the UU Justice Ministry of North Carolina. It is one of a number of statewide legislative advocacy organizations that serve UU congregations working with local/regional partners to put our values into action in the public square. UUJNC Executive Director Rev Lisa Garcia-Sampson has visited UUCC to share advocacy opportunities around reproductive justice, Medicaid expansion, and more.  

Side with Love is the is a public advocacy campaign that seeks to harness love’s power to stop oppression. It is sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association and all are welcome to join. Subscribe to get updates. UU the Vote and UPLIFT Action for Reproductive and Gender Justice are some of Side with Love’s current projects. 

For over eighty years, the UU Service Committee (UUSC) has advanced human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to challenge oppressive policies. Our work is grounded in the belief that all people have inherent power and dignity. 

Caucus Groups and Resources for People with Marginalized Identities 

Black Lives of Unitarian Universalists (BLUU) is committed to expanding the power and capacity of Black UUs within Unitarian Universalism; providing support, information, and resources for Black Unitarian Universalists; and justice-making and liberation for Black people through our faith. 

Diverse and Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM) We are the oldest and largest Black, Indigenous and People of Color collective in Unitarian Universalism. We organized for mutual support and to advance an anti-racist, intersectional, multicultural faith. led by our mission and values that uplift care, spiritual growth, liberation, and more. 

Trans Religious professional UUs Together (TRUUsT)was founded in 2004 and its mission is to support UU trans religious professionals, advocate for each other and our ministries, and transform Unitarian Universalism and our world. TRUUsT takes a broad view of what it means to be trans and what it means to be a religious professional, in recognition that oppression has too often served as a barrier to trans people accessing traditional paths to credentialed leadership.

EQUUAL Access is a group of Unitarian Universalists living with disabilities, our families, friends, and allies coming together for a common purpose: To enable the full engagement of people with disabilities in Unitarian Universalist communities and the broader society. 

Church of the Larger Fellowship is a Unitarian Universalist congregation with no geographical boundary. Together, we create global spiritual community, rooted in profound love, which cultivates wonder, imagination, and the courage to act. We strive to keep the flame of love burning bright for all who yearn for its warmth and light. CLF’s thousands of members live all over the world. Nine hundred of them are currently incarcerated.  

CLF’s Programs include the Worthy Now Prison Ministry (UUCC is sending holiday greetings to incarcerated UUs this month), Quest for Meaning, Ministerio Latino, and Religious Education Resources for Families. 

Friends, this is not even the whole list! Our interdependent web of Unitarian Universalism is a powerful movement of spiritual development, intersectional justice advocacy, learning, and more. And to top it all off, there are ENDLESS ways to utilize two U’s in an acronym!


Rev. Lisa