Unitarian Universalist Association

Boston, Ma

GatheredHereLogoRGB3In early 2009, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) – like many liberal religions – was challenged. Church membership was dwindling and finances were strained. Congregations and fellowships were operating independently, rather than resourcing and supporting one another. National administrative staff – providing programs and services to stimulate growth and enhance spiritual vitality – felt disconnected from “the people in the pews.” Wishing to set strategic direction for the UUA in a manner that would increase the vitality of local communities, and to strengthen relationships between the denomination’s Board of Trustees and Staff. Based on prior experience with Appreciative Inquiry, they recognized its congruence with the strong values and moral teachings embedded in the faith. So in November 2010, the UUA’s Board and Staff collaboratively implemented a two-year Appreciative Inquiry process involving more than 1,000 congregations and hundreds of “un-churched” Unitarian Universalists.

This Gathered Here initiative was implemented using a set of simple, straightforward, downloadable materials, promoted through a broad-based network of champions. One-on-one interviews took place in person and via phone and video calls. An online “matching” site enabled people to find interview partners. Community Conversations and interviews were convened in intact congregations as well as at district gatherings, camps and conferences. In addition, because of the project’s stated goal of actively involving people whose voices were not often heard, a small group of facilitators created and implemented a virtual Community Conversation process. Program materials, along with the final report, are posted on the Gathered Here website, which remained live once the work was complete.

As cited in the article “Voices, Values and Vision: Claiming the Best of a National Faith Tradition” (Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner, November 2014), the initiative had a profound effect on participants – and on the faith as a whole. It:

  • Strengthened participants’ common sense of purpose
  • Built synergies between governors and UUA departments and functions, as well as with UUA congregations
  • Helped shape the everyday work of the staff
  • Influenced and informed institutional changes, for participating congregations and interest groups
  • Actively engaged and gave voice to historically marginalized groups within the Association (youth, people of color, people with disabilities, etc.), as well as to people philosophically and spiritually aligned with the faith, who do not participate in a UU congregation or community. In so doing, Gathered Here planted seeds for an ongoing initiative called “Congregations and Beyond,” which continues influence how Unitarian Universalism will adapt to the changing nature of American culture.

 


Case Studies

Community Development

Boulder County Aging Services
MA Alliance of Juvenile Court Clinics
Maricopa Association of Governments
University of Nebraska Rural Initiative

 

Education

Boston College

Brookline Public Schools

Idaho State Board of Education

MA School of Professional Psychology
Morgan Community College
Needham Public Schools
Santa Maria High School
The Bishop’s School

The Kabele School

The League School


Government

Canadian School of Public Service
City and County of Denver, CO
City of Boulder, CO

City of Buckeye, AZ

City of Longmont, CO
City of Regina, Canada
CO Dept. of Health & Environment
Ft. Collins Downtown Dev. Assn.
Pierce Cty. WA Chambers Creek Prop.
United States Geological Survey

Health Care

Alice Peck Day (APD) Health System
Colorado Foundation for Medical Care
Lovelace Health Systems
University of Kentucky Hospital
University of KY Children’s Hospital
University of MA Medical Center
University of MS Health Center

University of Virginia Health System

Human Services

Calgary Health Region

Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Svcs.
Community Healthlink
Nevada Dept. of Human Services
The Brookline Center


Manufacturing & Distributing

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Hunter Douglas Window Fashions Division
McMaster-Carr

NGO / Nonprofit

Adoption Exchange Association
American Diabetes Association

Community Development Institute
Population Services International
Rocky Mountain Adoption Exchange

Pharmaceuticals

Glaxo SmithKline
Johnson & Johnson

Merck, SA

Upjohn

Religion & Interfaith

Cameron Church Faith Trek

First Plymouth Congregational Church
Sisters of Good Shepherd
Sisters of Mary, Korea
Unitarian-Universalist Association
United Religions Initiative (URI)

Unity

Service

Ameriquest Data Services (ADS)

British Airways, N.A.
First Caribbean International Bank

JUUT Salonspa
Potawatami Casino, WI
Santa Ana Star Casino, NM

Technology & Telecommunication

Hewlett-Packard

IHS

Red Prairie (formerly StorePerform)

Verizon (formerly GTE)

Wow! Internet•Cable•Phone

Utilities

Bruce Power, Canada
PECO
Utility Finance Division

Additional Services

Who We Are

Corporation for Positive Change Consulting P

artners are master consultants linked by a common bond to bring the principles and practices of Appreciative Inquiry to life in all that they do.

What We Do

We work with whole organizations and communities, departments, functions, and teams as well as with individual leaders at all levels. We design and facilitate interactive, strength-based meetings, public participation processes, and team ‘advances.

How We Work

We work with leaders and teams, at all levels, who seek positive change in their organizations and communities. We partner with them to achieve relevant results by tailoring our practices and processes to their unique culture, challenges and business environment.