Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The Rev. Cynthia Landrum has some good tips about Facebook's security settings...a good review for everyone, which you can find here

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

adddendum to Multi-site Bibliography

Alban Institute's Susan Beaumont has written about the emerging area of multi-site in mainline congregations here:   She has some interesting observations from her work, and the differences between the ways Mainline congregations do Multi-site and how Evangelicals do them.  Since most of the multi-site literature assumes the Evangelical mindset, this is interesting stuff!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Blogger's Hot Stove, week II

This will be most of the news that's fit to print about the matchmaking between UU churches and ministers.   Here is the list of candidates as far as I know them.   I hear that five churches are still actively looking for candidates, and at least two have extended their search to another year.  And it seems likely that lots of announcements were made in church this morning which have not been posted to websites yet.  

Congratulations, all around! 

Leslie Becknell Marx - Ashland, 

Peter Boullata - 1st Parish Lexington 

Eric Kaminetzky - Edmunds, Wa 

Kathy Schmitz - Orlando, Fla 

JD Benson and Mary Ganz - Brewster, MA 

Tom Perchilik - Tacoma, Wa 

Bill Sinkford - Portland, Or

 Lois Van Leer - Woodenville, WA

 Lilia Cuervo - Cambridge (associate)

 Shana Lynngood and Melora Lynngood - Victoria, BC 

Matt Tittle, Paramus, NJ
Meg Riley  Church of the Larger Fellowship
Angela Herrera  First Unitarian, Albuquerque (assistant)  (a special Yeah! from iMinister on this one!)
Carmen Emerson,  Meadville, PA  (another special, yeah! to Abq's current intern)
Andrew Millard, Newport News, VA (ditto for a former intern!)
Robin Tanner, Piedmont (Charlotte, NC)  (ditto for a current ABQ resident!) 
Stephen Sinclair,  Indianapolis
Erin Gingrich, Reston, VA
Scott Alexander, Viro Beach, FL
Debra Faulk, Calgery, AB
Jeffery Jones, Marietta, GA
Victoria Ingram,  Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Iowa City...Search extended another year
Charlottesville, VA....Search extended another year

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Facebook for Ministers -Boundaries

A colleague has asked about Facebook for Ministers, specifically, how to use Facebook without encouraging or (heaven forbid) engaging in boundary violations, and how to use Facebook without it being a time sink.


The most important thing to get clear on is that this world has "friends" and it has "facebookfriends", and they are not the same thing at all, even if the share a syllable.  Ministers need to be careful about having "friends" in their congregations,  that is to say, people the confide in, let their hair down with, giggle and share and travel with and so on.  There are so many good reasons for ministers to be careful about having friends in the congregation that many ministers don't have friends in the congregation at all.  These reasons include:

  • Most people who actively court their ministers as friends don't really want to befriend the person who giggles and shares and travels, they want to befriend the MINISTER and partake, somehow, in the ministerial glitter. (or worse, use the ministerial glitter or the minister's ear to advance their agendas in the church, or, worst of all, what to befriend the minister to assure themselves that scary people like ministers are really just regular joes.)  Any sensible minister avoids this like the plague for personal and professional reasons.
  • Even when the minister develops relationships more naturally, with healthier persons who actually want to know the minister as a person, giggles and glitches and all, there will be some others, who, seeing this relationship, can become jealous and make the minister's professional life difficult. 
  • And when things go south politically in a church, among the very painful things for the minister is to lose friendships just when one most needed them or to see one's friends become estranged from their congregation because of their friendship with the congregation's minister.  
Some wise ministers have no friendships in their churches, and some wise ministers have a few, carefully developed friendships with very mature people which, while not secrets, are conducted out of the public eye.   All wise ministers nurture friendships outside of their congregation, whether or not they have friendships with members of their congregations

"Facebookfriendship", however, is a completely different critter from friendship.  Facebookfriendship is to real friendship what coffee hour is to an encounter group.    Facebook is a way of keeping in touch, briefly and pleasantly, with aspects of people's lives in one sentence, one picture, one "read this that I've linked to" bites.

Does FacebookFriendship have boundary issues for ministers?  It depends on what you post, not on who your Facebookfriends are.   To my mind, the minister's Facebook life should be conducted the way the minister's semi-public life always is...carefully.

I think of it this way.  If I was in a long airport security line and behind me was someone from my church...or even someone from my former church,  I would not ignore them out of anxious concerns for boundaries or my privacy.  We'd exchange news about the doings of our children, our gardens, our political opinions.  We might mention things we were reading, how we are feeling, and talk politely about the people we know.  That's the kind of stuff I put on my Facebook update.

So, my policy is I Facebookfriend anybody in my church who asks.  Any UU who asks, actually.  I set all of my security to "only friends can see this".  I don't say anything I wouldn't say in the airport line or post any picture I wouldn't, under the right circumstances, show around at coffee hour.  And I doubt that I will unbefirend people when I leave this church, any more than I would refuse to talk to them if I found myself in their company.

I only very occasionally leave comments on congregant's posts, although I do very often click "like" when they are reporting happy news.   When I read things on congregant's posts which warrent a pastoral response, I send a private messange, an email, or pick up the phone.  I've also used the live chat feature in what seemed to be dire circumstances.  The point is that the minister doesn't play favorites or have "special" Facebookfriends, at least not on the public side of Facebook.

Therefore...nobody gets any "ministerglitter" from being my facebookfriend, any more than they get it from watching a video from the church website.  It's there for everybody.  Nobody gets jealous. There are no political implications.  There is connection, but not real friendship.  But those connections are interesting and valuable.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why Facebook for Ministers?

A colleague has asked me why she should be involved in Facebook, what the boundary issues are, and how to not let it be a time sink.  Good questions.  Here are my answers.

One reason to be on Facebook is to interface with the many ministerial colleagues who are on Facebook.  In terms of keeping us in touch with each other, our families, transitions, and daily lives, Facebook rocks.  The UUMA Chat (email list) is fine for asking people's opinions of things.  Facebook is for whose kids have graduated from preschool, whose parents are dying, who is having a rotten week, who has what hobbies.   It's for sharing links to articles and crowing over the perfect sermon title.  It's quick to post, quick to read, quick to comment on.  I feel MUCH more connected to my colleagues than I ever have before.

A second reason to be on Facebook is that the people of our churches are on Facebook, from the 9 year olds to the 70 year olds.  They, too, are commenting about what they are reading, how they are feeling, what's going on with their parents and kids, what the stresses and joys of their lives are.  The savvy pastor can, in minutes, respond to those things with a quick click on "like", or easily send a private message of support or congratulations.   The preacher who is wondering what her people are thinking and worrying about will be very interested in the links they post, and enriched by reading the articles and comments.

A third reason to be on Facebook is that if you serve a mid-sized or larger church, only some of your congregation will have the opportunity to know you the way all would in a smaller congregation...that is, know about your children, your parents, your hobbies, your reading interests.  They might ask you about such things if they caught you around church in an idle moment, and you'd probably respond, but...they mostly can't get to you.  Through Facebook, they can see the public side of the minister's life.  They like that.

A fourth reason to be on Facebook is that your church should have a page on Facebook, for the same reason it has a website; people will look for it and use it to get information and work up their courage to visit.  If you want to see that page, you need a Facebook account.  The fact that the minister has a Facebook page is an important signal to trend-setting Facebook users, that this church and its leaders are a part of the culture in the 21st century.  You want to appeal to anybody under 50 and many over, you want to send that signal.

A final reason to be on Facebook is that the wise minister has fun, and lots of people find Facebook to be a fun way to keep up with friends, relatives, and culture, and they use it as a platform for computer games.  Speaking for myself, I love knowing what my niece and nephew are up to and there's nothing as relaxing after difficult board meetings than working on my Farmville virtual crops.  But...that's optional.

Guest Postings

The Rev. Harlan Limpert, VP of the UUA, has asked to be an author on this blog to get input and feedback about ministerial matters from this distinguished group of readers. He will write more about his work and his questions in the next few days.   I hope you will welcome and comment on his posts.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blogger's Hot Stove

The real "hot stove" list of invitations from churches to ministers to candidate is being kept on Facebook this year.  Some people are still slogging away without Facebook, and for those readers, here is the list so far.

 Leslie Becknell Marx - Ashland, 

Peter Boullata - 1st Parish Lexington 

Eric Kaminetzky - Edmunds, Wa 

Kathy Schmitz - Orlando, Fla 

JD Benson and Mary Ganz - Brewster, MA 

Tom Perchilik - Tacoma, Wa 

Bill Sinkford - Portland, Or

 Lois Van Leer - Woodinville, WA

 Lilia Cuervo - Cambridge (associate

 Shana Lynngood and Melora Lynngood - Victoria, BC 

There are many more matches in the making which have not yet been made public, but it should be a great week for matchmaking!

And by the way, for all of you readers who don't "do" really should! The times they have a chang-ed.   

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hot Stove II: The Cooperative Enterprise

Posting all the candidates for new UU pulpits as they are announced in the next week is a big job and I'll need lots of help.  For starters, the list of churches in search is always a work in progress.  Search Committees which asked that their application period be closed are no longer on the list, for instance.  So, the first task for all of us interested folks is to compile the list of churches expecting to settle ministers in this search season.  Here is what I know.    Readers?  It's up to you!   Are there other "pregnant" churches out there? 

Church in Search
Calgary, Alberta
Birmingham, Alabama
Victoria, British Columbia
Fremont, CA
Danbury CT
Jacksonville FL
Orlando FL
Very Beach FL
Athens GA
Iowa City IA
Bloomington IL
Stockton, IL
Indianapolis IN
West Lafayette IN
Beverly MA
Billerica MA
Boston, CLF
Brewster MA
Cambridge, MA  (Associate)
Lexington MA
Newton MA
Plymouth MA
Sharon MA
Martha's Vinyard
Portland ME
Bloomfield Hills MI
Brighton MI
Detroit MI
Troy MI
Kalispell MT
Omaha NE
Concord NH
Albuquerque NM  (Assistant)
Bowling Green OH
Hamilton On
London ON
Portland OR (First)
Bethlehem PA
Meadville PA
Aiken SC
Sioux Falls SD
Houston TX (First)
Charlottesville VA
Newport News VA
Reston, VA
Edmonds WA
Eau Claire WI

Thursday, March 11, 2010

the "Hot Stove"

Because my church has an intern and staff member in search and is itself in search, and because I was listed as a reference for several colleagues in search, I've taken a greater-than-usual interest in the search process this year.  In past years another blogger has taken on listing who is going where but that blog is off the books now.  If no one else is planning to provide this public service to the UU world, I will volunteer for the blogsphere and Facebook.  Monday is the first day churches are making official matches, but yesterday the UUA announced their pick for the next Transitions Director (coordinates UUA services to churches and ministers in search), so that seems to me to be the fitting opening of the endgame of the season.  So, dear readers, please do let me know when you discover who is going where....

Keith Kron    -Transitions Director

Monday, March 01, 2010


iMinister has made a discipline of studying the Tao Te Ching for many years.  At the moment she has set herself to creating a twitter reminder of each chapter. (Twitter rules: only 140 characters to a "tweet".  Just call this modern Haiku.)  You can follow her on Twitter.,  under "revcrobinson".