Over the years we have found our most successful educational events have been those hosted by our local congregations on topics of their choosing, and opened to neighboring congregations. This gives congregations both the opportunity to do leadership development on some crucial subject like growth, communication, finances, healthy handling of conflict--and to network with other UU leaders in their areas.
One example of this was when a group of congregations in Kansas invited Lisa Presley to come to lead a workshop for congregational finance people, or when congregations in Carbondale, IL, and Michigan invited former staff member Dori Thexton to lead Generosity Workshops. Former staff member Nancy Heege was similarly asked to lead an event on new directions in strategic planning (strategic planning without dots). We have presented workshops on safe congregations issues, board development, and the like. Congregations have hosted these, and MidAmerica staff have provided the content.
A variation on this that has also worked well, is when we have been invited to participate in larger educational events hosted by area clusters of congregations, like Chicago Area UUs, and the Southeast Wisconsin UU Congregations. We are glad to help brainstorm in the planning for such events and provide pieces of the programming.
When in person, our usual model is to charge a small fee per person which covers our costs, materials, and lunch. With the pandemic, we have still responded to requests from congregations, but instead of being in person, we have developed on-line presentations. This reduces the effort required of the “host” congregation to only having to have a great idea that catches on!
Once we are back in person, we’d love to work with you on an in-person event. If you have an idea for such an event that you might want to host, or if you want such an event for your congregation and would be willing to open it to your neighbors, please contact us. A core purpose of our region is to build interconnections among congregations. Often the evaluations these events say that, while participants learned a lot, the most and most regarding part of the time was building connections with neighbors and with other leaders who shared an interest in some crucial topic. Until we’re able to be in person again, remember that you can still suggest possible workshops for us to present virtually.
And remember, while often congregations sometimes find it hard to gather people in the midst of our sometimes very cold winters and very hot summers, we are here all year.