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Events Around the Cluster - Action: Justice: Witness:

Events Around the Cluster Calendar


James at GA 2014

 James Snell

Messages From NTUUC President James Snell:


 President’s Blog


Please watch for upcoming notes from our new president.










Previous Messages From NTUUC Past President Anita Mills:

President’s Blog

October 1, 2017

It’s been a busy year for NTUUC, with two significant accomplishments at our most recent Board meeting on September 23.  The first was the passing of our budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.  Our operations now run just under $150,000 per year, as we have added staff (a bookkeeper, as well as an assistant for our Executive Director, Daniel Polk), and now underwrite the OWL (Our Whole Lives) sex education training for religious education professionals. 

The second major accomplishment was the passing of a Strategic Plan.  This was a major undertaking, which we’ve worked on for almost two years.  After starting big, and refining, we have set out 1, 3, and 5 year goals for each of our mission goals.  We believe that these are achievable goals that will guide us to better serve our congregations.

In the course of our work, we realized that we had to modify our mission and vision statements.  As modified, they are:

Vision:                  A more just, loving and sustainable world

Mission                Connect UU’s to inspire, learn and grow

Now that our work on the Strategic Plan is accomplished, we are beginning a series of mini-trainings, to be offered after each Board meeting.  The first of these mini-trainings was on September 23, and focused on applying for the NTUUC annual grants to congregations.  Our Endowment Committee presented the program, and answered questions such as what projects were more likely to be funded, and what the Committee looks at when awarding grants. 

The next NTUUC Board meeting will be November 18, and will be followed by a mini-training.  The subject will be announced shortly.

Finally, the nominations period for recognition awards has opened.  The nominations form can be found on the NTUU website, under the Events tab, select Recognition Awards.  If you scroll down, you can find a description of each award.  The nomination form can be completed online.

Your NTUUC Board President,

Anita Mills


Award Nominations






December, 2016



It’s all about training our leaders! Haven’t been able to take off the time for DBLE (Dwight Brown Leadership Experience)? You can still get the essential knowledge … The Southern Region is conducting a series of Extended Leadership Experience workshops, held on Saturdays. Each is centered around a topic that is included in the DBLE workshop. So far, we’ve had two so far that have been well-attended by leaders and gonna-be-leaders from several of our NTUUC congregations.

Future dates and locations are:

February 4th, 2017: Oak Cliff Unitarian Universalist Church

April 1st, 2017: The First Unitarian Church of Dallas

June 10th, 2017: In conjunction with the NTUUC Leadership Conference

Session topics:

(Feb. 4, 2017) – Session Three – “The Structure” - What structure supports our purpose and brings our core values to life? Governance, Polity, and Covenant The large picture of the Unitarian Universalist Association Building Clusters and Networks Sample Structures of Congregations Polarity Change in Congregations Growth and Size Dynamics Concrete Tools: Governance Models, Organizational Charts, Cluster Building Tools

(April 1, 2017) – Session Four - “The Service” - How are we of service to the world? Servant Leadership Cultural Competencies Stewardship and Generosity Partnerships Serving the Parish Concrete Tools: Cultural Competencies Model, Stewardship Plans, Leadership Plans

(June 10, 2017) - Session Five - “The Celebration” - Where do we go from here? Taking it all home Next steps for Congregations Is any clarification needed? Assessment of the Process Celebration: We did it!

The cost for each session is $35.00 in advance and $45.00 seven days before the session and at the door.

Go to our event page and scroll down to sign up.


Put February 15, 2017 on your calendar! We are going to Austin again to lobby our legislators and let them know we care about three primary issues: Reproductive Justice, Immigrant/Refugee Justice, and Inequality/Economic Justice.  We will have snacks and drinks on the bus(es); lunch on your own; and we’ll go down and back in one day. It’s a great experience and educational if you have not ever been down to meet with your state representatives. Please visit the event page for more details and to sign up.


Our annual Awards luncheon is on January 28, 2017 (that’s a Saturday) at UU Church of Oak Cliff. We start gathering about 11 am, sit down to lunch, and then recognize our extraordinary volunteers, staff and ministers. Our speaker will be the Rev. Nathan Ryan, Assistant Minister at the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, with his talk Come Hell or High Water. Here’s a link to reserve your seat.



Our Small Congregations Conference is hosted by Red River UU this year. To be held on Saturday, March 11, 2017, the conference provides a relaxed, informal atmosphere to meet with leaders of other small congregations to discuss issues unique to your experience. Look for more details in the next few weeks.







April 20th, 2015

Spring brings changes….the Southwest District just met in New Orleans, and attending congregations voted unanimously to dissolve the District (it’s being merged with other districts into the Southern Region of the UUA) and to direct the endowment fund of the SW District to UBarU.

That means that clusters become even more important to member congregations of the UUA.  Clusters can be formed because of geographic proximity or by affinity for causes.  Ours is a geographic cluster, formally organized as a corporation with the State of Texas.  At present, clusters cannot themselves become members of the UUA – only the member congregations can.  Maybe that will change at some point.  Currently, we remain autonomous.

Our covenant among our NTUUC member congregations stresses our connectivity and networking, as well as our inclusiveness and respect for each other.  Please go to the website and read the covenant (the link is in the upper right hand corner).  

We are trying an experiment – merging the Education Committee and the Social Action Committee for the rest of the year. We did this mainly because the workshops planned for the rest of the year involve both of their efforts.

“Breaking Down Walls; Building Bridges – Cultural Competence and Community Engagement” is the theme for our upcoming June 13 workshop for leaders (commonly called Standing on the Side of Leadership or SOTSOL).   We have Rev. Tamara Lebak from All Souls UU in Tulsa as our morning keynote speaker for the cultural competence part, and Ginny Goldman, Executive Director of the Texas Organizing Project leading us in community engagement.  The afternoon will include workshops to engage us.  Tamara will be heading a cultural competency team-building training session for up to two representatives from each congregation.  Other break-outs will emphasize community engagement through voter registration training, Texas Organizing Project, Dallas Area Interfaith, and Texas UU Social Justice Ministry.

We have been hearing from congregations that they want action plans for social justice – and we’re delivering!

Next on the plate, in October, will be a workshop on the UUA’s CSAI’s.  What’s that?!  Oh!  Those are the Congregational Study/Action Issues.  These are multi-year educational themes that result from votes at the General Assembly.  Specifically, at the GA 2014, the issue selected was to tackle escalating inequality. As the UUA states, “Challenging extreme inequality is a moral imperative. The escalation of inequality undergirds so many injustices which our faith movement is committed to addressing: from economic injustice to mass incarceration; from migrant injustice to climate change; from sexual and gender injustice to attacks on voting rights.” This study action will continue through 2018.  

The CSAI still in process through 2016 is Reproductive Justice: Expanding our Social Justice Calling.

Resource listings are provided by the UUA for congregational use in studying these issues as well as study guides.  These guides are a great resource for Adult RE, as well as action planning for your Social Action/Justice Committee.  Find out more about CSAI’s at

Finally, after months of preparation, your Board is working on a Strategic Plan for the next 5 years.  This has evolved out of the work we’ve been doing this year on mission and vision as well as governance policies.  Stay tuned!


November 17, 2014

It’s been way too long since I posted – and I’ve gotten more than a few hints about how long it’s been.

This is an exciting time, as we move into the end of the calendar year. First, we are receiving requests for grants from our member congregations. We offer grants of up to $10,000 for programs, projects or improvements to church property. You can find guidelines and grant applications on this website.

Grants are awarded at an Annual Awards Luncheon which is scheduled for January 31, 2015 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff (3839 W. Kiest, Dallas). We’re still in discussion about the key note speaker, but whoever is chosen I’m sure will be just as inspiring as the ones in past years.

The luncheon will also highlight folks who are receiving awards for the work they do on behalf of Unitarian Universalism. Be sure your nominations are in for: (1) The Robert Raible Award for ministers honors the twenty-two year m6nistry at First Unitarian by the beloved ‘Daddy Bob,’ (2) the Ruth Clark Award for staff recognizes the many years of dedicated service by the first paid DRE in the Southwest Conference, and (3) the Marty Robinson Award for volunteers commemorates the decades of wide-ranging contributions of this treasured volunteer and member. Nominations can be made by individuals or congregations. You can find out more and download a nomination form on this website (

Our Board has been working since July on firming up our governance structure. We have adopted what we believe is a more relevant Vision and Mission, and have nearly finished our Governance Policy Guidelines – these include End Statements, Executive Limitations, Board Governance and Board-Staff Relations. We have only to complete the End Statements and we can move on to a Strategic Plan.

The Strategic Plan was a standout goal for this year, as expressed by congregational representatives at our retreat in July. Not only will it guide us for the next few years as we think outside the box to promote and proclaim UU-ism in North Texas, but it will enable us to apply for grants for some of the objectives set out in our strategic plan.

I am truly thankful for the wonderful Board members and Executive Director. They have all worked hard on our governance. I am also thankful for the work of the committees and volunteers who donate their time and talent to make NTUUC work.

This time I’ll highlight our Education Committee, which has been planning priorities for offerings in 2015. The first out of the hopper will be our SELMA EVENT, scheduled for March 7 and 8. You may be aware that the UUA bigwigs will be in Selma at the same time, participating in a commemorative march to honor the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery March. The Education Committee has proposed our own commemorative event here in North Texas. In addition, the NAACP is planning a march from West Dallas to downtown Dallas, and has invited our group to participate in the programming!

June 13, 2015 will be the NTUUC Leadership Conference. It will include a boards training track with a theme and keynote speaker yet to be decided.

An education/youth event related to Gay Pride is set for September 19, 2015.

At General Assembly, the congregations of the UUA chose a Congregational Study/Action Issue for 2014-2018 (Escalating Inequality). That is in addition to the other CSAI’s also running their 4-year courses. A tentative date of October 17, 2015 has been penciled in for the educational workshop to highlight these CSAI’s and what they mean for us as UUs. This is a chance to connect more fully with our larger association, as well as learn about the multitude of study materials and resources available at the UUA website for FREE. Adult RE directors – are you reading this? Here’s your curriculum! These CSAI’s also serve as guides to our own social action activities.

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that our next Board meeting is scheduled for Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 10 AM, to be held at Pathways UU church. Pathways has just moved into their new quarters and are anxious to show it off (it’s lovely – I’ve been there!). As always, any member of any congregation is invited to come and observe the Board meeting. It’s a great way to see your North Texas UU cluster in action. We reserve 10 minutes at the beginning of each meeting for comments from observers about issues they believe should be addressed, or anything else on their mind.

June 22, 2014

The Executive Committee of the NTUUC Board met June 19 to discuss committees, their chairs and membership as well as to discuss the Board retreat and set the Board meeting schedule.

In a couple of weeks we'll be announcing chairs for committees - we are in the process of contacting candidates for Scholarships, Education and Events in particular. Any current NTUUC committee chairs who wish to have a co-chair or new chair, please let us know, so we can help out. In addition, we plan to staff up the Events Committee, to take a load off of the Education and Awards Committees in terms of event setup and arrangements. The Events Committee is an excellent role (6 or so times a year) for someone who likes to entertain.

If you would like to be considered for a committee or have someone in your congregation that you believe would be well suited for one, please let the Nominating Committee know. They are Ray Enstam, Emily Wood or David Pollard.

Our goal is to bring in fresh ideas to our committees, and recruit more congregational members to participate. With that in mind, we are working on a recruitment tool for congregational reps to use to publicize opportunities to their congregations. We want to have it available at the Board Retreat for the Board members’ review and feedback. The Board Meeting Schedule is as follows:

  • July 26-27, 2014 - Board Retreat and meeting at Briarwood Retreat Center
  • September 27, 2014 – Board meeting – location TBD*
  • December 6, 2014 - Board meeting - location TBD*
  • January 31, 2015 - Board meeting & Awards Luncheon, UU Church of Oak Cliff
  • April 11, 2015 - Board meeting - location TBD*

(* If your congregation would like to host one of these meetings, please let me or Daniel Polk know.)

The NTUUC Board now has a Chaplain! The Rev. Mark Walz will be joining us as Chaplain and liaison with the Ministers' Cluster! Thank you, Mark.

Finally, I want to emphasize that all NTUUC Board meetings are open – that means that members of our various congregations can attend and observe. The Executive Committee agreed that we will set aside time at the beginning of each meeting for any non-Board attendees to speak to the Board. We hope that this will increase transparency of the workings of NTUUC as well as enhance communication between the Board and member congregations.

Anita Mills
North Texas UU Congregations

Magic Happens When You Get Your Head Out Of A Box

I believe in magic. I believe that magic happens when you get your head out of a box. I believe we can make magic happen with the North Texas Unitarian Universalist Congregations (NTUUC).

I believe in magic. I see so much potential with our cluster of Unitarian Universalist congregations. While I was preparing a talk on clusters for the recent Southwest UU District conference, I discovered all manner of clusters around the country – clusters diverse in make-up, in focus and in degrees of activity. It caused me to re-think our own cluster and its potential.

Magic doesn’t just happen. It takes work, it takes belief in ourselves and it takes imagination.

First comes the work, the housekeeping. NTUUC is a corporation and, as such, has a charter, bylaws, officers and committees. As a professional corporate secretary for most of the last three decades, I found that there is some tweaking and fine tuning that needs to be done to our corporate structure. Our bylaws need to be examined for adjustments to bring them into consistency with how we are currently operating. Job descriptions have been generated for officers and committees. These need close examination to ensure that they accurately reflect what we expect of the various officers and committees. We have nine committees, with varying levels of expected activity. Perhaps the committee structure needs to be refined, and some functions merged. In the past two years, we have begun offering workshops in governance to our member congregations. However, our own governance structure needs to be examined to determine how to bring it more into line with the model we present in our workshops.

After this foundation is built, we can move to the next step, that of witnessing our belief in ourselves. We are a covenantal religion. Our congregations have covenants between their members. We have a covenant between our board members. But what about a covenant between NTUUC and its member congregations? Such a statement would move beyond expectations and assumptions and clearly set out what our member congregations can expect from the cluster organization (e.g., better communication of who NTUUC is and what it does) as well as what the cluster organization can expect from our members (e.g., better communication of what they want and need from NTUUC).

Then comes the imagination part. That’s the fun after all the work! Let’s look at who we are, whom we serve and how we serve them.

A number of months ago, I was tasked with getting a greenhouse built. I was on the phone with the farmer who was going to provide the structure of the greenhouse. We were discussing the layout and construction details, and I was pretty adamant about what I envisioned. He said, “Get your head out of a box!” “What?” “Get your head out of a box!” “Oh!” I opened my eyes, I opened my ears and I opened my mind to his vision.

In order to write that covenant, we will have to look at who we are and whom we serve. How we serve them is included in a strategic plan. To answer the last question, “whom do we serve,” we need to get our heads out of a box. NTUUC can serve its member congregations. We have been doing this with grants, scholarships and educational workshops. NTUUC can serve its congregations’ missions. Again, the cluster has been facilitating its member’s missions through grants, scholarships and awareness-building workshops. What if we move beyond and pull our members together to serve beyond our congregations?

As part of the annual census of congregations, the UUA began asking not only how many actual members a church served, but also how many “friends” the church served. The concept of congregation is being expanded to include not only those who attend or sign the membership book, but those who benefit from the church. That means a congregation is not defined by geography or formal membership only, but by impact. Think of A Third Place in Turley, Oklahoma. Their membership roll is small, yet they serve and impact so many more; they serve a community beyond the walls of their church.

The North Texas Unitarian Universalist Congregations have incredible resources in terms of time, talent and treasure within and among its member congregations. How can our cluster marshal these resources in new ways to impact the larger community and heal the world? We can make magic happen if we just take our heads out of the box.