The Religious Education Covenant
What is a Religious Education Covenant?
A Covenant for Excellence in Religious Education is a set of mutually agreed upon commitments between religious educator, minister and congregation to promote excellence in lifespan religious education. The process is designed to take place after the religious educator has been in his or her position for at least one year. Each congregation defines exactly what that "excellence" is to them and how and to what extent they will promote it. The congregation reflects theologically on the role of RE in the life of the congregation, outlines mutual hopes and vision, assesses the current state of lifespan learning in the congregation, reflects on the culture and history of the congregation, clarifies areas of responsibility for making changes, and develops a support agreement (covenant) between congregation and religious educator. This is NOT a process to develop job descriptions or letters of agreement, since these should be in place at the start of employment or after completing a facilitated start-up process.
How does the Religious Education Covenant process occur?
A request for the process comes via application form from the local congregational board, religious educator and parish minister (where there is one). A facilitator is contracted, a date is scheduled and communication with the congregation begins, including a confirmation letter, checklists of responsibilities, sample publicity articles, and theological reflection questions for the religious professionals. The process itself includes a day-long Saturday workshop and a celebratory service on Sunday honoring the various covenants.
What is the cost of this service?
Costs include an honorarium of $500 for the facilitator that includes preparation, weekend facilitation, and follow-up contact after the process. In addition, travel and lodging expenses, supplies, phone, and copying expenses are paid by the congregation. Occasionally, trained facilitators may ask to bring a co-facilitator or facilitator-in-training to assist. In most cases this would not be at an additional cost to the congregation, and would be arranged in advance.
Why should we covenant?
The process not only outlines mutual hopes for excellence in religious education and clarifies accountabilities, but it also helps the congregation to see its investment in the RE program. This focus helps to elevate the status of children and youth within the congregation, as well as the volunteer RE staff. This process also recognizes and affirms the worth of the professional religious educator's work. Being in right relationship and treating paid professionals well is consistent with our UU principles and values.
When should we consider requesting a Covenanting for Excellence in Religious Education process?
You should consider this process if any of the following apply: the congregation is experiencing significant growth or change; you wish to recognize a healthy climate in which lifespan learning might flourish; you want to further right relationship with existing staff; you want to express your commitment to lifespan learning and to your religious educator.
What are the recommendations for participating in the Covenanting for Excellence in Religious Education process?
- The religious educator has previously had a start-up process conducted within the year after hire.
- The religious educator has been employed by the congregation for at least one year.
- There is a job description and letter of agreement already in place for the religious educator.
- The congregation is not currently experiencing conflict.
- The congregation agrees to contract with a facilitator who has received standardized UUA training.
- The governing board, minister and religious educator all agree to the process.
- The board, RE Committee members, religious educator, parish minister and other congregational leaders agree to participate in the day-long workshop.
Who do I contact for more information about Covenanting for Excellence in Religious Education?
Contact your Regional Lead or Program Consultant serving your region.