The new year offers a new opportunity to take stock of how your congregation is serving its mission.

By Matt Erasmus
Photo by Matt Erasmus


Invite your leadership team to take stock of your current program offerings.

  • Is the program bringing in new life in the form of new participants?
  • Is the program a brain-drain or money pit, or is it using resources in proportion to its impact?
  • Does the program have a connection to Unitarian Universalist core values, ethics or theology?
  • Is the program encouraging people to spiritual growth?
  • Does it set yearly goals and stretch goals, then work to meet them?

After all, we are the “living tradition,” not the “living dead” tradition.  😉

-Rev. Renee Ruchotzke CERG Leadership Development Consultant



About the Author
Rev. Renee Ruchotzke
Leadership Development Consultant, Central East Regional Group (CERG) of the UUA. I have a vision of Unitarian Universalist congregations being led by thousands of diverse, spiritually mature and passionate people ready and willing to spread the good news of liberal religion.  I believe ministry is best when shared between lay and professional leaders. More information about me can be found on the UUA website.
  • Jeff Liebmann

    First, please note that the Z-word is offensive to the living dead since it carries the connotation of mindless slavery due to abusive use of magic. The living dead are, in reality, their own unique syncretistic amalgamation of the zombi and the ghoul, in spite of popular parlance that uses the terms interchangeably. On behalf of my living dead allies, I must take issue with their negative association with faltering congregations. As a long-time Pittsburgh resident (home of George A. Romero and many seminal living dead films), I developed a keen appreciation of undead persons and have sought to extend our invitation of inclusivity to these oppressed individuals. I have delivered a program called The Sermon of the Living Dead at two UU congregations (as well as at a horror convention!). In my experience, our living dead colleagues offer unique insights and an important mirror reflecting our own shortcomings (In particular, I refer interested movie-goers to “Land of the Dead,” where living dead consciousness begins to emerge in the post-apocalyptic world). I encourage all living persons to examine their life privilege and reach out to these maligned allies.

    • Rev. Renee Ruchotzke

      Thank you Jeff for the reminder about being in relationship with marginalized groups and to avoid labeling them — especially if I do so using words that they find offensive. -Renee

  • Matt Alspaugh

    Don’t discount the cost (physical, emotional, and spiritual) of ending ‘living dead’ programs. Expect pain, but pain comes with leadership! We’ve ended a couple of programs at the church I serve, and then just left things fallow. With the space empty, sometimes for several years, a new, more vibrant possibility has emerged in each case.