About the Author
Communications manager, Stewardship and Development, Unitarian Universalist Association.

Share your thoughts!

One of the reasons I’m so excited about the UUA’s move to our new headquarters at 24 Farnsworth Street is the potential for enhanced collaboration that our new space will afford us. In that spirit, I am delighted to invite you to share your vision for how our new UUA headquarters will look and feel.

Goody Clancy, our architecture firm, designed this “blink” exercise to help gather your ideas about new design possibilities. Would you like our new headquarters to feel more modern or traditional? Would you like to see rougher, more natural materials or should they be more refined? Do you favor neutral colors, bold swaths of color, or a more neutral palette with pops of color here and there? Note that none of the images are actual choices. They’re meant to represent and suggest ideas, concepts, colors, shapes, and moods.

The “blink” exercise is designed to be quick. What is your immediate, gut reaction? What is your instinctual response to each of the photographs presented? Do you love it or do you hate it? Or do you fall somewhere in between? There are even spaces in the survey for comments should you feel inclined. This is an opportunity for all of us to go with our instincts and have fun in imagining our new religious home.

You’ll find the “blink” exercise here!

Your input will be incredibly valuable as we move forward in designing our new space. If possible, please respond by Monday, July 15. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

In faith,

Morales Peter 24 Farnsworth

Rev. Peter Morales
UUA President

Breaking News! Architect Selected for the New Headquarters

After a thorough evaluation process, we have selected an architecture firm to lead us through creating and implementing a design vision for our new UUA headquarters. Goody Clancy, an award winning firm with over 50 years of experience designing some of Boston’s most distinctive spaces, is our chosen architect.

This Boston-based architecture firm was chosen by a committee of UUA staff members out of a pool of architecture firms selected for their specific strengths and experience in areas with spiritual spaces, historic preservation, sustainable design, and the ability to add diversity to the UUA project team.

The finalists were chosen based on their fit with these criteria:

  • Visionary team leadership
  • Energy
  • Understanding of the project scope
  • Ability to work within the given time frame and budget
  • Understanding the nature of this as a transformational project and the importance of change management
  • Sustainability and accessibilities knowledge and interest
  • Diversity of the project team
  • Interpersonal connections
  • Quality of design work

A team led by Goody Clancy project lead Jean Carroon, who has received national recognition for her special expertise in applying sustainable design technology to historic buildings, will soon begin a process of discernment about how we might envision welcoming people in to and working in this new space. Jean and her team are eager to get started so that we can call 24 Farnsworth Street our new UUA home in January 2014.

A Move for the Millennial Generation

As you have probably heard, the Unitarian Universalist Association is planning a big move of its HQ offices from historic Beacon Hill to the up-and-coming Fort Point neighborhood in Boston. If you ask me, I’m super excited about this move. It feels like a true recognition from the highest levels of leadership in our faith that we are embracing the future that is a reflection of the way our generation, the Millennial Generation, will be interacting with religion for years to come.

First, with this move we’ll get considerable upgrades in technological capability at the UUA. Right now, all the internet access in my office has to be beamed across two city blocks to the servers located in a different building. How can we expect to keep up with changes in video conferencing, webinars, online education and resources, even graphic design and mobile applications, without the technology infrastructure to make it possible?

In addition to the technology improvements, we’re getting the chance to design the new Fort Point space from scratch. Conversations among the staff and with our architecture consultants have so far emphasized a flexible, open work environment. It would help us get beyond the traditional program silos that the UUA has been trying to overcome in the last few years through cross-staff collaboration. The importance of partnership and team building will only increase as the UUA becomes a nimble organization for the 21st Century, focused on seeding and feeding the good work going in our religious communities rather than policing the bylaws and boundaries of our administrative structure.

A new space has the chance to be the embodiment of our values and aspirations. It can be a place that we are proud to call home for years to come, not just for years past. We see 50-60 youth groups and Coming of Age classes visiting the UUA’s current offices every year, and sadly all we have to show them is a conference room and a few pictures on the walls. Imagine having a museum space that displays our history in an accessible, creative way that our visitors can experience. I’ll leave the debate over the historical value of our Beacon Hill location to my capable colleagues, but I will note that, when I visited the UUA as a high school student, the exciting thing to me was making a pilgrimage to where the my faith’s leadership was housed, wherever that was, rather than visiting a specific place on a map.

Ultimately, I see this move as us as UUs trying to put our money where our mouth is and set ourselves up for success in the changing religious landscape in America. I invite you to look forward with me to what our future holds!


-Carey McDonald, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the UUA

Read the original post from the Blue Boat Blog!

What is Your Beacon Hill?

AUA cornerstone

The picture shows American Unitarian Association President Samuel A. Eliot II holding the cornerstone of the AUA headquarters. He  modernized Unitarianism as a denomination and laid the pathway for its organizational structure.  All this was revolutionary at the time.  He knew that the organization wasn’t the end-all-and-be-all, but that a healthy, efficient denomination was essential to a healthy faith.

Flash forward 88 years.  Our UUA is on the cusp of moving from 25 to 24.

The new building consists of open, light-filled space that will be customized to support the work of a contemporary, mission-driven, collaborative Association.  No matter how much potential the new site affords for improved technology and access, though, many are grieving.  Others say the move “from Boston to Boston” is irrelevant.

But my hope is that this move might provide essential role modeling for our congregations.

I’m keenly aware that many of our congregations – especially in New England — are housed in buildings from a very different era. And that these building suck up magnificent resources that could be spent in other ways that inspire people to lead lives of humility and purpose, connection and service, thereby transforming themselves and the world.  Many of our congregations have taken up their building as their mission, rather than the building sustaining and supporting the mission.  If you recognize this in your own story, may you have the courage to take control of your story and mission and move with us into a new era.

I love our history.  But sometimes we treat the 25 Beacon Street address as if it were built in 1825. In fact it was built in 1927 and served merely as an office building to the Louis Cornish and Frederick May Eliot administrations of the American Unitarian Association.  At that time the AUA served around 300 congregations.  We now serve over 1000 congregations through a network of staff and key volunteers stationed not just in Boston but all over the continent.

I confess that I’m terribly sentimental about 25 Beacon Street. I have stories for almost every room, as do many of you.  And I will take those memories with me and commit to making new ones.   But the only spaces currently used for their original purposes are the President’s office, the bookstore, and the second floor chapel, landing, and library. And just think about how what goes on in those rooms has changed over the years!

The significant features came from somewhere else and can move with us again.  Channing’s pulpit is moveable. The chandelier, which was a gift from a church in the 1600s, can move again.  All the library books came from somewhere else.  The President’s desk is moveable. And that cornerstone in the picture?  It can move again.

As the excitement of the news of the pending headquarters move starts to die down, I hope you will look for your own congregation’s story within this new story.

What is your Beacon Hill?  Are you ready to move into a new era?  What will you bring with you?


-Tandi Rogers, UUA Growth Strategist

Read the original post from the Growing Unitarian Universalism blog.

UUA to purchase new Boston headquarters

The Unitarian Universalist Association will be moving to a new headquarters.

The UUA Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday night, March 14, to purchase 24 Farnsworth Street in Boston. The neighborhood is known by several names—the Seaport District, the Innovation District, the Fort Point Channel, and South Boston. It is an emerging neighborhood, near the Federal Courthouse, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and the Boston Children’s Museum.

The board also authorized the subsequent sale of the UUA’s four buildings on Beacon Hill, including its historic headquarters building, 25 Beacon Street.


Exciting News! UUA Announces its New Headquarters!

March 15, 2013

My fellow Unitarian Universalists,

I am delighted to tell you that last night the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) Board of Trustees authorized the purchase of a new headquarters for the UUA at 24 Farnsworth Street in Boston’s Innovation District and the sale of our current Beacon Hill properties. This is truly a historic moment for our UU movement.

This new facility will reflect and promote our values and aspirations. It will allow staff to collaborate and work more closely with colleagues and constituents across the world. Visitors, committee members, and youth groups will be able to gather, meet, worship, and learn in a flexible space that is accessible to all. It will meet key environmental standards to reduce our impact on the Earth. Our movement will grow into a new era in this new space.


Statement from the UUA Board of Trustees

“Last night, your Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees made the decision to move our Association headquarters from its long-time home on Beacon Hill to a new home in Boston’s Innovation District. We did not make this decision lightly. We did so knowing the heart of our Association is always in our covenanted communities. The administration made a compelling case for workspace suited to this collaborative age. This move will strengthen our Association spiritually, financially, creatively, and technologically. We believe the new property will become a hub of hospitality and inclusion, a place where Unitarian Universalists will deepen their connection to each other and our faith. We’re very grateful to our administration, who found a welcoming new center for our Association.

“At the close of the meeting, we shared words from our hymnal (#591) by Unitarian Universalist theologian James Luther Adams, who said of our faith: “it is a pilgrim church, a servant church on an adventure of the spirit.” That adventure calls us, one and all, to renewal of spirit, and faith in the coming day.”

Learn more about the Board here!

Board OKs Search for New Boston Headquarters – UU World

The UUA Board of Trustees signaled its support of the sale of the association headquarters at 25 Beacon Street in Boston if a new headquarters site is located. (Christopher L. Walton)

Will 25 Beacon Street in Boston remain the headquarters of the Unitarian Universalist Association? It’s a question the UUA Board of Trustees contemplated at its April meeting at the Beacon Hill brownstone built by the American Unitarian Association in 1927, which, along with three nearby UUA properties, is increasingly seen as unable to meet the 21st-century needs of the association.


Read more: Board OKs Search for New Boston Headquarters – UU World.

Farewell, 25 Beacon Street?

As the UUA looks for a more modern headquarters, Unitarian Universalists reflect on the symbolic meaning of its perch on Boston’s Beacon Hill.

By Richard Higgins
Spring 2013 2.15.13

When a group of Unitarian Universalists from Dallas visited Boston last spring, they were proud to see the banner of the Unitarian Universalist Association flying outside an old, red-brick, oak-paneled townhouse overlooking Boston Common and next door to the gold-domed State House. The leader of the tour, the Rev. Dr. Daniel Kanter, minister of First Unitarian Church of Dallas, said the Texans shuddered to learn about the lack of central air conditioning at the UUA’s headquarters at 25 Beacon Street. But, while the building may not be modern, he recalled one man in the group saying, “at least there’s a there there.”

The meaning of that “thereness” is on many Unit­arian Universalists’ minds as the UUA searches for a new home. Last spring, the Board of Trustees gave its support to a plan to sell the association’s four Beacon Hill properties and buy a more modern headquarters in Boston. Not surprisingly, Unitarian Universalists see the symbolic and practical value of 25 Beacon Street differently, reflecting the ever-present creative tension over who we are and where we are headed.


Read more: uuworld.org : farewell, 25 beacon street?.

See more pictures. (Photo above © 2012 John Benford)