March 2023 Newsletter

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Women's History Month: Embrace Equity

Notable Dates in March:

March 6th to 7th - Purim

March 8th - International Women's Day

March 12th - Daylight Saving Time

March 15th - The Ides of March

March 17th - Saint Patrick's Day

March 20th - Spring Equinox

March 22nd to April 21st - Ramadan

Featured in this issue: 


Latest NER Guest Blog; Demilitarization & Abolition; March SL4CC Gathering; March Congregational Admin Gathering; Supporting Neurodivergence Skill Up: ADHD; Side With Love: Green Sanctuary 2030 Program; UUA Presidential Forums...


...and more! Scroll down to find the article you are interested in.

Read the Latest Blog

Salvation Through Covenant

by guest writer Rev. Ellen Spero

We are thrilled to bring you this first person report of the lived power of the practice of covenant, written by one of our own NER ministers! Rev. Ellen Spero has been serving the congregation in Chelmsford, MA for 20 years. We are grateful for her reflections and for the ministry she shares with the members of First Parish in Chelmsford.

Each Sunday I step into the pulpit and call to worship the congregation sitting in the sanctuary of our 1842 New England Meetinghouse. The sanctuary is simple and elegant. Tall windows line each side, reaching up two stories to the high ceiling, with four chandeliers. The clear panes bring nature’s liturgy of the seasons into our service: bright sun, autumn’s colors, the soft fall of snow. The pulpit is big and imposing, built for an era when the focus was on the preacher delivering the Word. The people sit in the hard, wooden pews that creak whenever someone tries to find a more comfortable position.

The traditional Protestant formality of the sanctuary belies the informal and eclectic nature of the community that gathers in it now. This congregation, the First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, was founded in 1655 by the Puritans. Ours is the fourth meetinghouse, the previous three having been lost to fires. Looking out the windows, I see the Forefathers cemetery where several of my predecessors rest. I imagine that they would be shocked to see how the congregation has evolved over its 367 years, with a woman preacher only one among many unimaginable changes.

For our congregation is not made up of committed Christians who center their lives on salvation through their experience of God’s grace. Rather, we are seekers and skeptics. A mix of atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Christians, pagans, Jews, nones and dones, gathering for worship even if we struggle with traditional religion. But there is a thread, that our Puritan forbears would recognize. We, like they, gather together in covenant.

Covenant is an ancient practice, traditionally between God and God’s people, found throughout the Bible. The Puritans’ earliest covenant was simple: “We covenant with the Lord and one with another; and do bind ourselves in the presence of God to walk together in all his ways, according as he is pleased to reveal himself unto us in his blessed word of truth.” To them, nothing less than their eternal salvation was at stake in this binding together as a worshiping community, awaiting God’s continuing revelation of grace.

Read More

NER News & Events

Congregational Administrators Gathering (online) 

These recent times have been especially isolating for administrators and we have noticed a rise in the number of new administrators in the region. Let's connect! Join your peers to share ideas, questions, concerns and support, Thursday, March 23, 12:00-1:30pm ET.

We’ll send details to all registered participants a few days before the gathering. Please register as soon as possible.

Registration is free and required. The registration deadline is Wednesday, March 22.

Discernment for Faithful Risking (online)

Daytime offering: March 28, 1:00 to 2:30 PM (ET)*

Evening offering: March 30, 7:00 to 8:30 PM (ET)*

*Each offering will have the same program. 

An optional orientation to Spiritual Leadership Q&A

session will begin 30 minutes before each offering.


In times calling us to consider making faithful risks in the service of love and mission, the democratic process can't be the only way we find our way together. When no options seem clear or stakes feel high and every choice involves risk, group discernment is a way we can sort out which risks might be the faithful ones to take. Group discernment invites asking broader questions, listening heart-to-heart, setting aside personal agendas. It assumes that through spacious collective exploration of our mission, vision and values, we can discover what risks we are being called to faithfully make in the face of uncertainty. 

In our March gatherings, we will

  • name where we see group discernment already practiced in our congregations;
  • identify how Unitarian Universalist culture supports and/or resists a practice of group discernment; and 
  • explore possible ways to introduce discernment practices into congregational spaces. 

This community of practice is open to all — religious professionals and laity. Once you join, you will automatically receive registration details and the pre-work assignment before each gathering. To join the community, use this form. [Note: only those who join the community will be sent registration details.]

To learn more, follow these links: 

Upcoming in April:

  • The next Liberating Governance gathering (online) - please join the group to stay updated

  • The next Congregational Board/Trustee Quarterly gathering (online)

News & Events

Congregational Participation Encouraged:

FACT Survey 2023

Congregations in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), are being asked to participate in a national study of religious life in America. It is the seventh such survey in the Faith Communities Today (FACT) series, begun in the year 2000, which provides religious leaders of all traditions critical information about the changing nature of congregational life and how to respond effectively.

Information and findings from the FACT surveys are provided online freely. This survey is also being conducted in partnership with the Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations study, which is actively researching change and innovation in the American religious landscape as a result of COVID-19.

Congregational Administrators, Board Presidents and Ministers will be receiving a link for the survey on March 1. Please plan to coordinate so that ONE survey is filled out per congregation by March 22nd, 2023. The survey is completely confidential and the combined results will be published later this year.

UUA/UUMA Neurodiversity Skill-Up: Introduction to ADHD (online)

Save the date: March 21, 2023 2:00-4:00pm ET / 11:00am-1:00pm PT for Introduction to ADHD with Mackenzie MacDade

For the sixth in our Supporting Neurodivergence in Our Congregations Skill Up series, we are excited to welcome Mackenzie MacDade to explore ADHD with us, including the diversity of ways, even unusual ways, ADHD can show up.

Mackenzie MacDade is a 33 year-old, queer woman of color, teaching artist, feminist, part-time poet and general rabble rouser. She got her start in feminism from a book of feminist nursery rhymes, and her start in pop culture analysis from nine years of homeschooling (translation: nine years of TV and movie watching). A firm believer in queering the collective consciousness, she strives to inspire people to redesign their idea of normal and step out their comfort zone. She takes inspiration from Gertrude Stein, Buffy, Angela Davis, Faith and bell hooks. Someone once described her as “The love child of Angela Davis and Ru-Paul” and she thinks that just about sums it up. 

Please visit the Welcoming Neurodivergence homepage for more information and the registration link. Registration is required and available on a sliding scale.

Presidential Forums 2023 (hybrid)

There will be a series of four presidential candidate forums, starting in March, to allow delegates and members to learn more about Rev. Dr. Betancourt. Planned in concert with the Election Campaign Practices Committee with support from UUA staff, each forum will offer both on-site and virtual participation. There will also be an additional forum during General Assembly in June.

All Unitarian Universalists are welcomed and encouraged to engage with the presidential candidate forums and the process as a whole, to ensure our next UUA President may establish the foundation for their leadership with broad participation.

March 18, 2023 1:00pm ET in Arlington, VA

April 29, 2023 1:00pm CT / 2:00pm ET in Evanston, IL

May 20, 2023 1:00pm PT / 4:00pm ET in Santa Barbara, CA 

June 3, 2023 1:00pm CT / 2:00pm ET in Dallas, TX

Leadership Development: Leading from the Heart Registration Now Open! (online)


In this three-part series for budding and experienced leaders, participation will ground you in your own spiritual soil, acknowledge roots, discern flowers, find abundance, and preserve seeds to keep the harvest going.


Topics will include: UU and ancestral theology, the synergy of passion and mission, living out of conviction


When: March through May, participants will spend about 4 hours a month in a variety of solo work, small group discussion (once per month on group’s time frame) and a full group monthly meeting.

Full Group Sessions: 4th Tuesdays - March 28, April 25 & May 23, 2023

5:00-6:30pm ET / 4:00-5:30pm CT / 3:00-4:30pm MT / 2:00-3:30pm PT / 1:00-2:30 pm Alaska / 12:00-1:30pm Hawaii


Who: Lay leaders in different areas of ministry (not limited to board). Congregational teams are encouraged but not required. Whether you have years of committee experience or are thinking about getting involved for the first time, this program is for you!

Registration is required and will close at 3:00PM ET / 12:00pm PT on March 21.


Fee: $60 per person, sliding scale, sliding scale based on your assessment of your ability to pay.

Please find details and registration here!

2023 Intergenerational Spring Seminar (hybrid)

The UU Office at the United Nations is excited to announce that the 2023 Intergenerational Spring Seminar will take place April 1-3, 2023, with the theme "Demilitarization & Abolition: Resist Policing and Empire." The event, planned in close partnership with the UU Service Committee & the UU College of Social Justice, will be a multi-platform event, held in-person in Minneapolis, MN and online.

Registration is required for both in-person and online participation, and available on a sliding scale. The in-person and youth registration deadline is March 15; the adult online registration deadline is March 30.

Side With Love Presents: Green Sanctuary 2030 Program

Green Sanctuary 2030: Mobilizing for Climate Justice provides structure, leadership and support, in broad collaboration, for the UU faith community to engage in an ambitious environmental and climate justice movement that seeks to live fully our principles and achieve our vision of a sustainable and just world for all.  

The Green Sanctuary 2030 (GS2030) process includes four campaigns: 

  1. Congregational Transformation
  2. Justice
  3. Mitigation
  4. Adaptation and Resilience

Congregations can engage in the GS2030 process with the goal of accreditation or simply to advance climate justice in the ways that make the most sense with your capacity.

Want to stay connected? Subscribe to the GS2030 email list. Ready to join? Email Rachel Myslivy with the name and location of your congregation and the contacts for your GS2030 work.

EqUUal Access Carolyn Cartland Sermon Contest


Since 2016, EqUUal Access has sponsored an annual contest for sermons related to disability. It is named after Carolyn Cartland, an early president of EqUUal Access. This annual contest highlights disability-related themes and topics. Entry deadline: May 1. One cash prize of $500. When feasible, the winner may be invited to present their sermon at an EqUUal Access event during UUA General Assembly. Travel costs to GA cannot be supported.



  • The sermon must be an original work on a disability theme or topic
  • The sermon must be preached between May 1, 2022 and April 30, 2023.
  • Entries (sermon text and entry cover information) must be submitted before midnight on May 1, 2023.
  • This sermon contest is open to all lay or religious professional Unitarian Universalists.

 Please click here for more information on submitting a sermon.

Are You in Connecticut? Come UNCONFERENCE with the UU Church in Meriden, CT (in-person)!  

On Saturday, March 11, 2022 from 8:30am– 4:00pm congregational leaders from around the state will gather to make connections; inspire each other; learn and teach leadership skills; and discuss Unitarian Universalism and congregational life.

They will be using the UNCONFERENCE Model: an open-space approach where those in attendance determine the teaching and learning opportunities. More information is available here.

It is also requested that all those attending bring something to share for the potluck lunch (how UU does this get)!

If there is a weather or Covid cancelation for the in-person event, it will move online and all those registered will be sent a Zoom link via their registration email. 

This event is free and registration is required.


Explore the Full UUA Events Calendar for more!

Pandemic Strategies (Including COVID-19)

We thank all congregations whose generous contributions to the Region

and to our UUA Annual Program Fund make all of our work possible.

We offer learning opportunities throughout the New England Region for congregational members, lay leaders, and religious professionals.

Regional staff services and support are available to UU congregations year-round.

Contact us!

(617) 948-6415


Staff Contacts

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