The terrible fires in Colorado are consuming more homes this year even than last. Several UU families have lost their houses in Colorado Springs, and the Mountain Desert District has set up a relief fund for assistance. Please consider contributing to this fund. Information to be found here: http://mdduua.org/news.html
MidAmerica UUA Region: Consider Our Future Together
Why are you writing this blog?
The boards of the Prairie Star, Heartland, and Central Midwest districts voted unanimously last Fall (2011) to propose to our districts that we move from district governance to regional governance. We will discuss this at our District Assemblies this Spring (2012). We will vote at the DAs of 2013.
We advise congregations to prepare their congregations for important decisions by communicating proactively and encouraging full discussion. The staff of the region, with invited guest bloggers including our district presidents, aim to do this with this blog. We need your wisdom to create our future together.
This is more than a conversation about district and regional structures. We are all learning to minister in a very different emerging world. We need to figure out how to do this together. We invite you into a conversation about these things.
The Adaptive Possibilities
You may have seen various posts on our MidAmericaUU website, and on the Heartland, Prairie Star and Central Midwest websites on regionalization. Much of that important news has been focused on the impact on governance for our respective three districts. At our most recent MidAmerica staff retreat this last December, we had a shared “aha,” that we should start a series on the “adaptive possibilities” that we can realize together due to regionalization.
Let’s begin with some good news. A few years back Dori Davenport Thexton, Phil Lund, and myself began to have a conversation about how hard it was to sustain the viability of offering Renaissance Modules for our respective three districts. Despite the challenges, we shared, and continue to share, a conviction that offering meaningful and worthwhile continuing education opportunities for religious professionals, and seminarians, who want to learn more about the Philosophy of Religious Education, Teacher Development, Administration of RE programs, and UU Curriculum Planning, Ministry with Youth, Multicultural Religious Education, Worship for All Ages, is something that we want to maintain and sustain.
Driving Directions to UU Faith Formation
As I look up and out to our immediate horizon, I begin to imagine what possibilities lie before us in Unitarian Universalist faith formation. Let’s assume that we are mapping out a course together. If we were conducting a MapQuest search, our driving directions would start with the address of where we are today. Our location in the present is that we have a thousand plus congregations who endeavor to provide lifelong religious education, largely in Sunday morning, age graded, classrooms. There are wondrous examples of the successes of many of those Sunday morning experiences….preschoolers engaged in Spirit Play (a Montessori model); children, youth, and adults immersed in workshop studios to experience a central value, such as the “Golden rule,” in drama, poetry, music, etc…., (the Rotation Model). This is important, I am not saying that there aren’t wonderful experiences of Sunday morning religious education taking place, and that should continue taking place, but here is the part when we get back to our driving directions. If our end location is the beloved community we say that we are aiming for, and if our end sight is achieved, in part, by growing our faith and raising lifelong Unitarian Universalists, THEN we must think beyond bricks and mortar experiences.
Reflections on Staff Titles
Creating our regional structure we wish to both learn from the best wisdom of our congregations and reflect good practice to them. I interviewed Stefan Jonasson, UUA expert on growth and on large congregations regarding what he sees as key issues our larger congregations are working. It was fascinating to see how closely many of these issues mirrored things we have been considering in creating our new region. Here are Stefan's thoughts on the first of the issues he mentioned. I will post more of Stefan's thoughts in the next couple of weeks.
Accept with agility continuing staff transition. It is fascinating how naïve many large congregations can be about the reality of frequent transitions of key staff. They need to regard staff transition as a continuing reality. If a year passes when there isn’t a transition of a significant staff member, it should be considered an odd year. I constantly see our larger congregations thrown back on their heels by the departure of a staff member. Our congregations need to be prepared for continuing transition—for the comings and goings of staff and the need to re-form.
Social Justice in MidAmerica
At a Spring 2012 Heartland District Ministers’ Chapter meeting, once again I presented information about the planned move from District-based service delivery and governance to Regional-based models. I’ve been talking with the ministers and religious education professionals about this for the past 18 months, and once again I asked “What are your questions?” One of the ministers sent me four specific questions. I’ve addressed each of them in a separate blog entry.
Here’s the fourth one: Is there a regional presence regarding justice, support of other non-congregational UU institutions in the region, state legislatures, embodied by . . . ?
- New Developments in Staffing in UU Congregations
- Territory, Growth and New Congregations
- Region and UUA Ends: What Relationship?
- Regional Identity: What Does It Do For Us?
- Rob Molla on Great Supervision
- Social Media Strategy
- Staff Teams – Why They Are Important to our Congregations
- The "What" of Regionalization
- Staffing for a New Region
- Why Regionalization?
- Future Religious Landscape