Archive for August, 2009

Moving Over to Make Room

August 27, 2009

This morning I found a request in my email Inbox. It said something like – “I’m on the Sunday services committee of our small congregation. We’ve just hired a new part-time minister. I’m wondering if you could tell us how Sunday services committees in other congregations have developed relationships with their new ministers.”

Here’s my reply: Hello. Thanks for your question. In some congregations, the Sunday services committee and the part-time minister plan services entirely separately, with no conversation together. That’s not what I recommend.

Instead, I suggest that you initiate a conversation with your minister; ask her/him to tell you what kind of relationship she’d like to have with your committee. If you can, have a planning meeting with him early in the year. Go over the year’s calendar with her, so you can be sure that you have “her” Sundays on your calendar. Look at the holidays, etc.

Tell him about some of the services you are planning, and ask whether he knows of resources to augment what you already have. [For example, there’s an excellent resource at called “Worship Web” ]

Ask whether there are particular hymns that she’d like the congregation to learn/know, and include them on your Sundays, so they become familiar with repeated use over time.

Ask whether there are certain elements to the services that he will use, that he would like you to consider using in your services, too, to give the congregants a consistent experience, week to week.

In short, invite the minister in, share your ideas while you listen to hers/his. Be generous: move over and make room. The worship life of the congregation will be richer for it.


The Pumpkin Patch

August 24, 2009

Over the weekend, I heard about the coolest project that one of our congregations is doing — one that will raise the visibility of the congregation in their community, benefit the local food bank, and involve all ages in the fun. Here’s the scoop.

Second Unitarian Church in Omaha Nebraska planted an organic pumpkin patch on their lawn last spring. This fall they’re having a Fall Festival and will sell the pumpkins, with all proceeds going to the local food bank.

The children were involved; they planted the pumpkin seeds during a ritual that invited them to give the seeds something of themselves by holding the organic seeds in their mouths, in their hands, blowing on them, and holding them up to be warmed in the sunlight before putting them into the soil. The ritual was designed by an organic gardener/mentor for the project.

The pumpkins were planted on the lawn using a no-till, permapatch gardening method. Volunteers watered the pumpkin plants this summer, using water gathered in the church’s new rain barrel, supplemented by water from the tap.

Neighbors will be invited to the Festival, along with another church in the area. Signs inviting the public to attend have been placed on the lawn.

This is the first annual Harvest Festival, and the church will use this as one of their projects for Green Sanctuary certification. To learn more about this and see their wonderful photos, go to: