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We must get better at communicating

Our relationships are created and sustained by our communication.
By Peter Morales
Spring 2011 2.15.11

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UUA President Peter Morales.

One of the frustrations during my time as a parish minister was to hear someone say, “I wish I had known about (fill in the blank here).” It was frustrating because I knew the information had been in our newsletter, had been announced twice in a Sunday service, and was posted on our website. I know many of you share this experience. Well, now that I am president this frustration has been multiplied by a thousand—once for each of our congregations!

A few months ago a UU friend I have known for ten years expressed dismay that he had heard nothing about the civil disobedience last July in Phoenix that protested anti-immigrant actions by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s department. I regularly come in contact with UUs who are not aware of developments in areas about which they care deeply.

In our congregations and in our movement, relationships are sacred and essential. Our relationships are created and sustained by our communication. Our movement is only as strong and vital as our relationships. When communication breaks down, the results are not merely annoying. When communication breaks down, we falter. Part of the challenge we all face, of course, is that we are exposed to so many messages. Some days I receive a hundred emails. I don’t even try to count the Facebook and Twitter messages. Critical information often gets lost in the trivia.

One thing has become increasingly clear to me as your president: If we are to make real the awesome potential of our religion, we simply must get better at communicating among ourselves. Everything we care about depends on it. Communication, of course, is two-way. We in national leadership need to be in touch with the concerns and aspirations of our congregations. Our congregations and their members must know about important developments that affect them.

The UUA staff has begun a strategic review of our communications. Consider for just a moment the breadth of communications that come from the UUA. It spans everything from books by Beacon Press and Skinner House to “tweets.” Traditional print media like this magazine now coexist with electronic media like our website at UUA.org and social media like Facebook. Video is becoming more important every day.

The rapidly expanding power of social media was driven home to me a few weeks ago when a brief post on the UUA’s Facebook page suggested that one way to follow developments at the UUA was to become my “friend” on Facebook. I received 70 requests in the next hour and more than 200 in the next day! I realize now that I need to discipline myself to use social media regularly as a vehicle to let you know about important developments.

In a future column I will discuss new efforts aimed at helping UUA leadership listen to you.

For now, let me suggest some things for all UUs to do. First, explore our UUA.org website. We have done a lot to improve it and will do more. Important news is posted regularly, we have lots of short videos, and there are resources for everyone. Second, subscribe to the UUA-L email list, the primary news announcement list of the Association, and to UU World’s weekly email newsletter for up-to-date news and information. Third, become my friend on Facebook. Go to facebook.com, search for “Peter Morales,” and ask to be my friend. On Twitter you can follow “uua,” and you can follow me at “uuprez.”

All of this may sound a bit technical and even geeky, but communication among ourselves is profoundly religious work. As our connections grow, we grow stronger.


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