Strong RE Programs Begin with Strong Leaders
In accordance with LREDA bylaws:
Any group of LREDA members wishing to form a chapter should submit their request in writing to the Board of Trustees, specifying the names of the petitioning members and the geographical area to be served. It is helpful to have any set of chapter bylaws filed with the Board Chapter Liaison, although this is not required by the continental LREDA by-laws.
Only members of continental LREDA are eligible for membership in LREDA Chapters. Chapter members must pay dues to continental LREDA, as well as any dues assessed by the chapter.
The purpose of the chapters shall be to uphold LREDA as outlined in the By-laws, to further these purposes at the local level, to form support groups, and to uphold the work of the parent organization at the continental level.
Chapters shall elect their own presiding officers and shall determine their own committees and committee members.
LREDA chapters typically meet 1 to 3 times a year. Some chapters meet in the context of a retreat, usually reserving time within retreat programming to conduct chapter business. Other chapters include half-day, stand-alone meetings in their yearly meeting schedule. Some chapters meet in conjunction with other district events, such as district annual or fall and spring meetings/conferences, in order to minimize additional travel and time away from home, and enable more religious educators to attend. Some chapters that span large geographical areas have chosen to split into clusters. These clusters tend to meet more frequently than chapters, often monthly, and concentrate on providing support and networking opportunities for their members. Although certain practices may differ by cluster, all clusters should operate in accordance with their chapter by-laws.
A typical meeting might last for 2 or 3 hours, and include a check-in, a brief worship, and a business meeting. Stand-alone meetings, as well as retreats, often include some programming of professional or personal interest to religious educators. Business meetings typically include program planning and/or election of officers and selection of committees or portfolios. . LREDA recommends that a visit from the local UUA Compensation Consultant to discuss issues of compensation of religious educators be included periodically in a chapter meeting schedule. Chapter meetings might take place in members' churches, sometimes rotating locations, sometimes in central geographical areas. Chapters meeting in the context of a retreat or district meeting typically hold the meeting in the same retreat, hotel or other meeting space.
Some chapters also a hold one or more one-day or weekend retreat in addition to or in conjunction with their meeting. For some chapters, especially those that are new, the retreat is the sole focus of the chapter's annual activity. Chapter program content, including retreat programming, usually addresses issues of self-care, professional-development, or religious education program development.
Some chapters have periodic or regular combined meetings with the local UUMA chapter. A few chapters have jointly planned "professional days" with a UUMA chapter. Other chapters rely on their members who are also UUMA members to share appropriate information about the UUMA.
A typical structure for chapter officers would be a president/chair/convenor, treasurer and secretary. Some chapters have a vice president or a president-elect. Some chapters have a program committee or coordinator, and a worship committee or coordinator. A few chapters have extensive leadership teams that include portfolios of membership, outreach (to other district professional groups), communications (might include a chapter newsletter), and "at-large" position. Chapter leadership teams sometimes have separate ad hoc or regular meetings. The term for a chapter leadership position is typically 2-3 years.
Typical chapter dues run from $10 to $25 per year. They may cover expense of handouts or mailings, including postage, refreshments at meetings, any charges associated with chapter banking, an honorarium or travel expenses for a program presenter. Most chapters set the dues fairly low to encourage broad participation among area religious educators. Some chapters supplement their dues income with income from fund-raising. In order to encourage chapter participation a few chapters do not have any dues or have a policy of voluntary dues. This is often accommodated by outside funding from a district or other resource, and happens most often when a chapter is new in order to attract membership. Some chapters give scholarships to first-time members or have a policy of waiver of dues on a case by case basis. Chapter dues are in addition to dues to continental LREDA. Any member of LREDA may request a partial waiver of continental dues. Waivers are reviewed and granted on an individual basis. Any retreat expenses are typically separate, and covered directly by the chapter members. Some chapters factor in travel equalization when determining retreat fees.
Chapters are encouraged to set up a Chapter bank account that is separate from any personal accounts. If a LREDA chapter is stable and has capable leadership, and if the financial transactions in any one year are sufficient to warrant a separate checking account for chapter business, then the chapter can obtain an employer ID number and open a bank account in the chapter name. No EID number, no account. Information about obtaining an employer ID number from the IRS is at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98350,00.html. It is not necessary to actually have any paid staff in order to get an EID. A local bank may want to see a copy of the chapter By-Laws as evidence that this is a bona fide organization. These are easy to create, and you will find a sample at http://users.aristotle.net/~nonprofit/startup/bylaws.htm. Google “sample bylaws” for additional ones. Creating By-Laws is always a good exercise in mission and organizational development work. The By-Laws should provide that in the event of dissolution of the chapter, any remaining assets will revert to LREDA. There should be two chapter officers as signatories on the checking account.
ATTRACTING NEW MEMBERS
Some chapters encourage new membership by inviting all religious educators in their area to attend meetings and/or retreats, whether they are LREDA members (chapter or continental members) or not. Some chapters waive full or partial chapter dues for new members. Other chapters limit the amount of "work" or business time in the chapter in order to make participation more attractive. Most chapters make sure that their outreach communications to non-members in their area is professional in appearance or delivery, clear in describing the particulars of their chapters as well as the benefits of membership in LREDA, regular and thorough. Some chapters and districts have mentor programs to more smoothly integrate new members into the life of their organizations.
CONNECTION WITH CONTINENTAL LREDA
Chapter members must also be members in good standing (dues "paid-up") of continental LREDA. This membership process is separate from the chapter membership process. Chapters typically connect with continental LREDA through communication between the designated chapter contact and the LREDA Board Chapter Liaison or other LREDA trustees, through attending continental LREDA membership meetings, through LREDA-l e-list. Chapters connect with each other at chapter events during continental LREDA Fall Conference or GA, and through LREDA-l e-list. A chapter member, typically the chapter president/chair/convenor, is identified to LREDA members as the chapter contact to continental LREDA.
DISTINCTION AND RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LREDA CHAPTERS AND DISTRICT RE ORGANIZATIONS
A typical distinction between the work of a LREDA chapter and that of a district R.E. Committee or Cluster, is that the LREDA chapter promotes the support and development of the religious educator, and the RE Committee or Cluster promotes the support and development of congregational and district religious education programs. But this is a fine line that is often blurred. Some chapters concentrate on support and networking of religious educators, while district RE committees and clusters concentrate on their professional development through trainings and other continuing education. District committees and clusters have more financial and other resources available, so the responsibility for training is most often assumed by them. This training might include sponsoring training for new religious educators, OWL leadership trainings, Renaissance modules and other internally and externally developed continuing education. (Although some LREDA chapters are moving towards providing continuing education trainings of their own.) In some chapters and districts, the separate responsibilities are negotiated more informally. In addition, chapters are sometimes comprised of members from more than 1 district, while district RE committees and clusters have a direct correspondence to the district or, especially in the case of clusters, are a subset of the district.
It is good practice for chapters and district RE committees and clusters to be respectful of each others unique responsibilities and challenges, especially when planning events. This is most easily facilitated when members of chapters are also members of district RE committees or clusters, have a formal liaison relationship them or at the least give reports of chapter activities to these organizations.
Some district R.E. Committees have given seed money in order to start a LREDA chapter or scholarship money for members in order to attract new members. Typically, a district program consultant would professionally serve the RE Committee or Cluster as part of their job. In a LREDA chapter, a program consultant might be a member as any other, although sometimes reporting or sharing non-confidential information in their privileged position, and typically not able to hold office because of UUA restrictions. Chapters often rely on district RE program consultants, RE committees or clusters to help them identify religious educators new to the chapter geographical area.
Any group of LREDA members who wishes to form a chapter should submit its request to the Board of Trustees, specifying the names of the petitioning members and the geographical area to be served. The purpose of chapters shall be to uphold LREDA functions at the local level, to form support groups, and to uphold the work of LREDA at the continental level. For more information, call or write Lynn Hunt.