Religious professionals in Unitarian Universalism are trained in a number of ways. Religious Educators seeking credentialing engage in a rigorous learning process like ministers, though it takes a different form. The Religious Education Credentialing Program is an approximately 3 year program while on the job and requires attending workshops and trainings, reading dozens of books, meeting regularly with a mentor, and creating a portfolio demonstrating competency and sharing examples of one’s work in nine different areas. The process concludes with a presentation and an interview before a panel that meets annually in Boston, which approves a candidate or recommends further study before coming before the panel again. I am currently in my second year of this process.
FUUSN is a congregation that values adult faith development, not just of its members, but also of its staff. Through my own continued learning, I am better able to learn about and understand best practices in religious education; to deepen my sense of the theology, history, sources, and philosophy of both UUism and religious education; and to translate my learning into practice within our congregation. This past month, I took a class on Working in Congregational Systems. I was struck by a comment someone made–that there is little economy of scale in congregations. As congregations get larger, people expect the staff to do more than they would expect in a smaller congregation. Having a deeper understanding of how the system works on a macro level can help me be strategic in allocation of staff time and in understanding the volunteer culture at a place like FUUSN.
I am looking forward to taking an online course UU Theology in March and April, and I’m curious what new ideas that will inspire. I am so grateful to be working with FUUSN volunteers and staff on projects from adult faith development to models of children’s religious education and piloting our “Traveling Chalice,” helping bring Unitarian Universalism into the home. It takes partnership to make things happen. -Rowan Van Ness, Director of Lifespan Religious Education