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    1. Greetings!
      We are excited to take another step in OPTIC's relationship with the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to advance our capacity building work for UCC leaders.
      We will offer a series of four free webinars on various aspects of strategic communications where it overlaps with philanthropy and other key elements of a communications program. It has been my pleasure to collaborate with the Lake  Institute staff to develop this inaugural series.
      Here is an article where you can find more information: https://www.ucc.org/news_webinar_series_slated_to_help_craft_communications_strategy_to_inspire_giving_begins_oct_7_09212020.

      Series Details

      Webinar 1 - Planning the Annual Communications and Development Calendar - October 7, 2020, 4-5pm EDT.  Register here.
      For many organizations, including congregations, the last three months of the year are of primary importance for year-round success in communications, marketing, and development. Join us for this one-hour webinar addressing:

      •        The cycle of giving in your organization or congregation
      •        Planning for annual and year-round appeals
      •        Seasonal opportunities for communications and development

      Webinar 2 -  Strategic Communication for Mission Advancement - October 28,2020, 4-5pm EDT. Register here.
      The important work of mission advancement includes raising awareness, inviting partnership, and raising resources for sustainability and innovation in ministry. Effective, strategic communication enables these essential, relationship-focused activities, and helps your organization or congregation to thrive. This one-hour webinar will focus on:

      •        Communicating values, mission, and vision
      •        Aligning communication with development objectives
      •        Invitational storytelling: in person, in print, and online

      Webinar 3 -  Gratitude and Nurturing Generosity - November 18, 2020, 4-5pm ET. Register here.

      Generosity is both a virtue and a practice. When we cultivate a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity in our organizations, we can begin to open up new ways of thinking about assets, capacity, and future ministry. In one hour together, this webinar will address:

      •        Giving up scarcity thinking and embracing gratitude 
      •        Celebrating and nurturing generosity among us
      •         Fundraising as a future-oriented activity 

      Webinar 4 - Digital Strategies for Reaching new Communities - December 9, 2020, 4-5pm ET. Register here.

      2020 has been a challenging, disruptive year. One result of this upheaval has been a new experience of digital communication and convening, which has the potential to open our congregations or organizations to participation from anyone, anywhere. In this one-hour webinar we will:

      •        Consider the wide range of online tools resources available
      •        Identify digital strategies for outreach, engagement, and connection
      •        Learn about creative connections made in this time of physical distancing


    2. Contributed by Christine Lucarelli

      Most Event Professionals Satisfied With Digital Meeting Technology — But See Room For Improvement


      This article was posted on August 31, 2020 on the PCMA website and Convene magazine, written by Barbara Palmer.   

      When Convene asked respondents to the latest COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard Survey if they were satisfied with tech solutions for digital meetings, more than half — 61 percent — said yes.

      Of those who said they were satisfied in the Aug. 17-20 survey, the overwhelming majority reported combining at least two or more platforms to produce online events. Respondents are using more than two dozen event technology platforms — a large portion are using Zoom as one of the components. Some reported deliberately keeping it simple by using a familiar webinar platform, while others reported using as many as five platforms.

      Finding one platform with the ability to perform all of the functions that planners are looking for was one of the most common reasons given by the 39 percent who said they were not satisfied with event technology. “We are still in the beginning phases of planning our larger event,” wrote one, “but [are] finding that there isn’t one platform that really checks all the boxes for us.” Both groups expressed the need for a more seamless experience in the form of a one-stop solution. “There needs to be a virtual event platform that integrates —not links out — to other platforms besides Zoom,” one wrote.

      Price was another often-mentioned factor, with some speculating that the current demand was driving costs upwards. The cost of the platform “is still driving what is possible,” wrote one respondent. “Good ones are too expensive for my clients so, as such, they agree to accept a poorer virtual event.” “I haven’t found a platform with integrated streaming that’s anywhere near affordable,” another wrote, continuing: “There are plenty of apps that have web platforms, but streaming isn’t integrated yet. The price goes from a few thousand for those apps up to $20K or more for integration. There’s a hole in the market for $6K to $10k solutions.”

      Many planners reported that their expectations for event technology, both in areas of functionality and customer support, were not currently being met. “There’s not enough customizability in the off-the-shelf platform we have,” one wrote. “We need better functionality to host multi-session, half-day events with many speakers and panelists.” It’s time for a more seamless experience and higher quality, wrote one. “We are now all past the newness and need better solutions.”

      One need, multiple respondents expressed is improvements in ways that allow connections between event participants, as well as between attendees and exhibitors, to be made. Sample comments include: “The networking option in tools today is very basic.” “We haven’t been able to replace the social aspect of our in-person events in a virtual format.” “Want match-making technology on a budget.”

      One respondent added the caveat that the technology was as yet untested: “We are still in the planning process and not executing for a few more months.” Finding a platform, the respondent added, “has been the most difficult [part of planning].”

      More Planner Comments:

      “No platform offers everything. Each one is missing an element for our clients.”

      “Platforms are too busy/overloaded.”

      “Zoom is good for our current events, but seeking something more for future larger events. May also be seeking a hybrid option.”

      “[Need] straightforward pricing — it’s becoming a major impediment to selecting a partner.”

      “New to the hybrid option, so looking for a platform.”

      “[Need] cost-effective tool for offering a virtual component for smaller meetings (collaborative instead of speakers).”

    3. Hi All - This music video was just emailed to me by the artist who produced it. It's wonderful! I am including the email he sent along with the embedded link in his email. (unfortunately, the group is not UCC-related).


      The YouTube video is captioned, if you want to see the lyrics.


      - Bob




      Hey there -


      I hope this e-mail finds you well. I recently came across your church/organization in the midst of some continual efforts between my team & I to push out a music video I released this Summer. I feel the project speaks for itself in a lot of ways but the general summary to perhaps grab your attention is that it includes a message of love & acceptance (particularly geared towards queer youth of faith but universal in a sense as well) that we are hoping to get to as many eyes & ears as possible. From my understanding, your church/organization is dedicated to building an open & affirming community where all gender expressions & sexual orientations are welcome. I thought this tune might resonate with those in your community working towards that mission & I was curious if maybe you'd be up for passing it along as you see fit. Ideally, the song will preach affirming & inclusive options to those out there who don't know about them yet but I figure if we can get it to those that relate to the story here, it can have a large impact that way as well.


      Here is a link to the music video. Thank you so much for any time spent listening/sharing. And thank you for creating inclusive environments that "little me" would've never believed existed. It sounds like we have similar goals of making it so that people don't feel like they need to change who they are to earn God's love & acceptance. And that's a beautiful thing! 





      Brian Falduto (He/Him/His)



    4. Chris Gabriel
      Latest Entry

      Here is an original song that I wrote last Christmas and have finally brought myself to record. The lyrics and piano keys were written in tandem so the sound of the words should flow with the song for reference. I do sing this to my girlfriend but I'm incredibly too shy to even imagine recording something like that! I plan on sharing a lot more and this will be a soft introduction back into blogging as I think some of you may really enjoy what I share. May god bless all of you!


      The words begin at 47 seconds and are as follows:
      tell me how am I supposed to breathe....  
      Now I'm choked up..
         and I'm spent..
            and I have
      The colors all gone..
         except red..
            and I feel
      Lights have gone dark..
         in my head..
            and I see
      every time that i attempt to breathe....
                theres NOTH-ING
      Then I found you..
         over there..
       Always right there.. 
         with your smile..
            when i'm
      Other than me..
         in this world..
            this girl wants
      you breathed life right back into my lungs....
                like NOTH-ING
      Now I know that..
         before you..
            that i had
      All of the  pain ..
         and the  tears ..
            was just for
      I wouldn't trade..
         what is here..
      You showed me another way to breathe....
           like it was
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      Laurel Steinetz
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      Oh, that's funny, pup. You think YOU'RE sleepy? Good. Good to know.




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