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The Program (Harvest the Power)

One of the greatest roles of a leader in congregational life is not "being in charge" but ensuring that everyone learns to hear and tell the stories that shape our understanding of ourselves and one another. The narratives we tell tend to become the reality we are capable of living; they determine how we understand leadership and the sorts of leaders we can imagine or allow ourselves to be. — Wayne Floyd, contemporary educator and writer

The Harvest the Power program was created not only to strengthen the skills and the confidence of individuals who have accepted a leadership role in our congregations, but also to provide the intentional faith development of integrated leaders who model healthy personal, spiritual and leadership practices.

It is stating the obvious to say our world is in a time of great and rapid change. Social systems, including the ways we communicate, are changing rapidly. Congregational life competes with many other priorities on people's calendars. Institutions that once seemed stable are in flux. People struggle to manage the demands of family life, work life and outside interests, hobbies and volunteer work. It is truly remarkable that so many come forward and agree—some with great enthusiasm—to accept leadership positions in our congregations. What a gift they give their faith community—a gift of their time, their love and their talent. That gift deserves the best support and guidance the congregation can offer so that volunteers experience leadership as challenging, yet rewarding, and an opportunity for spiritual growth as well as skill development. This program helps congregations develop and strengthen leaders in a way that honors the gifts each brings.

Harvest the Power uses a spiral learning model. The 12 workshops are structured in three units of four workshops each. Within each unit, the workshops explore progressively deeper aspects of leadership. Workshops 1 through 4 comprise a unit on identity. Participants explore their own leadership and religious journeys, the meanings of power and authority, and turning points and change opportunities in their lives and congregations. Workshops 5 through 8 comprise a unit on purpose , or what ends we serve. This unit delves into the experience of leadership. Participants explore the choices they make and how leaders can honor their own needs along with the needs of others in the leadership group and the congregation. This unit invites careful consideration of how leaders care for their own spirits in order to keep them from being buffeted by congregational storms. It ends with an exploration of the importance of recognizing those who are on the margins of our faith communities so that their voices will matter in the life of the congregation. The third unit focuses on path, inviting leaders to learn skills and ways of thinking which will enable them to lead a congregation through change processes in a healthy way. This unit introduces congregational system theory and explores ways for leaders to respond to congregational conflict and difficult behavior. It looks at the complexities of leadership in a time of change and gives leaders tools for identifying effective and ineffective leadership responses. The final workshop of this unit and of the program invites participants to consider an array of metaphors for leadership and to work with a group to create their own.

The Harvest the Power program presents a model of leadership that has more questions than answers. In many cases, the job of the leader is to ask the right question and provide a framework that allows for answers to emerge from the congregation. May these workshops provide the basis for fruitful conversations and healthy decision-making among congregational leaders.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Saturday, October 29, 2011.

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