News brief: Musicians network adopts new name

News brief: Musicians network adopts new name

At August 2018 conference, Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network votes to become Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries in 2019.

Elaine McArdle


The Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network (UUMN) will ring in the 2019 New Year with a new name, the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries, which comes with a melodic and spiritual acronym: AUUMM.

After two years of discussion and study, members at UUMN’s annual conference, held August 1–5 in Portland, Oregon, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the name change. The name change will take place on January 1, 2019. Members also approved a new mission statement and an updated fee structure.

“The name and mission changes were done to more clearly focus the organization on its identity as a professional organization, serving those who are music ministry professionals and leaders and those who are aligned with the organization’s mission and serving as ministry professionals in related callings: ordained ministers, religious educators, and church administrators and membership professionals,” said Deborah Weiner, UUMN moderator.

UUMN President Shawn McCann said he hopes the name change will help place UU music ministry professionals and leaders “on more equal footing professionally” with other UU religious professionals.

The UUMN conference attracted 236 attendees to First Unitarian Church of Portland; the congregation’s music director, DeReau Farrar, a UUMN trustee, hosted the conference. There were seventy first-timers at the conference, “a record number, and we are thrilled,” said Weiner.

Membership in UUMN is down 16 percent from six years ago. Weiner said she hoped that the new name and other changes will help attract and keep members.

Eleven of the first-timers were people of color who were fully funded to attend through a new scholarship program, Overdue Promise, created by UUMN to promote more people of color within UU music ministries.

Over the past year, the UUMN board of trustees has “had many deep conversations around white supremacy and how we, as a professional organization, can address its legacy and combat its impact on ministry professionals who are part of our organization,” said Weiner. “One of the things we know is that professional expense allocations for music ministry professionals are way too low in general, and particularly low for music professionals of color.” The scholarship, she said, “is a great step, but it does not address the underlying inequity in compensation,” a topic that association leaders plan to continue addressing.

The new membership fee structure will reduce rates for many current members while making it more affordable for congregations with multiple music professionals and music leaders to join AUUMM as a staff team, said McCann.

McCann said the new mission statement was written to align with the new name and to more specifically describe the association’s goals. It states: “The mission of the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries is to support music and worship arts professionals, leaders, and those they serve through advocacy, education, and inspiration.”

“I was thrilled we had so many guests outside of music that attended the conference,” said McCann, including Elandria Williams, co-moderator of the UUA, and leaders from other UU professional organizations. “We’re building a foundation of collaborative ministry to model for our membership.”

The conference included a Professional Development Day program focused on helping build collaborative ministries while addressing white supremacy culture in congregations, featuring the Rev. William G. Sinkford, senior minister at First Unitarian Church in Portland; Aisha Hauser, director of religious education at East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, Washington; and Beth Norton, director of music at First Parish in Concord, Massachusetts.