The following suggestions are offered to ease the implementation of this program. Each congregation has its own process, so use whichever suggestions are applicable to your situation.
- Gain approval. Many congregations have decision-making processes that govern adult program offerings. Please check your policies prior to implementing Principled Commitment.
- Establish parameters. Will the program be offered on eleven consecutive weeks? Monthly, over the course of the year? Will only selected workshops be offered? Who may register for the program — only adult congregation members, or will the larger community be invited to participate? Will a registration fee be charged, and if so, how much?
- Set the dates and times. Refer to your congregational calendar to avoid conflicts whenever possible.
- Select a workshop location. See "Space and Accessibility" below.
- Develop a registration process. Some congregations may simply ask participants to call and leave their names, phone numbers, and accessibility needs; others may prefer a more formal process. Leader Resource 2 is a sample registration form. If you charge a fee, decide how payment will be collected. Consider setting a registration deadline. If response is greater than anticipated, you may need to split the group into two sections and engage co-leaders for each section. Leader Resource 3 is a sample letter that can be sent to welcome couples who have registered for the program.
- Promote the program. Leader Resource 1 includes tips on promoting Principled Commitment within the congregation and larger community.
Space and Accessibility
The room used for Principled Commitment workshops should be comfortable and accessible to people with disabilities. Tables will be necessary for some activities, and you will need space for a chalice, refreshments (if served), and an easel, positioned where it can be seen easily by all participants. A music player may be helpful for some activities.
To enhance participants' experience and limit distractions, set up a space that offers privacy to the group, as well as a separate room for child care with a qualified provider. In addition, place a sign at the room entrance to limit interruptions by alerting others that a workshop is in session.
Ideally, you will have other rooms available nearby to use as "breakout" rooms if some couples or small groups need to be in a quiet or private space for their discussions.
Because ours is a faith community that welcomes all people, we have an obligation to plan congregational meetings and activities, workshops, and religious education classes so that people of all abilities can participate. Here are some things to think about as you plan Principled Commitment:
- Accessibility inside and outside. Accessibility includes available parking, or a volunteer "valet" parking service if there is insufficient accessible parking, as well as a clear path of travel into and through the facility. Accessibility can be a problem if an event is held in someone's home. If overnight stays are included, accessible accommodations should be a consideration as well.
- Adequate lighting level. Dimming or extinguishing the lights to create a particular mood may make it difficult for some people to see written materials or for people who are hard of hearing to use lip reading to help them understand what people are saying.
- Emergency evacuation. Make sure there is a predetermined evacuation plan for people who have limited movement. Do not assume that every person who has a disability will need help in an evacuation; always ask before providing assistance.