2017/18 Issue Number 7

April 2018

In This Issue...

  1. Notes from the President
  2. LREDA in Kansas City (GA)
  3. Milestones
  4. Honoring Denny Davidoff
  5. News from our Friends
    1. Commission on Institutional Change
    2. Jessica York, UUA
    3. Skinner House Books

LREDA eNews is a monthly newsletter. Please send submissions to [email protected] by the 20th of the month prior.

To be included in Milestones, send your work anniversaries, news, retirements, etc. to Gaia Brown at [email protected]


LREDA Members uphold our Code of Professional Practices. We are religious educators, youth ministry professionals, program assistants, ministers, CUC and UUA staff, and more.


Do you need help at work? Learn about how the Good Offices Program can provide support, or see a list of Good Officers here.


LREDA is a continental organization with members across Canada and the United States. To find the Chapter near you, click here.


LREDA funds available


Shared Ministry Resources


Connect & Serve


LREDA Board

Email: [email protected]

President Annie Scott

Vice President Robin Pugh

Treasurer OPEN

Secretary Andrea James

Continental Events Lily Rappaport

Professional Development Leah Purcell

Professional Support Jules Jaramillo


LREDA Staff

Administrator Kari Kopnick [email protected]

Conference Planner Bea Ann Phillips [email protected].org

Director of Development Laurel Amabile [email protected]


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April Notes from the President

Annie Scott, LREDA President

Last year around this time, LREDA Board members began to explore mission and vision work with master-level credentialed religious educator Gabrielle Farrell. We continued throughout the year, incorporating what we’ve learned from our shared study of Juana Bordas’ book, Salsa, Soul and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age.

Our understanding of vision is, “what we want to make real”, with mission being, “how we’re going to get there”.

Our vision is that LREDA is creating a world guided by love, justice and equity through our mission of:

  • Advocating for and supporting professional religious educators
  • Advancing the field of Unitarian Universalist faith development
  • Engaging in the transformative power of shared ministry
  • Challenging systems of oppression

This past year has been quite a challenge and a tremendous opportunity in our Unitarian Universalist faith community and our Liberal Religious Educators Association. Your LREDA Board met for three days this month to take a step back and continue asking ourselves questions like: 

  • Given the times we are in, what are we being called to do?
  • What do our members need and who are our members? 
  • Which members’ voices are not being represented and/or heard?
  • What are the systems that maintain exclusivity and the status quo? 
  • How can we establish systems that create openness, inclusiveness and especially, room for disagreement and challenge?

This is ongoing work, but guided by our mission and these questions, here are our priorities for the coming year:

  1. LREDA Chapters
  2. LREDA Good Offices 
  3. Advocating for religious educators and faith development 
  4. Furthering excellence in shared ministry
  5. Revising Fall Conference and Professional Days
  6. Providing a prophetic voice

In the next few days you’ll receive our call to the Annual General Meeting, which is part of LREDA Professional Days. I also want to draw your attention to the collegial conversation led by the Co-Directors of the UUA’s Ministries and Faith Development office, Jessica York and Sarah Lammert (learn more, below). 

I hope you’ll join us on June 19 and 20 in Kansas City for LREDA Professional Days, and for the discussions to be held over the course of General Assembly, about whether professional religious educators who are active members of LREDA will be given delegate status. If however you’re unable to make it, the General Sessions are accessible via livestream. 

Annie 

Annie Scott is the Director of Religious Education for Children, Youth and Families at Jefferson Unitarian Church, in Golden Colorado. She serves LREDA as President from 2017-2020.


LREDA in Kansas City

Registration is now live!

LREDA Professional Days at GA

Tuesday June 19 & Wednesday June 20

 click here to register

 

LREDA at General Assembly

Members of LREDA who are registered for our Professional Days are invited to the collegial conversation that will be led by Sarah Lammert and Jessica York, Co-Directors of Ministry and Faith Development on Tuesday afternoon June 19 at 2pm to 3:15 pm. It is not necessary to register for this collegial conversation, but we do ask those who attend to wear their LREDA Professional Days name badges.  

Shared Ministry Leadership

Sarah Lammert and Jessica York, Co-Directors of Ministries and Faith Development

Beyond power differentials, across disciplines, and in service of vitality for our faith, there lies a field. I’ll meet you there.

Rumi may not have been thinking of shared ministry when he spoke aloud his mystical poem on overcoming false divisions, but our conversation today is about just that.  Let’s talk about what holds us back as ministers and religious educators from sharing leadership in our congregations and Association, and what is possible when we take the risk to truly co-lead.

Invitation to members of LREDA, UUMN, AUUA and UUAMP from the UU Ministers Association (UUMA)

All members of our sibling professional organizations who will be in Kansas City this June participating in professional days for your own organization are warmly invited to join the UUMA during part of our Ministry Days.  (We are aware that UUMN members do not have professional days before GA and we will print a nametag for you if you just let us know in advance).

We welcome religious professionals to join our choir, which will be singing in the Service of the Living Tradition.  We also invite you to attend the annual Berry Street Essay, which will be delivered by Rev. Meg Riley this year on Wednesday afternoon, June 20. We do not need advance notice if you plan to attend the Berry Street.  If you plan to sing in the choir, please register for Ministry Days using the code “guest” and indicate you will be singing in the choir.


LREDA Milestones

Milestones are self-reported and will be published in the LREDA eNews when there is a critical mass.  So keep those submissions coming to [email protected]!

Leah Purcell, CRE and DRE at First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany celebrated 10 years of being a professional religious educator and 10 years of service to the Albany congregation.  Since this submission just missed the summer 2017 Milestones, Leah is now nearing 11 years.  Congratulations!

Michelle Richards, CRE-ML, has now been a professional religious educator for 20 years. She took her first Renaissance Module in March of 1998 and was employed in August of 1998 as religious educator of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart in Elkhart, IN. Michelle has also worked to support small RE programs and has written or co-authored numerous curricula.  

Cathy Cartwright-Chow, CRE and Director of Family Ministries at First Unitarian Church, Portland, OR, is retiring from full time church work in June. She says:  “After 30 years, it feels darn good!”  Cathy also served on the LREDA Professional Standards Taskforce that paved the way for the UUA’s Religious Education Credentialing Program.  
 
Barry Andrews, “Independent Scholar”, retired MRE and former member of the LREDA Board reports that the University of Massachusetts Press has published his book Transcendentalism and the Cultivation of the Soul.


LREDA honours Denny Davidoff

LREDA recently donated to the Denny Davidoff Memorial Fund at Meadville Lombard.

Accompanying our donation we offered this tribute:


The Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) counted Denny Davidoff as one of our stalwart allies. We remember Denny speaking at the 2010 LREDA Professional Day about her work with the Interfaith Alliance (LEADD) and supporting the launch of the Fahs Collaborative and the Fahs Fellows at the 2013 LREDA Fall Conference. She championed the vital ministry of religious educators throughout her long career of service to our faith. We honor Denny and we will miss her.


News from our Friends

Commission on Institutional Change

This year, for the first time, the Unitarian Universalist Association has two choices for its annual “Common Read,” a book selection designed to be read and then shared and discussed at the congregational level. One of those books is Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity, and Power in Ministry, edited by Mitra Rahnema, which contains essays describing, in their own words, the lived experiences of religious professionals of color in Unitarian Universalism. We note that many congregations are not engaging with Centering and we strongly urge congregation’s including Centering in their programming this year — this is an act of faithful engagement with religious professionals of color at a time of needed reflection and conversation.

We often hear that white Unitarian Universalists and Unitarian Universalists of Color have different experiences of our movement. We believe that reading Centering is critical to our developing a shared understanding of the current context in which religious professionals of color are called to navigate as they minister in our faith tradition. This book gives voice to the many gifts ministers of color bring to our faith — and the barriers to receiving these gifts. This book gives insight into barriers which limit the numbers of music directors of color, religious educators of color, administrators or UU chaplains of color or ministers of color. The gap between the lived experiences of religious professionals of color in our Association and the demands of predominantly white congregations is illustrated in this important collection of essays and responses.

Congregations who have read Centering might also benefit from reading the collection edited by Yuri Yamamoto entitled UUs of Color: Stories of Struggle, Courage, Love and Faith available through Lulu Press. this collection documents the experiences of people of color who are members and friends within our congregations.

They have shared stories which help illuminate why we continue to struggle over issues of race and why we remain white-centered in our approaches, often despite having religious professionals of color on board. The essays speak of experiences of pain, grief and trauma as well as offering visions of growth and change. The publication of these courageous words offers a chance to understand these stories without holding isolated people of color in individual congregations responsible for the learning of the white majority.

We urge Unitarian Universalist congregations to engage in discussions of Centering and UUs of Color as soon as possible. We hope that active discussion of these books can help develop a true culture of welcome for people of color and prevent the real harm done to religious professionals of color within our Association.

In faith, Leslie
Rev. Leslie Takahashi
Chair, Commission on Institutional Change

Jessica York, UUA Co-director, UUA Ministries and Faith Development Office and Director, Faith Development Office

Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun’s paper, “White Supremacy Culture” (From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups, ChangeWork, 2001), notes several characteristics of white supremacy culture, including individualism, perfectionism, fear of open conflict, and worship of the written word. The Faith Development office at the UUA is striving to name these characteristics as we see them and ask if they are truly serving our faith.

One way we are doing this concerns closer examination of the material we have created and continue to create. Tapestry of Faith, our new, online core curriculum, is a body of work of which we are proud: years in the making, the result of multiple planning and focus groups, we think it lifts up important Unitarian Universalist values in a way that supports all ages in living faithful lives. Yet, we acknowledge that it is not perfect. This knowledge has been pointed out to us with increasing frequency as the Association wrestles with centering the experiences of people of color. Religious educators and teachers are writing to us to let us know when they find Tapestry of Faith lacking: stories that center only white experience, activities that are not respectful of a diversity of viewpoints, places where we have failed to be as inclusive as we should be.

What a gift!

It is a gift to be held accountable to the people we serve. Every email we receive from a religious educator asking us to rethink our material is a reminder of the covenant we share to walk together in faith. It is also a powerful reminder that we cannot do this work alone. Instead of individualism, we embrace the perspectives of the many. Instead of fear of open conflict, we listen to those who love our faith enough to raise issues, especially when the issues are hard. Instead of worship of the written word, we recognize the fluidity and ever-changing nature of language, not giving words, once written, more power than they deserve. Instead of perfectionism, we acknowledge mistakes and strive to use them to practice the same lifelong learning our programs preach.

So keep those emails coming. Let us, together, strive to live up to our highest ideals, know humbly that we often will fail, practice forgiveness when we do, and yet try again and again, returning to do the hard work of creating a heaven on earth.

Skinner House Books

Skinner House Books is thrilled to announce Justice on Earth: People of Faith Working at the Intersections of Race, Class, and the Environment edited by Manish Mishra-Marzetti and Jennifer Nordstrom. This highly anticipated anthology presents a powerful and penetrating look at environmental justice from some of the key thinkers and activists in Unitarian Universalism today. Fourteen activist ministers and lay leaders apply a keen intersectional analysis to the environmental crisis, revealing ways that capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and other systems of oppression intersect with and contribute to ecological devastation. They also explore how spiritual practices, congregational organizing, and progressive theology can inform faith-based justice work in the twenty-first century. Each essay is accompanied by suggested ways to take the next steps for further learning and action. Justice on Earth is now available to order at inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop.