I have been behind in my reading of the UU World, so what better time to catch up then here in Chiapas on vacation! I appreciated the brief and general piece on clusters of UU congregations. I hope this is an emerging growth area in UU organizing, and would like to see UU Campus Ministries be linked to cluster networks of UU congregations. This is a way to involve multiple congregations in multiple colleges and provide an institutional support system for finances and long term support. In Portland OR the Metropolitan Campus Ministry Committee that serves Reed, Lewis & Clark and Portland State University has been in an informal relationship with the Greater Portland-Vancouver WA council of UU congregations. While there has not been a formal relationship, this is an area I would like to develop some more strategy and resources for.
The benefits of linking with a cluster of UU congregations is UUCM can draw on:
- members of different congregations as speakers and special guests
- pool funds for a metropolitan or region wide event, conference (including applying to the Billings Fund for UU Campus Speakers)
- maintain a database of students from multiple campuses and be a clearinghouse for incoming students
- raise the awareness and involvement of campus ministry in all congregations, not just the ones large or committed enough (because size does not matter) to facilitate UU Campus Ministry
In Portland, the Metropolitan Campus Ministry Committee meets quarterly, bringing together the student and adult lay leaders for a one or two hour meeting to check in on the status of the UU campus groups and plan joint activities. There is an important pastoral care and organizational support that happens at this level which I believe will ultimately improve the quality of ministry we provide on campus.