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Sample Cluster projects for H-UULTI Communities of Practice

Here is a chance to play to your strengths, to use your creativity, to create some synergy and perhaps even help your congregations to be more visible in your community! Your project can be simple or complicated, big or small. 

Here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing! We will add your ideas and projects and share your stories!

  • Plan a multi-congregation choir concert (each choir offers 2 or 3 songs) with dessert and fellowship afterward
  • Do a demographic study (using Percept) and plant another congregation where there is a need
  • Find ways to share “back office” staff (such as book-keepers, administrators) or maybe even program staff (ministers, chaplains, religious educators, membership professionals)!
  • Offer Middle School, High School or Adult OWL (Our Whole Lives) for the whole cluster
  • Sponsor ads in the local media or on NPR
  • Show up as a group for local social justice events (Pride parades, climate marches, etc.)
  • Volunteer as a group at a local social service agency
  • Do cluster-wide trainings for pastoral care
  • Plan a “secret seeker” project where members visit one another’s congregations on a Sunday morning as a way to provide “fresh eyes” and helpful feedback about the Sunday morning experience – and perhaps get a few new good ideas!
  • Create a cluster “lay preacher” club, using the book The Shared Pulpit. Offer practice sermons and give each other constructive feedback. Guest-preach at each other’s churches

Why do we need to do a cluster project?

For Unitarian Universalists, our emphasis on cluster relationships is firmly rooted in the Cambridge Platform of 1648, the foundational document of our congregational polity. The Platform’s vision of congregationalism not only focused on Congregational independence, autonomy and the rights of the local churches. It also outlined in great detail the Covenant of mutual support that all of the New England Standing Order churches believed they owed one another.  It named six major duties that each church owed to the others as part of this covenant.

  1. mutual care: consciousness of interdependence, to always consider the common good of all congregations together when making decisions.
  2. consultation: shared learning, to ask for counsel and advice when needed and give counsel and advice when asked. 
  3. admonition: when a church is seen to go down a wrong path –  “which they do not discern or are slow in removing or healing” other churches have to bring it to the offending group’s attention.
  4. participation: members of one church visiting another are always welcomed and ministerial services are loaned by one church to another as needed.
  5. recommendation: when a member in good standing of one church moves to the region of another church he or she is admitted to membership in that other church.
  6. relief and succor: to provide financial support for other congregations.

When a congregation became part of the 17th century New England group, it was expected to make a covenant with the other congregations to support one another and work for the good of all. The Platform defined Congregationalism as not JUST the autonomy of the local church but as a Covenanted Community of autonomous churches.  That’s why today, our official name is the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.