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LREDA Accepting Nominations for Treasurer

As you have been informed by the LREDA board, we are reopening the search for the LREDA Treasurer. Two excellent candidates could not take the position due to vocational changes. We are grateful for the prompt and concise leadership of the board in dealing with this vacancy.

We are confident that there are good candidates among our membership. Maybe you have always wanted to serve in a LREDA leadership position and hesitated in applying. If you feel that you have been served by this organization in the past and would like to contribute to its future, please consider applying! Also, if there is a colleague you believe has something to offer in this position, please encourage him or her to apply! Serving on the LREDA board provides an excellent opportunity to contribute to the growth of our faith and the support of fellow religious professionals.

It is important to know two things about the job as treasurer. 

1. The LREDA treasurer should have an interest in and a level of comfort with financial management, but need not be an expert or have held another Treasurer position. Training and support are provided. 

2. In addition, the treasurer works collaboratively with the LREDA board listening to the membership, planning for the future, and guiding the LREDA organization in its mission.

Both of these qualities are held in healthy tension to contribute to the overall work of the LREDA board. Read the treasurer job description here. The deadline for applications is July 15, 2017.

Applications should include a letter of interest, three references, and an extended resume/CV that includes your professional work, professional development, and leadership experience. Please include "Nominating Committee" in the Subject line of your application and send to Michele Grove at nominating@lreda.org. 


Regards and best wishes as you enter the summer season,

LREDA Nominating Committee 

Kim Mason, Chair
Michele Grove
Katy Carpman

LREDA Questions to the UUA Presidential Candidates

Dear Colleagues,

We hope this message finds you well as you navigate the busy days of mid-June and the approach of UUA General Assembly, when a new UUA President will be elected. At October’s LREDA Fall Conference in California, we held a candidate forum that raised key issues for our membership with the three candidates. 

This spring, the Board decided it was important to follow up with the candidates, particularly addressing issues of power and authority related to faith development professionals, reflecting ongoing concerns expressed by our members. A set of questions was carefully written and held until after the important work of the UU White Supremacy Teach In, led by LREDA members Aisha Hauser, Christina Rivera and Kenny Wiley.

The candidates received our letter and responded that they had, together, decided to address no further questions until the Presidential Candidate Forum on Friday June 23rd at 8PM at the UUA General Assembly. (Watch the Livestream here.) Our questions have been submitted to the Election Campaign Practices Committee. We are sharing the complete set of questions with you now.

LREDA has not endorsed a candidate.

It has been a tumultuous time; please take good care of yourselves.

In Service,

The LREDA Board
Cathy Seggel, President
Annie Scott, President-Elect
Robin Pugh, Vice President
Karen LoBracco, Treasurer
Andrea James, Secretary
Meagan Henry, At Large, Professional Support
Leah Purcell, At Large, Professional Development
Lily Rappaport, At Large, Continental Events

Questions to the UUA Presidential Candidates

The Liberal Religious Educators Association represents about 600 religious professionals, including religious educators, ministers, youth ministry professionals, religious education assistants, UUA and CUC staff. We are called by the transformative power of shared ministry in faith development for all ages. Our work is vital to Unitarian Universalism. This letter focuses on concerns related to professional religious educators, while acknowledging the essential race and ethnicity issues that must be addressed in our Association and everywhere.

We were dismayed, wounded, and outraged by the words of past UUA President Peter Morales devaluing religious educators http://www.uuworld.org/articles/developments-2017-04-01. They were emblematic of an attitude that has been all too prevalent within the Unitarian Universalist Association. Rev. Morales’ words shone a light on a truth that too many of our members have lived. Many have been told not to bother applying for regional staff positions. Many are voiceless when in conflict with their supervisors. All but a few are unable to vote at General Assembly. Staff covenants are, at times, used to silence colleagues.

Shared Ministry: The Excellence in Shared Ministry Task Force report of 2012, writes, "Against an historical backdrop of power over, oppression, and ignorance, we encourage a rigorous re-examination and re-formulation of relationships that are respected, tended, and framed in a spirit of justice as well as in the shared goal of mutual support." What will you do to lead a "rigorous re-examination and reformulation" of professional relationships within our association? How will you promote and support shared ministry teams in faith communities? How will you support the valuable work done in partnership between LREDA, the UUMA, the UUMN, the AUUA, and UUAMP?

Power and Authority: How will you ensure that UUA hiring practices value the education and experience of religious professionals who are not ordained? How will you support the leadership of professionals of color? How will you educate congregations to provide avenues for religious educators to address conflict with their supervisors? What do you envision as the appropriate channel for religious educators to communicate unhealthy behavior they have witnessed on a professional staff team?

Faith Development: What are your plans for staffing in support of faith development within the UUA? How will you foster and value learning environments in our congregations?

Fair Compensation: How will you motivate congregations to commit to fair compensation, including benefits and appropriate professional development expenses, for all religious professionals on staff? How will you lift up the work and needs of professional religious educators, particularly those who are marginalized?

Religious Educator Delegates to GA: Would you work directly to provide delegate status to religious educators? If so, how do you propose that happen and how soon? What criteria would you propose for automatic delegate status? 

 

2017 Stewardship Sermon Award

Stewardship Sermon Award 2017 Winner Selected!

Please join us in congratulating Rev. Bill Neely for his winning sermon, "The Guy on the Bus".

Established in 1984, the Stewardship Sermon Award is granted annually in recognition of a sermon that best explores and promotes the financial support of our Unitarian Universalist faith. The $1,000 award is jointly sponsored by the Annual Program Fund (APF), the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA) and the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA). The selection is made by a representative committee using a blind process with standardized criteria.

The panel also chose an “Honorable Mention” sermon this year. It was titled “Choose Your Own Spiritual Adventure” and was written by Rev. Bret Lortie.

LREDA Board Affirms Support of UU White Supremacy Teach In

The Board of The Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) encourages our members to support and participate in the UU White Supremacy Teach In. This call to action and worship comes from a growing network of UUs--religious professionals and and lay leaders from both within and outside congregations--led by UUs of color and white UUs working together.  

Congregations are committing to discuss the realities of racism and white supremacy in our congregations, in our Association, and in our faith on April 30th or May 7th. We support this movement and encourage your participation.  Learn more and sign up at http://www.blacklivesuu.com/uuwhitesupremacyteachin/.

As a continental organization, we are aware that not all LREDA members are connected with the UUA. Nevertheless, our Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist faith calls us to dismantle white supremacy in our congregations and wider communities, whether in the U.S. or Canada.
Sincerely, 
The LREDA Board

Cathy Seggel, President
Robin Pugh, Vice President
Andrea James, Secretary
Karen LoBracco, Treasurer
Annie Scott, President-Elect
Meagan Henry, At Large: Professional Support
Leah Purcell, At Large: Professional Development
Lily Rappaport, At Large: Continental Events

LREDA Letter to Membership

On behalf of LREDA, we want to recognize and support our colleagues who are courageously speaking truth to power and leading another round of critical conversations about intersectional issues of oppression within our Association.

We are writing this message so that LREDA members, colleagues in shared ministry, UUA Administration & Staff, UUA Board and the Unitarian Universalist community knows we are paying close attention to the communications that have been shared in multiple ways this week. LREDA leadership is aware of the urgent need for diligence in affirming the importance, expertise and comprehensive scope of the service of religious educators and in particular, religious educators of color.

We hold up this excerpt from the UUA funded report of the Joint Task Force on Excellence in Shared Ministry of the LREDA/UUMN/UUMA in 2013, “There are relationships of authority and accountability among us and with the people we serve. Against an historical backdrop or power-over oppression, and ignorance, we encourage a rigorous re-examination and re-formation of relationships that are respected, tended and framed in a spirit of justice as well as in the shared goal of mutual support. This requires being mindful of the use of formal and informal power and an acute awareness of power dynamics.”

A LREDA observer will be present to witness the UUA Board deliberations in April and see if and how they take advantage of this potent opportunity in our Association’s history. We are also in direct communication with other stakeholders.

We are painfully aware of the realities of unfair practices in our own organization, our Association and beyond. LREDA Board will be meeting in April to review our own policies and practices in order to further hold our role in dismantling institutional oppression.

We will continue to communicate as we stay rooted in this hard, essential and deeply spiritual work.

Cathy Seggel, President LREDA & Annie Scott, President-Elect

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Serving on the LREDA Board

As their terms serving the LREDA Board turn toward the final stretch, Karen LoBracco and Meagan Henry share the things they have learned and enjoyed about serving LREDA members. 

 

From the Treasurer's Bench, 

For the past 2.5 years I have served our profession as LREDA’s Treasurer. Like most interesting jobs it has been dynamic, requiring me to learn and stretch. Every new opportunity that LREDA took advantage of – accepting donations of stock, grant applications, managing the transition from Administrator as contractor to employee, accepting a large Endowment donation for the Chapter Challenge program – all required some restructuring on my part to adapt to this new world. I have learned so much!

The other benefit of serving on the LREDA Board has been the opportunity to meet and get to know so many of you! On the Board, through the committees and working groups as well as at our professional gathering, I have had the joy of moving from “I recognize that NAME” to “I know that PERSON and a bit of their story”. What a gift!

At our most recent Fall Conference we tackled four “Tough Topics”, and money was one of them. As treasurer I applaud the power money has to help us achieve our dreams, and so I work to reduce our costs and maximize our income so we can fund more dreams. Those dreams are about connection and support in good times and in bad, about new ways of approaching the challenges of Unitarian Universalist faith development, and being the best professional we can be. Unfortunately, even when specifically summoned by the LREDA Board, my magic wand has proven to be quite ineffective in conjuring up extra money. Disappointing, so as treasurer I am forced to fall back on the old standbys of realistic planning and careful management.
LREDA is a vital force in our UU world and the communities we serve because of your generous support and sharing of your funds, your time and your wisdom. Thank you!

In Faith,

Karen LoBracco

 

Dear Colleagues,

It's hard to believe my term as your LREDA Board Member with the Professional Support portfolio is almost over! It is truly an honor to serve in this position, and I'm grateful to have this opportunity to grow and to learn. Most of all, I’m grateful to serve you, the inspiring and dedicated members of LREDA.

Professional Support is key to our members and the services offered by our Good Officers is vital for the health of our profession. As the coordinator for this program, I’ve learned of the many challenges faced by our Religious Educators, and I’ve witnessed the struggles and joys around the work we do. I’m proud of the fact that we updated our Code of Professional Practice and I’m looking forward to finishing updates to our Guidelines. These resources are available online for anyone to read and I view this as a service to all religious professionals, not only our members. I’ve established a link to my counterpart in the UUMA and I hope my successor with continue to build upon this relationship so that we will have better knowledge and a clearer understanding of our respective roles and responsibilities to our members.

One of the most challenging aspects of my term has been trying to figure out how to best support and in some cases, revive local LREDA Chapters. We have some Chapters with religious educators who find great value in meeting regularly, either in person or online for worship, reflection, program sharing, and problem solving. These folks provide an incredibly supportive and vital link to one another and enable many of us who tend to be fairly isolated in our work to have a professional growth community. In other Chapter areas, I see that many religious educators have not had the opportunity to benefit from this collegiality and support. Therefore, they don’t know how beneficial it is and they do not feel the need to engage in Chapter or cluster gatherings. However, there are some exciting new initiatives happening that I hope will bring more religious educators into supportive communities of growth and learning, such as the MidAmerica LREDA Learning Collaborative initiated by Nancy Combs-Morgan and explained in more detail here.

I must share with you all the thing I've enjoyed the most about my position is getting to know so many of you over the past 2 and 1/2 years. You inspire me to strive to continue to improve and seek new ways to enhance my work and spiritual growth every day. Serving on the LREDA Board is truly an honor! I look forward to seeing our professional organization’s next steps.

With Gratitude,
Meagan Henry

 

 

Are You Interested in a LREDA 21st Century Grant?

Have a great idea that will support religious education and religious educators? Need inspiration to apply for a 21st Century Grant? Learn a little more about a recently awarded grant. 

In 2016 Universalist landmark and retreat center Murray Grove, under the leadership of Rev. Carol S. Haag, received a LREDA 21st Century Grant to create a Coming of Age Program for Unitarian Universalists. Religious Educators Tracy Breneman and Meagan Henry created an exciting, dynamic program designed to enhance and deepen the experiences of participants in Unitarian Universalist Coming of Age classes. 

The program is a credo exploration and writing workshop with an overarching goal to help young people grow and develop in their Unitarian Universalist faith. Murray Grove is the pioneer of the curriculum, which is available for use by clusters of congregations throughout Unitarian Universalist districts and regions. There are specifically Universalist elements in the retreat, drawing upon the rich heritage of Murray Grove, its founding and the history of Universalism. This retreat is designed for youth in seventh through ninth grades with the understanding that each congregation may have youth who are a bit younger or older.

Feedback from participants:

  • This retreat was a very positive bonding experience for the class and they made excellent progress on defining their beliefs in preparation for writing their personal statements.
  • Thanks for all your hard work. I think the weekend was a worthwhile experience for all involved. Overall, I thought it was a very thought provoking and well put together curriculum.
  • I felt privileged to be at the retreat, being with kids at a time of awakening.
  • This is an exciting curriculum, really well written, full of engaging activities and exercises, a nice flow bringing the youth toward completion of a thoughtful, well articulated credo statement. It was good to work with as leaders. It is large and so a lot to absorb and share back to the group, but well worth the effort. 
  • Thank you so much to all of you for providing a meaningful and profound retreat experience for our young people who will be coming of age. Your combined efforts allowed our children to stay safe while reaching deeply and of course, having fun.

 

Grant applications are due by December 31st. Questions about the 21st Century Fund and the projects they support? Contact grants@lreda.org

Judith Frediani--2016 Mac Lean Award for Excellence in Religious Education

Congratulations to Judith A. Frediani, the 2016 Recipient of the

Angus MacLean Excellence in Religious Education

Judith Frediani with members of the LREDA Board
Judith Frediani with members of the LREDA Board: Robin Pugh, Annie Scott, Dana Regan, Cathy Seggel, Becky Brooks, Meagan Henry, Judith Frediani and Lily Rappaport

View Video of the award presentation at the Columbus 2016 UUA General Assembly

Text of the presentation: 

Jim Key, Moderator of the UUA:
"The Angus H. MacLean award was established in 1972 by the St. Lawrence University Theological School Alumni Association and the Religious Education Department of the UUA. It is awarded each year to someone who has made outstanding contributions to religious education. This year, the honor goes to Judith A. Frediani."

Jessica York, Director of the Faith Development Office of the UUA:
“Good morning. As I go about my work in service to our faith, I am aware of the great need for those who keep the flame. Keeping the flame is not a passive role. It is about much more than just carrying on a legacy.

A keeper can hold a light unto an organization so it may keep its stated goals in sight. And more than that, a keeper can use the light of the flame to discern the true desires of our faith, those buried deep in our hearts – the ones sometimes hidden or of which we may be too scared to speak, lest they prove too ambitious.

In our faith, we need those who keep the flame of justice, the flame of a burning desire to make meaning of our daily existence, the flame of the communal fire, the flame of a mighty love strong enough to tear down walls, persistent enough to be passed down from generation to generation. This award is about nothing if not a sign of our gratitude for those who keep the flame.

When Judith Frediani left her position as director of religious education at First Parish Bedford to become the curriculum director at the UUA in 1985, she accepted a flame. Over the next 28 years, moving from that position to director of Lifespan Faith Development and Resource Development office, Judith created curricula, facilitated workshops, and supervised staff, as you would expect. But she also used her position as director to lift up social justice, lifelong learning, and the very profession of religious education.

Under Judith’s direction, religious education curricula and resources asked us to engage with themes of justice as a foundational element of what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. Her own passion for antiracism, anti-oppression work melded with that of our Association’s. Race to Justice, Rainbow Children, Weaving the Fabric of Diversity, and In Our Hands were just some of the curricula created during Judith’s first decade at the UUA.

In later years, Judith brought to life two of the most ambitious and successful projects of the UUA, both of which are also filled with a call to justice. Our Whole Lives has changed the landscape of comprehensive sexuality education. It is currently used not only in congregations, but in many secular settings. Judith was the project manager for Our Whole and Lives, editor and author of the Adult level Sexuality and Our Faith.

Tapestry of Faith, the new core curricula, was a decade in the making. Many stakeholders helped shape the vision for a free, online, lifespan curriculum that could ensure a rich, common learning experience for all UUs. Judith was responsible for taking all the ideas and making something focused and complete out them. Today we have 15,000 pages online of 40 plus programs for preschoolers to elders.

A master’s level credentialed religious educator, Judith directed the Renaissance program to provide professional development to religious educators and other congregational leaders. She taught UU Religious Education at Harvard Divinity School for 13 years, inspiring and informing divinity students with a broad understanding and active commitment to religious education in their future ministries.

Collaboration amongst religious professionals and between the staff group she directed and other teams – both within the UUA and outside – has been a hallmark of her tenure. She recruited staff amongst UUs of Color and those who bring the same anti-oppression lens and collaborative skills to their work that she herself possess.

Yet one of the most profound flames Judith has kept alive is as an advocate for religious education and religious educators as central to the very core of our faith. Judith understands that the teaching is just as important to a liberal religious faith as the preaching for how can we be informed enough to make faithful choices in our life without the reflection and practice religious education brings? Judith recognized the need for institutional support for religious educators and other religious professionals who focus on faith development… She tirelessly witnessed to this need at district and congregational gatherings, as a member of the Liberal Religious Educators Association, and at the UUA’s Leadership Council, where for many years she was able to speak to the importance of religious educators as leaders in our faith.

Judith has kept a burning faith in the worth of our community of religious educators. Sparks of meaning making have been fed by her devotion to educating a generation of children, youth, young adults and adults, lay leaders, ordained ministers, and religious educators. The flame of justice in Unitarian Universalism burns brighter because of Judith Frediani.

Today I give honor to a wise teacher, a staunch advocate for religious educators, a mentor, and a prophetic leader, …. the 2016 Angus H. MacLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education goes to Judith A. Frediani."

Judith Frediani, 2016 Angus MacLean Award Recipient:
Thank you, Jessica, for your remarkably humbling words and for the bright flame that you carry for our faith. Angus MacLean wrote: ‘To be a Unitarian Universalist all the time is almost too much to ask.’
He was referring to the sometimes burden of our theological freedom and the lofty values to which we aspire.
Yet we cherish that burden, a burden made tolerable by a community of all ages engaged in lifelong learning, meaning making, celebrating, and just trying to do the right thing.
I call that engagement religious education. Please keep it up. And thank you.

 

 

LREDA Endowment Donor Profile--Thank you, Jennifer Halperin!

“Strengthening the LREDA endowment not only ensures the future of our organization, it will generate income to fund more resources and opportunities for collegial support in the present.” 

Jennifer Halperin, Interim Lifespan Faith Development Director at the UU Church of the North Hills in Pittsburgh, PA has been a leader the local LREDA chapter as well the national LREDA organization. She has served as chapter president, LREDA Board treasurer, and on the LREDA Endowment Committee, among many other positions. “LREDA means professionalism of the work of religious educators. It means setting benchmarks and guidelines for congregations and colleagues to establish fair employment practices, professional conduct and continuing education. It has been at the forefront of bringing UU values to the work of religious educators, especially in establishing AR/AO/MC frameworks and lenses through which we lead congregational programs (and the organization),” Jennifer explains. 

She believes in the important work of Religious Educators and the need to support it. “We are much more than a ‘union for Religious Educators,” Jennifer said about the LREDA endowment Campaign, “While we focus on professional concerns, we pay equal attention to nurturing and nourishing – replenishing the hearts and souls of our colleagues. This is often isolating, exhausting and depleting work, and it is in those times that we gather together- in worship, small and large group gatherings, chapter meetings and retreats, that give many of us what we need to continue on with our ministries.

Jennifer recalls a distinct moment of clarity and synchronicity while serving LREDA. “I was standing at the LREDA booth at General Assembly one day and a man approaches, and says he is there on behalf of a client’s estate and he has a check to deliver to LREDA. I said, ‘perfect timing, I am the LREDA treasurer.’ He was an attorney with a law firm that was handling the estate of Norma Veridan, ancestral LREDA leader. He then handed me a check for $40,000! I was stunned at the gift designated for the LREDA Endowment, and thought to myself, wow, I am so pleased and proud to accept this generous gift! And what promise LREDA held for the future for Norma Veridan that she included us in her will!” 

This moment certainly had a powerful impact on Jennifer and no doubt influenced her decision to make such a generous gift to the Endowment Campaign. Jennifer explains, “I believe in the transformative power of UU religious education, and I believe that happens with well supported leaders held to the highest standards. I believe that we will be able to accomplish more with more resources – and I trust in LREDA leadership, now and in the future.”

Thank you, Jennifer!

LREDA at General Assembly 2016

Highlights from 2016 UUA General Assembly

Informative Professional Day with Carey McDonald and Dr. Tony McDonald 

 

Dynamic Fahs Lecture with Rev. Nate Walker 

 

Celebration of Excellence in Religious Education: Judith Fredianai named the MacLean award winner

Watch the Video of the MacLean Award Presentation

 

 

Welcome new LREDA Board members

Congratulations to the newest members of the LREDA Board!

LREDA Members voted today at our 2016 Annual Meeting to elect the Board slate offered by the Nominating Committee, including new members: Andrea James (Secretary), Annie Scott (President-Elect), and Lily Rappaport (Continental Events).

Also at our meeting, membership elected Katy Carpman to the Nominating Committee and approved a budget for 2016-17. Your Board is excited and proud to note that the new, now approved budget includes an increase in hours for our new Administrator, moving it from a half-time to three-quarter time position. It was also announced that an updated Code of Professional Practices has been approved by the Board. Members are encouraged to read and discuss it. The Code will be reviewed every two years. Our 2015-16 Annual Report andMinutes from the Annual Meeting can be viewed on the Meeting Minutes and Highlights page.