Sparks Program: Professional Development for Ministries of Faith Engagement

Sparks Program Logo: marbled blue chalice with yellow spiral with sparks in it for the flame.

The Sparks Program provides Unitarian Universalist (UU) Religious Educators a learning community within which they can easily access applicable skills and tools. The program offers fourteen differently-themed modules, all available in an online format with some being offered in-person. While these modules are a major component of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Religious Education (RE) Credentialing Program, they may be taken separately for general professional development and applied to credentialing at a later time. Sparks Certification is achieved after the successful completion of five modules. Though developed for religious educators, religious professionals holding any portfolio in a UU setting may benefit from these educational opportunities. The following modules may be taken in any order, though a suggested order can be found in the Suggested Religious Education Professional Formation Map (PDF).

  • Administration as Leadership
  • Adult Faith Formation Online
  • Beloved Conversations - The UUA strongly believes in supporting partner organizations doing good work in educating for liberation, including the Fahs Collaborative.
    • For those of us who are BIPOC+ : We encourage taking the Fahs Collaborative's Beloved Conversations: Gathering Ourselves. Fahs "recognizes the need to understand the impact of racism in our lives—particularly our spiritual lives—and the choices we have made to survive."
    • For those of us who are white: We encourage taking the Fahs Collaborative's Beloved Conversations: Within. With this program, "you will be more clear about your own racial identity and personal and cultural history, you will have new skills for connection within and outside of the program, and you will have a deeper understanding of your own relationship to racial justice practices."
  • Curriculum Planning
  • Dimensions of Faith Development
  • Leading UU Culture Change
  • Neurodivergence Webinar Series
  • Youth Ministry Practicum
  • Philosophy of Religious Education
  • Spiritual Care Training for Religious Professionals
  • System Theory
  • Teacher Development
  • Unitarian Universalist History (online only)
  • Unitarian Universalist Identity
  • Unitarian Universalist Theology
  • Worship (Ideally taken by staff teams). Please check out these online worship resources in UU Worship Lab.

Similar to Sparks modules, this other training is specifically geared towards staff teams of religious professionals and is most beneficial when taken as such. This training can be used in the RE Credentialing portfolio:

  • Family Ministry training

Spark Modules

Explore the components of each Spark module and other trainings on "Resources for Sparks Modules". Some modules are available in online or hybrid formats. Regardless of format, Sparks modules are organized and scheduled by a sponsoring group; Review the Religious Educator Calendar for dates.


In-person modules are designed to accommodate between 10 to 24 participants; online modules are generally limited to 15 participants. Sparks Modules are open to all those interested in religious leadership including seminary students, ministers, congregational staff, RE committee members and other lay leaders. Congregations support the Religious Professional by providing funding for registration and time off to attend.

Planning a Spark Module

Sparks modules can be offered by regional staff, summer camps or conference centers, individual or clusters of congregations or professional organizations such as Liberal Religious Educators (LREDA) or Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA). If you are interested in sponsoring a Spark module, please contact the Sparks Office,

The UUA will provide names of qualified leaders as well as program materials, while the sponsoring group is responsible for registrations, publicity, local arrangements for hosting the module as well as leader expenses. Most modules require reading and preparation in advance which is the responsibility of each participant to complete. This information can be found in the Module Resources section.

At least six months before the anticipated date of the module, read the Sparks Module Planning Guide (Word) and consider the following items a priority:

  • Identify which of the available modules you wish to offer
  • Set the date and secure a module location
  • Establish a planning group that will give the needed support
  • Identify and confirm two Leaders
  • Designate a Coordinator
  • Contact the Spark Program Office with any questions.


The cost of a Sparks module is shared by the participants and the sponsoring group. Details of the cost breakdown are in the planning guide. The registration fee is determined by the local planning committee, based on its estimates of the conference costs. The conference budget must include:

  • Payment for the facilitators (the minimum payment is $650 per leader)
  • Meals and accommodations
  • Facilitator expenses including travel and accommodations.


When a participant has completed five modules (75 hours of Sparks training), the Sparks Program will send a Letter of Recognition and a Sparks pin, in appreciation of the time that has been given in the service of quality religious development for our children, youth and adults. A participant may include these five modules and any additional modules toward completion of the Religious Education Credentialing Program.


It is strongly recommended that congregations give financial support to religious professionals who are attending on their behalf. Religious educators may apply for continuing education grants of up to $500. For those in the RE Credentialing program, the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) offers scholarships.

Becoming a Sparks Facilitator

The usual path to becoming a Sparks Facilitator is:

  • As a participant, take the Sparks Module you are interested in facilitating
  • Apply to become a Facilitator-in-Training (FIT):
    • Complete a self-assessment using the Facilitator-in-Training evaluation form (the form is designed as an “after” module evaluation and is also used for the initial self-assessment.)
    • Obtain a recommendation from regional staff or LREDA chapter leadership; someone who is familiar with your work as a leader or facilitator. The recommendation should include information such as how long they’ve known you, in what capacity, and why they think you’d be a strong leader. Recommendation should be sent with “Facilitator-in-Training Endorsement” in the subject line to
  • Once all application materials are submitted, the FIT goes on the Facilitator-in-Training list and waits for an opportunity to be placed with an experienced facilitator as modules are scheduled.
  • Once the FIT has co-facilitated a module, the experienced facilitator completes the FIT evaluation form and feedback is provided to the FIT. Depending on feedback from the experienced facilitator and participants, an additional placement as FIT may be required.
  • With a successful evaluation, the FIT gets placed on the facilitator list.
Group photo of the UU Congregation of Gwinnett, GA

Participants and Leaders of the Administration Sparks module at the UU Congregation of Gwinnett GA.