The UUPCC connects Unitarian Universalist congregations and individuals in North America with congregations around the world. The UUPCC is committed to supporting and fostering:
Personal Transformation by giving individuals the opportunity to learn and reflect on unique international experiences that result from face-to-face contact and discussion with the people of a country about global and social justice issues.
Congregational Partnerships that join two communities in a long-term, mutually-caring relationship where each community learns from the other.
Community Capacity Building that equips Unitarian Universalist partner congregations with tools, ideas, and training that allows them to become the architects and managers of community development within their broader communities.
The sixth principle of the Unitarian Universalist Association is the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. The UUPCC is committed to this principle and believes our liberal faith requires that global participation should be a core moral and spiritual principle of UU congregational life. The transformational shared experiences that result from long term international partnerships will increase our awareness of the interdependency of all people and our common struggles for human rights, social justice, and happiness.
We believe that the first step to building a world community can be through global partnerships. By forming positive connections with fellow Unitarian Universalist congregations around the world, we will:
BE the bridge that connects our congregations with the world.
REACH across all boundaries to collaborate with old and new partners.
CREATE transformational opportunities for pilgrimage and hospitality, for learning and for service.
CHALLENGE ourselves theologically and open ourselves to changed values and behaviors.
INITIATE partnerships that promote global friendships, international awareness, human rights and a better world.
SUSTAIN this global vision, enlarging and renewing it as “new occasions teach new duties.”
There are many partner churches in Transylvania – the birthplace of our Unitarian Universalist church – as well as in Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Philippines, India, Hong Kong, Burundi and Uganda..
There are Unitarian Universalist congregations all around the world. Many of these congregations are in need of partners, particularly newly emerging congregations. The UUPCC keeps a list of congregation who are actively seeking partners. Currently, congregations in Transylvania, India, the Philippines, and Uganda are in need of North American partners. Contact the UUPCC at firstname.lastname@example.org for the most current list..
We live in the post-9/11 world -- a world where fear, isolationism, and stereotypes are fast becoming the norm for international thought and policy. Never before has the need for international understanding and engagement been greater. Unitarian Universalist partner congregations provide a ready portal for North Americans to see and experience the world in a new way.
The newspaper may keep us well informed about world events and travel may show us the monuments that form historical context, but opportunities to build personal relationships with people abroad are more difficult to find. Membership in the UUPCC offers a unique opportunity for you to connect personally and directly with an international community in a mutually beneficial relationship that can last for many years. These partnerships help us see our common bonds, rather than our differences. Through the eyes of our partners we gain a different world view -- of a new region and country, people with a different history and traditions and the types problems and opportunities that the future may bring them.
Forming an international partnership through UUPCC will enrich your congregation’s life through new friendships, cultural exchanges, international understanding, and spiritual growth..
Because each North American congregation possesses a unique set of skills and interests, the UUPCC supports a variety of partnership models. Each church generally has a committee that works with its partner to organize activities, communication, and events. Here are some of the most common things our partnerships are doing:
Others have become more active in community development work and have helped provide financial support for village improvement projects such as clean drinking water or a new health clinic. Some of these projects have been exclusively funded by the North American partner. But, it is more common now that the partners jointly-fund these community improvement projects, with the North American church matching locally raised funds..
There are many different models for partnership, but some key factors characterize the most successful ones.
Of course, establishing a partner takes time and sometimes there are stumbling blocks, but these can be avoided by proper planning.
For more detail see the UUPCC Fairness and Awareness guidelines: http://www.uupcc.org/econfairness.html.
The first step is to contact the staff at the UUPCC. We will be excited to learn about your congregation and provide some ideas about potential partners for you. Once you decide to go forward, you will need to go through a short planning process and then develop a formal covenant with your new partner. This will help your new partnership get off to a great start..
The UUPCC is a membership organization, with a Board of Directors elected by the membership and an Executive Director appointed by the Board. It is affiliated with, but separate from, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). The annual meeting of the UUPCC membership is held in conjunction with UUA General Assembly (GA)..
The UUPCC receives about 40% of its annual budget from membership dues and contributions. There are three types of memberships:
The remaining funds come from a small fee charged for organizing overseas trips; sales of promotional/educational materials such as pins, posters, videos; and an annual contribution from the UUA..
This is really a matter of choice for the US congregation to decide. We can talk with you and give you some ideas, but you really have to think about this on the basis of your congregation. Do you have members of your congregation who have a heritage from one of the places where we have partners? Does one country appeal more to you than another?
If not, we can help you think about other conditions that might make a difference in a long term sustainable relationship such as ease of travel to the partner, make up of the congregation (young families, lots of kids), urban or suburban settings, size of the congregation. Our outreach coordinator can talk through these ideas with you to help you choose on that will be right for you. Contact email@example.com..
Our website contains information about all the congregations looking for partners who have filed an application with UUPCC for partnership. You are invited to read the profiles and let us know which village or town or city interests you the most. We cannot guarantee that the one you choose will be available when your congregation ultimately votes to partner (the process can take 3 months to a year or more depending on the church organization) but we will do our best to reserve a congregation if you identify one you really think is a good fit..
Notify us of your interest. Set up a steering committee to review the support materials you will receive from UUPCC and educate your congregation about the benefits and responsibilities of partnership. Review churches looking for partners and fill out your own application for partnership. Join the UUPCC as an institutional member. Let us know when your congregation has finally voted (or you have Board approval depending on the governance of your church.) We will put the two partners in touch and you are off and running..
The UUPCC is a grassroots organization -- we do not have a large paid staff. We rely on volunteers in established partnerships. One will be assigned to your partnership and they will be your primary support..
Frequent communication is at the heart of a solid partnership and our advice is to spend time at the beginning of the relationship to establish effective systems. Sometimes email works best, sometimes phone calls (there are many inexpensive services these days), sometimes Skype calls work well and occasionally snail mail or "delivered messages" work best. You will have to experiment to learn how you can best keep your relationship alive, then commit to a regular practice of staying in touch however works best for you and your partner.
If your difficulty is translation, ask around for someone in your community who speaks the language and is willing to translate. One community we know actually put an ad in the local newspaper and ended us with several new members of their church as a result. Or your partner might be able to find a translator easier than you can. Ask.
If the difficulty is the mechanics of communication, take heart. This is getting easier and easier to solve with access to text messaging, Skype and email. It is worth the effort to solve this and we can help with specific advice for your problem. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-275-1710..
Institutional support for UUPCC is $150 per year, $50 for churches with less than 150 members. Any additional costs are up to the individual churches to determine. UUPCC does recommend that you help establish communication links and this often means support for Internet connections or cell phone support. We also know the importance of face-to-face contact and that requires travel. Sometimes members of your church might have frequent flyer miles they can donate. We often hear that visits to partners is a life-changing experience. Please give this serious consideration.
UUPCC highly recommends that building the relationship come before “gifts” of money are sent however. Gift-giving can get the partnership off in a paternalistic and unequal direction. Our handbook has a list of recommendations on economic fairness and awareness and can be found on this website at http://www.uupcc.org/handbook.html.
Every successful partnership has local steering committee of anywhere from 2 to 20 people that shepherds the relationship, plans trips, keeps the congregation informed and plans local events. Sometimes these committees are part of an overarching committee, like a social action committee. Some times they are stand-alone committees. Occasionally they are part of a denominational outreach or some other committee of your church. However you choose to fit your partnership into your church life, what is most important is that this relationships work best for your congregation..
The UUPCC offers this as a service to our member congregations. For specific details see our website at http://www.uupcc.org/transfer.html.
Give the office a call. We can help you identify resources in your area. If none can be found we can recommend people who can travel to your congregation if you agree to cover their expenses..
The Greater Washington DC Area has a wonderful regional partner church gathering that meets quarterly. They rotate the responsibility of hosting among the groups that attend. The Mass Bay District has one that meets twice a year. There is also a regional group in the Northwest and one forming in the Upper Midwest. We would love to help you start a regional support group in your area. Please contact the office if you are interested in establishing a regional gathering..
Yes. Our PATHS program offers opportunities for international relations with Unitarians and Universalists through school sponsorships at all grade levels, community organizing and planning and support for building UU churches through a building fund Read about these programs http://www.uupcc.org/pathsoverview.html.
There are many resources about U*Us available. Please see our resources for curriculum materials for both adults and youth: http://www.uupcc.org/re.html. The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists also have wonderful materials from around the world: http://www.icuu.net and finally, the UUA Office of International Resources has curriculum materials for congregations interested in becoming involved internationally: http://www.uua.org/leaders/international/ and http://www.uua.org/leaders/leaderslibrary/withoutborders/index.shtml.
As soon as you have gathered a small steering committee and are serious about partnering, fill out the application. You need not wait till the congregation votes to become a partner..
Like all relationships partnerships might not last forever. Partnerships have been terminated for various reasons. The length of the relationship is based on the two churches involved and should be discussed with your partner. If you are having trouble with communications or other issues, UUPCC can help. Please contact the office by email at email@example.com or call 781-275-1710..
Yes, if all the churches agree to it and can work out the details. This can sometimes lead to everyone thinking the “other” is taking care of things, so it does add a level of complexity. We do have successful shared partnerships, so it is possible..
UUPCC recommends that this be answered by the partners together in some of the earliest conversations. Be realistic about your interests and commitments. Work on relationship first and find your common interests. Are both congregations engaged in social action work? Are environmental issues important to both of you? Do you have Women’s associations that might engage together? Be clear about your expectations and interests and ask them to be clear as well. Talk to as many people in their congregation as possible..
Language differences can lead to some really funny stories. Relax and enjoy the challenge. Overseas communities are better at this than we are. They generally have access to at least a few people in each community who speak English. This is an opportunity to find others in your wider community who can help. Ask around in your church or community. Is there an ethnic group that speaks the language of your partner? They will probably be glad to translate letters. Phone conversations where you need a translator on each end are very difficult.
When you travel, hire a local translator (pay them and their expenses). It is helpful to have your own and not just rely on someone local. We can help you with finding one and with what to pay. Write to our travel coordinator John Dale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above all, keep in mind that you are speaking different languages with all their nuances. Keep your sentences short. Don’t use complicated sentence structure or colloquial phrases.
Even for those who speak English fairly well might have trouble writing and definitely will have trouble spelling. So be understanding in your communications..
Face-to-face contact is an important goal for a relationship to develop. Travel is expensive and it is quite likely only affordable for the U.S. or Canadian congregation. But even one contact can go a long way to bring the partnership to life. So consider taking up a collection and paying for your minister or another “ambassador” from your congregation to travel. Or consider bringing the minister or an “ambassador” from overseas here. Perhaps someone has frequent flyer miles they are willing to donate. The UUPCC also has travel grants that can help with some of the expenses for first time visits from or to your partner. For more information, contact http://www.uupcc.org/tripservices.html.
The reality is that you will never get the whole congregation “involved” unless you have a variety of projects and programs. You can keep everyone informed through “News of our Partner” articles in your newsletter, sharings during your worship service (weddings, babies, deaths, holidays) and by having the UUPCC newsletter posted in a convenient location. See other suggestions at http://www.uupcc.org/commitment.html.
UUPCC has a travel coordinator and can help you plan a trip. We can provide information and contacts you need. We offer at least one trip per year to India, the Philippines, Uganda and several to Transylvania. If you have five or more people in your church that would like to travel together, we can help make arrangements for your trip. Write to our travel coordinator John Dale at email@example.com..
No, your church does not have to be in partnership to sponsor a student. The program is designed for individuals and/or small groups as well as congregations. It is a great way to get to know someone else in one of the places where we have working relationships with Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists. Learn more at http://www.uupcc.org/studentsponsors.html.
UUPCC is in the process of establishing a 9 church collective partnership with a UU elementary school in Uganda. If your church might be interested in this possibility, please call the office at 781-275-1710.