By Joan Van Becelaere

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of wonderful, creative energy in some of our congregations focused on the benefits and opportunities of working in Partnership with other congregations.

There is even a new UUA resource website for Partnership and Multisite information.

Congregations engaged in Partnership with other congregations realize that by sharing - at whatever level they find beneficial – they are not only fulfilling our covenantal obligations to support one another, but are also strengthening their own sense of mission and creating an exciting vision for the future.

Partnerships, or Multisite relationships as they are sometimes called, can take any number of different forms and styles. And Partnerships, like other deep human relationships, are always mutually beneficial.
Just listen to the Match.com ads!

Discerning whether a Partnership is a good idea for your congregation is a bit like checking out Match.com.
“What kind of partner am I looking for? What kind of partner would I be? What level of relationship am I looking for? What do I want for the future?”

If your congregation decides that it wants a new relationship and finds someone that might be a good match, then it could be time to start ‘dating’ a bit.
Maybe just lunch or meet for coffee at first. Translation: offer a joint adult faith development course together or work together to sponsor a workshop for event for the cluster.

Then, if things seem to be working out, you might want to get a bit more serious and go ‘steady.’
Perhaps your Justice Ministries Teams can begin to meet and plan together or your youth groups to start to meet together and share programming or purchase supplies in bulk together.

You might decide to co-habitate instead.
Begin to share more resources and maybe some staff – faith development staff, administrative staff, clergy, etc. It’s pretty amazing what you might do if you plan together and share resources together.

You don’t have to run out and get ‘married’ or ‘merge’ the congregations simply because you are in a relationship.
Some dating or co-habitating relationships never result in marriage.
And that’s OK.

But for others, ‘marriage’ or merger of some kind may result.
But only with mutual consent and mutual benefit.
Our UU congregational polity doesn’t allow for “arranged marriages.”

If your congregation is considering Partnership, it might help to think about it in terms similar to Match.com.
And then start your relationship journey today!

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere Congregational Life Consultant, Central East Region

About the Author

Joan Van Becelaere

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere is the Executive Director of UU Justice Ohio. She served as a Congregational Life Consultant for the Central East Region from 2007-2018. Previously, Rev. Van Becelaere was Vice President for Student Services at Iliff Theological School in Denver, CO where she also taught...

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