Karen Bellavance-Grace
Congregational Consultant
New England Region in Unitarian Universalist Association Congregational Life

The focus of Karen's work in New England is the support of small churches, those with under 100 - 120 or so members. More than half of all Unitarian Universalist churches in New England are small by this measure, but they are mighty in spirit, rich in history, and represent a great hope for the future of our faith. All of our congregations face a changing social and spiritual landscape in the 21st century. Small congregations can capitalize on thier ability to be nimble and flexible in order to respond creatively to these challenges and  experiment with innovative approaches that will provide vital lessons for our shared future.

Karen also focuses on congregational collaborations in New England. We have a blessing of geography across much of New England. It is quite likely that any UU church is within a short driving distance from one or more other UU churches. This blessing makes it possible for our churches to work together to magnify the impact of their ministries and thereby magnify the impact of our saving faith in their communities. Karen tracks congregations in collaborative ministries, and works with potential partners in collaboration to provide the architecture of their interdependence. Building collaborative relationships can be as simple and low risk as the governing board of one church attending a neighboring church to bear witness as they install a new settled minister. Or the relationship could be so deeply collaborative that two congregations call and share a single minister.  Karen provides support and coaching to congregational leaders who are ready to reach beyond their walls and build authentic connections with their neighbors.

Previously, Karen served as New England's Director of Faith Formation. Through a fellowship granted by the Fahs Collaborative at the Meadville Lombard Theological School, she authored a white paper, Full Week Faith, which proposes a new approach to our ministries of faith formation in response to the social, demographic, technological, and spiritual realities of  21st century America. Full Week Faith has taken on a life of its own, with a number of congregations across the country adapting their religious education and faith formation ministries, and several seminaries include Full Week Faith in their religious education classes for ministers in formation.  




From Karen Bellavance-Grace

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