What's a ballot initiative?
Ballot initiatives are a form of direct democracy. They are vehicles through which a petition signed by registered voters can force a public vote on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance. They are the way that citizens can most directly influence politics at the state and local level.
Sometimes, ballot initiatives are not beneficial to a state. They are often deceptively named, which confuses voters as to what position the legislation takes. While most people can now recognize that “defense of marriage” initiatives are anti-LGBT, some proposed initiatives such as proposed “voter identification” rules continue to baffle voters.
While there are many important ballot initiative campaigns taking place this year, we have highlighted a few to watch during the next several months. These particular issues are bound to be raised in the national election as well, so take a look! Your state may have similar initiatives on the ballot; find out what they are and when the voting takes place, and get out to the polls!
Guidelines for Working on Ballot Initiatives
Nonprofit organizations CAN legally engage in work on ballot initiatives. According to the Alliance for Justice, generally a nonprofit can:
- Publicly endorse or oppose ballot measures;
- Propose ballot measures;
- Draft language for ballot measures;
- Organize volunteers to gather signatures on petitions;
- Send staff to gather signatures or conduct other ballot measure campaign work;
- Contribute money to ballot measure campaigns;
- Host ballot measure campaign events in their facilities; and
Download guidelines on how you can legally engage in this work!
Here are some nonpartisan web sites where you can track ballot initiatives that are moving in your state:
- Ballotpedia - This site is citizen-powered. It aims to be an abundant and growing source of information on citizen initiatives, ballot access, petition drives, initiatives and referendums for political change, recall elections, school district bond issues and associated subjects.
National Conference of State Legislatures - NCSL keeps a frequently updated data base that lists ballot initiatives
Low-wage workers across the country are courageously
Hard Work, Hard Lives by Oxfam America describes the difficult reality faced by millions of workers in the U.S.
A Day's Strike Seeks to Raise Fast-Food Pay by Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, July 31, 2013. Fast-food employees across the country engage in brief strikes in an effort to boost their pay.
Fighting Back Against Wretched Wages by Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, July 27, 2013. Workers are organizing for better pay and working conditions; employers push back.
Alt Labor by Josh Eidelson, The American Prospect, January 29, 2013.
The earth is the LORD'S and all that is in it -- Ps 24:1a
You shall love your neighbor as yourself -- Matthew 22:39b
A job should lift everyone out of poverty, not keep them there. But in the U.S. today, fully one-quarter of all jobs pay poverty-level wages. All workers are made in God's image and deserve living wages. Poverty jobs can be changed into life-enhancing jobs if we work to make this happen.
Jesus was a Low-Wage Worker is a resource describing low-wage work, the workers in these jobs, and how we can make low-wage jobs into living-wage ones. Buttons with this statement (in English or Spanish) are also available, see below.
In addition to low pay, these jobs often have other disadvantages:
• few benefits such as health insurance, a pension or retirement plan, or paid sick leave;
• inconvenient hours such as nights, weekends, rotating shifts, or part-time hours;
• these jobs are seldom ladders to better opportunities, they typically have few avenues for advancement;
• the work may be exceptionally dirty or hazardous.
Women and people of color are more likely to hold these jobs than white males.
There are many types of low-wage jobs. They can be found in any industry or occupation. Some of the more common ones are listed just below. Of course, there can also be high paying jobs in these industries and occupations also.
health care: nursing homes, cleaning hospitals
hospitality: cleaning hotel rooms
restaurants and fast food
child care including early childhood education
meatpacking and poultry processing
Many of these industries are growing rapidly which means the number of low-wage jobs will grow in the future.
Note that much of this work cannot be moved overseas. The jobs performed by these workers -- cleaning, caring for children and elders, selling items to customers -- need to be done in our local communities. If people of faith stand with low-wage workers who are seeking to improve their wages and working conditions, then poverty-wage jobs can be changed into living-wage jobs. Learn more.
Request these buttons, in English or Spanish,
Educate your Congregation: Perform the one-act drama, Secrets of the Big Box: Workers Tell All! and reveal what life is like behind the racks and checkout lines of a big-box store. Learn what workers are experiencing and really thinking. Ideal for youth, young adults,or any group to perform for the entire congregation. Fun and educational.
Welcome to the Stillspeaking 2.0 toolkit! It has been created especially for local church communicators in the United Church of Christ. Here you will find:
- Directions and suggestions for social media
- Graphics for social media, print, and other uses
- Help with creating or upgrading your church website
- Brand guidelines for use of the UCC logo, emblem, motto, and "God is still speaking," and graphics
- 13 Inexpensive (or free) ways to increase community awareness of your church
No matter your budget or level of church communication skills, you’ll find help here.
Let’s get started . . .
The world and its faith organizations are becoming much more digital. The future belongs to those who can navigate the social media space.
Here you will find directions, suggestions, and resources for managing social media as actual images that you can post in your Facebook news feed.
Successful social media can do many things. It can communicate news very efficiently and inexpensively. It can strengthen your community and build loyalty. It can evolve your "brand." And it can reach others beyond your immediate circle of friends and followers.
This part of the toolkit will help you improve your efforts in this growing and important new part of ministry.
- The first thing you should do is have a Facebook page for your congregation. This is free and only takes about 20 minutes to set up. A Facebook page is different from a website, but the two should complement each other.
- If you don’t have any idea what Facebook is or how to do it, you could ask a 15 year-old in your congregation to help you, or you could follow the simple instructions https://www.facebook.com/pages/create on Facebook. They make it easy. Don’t be intimidated.
- Once your page is set up, you will want people to "like" or "follow" your page. Here are some ways to do that: You might ask people at worship on Sunday to "follow us on Facebook." Or put it in the weekly bulletin. Try to get 100 people to like your page.
- Now that you have some followers, you can start posting some of the UCC graphics (see below) included in this toolkit. A couple of things to keep in mind: you will want to decide how often you post. Every day? Every week? Social media can be time-consuming, but generally, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. We would suggest 3-4 posts per week.
- Note: You will want to post more than just the images in this toolkit. Think of social media as a dialogue between you and your congregants. You may just write things like, "Happy Mother’s Day," "Looking for new voices in the choir," "Don’t forget the Youth Car Wash this Sunday," or, "This week our offering will be for the local food bank." But Facebook is more than a bulletin board, so don’t limit your posts to just announcements and information. Ask questions. Involve people. Get your followers to answer, engage and participate.
- Notice what happens when you post a certain image. Do people like it or share it? (This is good!) Do people comment on them? Does church attendance vary? Results will vary. Not everyone will like every post. The more diverse your congregation, the more varying opinions may be expressed. Do not be surprised. Discussion is good.
- As you feel more comfortable in social media, you can expand your objectives. You can use Facebook to drive people to your website, to sign up for events, to raise money, to attract visitors, and to grow your congregation.
- Once you’re comfortable on Facebook, you may want to expand to other social media sites, like Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr.
Stillspeaking 2.0 Graphics
Here is your gallery of 36 graphics (others call them images, postcards, or "memes") that you can use to communicate UCC identity, UCC messaging on justice issues, faith expressions, and more.
Each graphic is provided in both JPEG and EPS formats, allowing them to be used for social media, on church websites, and in print. This means you can use them on your Facebook page, if you have one, as well as in print materials: bulletins, brochures, posters, mailers, etc. With the version labeled "EPS," you can size them to make banners and print on t-shirts or coffee mugs or whatever you imagination comes up with.
You can also add your church name to selected graphics to help promote your congregation locally. Click here.
Simple visuals and short messages like these tend to get the best engagement. You may select whichever ones you want to use.
Because UCC congregations – and their needs – are so diverse, we have provided a wide range of options. Some are progressive and provocative ideas; others are core Christian messages. Some are serious in tone; others are more light-hearted. Some are philosophical ideas intended to build the UCC brand; others are reminders to get people in the pews this Sunday.
Please feel free to use the ones that speak to your congregation. You choose the message, tonality and look that work best for you. And, if none of them work, feel free to create your own! As with all communications, the key is knowing your audience.
Note: These graphics may be downloaded as a free graphics package from UCC Resources here.
To customize the above graphics:
Open in Adobe Acrobat, Change ‘Your Local Church Name Here’ to the name of your church
Click File > Export To > Image > PNG
Now that you have exported the PDF to PNG format you can share on your local church Facebook page.
New Years Graphics
Social Media Help
Stay on top of the latest in social media for ministry by subscribing to "Get Social"—our weekly email from Marchae Grair, United Church of Christ social media associate, as she discusses the latest social media tips and tricks for faith leaders and local churches.
Click here to subscribe to "Get Social" and keep up with the latest in the social media world!
See what you missed in the Get Social archive.
Looking to establish social media policies for your church or brush up on social media tips? Check out these resources:
Creating and Maintaining a Local Church Website
The easiest way to create and maintain your website is through an online CMS. A content management system (CMS) is a computer application that supports the creation and modification of your website through a website browser (Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, Safari, etc.).
These content management systems can be maintained by users with little or no web experience and require no special software - only a web browser connected to the internet.
Ministry Designs - Official UCC Web Partner
Ministry Designs is our official UCC web partner. Their CMS is a very easy to use drag and drop church website builder which includes unique, ready-to-go templates for local churches, customized for the UCC. They also provide churches with the knowledge and tools to design, update, and maintain their sites on the go.
Features included in Ministry Designs website builder package:
- Drag and Drop Website Editor (quick preview video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rJU4AM1tfI)
- Unlimited Pages
- Unlimited Storage
- Unlimited @domain E-mails and Webmail Application
- Unlimited Customer Support
- Online Giving and Online Registration
- Seamless integrations with YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Google, etc.
- Google Analytics Integration - Website Statistical Reporting and Analytics
- Image Galleries and Editor
- Mobile Ready for all Electronic Devices / Responsive – (Laptops, Notebook, Mobile Phones)
- Search Engine Optimization
- On Page Search Engine Optimization Tools
- Photo Gallery, Images, and Slideshows
- Calendar Options - Unlimited Integrations
- Mapping/Location Capabilities such as Google Maps
Cost: $500 startup fee / $35 per month going forward
To get started, visit http://ucc.ministrywebsitedesigns.com/
Other providers who offer UCC churches a discount or work with UCC churches:
Aboundant Church Websites - http://aboundant.com/ucc (30% discount off their first year of Aboundant Premium, a $140 savings)
Connected Word - http://www.connectedword.com (Designers of over 40 UCC churches)
Brick River - http://churches.brickriver.com (5 UCC conferences as customers)
Your church website should contain the following:
- Your meeting time (start and finish).
- Your location (directions and a map are important).
- Your ministries (visitors will want to know about your children’s programs).
- What to expect in terms of music, offering, communion, dress, etc.
- Statement of beliefs.
- Some of the things you do to serve the community.
- Phone and e-mail contact information if visitors have questions.
- Links to your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc).
UCC logo graphics for your website
The UCC logo, emblem (oval cross and orb), "God is stillspeaking," and comma.
Download graphics here
Information on how to use the UCC’s logo, emblem, and other brand components can be found here.
You will also find multiple variations of the logo and other components to download for use in social media, print, and the web.
Go to the UCC’s YouTube page
You’ll find a selection of videos that show who we are as a denomination, including "God is still speaking" videos, faith testimonies of diverse UCC members, and more.
The videos are organized into playlists to help you find what you need. Videos are a great resource to add interest and life to your church website and social media. They can be used in worship, in small groups, at coffee hour, for Bible study and other education, to inspire at Board or Consistory meetings, and more.
Discussions and Bible Studies
Do you need an engaging way to liven up Bible study, highlight a social justice issue, or promote your church?
What if you could do all of the above in 30 seconds or less?
Check out the "Thirty Seconds or Less" video project, where a diverse group narrates 30-second clips you can use during Bible study, worship, or on your church’s website or social media.
10 Videos to Get Your Church Started:
Here are 10 videos to get you started. Click on the link for each respective video, and you will be have access to:
- A 30-second YouTube video.
- A transcript for the video.
- Two discussion questions for the video.
"Do Not Press Me to Leave You"
"Every Step of the Way"
"Good News for the In-Betweeners"
"Some of It Even Happened"
"The Will of God"
"This is Wrong"
"This is Where You Go"
"What is Right"
If you want to embed the videos on you church website, use follow these steps:
- Choose one of the videos at by clicking on a video title on the homepage of http://thirtysecondsorless.net/30secondbible/
- Click once on the video to reveal the YouTube symbol in the bottom right corner of the video.
- Click the YouTube logo, which will take you to the video on YouTube.com.
- Look under the video title and username, and click "share."
- Click "Embed."
- Copy the link provided and post it in the coding of your church website. (Whoever manages your website will be able to do this for you.) Most Wordpress themes allow you to do this without knowing web coding.
If you want to share the video on your church’s social media, follow these steps:
- Choose one of the videos at by clicking on a video title on the homepage of http://thirtysecondsorless.net/30secondbible/
- After the individual page loads, click the curved arrow in the top right corner of the YouTube video.
- A screen will generate a link to copy and icons to share to Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
- You can either copy the link and post it to the social media site of your choice OR click one of the social media icons to share the post directly to that platform. (For example, if you click the Facebook icon, you will be able to log in to Facebook and post directly to your personal page or your church’s page.)
For the complete list of Bible study videos, visit http://thirtysecondsorless.net/30secondbible/.
For the "Thirty Seconds or Less" complete video library, including videos about social justice and technology in worship, visit http://thirtysecondsorless.net.
13 inexpensive (often free) ways to generate awareness for your church
1. Update Your Website
Your website is often the first interaction an interested visitor has with your church, so having an updated look and accurate messaging is crucial.
Does your website have the most recent and most accurate information about your church? Church leadership? Worship types and times? Upcoming events? Does it include your church’s social media channels?
The United Church of Christ has templates to help your church develop a landing page if it has yet to have the resources to develop its own web site. If your church is ready to develop its first, or, an updated web site, a small investment is most likely needed to get started. However, there are online website technologies that offer very low-cost or free services that could be sufficient for your church’s needs. Some website platforms to consider include:
Wix.com – Free and easy to build a nice looking website that can be updated simply. Connect your web address (URL) for $150.00/yr.
Square Space – Easy to use and free. Great for landing page websites without several pages.
WordPress – Website platform that offers free, easy to use website templates. WordPress platform can evolve overtime to provide more unique functionality, if needed.
2. Use Emerging Online Social Communities
Your church might already have a Facebook community, but how about a presence on Nextdoor or Instagram? How about Twitter?
NextDoor connects people and business online through a neighborhood centered platform. Your church can share events, worship times and other important developments with individuals and families in your immediate community (not every community has a NextDoor presence yet).
Instagram can enable your church to effectively tell a visual story that can be easily discoverable among others in your community and beyond. visual content marketing is increasing in popularity, so make sure you take the necessary measures to capture moments that happen in your church. Twitter enables you to follow, and to send out ("tweet") messages about your church events to key audiences.
3. On-demand worship
In a time-demanding society, people and families have to make tough choices about how to spend their time, especially on the weekends. Offering a way that people can engage with Weekend Worship on their time is becoming increasingly popular. Your church can use Facebook Live to stream and then archive Worship services on your Facebook page at no cost. More sophisticated, yet costly, options exist as well.
4. Frequent Facebook
Do you have a Facebook page? Are you updating your church’s Facebook page regularly? Facebook is extremely important when marketing and generating awareness for your church. A social media plan should be initially developed and refreshed quarterly to organize your page. It is important to update your page a few times a week (use visuals whenever possible). For help, go to "Social Media Help" on this page.
5. Make Sure You’re Listed
Is your church listed with city, county and/or community online directories? If so, is the information accurate? Spend a few hours researching your church’s presence on popular local search directories like Google Local, Yelp, Facebook, YP.com and any local directories (local media, neighborhood/community guide sites, etc.).
6. Local media outlets/neighborhood outlets
If appropriate, and available, be sure to consider opportunities to have listings under the "religious services" directory that may appear in your local newspaper; also see neighborhood placements with papers, mailers and other resources that may be unique and available to you in your community. Use these outlets to share press releases about what’s happening at your church, too!
7. If available, make sure your church sign is an active message board
No reason to not have creative, inviting messages about your church and its activities on the message board in front of your church.
Community Engagement Events
8. Worship beyond the pews
Weekend worship doesn’t always have to be within your sanctuary walls. Non-traditional (physical locations beyond your church location) sites where community members visit can be used to reach out, spread awareness and offer a kind welcome to others.
9. Establish Community Partnerships
Your church should always strive to be a part of the surrounding community. Make it a point to buy from locally owned businesses and establish a reciprocal relationship with those businesses. It is always important to volunteer in your community so others can encounter your discipleship.
10. Host Free Community Events
Churches have traditionally been a meeting place for secular events for the community. Make it a priority to host a dinner, movie, game night, exercise class, talent show or other event to engage community members.
11. Host Mixers for All
Chances are there groups looking to find a safe meet-up location in your community. Your church can be a great and safe venue to organize these meet-ups to enable people to interact and build relationships.
12. Open Educational Series
Is your church hosting Bible study classes for the community? Or a starter class for those exploring their faith? Developing consistent and casual opportunities for people to come together and learn about faith or the Bible can be beneficial. (Free refreshments are always a plus!)
13. Is your church a polling place?
Sometimes polling places need to be relocated; or, new ones are needed. Your church may be just the right location to introduce new neighbors into your space.
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The United Church of Christ Archives welcomes researchers of all types. Due to limited staffing, the Archives is only able to spend ½ an hour on research requests.
If your requests require more in-depth research and you are unable to come to the Archives in person, we recommend you contract with a professional researcher in the area. Arrangements for research must be made directly with the researcher. The UCC Archives is not involved in, nor does the Archives have any responsibility for the work performed by the researcher. A listing of professional researchers can be located at the Ohio Historical Society Researcher List web site.
We strongly recommend scheduling an appointment for research at the Archives at least three weeks in advance so we can provide you the best assistance during your visit. If you are visiting from out of town, you can stay at the Radisson at Gateway at a discounted rate.
A resource for congregations designed to aid pastors and lay leaders in developing a congregational Planned Giving ministry. Includes sections devoted to establishing and promoting a Planned Giving program, congregational endowments, wills emphasis, how life-income gifts work, and more. The quintessential Planned Giving resource!
Section I Introduction to Planned Giving Ministry
Section II — Congregational Planned Giving Ministry
Section III — Donors and Prospects
Section IV — An Overview of Congregational Endowments
Section V — Three Educational Models
Section VI — Life Income and Other Gifts
Section VII — Resources
A Summary of Ways of Giving
Foreword and Table of Contents
Annuitant The individual who receives lifetime payments from a gift annuity.
Annuity/Gift Annuity An irrevocable gift which pays income for life to one or two recipients (annuitants); the rate of return is based on the age(s) of the annuitant(s) at the time the gift is funded.
Appreciated Property Property, such as real estate or securities, that has a value greater than its cost basis.
Capital Gains, Realized Capital Gains The excess of money received from the sale of property over the original amount paid for the property (cost basis).
Charitable Income Tax Deduction The amount a donor can deduct on a federal income tax return (if the donor itemizes) for a charitable gift.
Charitable Lead Trust A gift which provides fixed or variable current income for church or charity for the life of the donor or for a term of years, after which the remaining principal reverts to the donor or donor's heirs.
Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust An irrevocable gift which pays a fixed dollar amount annually to one or more income beneficiaries for life or for a term of years, after which the principal becomes a gift to the church or charity designated by the donor.
Charitable Remainder Unitrust An irrevocable gift which pays a fixed percentage of the Trust's value, as revalued annually, to one or more income beneficiaries for life or for a term of years, after which the principal becomes a gift to the church or charity designated by the donor.
Charitable Remainder Beneficiary, Charitable Beneficiary The charity identified by the donor in a gift contract to receive the remaining principal after the life income beneficiaries' death or termination of contract.
Codicil An addition or amendment to a will.
Cost Basis The original cost of property plus improvements and other expenses paid by the owner during the period of ownership.
Deferred Gifts Another term for planned gift, i.e. a carefully considered way of giving out of one's accumulated assets that is prearranged through a will, a trust, or other life income agreement that may provide lifetime income for one or more individuals, where upon their deaths the remaining principal will go to the named charitable beneficiary.
Deferred Payment Gift Annuity Identical to a Gift Annuity except that instead of income payments beginning immediately, they begin at a future date specified by the donor. This usually has the effect of increasing the rate of return.
Endowment A fund whose principal is held in perpetuity, and income only is distributed.
Executor/Executrix The individual named in a will to settle the testator's estate.
Federal Estate Tax The tax imposed on the transfer of property upon death.
Federal Gift Tax The tax imposed on the transfer of property during the lifetime of the donor. This tax is paid by the donor.
Intestate Dying without a will.
Life Expectancy An estimated calculation of the number of years a person will live from any particular age.
Memorial Gift A gift in memory of a deceased individual.
Pooled Income Fund A life-income gift which functions like a mutual fund, in that each income recipient receives lifetime quarterly payments based on her/his proportion of the Fund. Gifts are irrevocable, may name one or two persons as income recipients, and pay the remaining principal to the church or charity designated by the donor.
Prospect An individual identified as being a potential donor.
Residuary Clause A clause in a will that bequeaths or devises property not already disposed of earlier in the will.
Revocable Trust A life-income gift which pays a fixed percentage of the trust's value, as revalued annually, to one or more income beneficiaries for life; however, the donor may make withdrawals from principal or revoke the trust entirely. No tax deduction is available to the donor at the time the trust is established.
Secondary Beneficiary The person named in a gift agreement to receive the life income payments should the primary beneficiary predecease him or her.
Testamentary Trust A trust created by a provision in a person's will.
Testator The individual making a will.
Trustee The individual or institution that is responsible for administering a trust.
Trust Principal The assets of a trust.
The Gift Calculator may now be used to illustrate a Deferred Payment Gift Annuity, which is similar to an "immediate" Annuity except that income is delayed until a future date chosen by the donor. Delaying the start of income payments may significantly increase your rate of return.
UCC rates for Deferred Payment Gift Annuities are limited to the percentages set forth below of the American Council on Gift Annuities recommended rates. That is, if you wish to defer income payments for more than five years, multiply the "Payout Rate" which is produced by your gift calculation by the percentage listed below, according to the deferral period you have chosen. If you have questions about this, please contact the Financial Development Ministry at (800) 846-6822 or email@example.com.
|Deferral Period in Years
|% of Recommended Rates
In this Issue: Ministry Focus – 2012 National Youth Event; 7 Costly Estate Planning Fallacies.
In this Issue: Ministry Focus – Financial Development Ministry; Financial Development Ministry 2011 Annual Report; How Your Life-Income Gift Charitable Deduction is Determined.
In this Issue: Ministry Focus – 2030 Clergy Network; Financial Development Ministry 2010 Annual Report; Using Your Retirement Assets to Make a Gift to the Church.
In this Issue: Ministry Focus – Wider Church Ministries, Generosity Is Zambia’s Heart; End-of-Year Planning Checklist.
In this Issue: Centro Romero – A Center for Education and Transformation; United Church of Christ Life-Income Gift Report; Endowments – Unleashing the Power of Your vision.
In this Issue: Changing Lives through Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM); A Surprise from the IRS; 4 Ways to Distribute Your IRA; Is Now A Good Time to Establish a Charitable Gift Annuity?
In this Issue: Have You Remembered the UCC in Your Will?; What You Can Do With Your Will; Financial Development Ministry 2008 Annual Report
In this Issue: Ministry Focus - Parish Life & Leadership Scholarships; Add Years To Your Retirement Income
In this Issue: Ministry Focus: Evangelism Ministry Team - i.UCC; Financial Development Ministry Annual Report; Bequests: Simple, Yet Often the Most Meaningful Gifts; The United Church Foundation: Socially Responsible Investing and Faith-Based Investing Basics.
In this Issue: Now Is the Time To Plan Year-End Charitable Gifts; How You Can Benefit by Giving Life Insurance; Immeasurable Worth: Bethany Children's Home Helps Youth Move From Survival To Success.
In this issue: Ministry Focus: United Church of Christ 50th Anniversary Fund; Financial Development Ministry Annual Report; Use Your Retirement Assets to Make a Gift to the Church.
In this issue: Ministry Focus: Franklinton Center at Bricks; Thinking About Establishing a Charitable Gift Annuity? Here's How it Works; Payments for Life from a Charitable Gift Annuity.
In this issue: Ministry Focus: United Church of Christ Wider Church Ministries; Annual Report; Hidden Wealth: Can You Increase Income by Giving Money Away?; The Miracle of RHF: Retirement Housing Foundation Celebrates 45 Years of Making Affordable Housing a Reality.
In this issue: Inheritance Planning: Promises to Keep, United Church of Christ Gift Annuities: Frequently Asked Questions, New Church Challenge Fund.
Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education, Grades 7-9, 2nd edition
The United Church of Christ, in conjunction with the Unitarian Universalist Association, has released the second edition of the sexuality education program Our Whole Lives geared toward youth in grades 7 to 9. The second edition introduces new content, activities, perspectives, language, and resources that will help today's young teens make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior by providing accurate, age-appropriate information.
New topics in the second edition include bullying and bystander responsibilities; sexuality, social media, and the Internet; body image; consent education; and communicating with a sexual partner. The addition also includes a section on "Taking a Special Education Approach to Sexuality Education" to help facilitators include in their programs youth with autism spectrum disorders, attention disorders, intellectual disabilities, and learning disabilities.
Order your copy of the new edition online via UCC Resources or by calling 1.800.537.3394. For those who are replacing first editions or who have or are attending an Our Whole Lives Facilitator Training, you may request 25% off the purchase price. The Sexuality and Our Faith Companion to Our Whole Lives, 2nd edition is also available for use in United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalist congregations.
For more information about the revisions or to sign up for a webinar about the changes, please contact Amy Johnson, UCC Our Whole Lives Coordinator at JohnsonA@ucc.org.
Check out the NEW Content and Order of Workshops:
Unit One: Introduction
Workshop 1: What is Sexuality?
This session quickly engages participants and establishes the Our Whole Lives setting as a comfortable place to talk about even the toughest subjects. Participants craft rules to promote positive group interaction and mutual respect. They explore the Circles of Sexuality -- a broad definition of sexuality -- that will be further refined and clarified throughout the program. In addition, they learn about the content, format, and underlying values of Our Whole Lives.
Workshop 2: Examining Values
Through activities including an exciting Values Auction, participants clarify their own values, share points of view, and reflect on the strength of their own values. They become familiar with and are asked to respect values held by others.
Workshop 3: The Language of Sexuality
Participants explore the diversity of sexual language and its impact, usefulness, and appropriateness in different contexts. After building lists of terms for sexual anatomy and activity, participants weigh the styles of language they and others use against the values they explored in Workshop 2. Standards are set for language used in the Our Whole Lives setting.
Unit Two: You, as a Sexual Being
Workshop 4: Anatomy and Physiology
The Constructing Sex Systems activity in this workshop is one of several ways of reinforcing accurate information and correcting misunderstanding about sexual anatomy and physiology. Participants learn that knowing and talking about sexual organs and their functions is both normal and appropriate.
Workshop 5: Personal Concerns About Puberty
Participants have an opportunity to talk about personal questions and concerns regarding their own growth and development. They can explore accurate information, clear up myths, and get answers to their questions. In the process, they become aware of diverse body types, sizes, behaviors, and rates of physical, emotional, and social development. Optional sex-specific discussion groups give youth an opportunity to talk about personal aspects of sexual health and hygiene with adults who have gone through similar changes.
Workshop 6: Body Image
This workshop defines body image as a person’s perception of, attitudes toward, and feelings about their body. Participants explore societal influences on body image and learn how positive and negative body image can affect a person’s sexual attitudes, decision-making, and behaviors.
Workshop 7: Gender Identity
By building a chart defining biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, participants visualize the differences between sexual identity constructs. They have a chance to gain or deepen their understanding of the ways that biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression may align or not align for different people. In addition, they discuss some of the challenges faced by transgender people (themselves or others) while learning techniques that have helped people to feel empowered and to be supportive.
Workshop 8: Gender Expression, Roles, & Stereotypes
Participants explore their beliefs about gender-role expectations, and they critically evaluate gender-role messages they have received. They identify how stereotypes hurt people of all gender identities and learn steps they can take to overcome gender-role restrictions affecting themselves and others.
Workshop 9: Sexual Orientation
This workshop explores all sexual orientations but emphasizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) orientations due to the continuing existence of heterosexism (the assumption that everyone is or should be heterosexual), homophobia (bias against LGBQ people), and biphobia (aversion toward bisexuality and bisexual people). Participants gain knowledge and skills and explore attitudes that affirm the dignity and worth of people of all sexual orientations.
Workshop 10: Guest Panel
A guest panel deepens participants’ understanding of, and empathy with, people who face homophobia, heterosexism, biphobia, and/or transphobia. This workshop is one of the most healing activities Our Whole Lives educators can facilitate for youth. Interacting with individuals who are LGBTQ provides an opportunity to put real faces on the issue and to move beyond stereotypes. Panelists can also serve as role models for participants who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning.
Workshop 11: Sexuality and Disability
All participants may benefit from this workshop: Participants without disabilities have an opportunity to gain understanding of and empathy for people with disabilities while recognizing that as sexual human beings, they share many commonalities. Participants with disabilities can appreciate their peers’ empathy toward them and acceptance of them as sexual beings. The workshop communicates the message that friendship and attraction are normal among and between people with and without disabilities.
Unit Three: Relationships
Workshop 12: Healthy Relationships
Through a series of engaging activities and discussion, participants learn the basics of healthy relationships and begin to identify the characteristics of romantic partners who can support them in exploring and defining their identities, developing interpersonal skills, and gaining emotional support.
Workshop 13: Relationship Skills
Scripted role plays in this workshop teach skills that will help prepare participants to be best friends and loving partners in lifelong commitments or marital relationships. Focused on listening, being assertive, and using refusal skills, the session can enhance all types of relationships.
Unit Four: Contemporary Issues
Workshop 14: Sexuality, Social Media and the Internet
Technology can enrich young teens’ knowledge and/or social relationships in safe, life-affirming ways if approached with care, information about available options, and an awareness of appropriate use. The workshop addresses both computer and cell phone use; however, the activities will not require that participants have either cell phones or access to a computer.
Workshop 15: Bullying & Bystander Responsibilities
A great deal of bullying relates to sexuality, so young teens need to know how to recognize it and effectively respond to it, whether they are victims or bystanders. This workshop discusses both indirect and direct bullying, debunks myths and provides realistic solutions.
Unit Five: Responsible Sexual Behavior
Workshop 16: Redefining Abstinence
Participants explore the concept of abstinence, which is redefined as refraining from sexual intercourse (oral, anal, or vaginal), as well as skin-to-skin genital contact. This definition of abstinence excludes higher risk sexual behaviors but allows for the possibility of healthy and safe non-intercourse sexual behaviors, such as masturbation and outercourse.
Workshop 17: Lovemaking
Lovemaking is placed in a moral context when negative and erroneous media messages are combatted with honest discussions of sexual behavior. Participants are encouraged to take away the message that lovemaking is a positive and life-enhancing experience when it is consensual, non-exploitative, mutually pleasurable, safe, developmentally appropriate, based on mutual expectations and caring, and respectful.
Workshop 18: Consent Education
Participants explore different forms of sexual violation that can occur between relationship partners, peers, and acquaintances, while they gain strategies to prevent and handle these violations. The workshop emphasizes that we each have the right to consent or not consent, and we have the responsibility to stand up for ourselves and others in situations of harassment, coercion, or assault.
Unit Six: STIs, Pregnancy, & Parenting Decisions
Workshop 19: Sexually Transmitted Infections
This workshop takes a unique social justice approach by reinforcing the following values: healthy sexual relationships are safe (no or low risk of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and emotional pain); all persons have the right and obligation to make responsible sexual choices; and individuals are responsible for caring for their own sexual health and for promoting the wellbeing of their partners, friends, and loved ones.
Workshop 20: Pregnancy, Parenting, & Teen Parenting
Starting with a review of the process of conception, participants are shown how easily pregnancy may occur. They explore the fact that while parenthood can be fun and rewarding, it is also challenging and expensive. The responsibilities of parenthood are addressed, along with its possible impact on participants’ goals and futures.
Workshop 21: Unintended Pregnancy Options
As they learn about three possible options for resolving an unintended pregnancy, participants explore their attitudes toward and feelings about being faced with an unintended pregnancy. They also practice making the very difficult decision of how to respond to an unintended pregnancy.
Workshop 22: Contraception and Safer Sex
Participants are given the message that careful, consistent use of protection against pregnancy and STIs can make sexual behavior more caring and responsible. They practice evaluating behaviors and their risk for unintended pregnancies and STIs, in an affirming and accepting atmosphere that promotes personal responsibility and planning for the consequences of sexual behavior. Options to the workshop plan including bringing in a guest speaker or taking a field trip to a reproductive health center.
Unit Seven: Communicating about Sexuality
Workshop 23: Sexual Decision Making
This workshop gives participants an opportunity to apply knowledge gained from earlier workshops to consider how they will make future decisions about sexual behavior. They will discuss why teens choose to engage or not to engage in sexual behaviors, and they will articulate where they stand on having sex at this time in their lives. In the process, they can gain self confidence in their ability to make healthy and wise decisions.
Workshop 24: Communicating with a Sexual Partner
Participants apply knowledge gained during Our Whole Lives to the process of communicating with a partner—initiating conversations, communicating relationship bottom lines, and responding to arguments against using protection. They learn and practice a strategy for negotiating with a partner despite disagreement about key issues, such as using protection.
Workshop 25: Self Care, Celebration, & Closure
This culminating session of Our Whole Lives provides the opportunity for facilitators and participants to reflect on their shared experience. Participants identify connections between their sexual health and their general health and wellness, with the goal of recognizing themselves as gatekeepers of their own health and wellness. They list gains they’ve made during the program and describe the impact of Our Whole Lives on their knowledge, feelings, and behavior.