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Leaders (A Chorus of Faiths)

These qualities are desirable for leaders of A Chorus of Faiths:

  • A commitment to comply with your congregation's safety policies
  • Experience working in interfaith situations
  • A track record of respecting religious pluralism
  • Acquaintance with people in the congregation and wider community who are involved in interfaith work
  • Readiness to be open and authentic with youth while keeping healthy boundaries
  • A level of personal faith development that has worked beyond negative past experiences (i.e. "baggage") with other faith traditions
  • The desire and skills to step back for youth to develop and practice their own leadership skills, and to step in when needed
  • Willingness and ability to spend time outside of the workshops for planning and other activities.

This program is designed for co-leadership. In addition to sharing the work of leading, co-leadership sets an example of collaboration, offers participants more than one role model and more than one adult with whom they can develop trust, and makes less likely a leader's sense of isolation. Co-leaders can regularly evaluate the program and offer creative course corrections. Co-leadership often leads to a deep connection and appreciation between the leaders.

Being a leader is different than being a friend or a workshop participant. A leader need not be perfect nor have all the answers, yet a leader is responsible for keeping everyone emotionally and physically safe and providing a space where all participants can fully experience the activities of each workshop.

Sharing Leadership with Youth

A major goal of the program is to empower Unitarian Universalist youth as interfaith leaders, so having youth practice leadership here is desirable. Leadership opportunities build ownership of and investment in the program, and nurture participants' confidence in developing leadership abilities and taking initiatives.

Youth can practice leadership by:

  • Providing program input. As a group, youth can help shape the program. Soliciting youth input about activity choices is respectful and appropriate when leaders are ready to act on participants' ideas. Like adult leaders, youth provide the best input with sufficient time and resources to prepare. For example, if youth are planning a chapel service, they may need a hymnbook or other sources for meditative words. If you invite youth to choose a workshop activity, give them enough information to make a good choice.
  • Co-leading a workshop activity. With advance planning, youth can co-lead workshop activities. This challenge is often very appropriate for older adolescents, yet adolescents are seldom in communities that welcome their leadership; our congregations can be an exception. Solicit youth interest in potential leadership roles and follow up. It is the adult leader's responsibility to support youths' leadership success. Be ready to show flexibility about style of leadership; youth, like adults, will have their own style. Encourage all interested youth to co-lead; participating in leadership builds individual and collective identities, and hesitant youth may be more willing after observing peers' success. Support youth by modeling attentiveness and cooperation during youth leadership and managing the aspects of the program the youth are not leading.
  • Assisting in small parts of the program. Youth of all ages can easily do tasks that require little preparation, such as lighting the chalice, greeting participants at the start of the workshop, or acting as scribe during group generation of ideas.
  • Planning a retreat. Youth can practice planning, cooperation, and leadership skills by using the program's pool of alternate activities to create an all-day or overnight retreat, perhaps including worship.
  • Participating in overall program leadership. Consider inviting experienced, senior high youth to join the leadership team. Youth who have previously led workshops or who participated in this program when younger could co-lead the entire program with an adult. Some youth might effectively co-lead whole workshops. Make sure youth leaders have time to prepare: Adult and youth co-leaders should read the workshop in advance, then together choose activities and determine each co-leader's responsibilities. The adult must both mentor youth co-leaders and support the program participants. You may wish to have a discussion with youth who are leading at this level about peer ethics, modeled on the Code of Ethics for Peer Leaders in Young Adult and Campus Ministry.

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

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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