Questions for Reflecting on the Spring/Summer 2024 Issue

Questions for Reflecting on the Spring/Summer 2024 Issue

Staff Writer
Focus on the hands of two people who are at a table drinking coffee
© Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash


The Spring/Summer 2024 issue of  UU World  focuses on the many and varied forms of shared ministry in Unitarian Universalism, exploring the partnerships and collaborations we form as we hold each other in mutual care and respect, live our core values, and continue our interconnected work in challenging and uncertain times. We invite you to use the following questions for reflection, or to spark a guided conversation in your own congregation or small group.

In "A Flame We All Carry," UUA President Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt asks, “How are we called to set aside much of what we have known for long enough to not only imagine new ways of being, but to catalyze the work that such inventiveness requires?”

  • What helps you set aside old ways of doing things in order to imagine new approaches?
  • In what ways would you like to see Unitarian Universalism reimagine itself to flourish?
  • How can your congregation spur creativity and inventiveness to reenergize around Unitarian Universalism’s core values?

In "Lifesaving Connections," UUA Transgender Support Specialist Jami A. Yandle says of the Pink Haven Coalition’s mission to help people seeking essential gender-affirming care, “Helping our trans community survive is not only a spiritual practice but is also a moral and spiritual obligation.”

  • Where do you experience an overlap between spiritual practice and moral or spiritual obligation in your life?
  • Do you live in a location where you could offer temporary housing to someone in need, and what would help motivate you to do so? If housing isn’t an option, are there other ways you might offer assistance?
  • What work has your congregation done to become a more welcoming space for trans and non-binary members and your wider community, and what might help you deepen that commitment?

In "Circle of Care," 82-year-old volunteer Lu Gaston describes pastoral care as the primary reason she feels connected to her congregation, First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Texas. “Now I’m old enough that I’m somewhat limited in what I can do, but in my mind I’m still so much a part of the community because of pastoral care. It’s been a major force in my life both as a giver and a recipient.”

  • When has pastoral care helped you feel more connected to your faith community? Were you the recipient of the care or the giver?
  • How does your congregation keep older members—and those of all ages—integrated and engaged in community life and worship?
  • What might your congregation do better to support older members?

In "Cultivating Communal Care," Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen explores how UUs put interdependence at the center of our lives, and how the act of giving can also be a gift. “In these acts of care, the brokenness of the world is remade on a scale I can get my heart (and my calendar) around. I can rail against the lack of free universal childcare—and give a fellow parent a free hour right now. I can fight for freedom for all from cages—and give someone getting out of jail a ride right now.”

  • Where might you incorporate time in your life to offer communal care to others? Are there areas where you need help right now?
  • Like Nguyen, can you think of specific big-picture issues that you can address on a small scale in your community?
  • What sort of infrastructure does your congregation have in place to facilitate communal care? What might expand or improve it?

In "Dancers Take the Lead," Rev. Peggy Clarke of Community Church of New York UU describes her congregation’s decision to incorporate liturgical dance into worship services, saying, “Art is a heart-centered way we find meaning and ask big questions. Dance is the embodiment of meaning-making and living deeply.”

  • Can you think of a time when you used art to find deeper meaning in your life? Was it through the act of creating art or appreciating the art of others?
  • How does your congregation use the arts to enhance the spiritual life of your community? Are there ways it might do more to incorporate a wide variety of arts into worship and broader congregational life?

In “Wanted: Banned Books,” Beacon Press and UU congregations model ways to take action against the growing number of book bans across the United States.

  • Rev. Abhi Janamanchi says that reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbirdas a young man gave him a glimpse into American history before he learned about the subject in the classroom. What book did you read as a young person that helped shape your understanding of the world?
  • Beacon Press suggests attending local school board meetings, reporting censorship, and organizing in your community, among other ways to fight book banning. How might you challenge yourself and your congregation to get more involved in fighting literary censorship?

In “ A Congregation Lives its Values” First UU Church of Nashville, Tennessee, embraces culture change recommendations from the UUA’s Widening the Circle of Concern report by actively engaging congregants in the work. 

  • Has your congregation read Widening the Circle of Concern? What, if any, changes have you made in response?
  • How has your involvement with culture change work, either individually or with your congregation, surprised you?
  • What do you see as the most urgent work to do next?