Each month, UU San Mateo focuses special attention on a monthly congregational theme, using that theme as a focal point for many of the month’s worship services. These monthly themes come to us through a program called the Touchstones Project, which is committed to equipping and growing diverse UU congregations. The editors and driving forces behind the Touchstones materials are Revs. Kirk Loadman-Copeland and Nancy Bowen, each of whom has more than 25 years of experience as a UU minister.

Touchstones monthly themes are a means of creating a curriculum of community. Themes are set for five years, with each year centering on one over-arching idea to which monthly themes relate. The annual theme for the 2019-2020 year (September 2019 through August 2020) is “Building Beloved Community”; all of the monthly themes have been selected to help us build beloved community, a place where we do not need to think alike to love alike. Themes include: Covenant, Democracy, Mission & Vision, Compassion, Authority/Leadership, Generosity, Forgiveness, The Divine/God, Sabbath, Good & Evil, Harmony, and Creation.

The Touchstones eight-page monthly journal provides a basic understanding of each theme, supported by robust Discussion Guides and Worship Resources. Other Touchstones program materials provide plans for social media, religious exploration, and social action – all related to the monthly theme. In addition to considering the Touchstones themes during Sunday worship services, some small-group ministries within the congregation, such as Open Circles and Aging-to-Saging groups, choose to use the Touchstones materials and consider the monthly themes as well, resulting in congregation-wide involvement.