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Shared Leadership: The Staff/RE Committee Partnership. Presented by Patricia Infante, Regional Faith Development Consultant, CERG Jan Gartner, Lifespan Faith Development & Youth Ministries Consultant, OMD. Webinar Basics . Top Menu Bar: Emoticons Message Box Right side of screen:

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Shared leadership the staff re committee partnership

Shared Leadership: The Staff/RE Committee Partnership

Presented by

Patricia Infante, Regional Faith Development Consultant, CERG

Jan Gartner, Lifespan Faith Development & Youth Ministries Consultant, OMD

Webinar basics
Webinar Basics

  • Top Menu Bar:

    • Emoticons

    • Message Box

  • Right side of screen:

    • Attendees

    • Message Box

Lighting our virtual chalice
Lighting Our Virtual Chalice

The deep and abiding reality – the reality we do not invent, the reality we really have to cope with – is that we are interconnected beings born in and for community.

If that is true, and surely it is, then leadership is everyone’s vocation, and it is an evasion to claim that it is not. When we live in the close-knit ecosystem called community, everyone follows and everyone leads. Leadership, I now understand, simply comes with the territory called being human.

~Parker Palmer


  • Welcome & Introductions

  • Healthy Relationships

  • Communication

  • Shared Leadership & Shared Responsibility

  • Covenant


  • Please introduce yourself by sharing the following:

    • Name

    • Congregation Name

    • Your role/job in the congregation

    • Congregation Size & Approximate RE Enrollment

Healthy relationships
Healthy Relationships

  • In healthy congregations, people respond graciously and truthfully (rather than judgmentally or secretively)

  • In healthy congregations, people develop caring relationships (rather than willful transactions)

  • In healthy congregations, people empower others (rather than dominate or cure them)

Essentials of building good relationships
Essentials of Building Good Relationships

  • Clarity in documents, Contract, Job Description, Program Assessment & Evaluation responsibilities

  • Clarity in who does what task when

  • Rotation System for volunteer Lay Leaders

  • Financial and Public Support from Board Leadership

  • Cooperation and interaction with other standing committees of the church

  • Support of the minister

Healthy communication
Healthy Communication

  • Truth-telling

  • Willingness to discuss difficult issues

  • Staying connected through conflict

  • Understanding boundaries

  • Respecting Confidentiality

Problematic communication quandaries
Problematic Communication Quandaries

  • Rumors – misinformation

  • Gossip – may be accurate but spread outside of established communication channels

  • Exposure – revealing too much information that would be considered socially appropriate

  • Leaking – information is released intentionally, without regard to covenants or established boundaries

The elephant in the room
The Elephant in the Room

  • Every congregation has an issue that is difficult to talk about.

  • Do you believe that people’s functioning will improve if they know the truth?

Shared leadership
Shared Leadership

  • No single right way to share leadership

  • Partnership may change over time

  • Clarity is important

  • Blurriness, flexibility can be good; best if made explicit

A good partnership
A good partnership:

  • Provides checks and balances

  • Gives multiple perspectives

  • Strengthens decisions

  • Offers flexibility

  • Distributes workload

  • Is mutually supportive, synergetic

General function of committee one or more may apply
General function of Committee: (one or more may apply)

  • Advisory to staff: sounding board, additional eyes and ears

  • Decision-making: policy, vision, curriculum, etc.

  • Program support and implementation: consider portfolios, sub-committees

  • Other?

General function of staff member
General functionof staff member

  • Provide expertise and leadership as an accountable religious professional

  • Serve by carrying out the will of the congregation

    This is a polarity! Both are true.

    Acknowledge the tension, need to balance.

Authority of leaders
Authority of Leaders

  • Leaders (paid and volunteer) should be given a level of authority consistent with their level of responsibility.

In thinking about how to share leadership consider
In thinking about how to share leadership, consider:

  • Staff hours

  • Staff interests and talents

  • Committee interests and talents

  • Congregational culture and systems

  • Other?

Sharing responsibilities
Sharing Responsibilities

  • How you might use the worksheet

  • Remember that there is no right or wrong way. The right way is the way that works for you.

Alternatives to r e committee
Alternatives to R.E. Committee

  • Standing teams (safety, curriculum, special events)

  • Ad hoc working groups (limited time, specific purpose)

  • Class leaders (for class-specific help and/or program/church events)

  • Other?

Unitarian universalism is a covenantal faith
Unitarian Universalism is a Covenantal Faith

We are a covenantal faith, not a creedal faith.

We share a covenant of how we try to be together, not a creed of what we all must believe together.

  • Rev. Thom Belote (adapted)

A covenant
A Covenant …

  • Is a statement of agreement about how we choose to be in relationship with each other.

  • Comprises promises, not rules.

  • Is a framework of expectations.

  • Is about behavior, not personality.

  • Offers an opportunity to explore and deepen our spirituality.

Keeping the covenant alive
Keeping the Covenant Alive

  • Keep it visible!

  • Talk often about the covenant and its meaning.

  • Put the covenant on agendas.

  • Review the covenant when there are major changes in leadership.

Keys to success
Keys to Success

  • Remember: Conflict and disappointment is inevitable!

  • Clarity to

    • Acknowledge and negotiate overlap between roles

  • Communication

  • Covenant to help articulate

    • Mutual acccountability

    • Processes for correction

    • An ujncerstanding of forgiveness

    • The possibility of reconciliation


  • R.E. Road Map: An Administrative Guidebook for Religious Educators; get order form from Cindy Leitner, [email protected]

  • “Congregational Freebies” on Connie Dunn’s website, including Religious Education Timeline and Religious Education 101:

  • The Search for Religious Education Leadership:

A final word from parker palmer
A final word from Parker Palmer…

  • So, what does it take to qualify as a leader? Being human and being here. As long as I am here, doing whatever I am doing, I am leading, for better or for worse. And, if I may say so, so are you.

    ~Parker Palmer,

    “Leading from Within”