Not etched in stone, but still compelling.
What People Are Saying
Rev. Cathey Edwards, Minister
Hope Unitarian Church
I arrived at this church when it was at an ebb. I was hired without lead time. I reached out to Touchstones as one way to support spiritual and religious growth. The themes, journals and worship materials have been invaluable over these past four years. They provide a focus for all ages. The discipline they impose on staff and laity alike has contributed to a dramatic turnaround in this congregation. From one deeply grieving and shrinking to one that is joy filled, curious, and growing. Thank you to all who support and contribute to this invaluable ministry.
Open Circles Coord.
of San Mateo, California
Open Circles are a prominent element of the adult religious education program at the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo. Prior to discovering Touchstones, our theme-based ministry program required that I invest many hours to research and produce a two-page Resource Flyer dedicated to each month’s theme. The Touchstones Journal not only quadruples the quantity of thematic material we are able to provide to our program participants each month, but the quality of the material is excellent, well-researched, and thoroughly documented by knowledgeable and committed UU ministers.
In particular, I appreciate several specific elements of the Journal, including “Readings from the Common Bowl,” offering an interesting quote for each day of the month; “Family Matters,” providing ideas for our RE directors to use with children and families; and the “Small Group Discussion Guide,” giving our facilitators lots of ideas to use with their program participants. It is also useful to have both the Journal and the Small Group Discussion Guide available in Word format, making it easy for our leaders to break out sections for specific use. And the Worship Guide should prove to be a generous source of ideas for those planning each month’s worship.
Our congregation has just started using Touchstones this month (January 2017), so we do not yet have feedback from those who are responsible for applying these materials in our various programs. We are also still exploring how and when we will distribute the various elements of the Touchstones program, and to which congregational audiences. However, we sincerely believe this program will prove to be an incredibly useful asset, offering stimulating ideas we might not otherwise have considered and freeing up congregational resources for other important enterprises.
Rev. Kent Doss, Minister
Tapestry, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Mission Viejo, CA
At Tapestry, we have used the materials from Touchstones for about two years. The discussion guide helps to seamlessly bring the worship theme into our small group ministry efforts, and the worship materials are invaluable to our worship team on the Sundays when I am not preaching.
The monthly Touchstones materials are an extremely valuable resource for our small lay-led congregation. We regularly use these high-quality materials to prepare worship services. We appreciate the fact that the Touchstones materials provide a variety of options to choose from when putting together a Sunday worship service. This means that rather than just being a “canned” worship service, we can customize the topic to fit our Fellowship, yet do not need to spend overwhelming amounts of time to do that. We also appreciate that the format allows for greater participation by the congregation, and keeps each reading and sermon short enough to allow for a variety of voices. And exceptionally, we can hand the materials to any member of our congregation to allow them to easily prepare and lead a service, so it serves well as excellent “training” for new members of our Worship Team.
I just want to THANK YOU for the REACH Packet—this is amazing! And exactly what I’ve been wishing for in order to make themes a possibility church-wide. ...It really is an amazing resource!
Harold Wood, Lay Leader
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Linette Lowe, DRE
First Unitarian Church
UU ministers and congregations alike are notorious lone-rangers,’ individualists, and ‘wheel inventors.’ We are adept at the sin of ‘uniquity,’ often operating within silos of our own design and losing out on the power of communal influence and ‘economies of scale’. These practices have not always served us in our desire to be more effective in our spiritual growth, connected in our shared values with other UU colleagues and congregations, or free to more deeply influence the larger community. The Touchstones Theme-Based program provides resources for small group ministry (SGM) and worship that enrich and inform one another.
Since adopting the ‘Touchstones’ program in our Worship Associates’ and Open Circle (SGM) programs, we have been more easily able to bring people together for richer discussions and create more time to embellish (improve) the quality, depth, and variety of elements in our worship.
But there are more benefits to the program than just ‘saving time’ of preparation. It has allowed me to ‘plumb the depths’ of my own reflections, writing, and contributions to my ministry as the pressure to ‘produce’ quantity is diminished. It has allowed me more time to spend with my leaders and parishioners and to be more vital and present in my Social Justice work.
The breadth of content allows a ‘scaffolding’ for adding whatever else is going on in the life of the congregation (and the world.) The multiple resources provide many entry-points for people to connect to a topic or theme and as a result make deeper connections to one another.
I highly recommend ‘Touchstones!’
Rev. Ben Meyers, Minister
of San Mateo, California
Your product is spectacular.
So far the services have been great. I am delighted by the depth of the study and conversations among the service teams. And even people who haven't prepared a service are coming in with stories to tell about how new insights or direct use of something they learned.
We started slow with Touchstones—using its suggested worship components for our lay-led services. It wasn't long before the DRE was using one of the stories in her monthly all-ages classroom. As we integrated our use of Touchstone vertically, we were thrilled with the numerous resources it offered us horizontally, as well. Our small groups used the curricula in the Journal. Our RE classrooms picked up the theme, and it wasn't long before all our Sunday services were thematically based. In using Touchstones, we discovered the freedom to come at topics from different angles and to go deep in ways we hadn't previously—and it was all supported by the package we got each month.
Lois Reborne, Lay Leader
West Plains, MO
Rev. Dawn Skjei Cooley,
Minister, Louisville, KY
We have been using Touchstones for 2 years. We employ a quarter time minister who preaches one Sunday a month and we have Lay Leaders for the remaining services. One week our minister was ill and could not preach. I found out on Wednesday night and went right to Touchstones to find a sermon to read as well as a reading. The congregation was pleased with the sermon and the whole service. We also use a component of Touchstones for our monthly Covenant Group and we have enjoyed the topics.
Northern Idaho Unitarian Universalist Church
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Our congregation is very small and many are elderly and not on the computer much it seems. However, I do know that many in our congregation have expressed great satisfaction with the Touchstone services and the material. Many have commented on being inspired after reading the material. Personally, I have been so inspired as to write my own reflections for a Touchstone service. The Touchstone materials are wonderful!
Cheryl Brigante, Co-Chair, Worship Committee,
Unity Church of North Easton, Massachusetts
Photo Credit: Latin Writing on the Wall, photo by rabiem22, January 26, 2005, (CC BY 2.0),