First Steps

First Steps to becoming a partner

  1. Establish a small steering committee to guide the congregation through the process of becoming a partner and later maintain the partnership.

  2. Contact the UUPCC office and let us know of your interest. We can discuss which country most interests you and point you to resources and information you will need for the next steps.

  3. Partnership is a long-term commitment. The Steering Committee, once established, will be able to educate the congregation about partnership so that they can make an informed decision about becoming a partner. If your governance method places the decision-making authority with the Board of Trustees rather than the congregation as a whole, the Steering Committee works with them instead.

  4. North American congregation steering committees complete and submit to the UUPCC a North American Congregational Partnership applicationand a UUPCC membership form. Congregations outside of North America complete and submit an International Congregational Partnership application. Once we have received your application, we will start looking for a partner.
  5. We will work with you through the decision-making process. Once a decision is made to partner and both congregations agree, the partnership is established.

Continue reading for more detail

Starting Point

Contact UUPCC at 781-275-1710 or write us. We can tell you about churches that are currently looking for partners and what countries they are in. Next, North American congregations complete and submit to the UUPCC the UUPCC Membership form. Membership will give you access to the resources you need to help your congregation as they work through the next few months. You will start getting the UUPCC newsletter and will be able to join a listserve established just for Partner Churches: PCC Chat.

Preparing for Partnership

You'll want to create a Partner Church Committee or Task Force to shepherd the church through the decision making process. Initially the group will help educate the congregation about partnership. Later it will probably evolve into the group that supports communication and planning with your partner. UUPCC's staff can answer specific questions, help find a speaker or guest minister for a sermon or other event, and loan you a video about partnership.

Here how one church prepared for a congregational vote:

Our group first gathered information from as many sources we could find about the country and the Unitarians there. We polled the congregation to see if there were members who had ties with the country in one way or another. We contacted another church in our district that is already partnered and borrowed photos and materials from them as well as from our district networker. We set up an information table for several weeks after church and created a bulletin board with information and photos we had borrowed.

We had a guest speaker from another church do a presentation one evening. She had a video of a trip their choir had taken and a photo album with pictures of a visit from their partner church minister. We also arranged for a guest in our pulpit one Sunday who gave a sermon on the value of international partnership the week before our congregational vote on partnership.

An early step in preparing for partnership is the completion of the application for partnership. North American congregations use this form. International congregations use this form. After it is received by UUPCC, the application will be shared with your potential partner, so it’s helpful to keep that in mind as you prepare the materials. Feel free to add additional sheets if there is not enough space on the form. What's special about you? How many families belong to your church? How many retired people or young adults? What special programs do you have for members or for the community at large? What is included in your religious education program? Who is on your staff? English is sometimes a barrier, so you probably want to keep the text simple so the materials are easy to translate if necessary.

Communicating and Connecting

We know from experience that the maintenance of good communication is the most important aspect of partnership. We also know that this needs to be deliberate because it can be easily overlooked in our busy lives. How will you communicate with your partner? Will communication be by phone conversations once a month? Or via e-mail connections? Facebook or Skype calls? There is more information on this important aspect in  Growing a Relationship.

Look in your own community for connections to the country where you want to partner. You might have former Peace Corps workers in your own congregation, or people who have lived overseas. It is amazing the connections you find when you start to look for them. Be sure to write something for your church newsletter and ask people to tell you about their experiences with other cultures.

We do understand all of this takes time. While you are busy doing the education in preparation for a congregational or Board vote, the UUPCC will be finding the right partner for you. Once they receive your application, they will send you some preliminary information about your potential partner.

Congregational or Board Vote and Partner Match

This is the best part! Let our office know when the congregational or Board vote is scheduled. They will reserve a partner for you! This is the final step toward a match. As soon as you have voted call the office. You will be sent a packet of information about your new partner and your relationship can begin.

Growing Partnerships

Growing a Relationship will give you some good clues about what to do once your partner has been assigned. And remember, the Partner Church Council is here to support you and answer your questions. Please call us whenever you need something. We want International Partnerships to strengthen Unitarian Universalism everywhere.