Nancy Combs-Morgan, Congregational Life Consultant, MidAmerica and Southern Regions
Since last March, our MidAmerica regional staff have been actively coaching and connecting with congregational leaders as they have transitioned to a virtualsphere of congregational life. We have been amazed at the resilience and capacity for adaptation of so many congregations. What has inspired me are the countless religious educators who have faithfully helped to provide online, multigenerational, opportunities for UU faith formation.
One question that I have been asking these religious educators is “what are you measuring?” If it is a measure of attendance only, then you are missing the mark. The real measure are opportunities for engagement. All that your congregation is offering, from online fellowship opportunities, to Sunday morning worship, to small group check ins, are opportunities for engagement. Also, many leaders are creating online shared resources that are available 24/7. These are all opportunities for engagement.
As the COVID-19 horizon continues to be rather open ended, we are preparing a series of connection opportunities with a host of differing groups of congregational leaders and religious professionals. For my part, I will be providing connection “meet ups” for religious educators in August and September to help religious education professionals map out their virtual RE year.
Know that you are not alone. The top resource that I recommend for any leader is the “UU Religious Professional Response COVID-19” Facebook page. It has ongoing and rather amazing crowd sourced resources that are directly helpful. I want to highlight the particularly stellar work of a gifted MidAmerica religious educator, Meredith Plummer, who serves at First Unitarian In Cincinnati, OH. One example of the many resources she has helped to develop during this time of virtual RE includes “RE Emergency Lesson Plans,” 6 at-home lessons for school-age children.
We will keep our community posted about our connection opportunities to explore a virtual year of programming, and re-opening plans.