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The Congregational Handbook

How to Develop a Healthy and Vital Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Welcome to the online edition of The Congregational Handbook: How to Develop a Healthy and Vital Unitarian Universalist Congregation. This resource is intended as a web-based reference and guide for member congregations in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Since 1977, the various editions of The Congregational Handbook have provided practical advice and inspiration to both lay and professional leaders. This edition builds on earlier editions, sharing current wisdom, best practices, and learning from congregational life.

The online edition is new and improved in a number of ways. It is a web-based resource that includes links to numerous documents, web pages for UUA staff and contacts, and important non-UUA resources. In 1995, an HTML version of the third printed edition of The Congregational Handbook was published on the Web. Therefore, updating the information contained in the third edition as contemporary concepts of congregational life evolved would have required both rewriting the book and restructuring the web pages. In addition, the number of available congregational life resources has greatly increased since the third edition, and the costs of their compilation in a multiple-volume hard-copy congregational handbook would be prohibitive. Thus, this current edition was conceived as a web-based source that can be updated and expanded easily as new resources are discovered. Although this handbook is web-based, parts of it can be printed out. If you do not have regular access to the Internet or to a printer, please contact Congregational Services for a printed version of many of the resources.

The UUA is actively engaged in creating a more antiracist, anti-oppressive, and multicultural association. Accordingly, this edition was created with the aid of an antiracism/anti-oppression lens and includes stories and examples from congregations committed to, and engaged in, this transformation. We always welcome more stories, of course. If you have a story to share, please feel free to contact us in Congregational Services.

Many of The Congregational Handbook's resources focus on using a process—rather than a recipe with a predetermined outcome—to deal with congregational complexities. Congregations can use these processes to make a decision, discern their next steps in development, or embark on a culture transition. The Handbook is intended to be user-friendly and tailored to your congregational size; it offers examples of processes for congregations that are just starting up, for small congregations (with fewer than 150 members), for mid-size congregations (with 151 to 550 members), and for large congregations (with more than 550 members). It also includes options that congregations can adapt to their unique situations. Reflecting the organic nature of life and leadership in our congregations, this edition of The Handbook will be an evolving and living document. We invite you to keep checking back for ongoing updates.

Margaret L. Beard and Susanna Whitman, Editors

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Copyright © 2005 by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108-2800. All rights reserved. Publication or sale of all or part of this work or the production of multiple copies for use outside of the Unitarian Universalist denomination requires written permission. Contact the Publications Office to request permission. For all other inquiries related to content or obtaining hard copies of related PDF files please contact the Growth Services Program Manager.

For more information contact growthresources @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, May 6, 2011.

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