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Be a Learning Congregation!
Be a Learning Congregation!

It’s no secret to UU’s that I work with that my call to ministry is  lay leadership development. I take shared ministry seriously, and I want our lay leaders to be every bit as equipped to lead as our religious professionals.

When I first came on regional staff 7-1/2 years ago we had a tradition of week-long leadership schools. I remembered EAGLES (The Eastern Great Lakes Leadership School) from when I was a new lay leader, but I had neither the money nor the vacation time to attend. The region had moved into a new model, UULTI (The UU Leadership Team Institute), with the understanding that a team of four or five leaders attending together would have more impact on their home congregation. It had a wonderful curriculum that was transformative for attendees, but it was expensive and participants needed to take a week out of their lives to attend. We did see the positive impact on congregations who regularly sent teams.

We also offered a different model of leadership development, using the Healthy Congregations® curriculum. This was less expensive (which enabled larger congregational teams to attend) and was offered locally over a series of 6 weekends. We saw a remarkable positive impact on congregations that had most of their leaders attend these trainings.

So I imagined, if we could have ALL of or congregational leaders have this training, if we could stop fighting with one another and start fighting for justice, if we could spread our liberal religious values, what impact might we have on the world?

Imagine if these values were shared valued throughout our communities:

  • No one of us has all of the answers. The world around us is always changing and we always have something new to learn.
  • All relationships should be consensual (never coerced)
  • Our communities should be places where all souls can flourish
  • We are called to build the Beloved Community and we have faith that we have the resources to do so
  • We need to work at being our best selves
  • We need to be able to make mistakes with humility and forgiveness
  • Our Covenants (or other social contracts) help us to be accountable to all of the above values

This is the “creation story” of the UU Leadership Institute. Offering the same kind of leadership training online, with interactive materials that congregational Leadership Development Teams can use in person, could make a version of this transformative training available on-demand and at an affordable cost.

The equivalent of the week-long leadership school is offered in a 2-part course called Centered Leadership Part 1 and Part 2. We also offer the advanced leadership courses Strategic Leadership and Adaptive Leadership.

We also offer several elective courses and unique premium courses each semester and several on-demand courses anytime on UU History, Identity and on special areas of interest for various ministries in the congregation. You can enroll in Spring courses until the end of March.

Please check them out! We would love to have you be part of our learning community!

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, Dean UU Leadership Institute and CER Congregational Life staff.

About the Author

  • Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) has served as a Congregational Life Consultant in the Central East Region since September of 2010. She serves congregation in Northeast Ohio and Western New York. She is part of the LeaderLab Design team providing Leadership Development resources and other trainings to congregations.

For more information contact cer@uua.org.

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