The visual of the empty space of a pot is a beautiful metaphor for the space in interim work. It is in that space that can hold what is to be. As we begin my second year as your interim director for School of the Spirit, I want to express my gratitude for the space that has welcomed me and opened to all those possibilities. I also hope to bring clarity around processes and a way forward.
Why an Interim?
A simple answer is that churches of all denominations have found that hiring a settled professional right after one has left, leads to a very low success rate for their replacement, but with an interim period, the success rate is very high. Typically two years is necessary for the congregation to prepare for new religious education leadership. BVUUF leadership was wise in moving into an interim period after Katie’s departure, and as we navigate the next phase you may be asked to weigh in on when, what and how the position is filled.
It’s the Fellowship’s work to do-
You may have heard this from me several times during the process. I will continue to hold up areas and ways to be an active participant in the interim process. Two phrases the interim religious educator often hears are: 1) We’ve always done it this way, and 2) We’ve never done that! It is the interim’s role to question everything: bylaws, committees/councils, decision making, congregational organization, communications, identity, mission, leadership, staffing, worship, social justice initiaves, stewardship, community relations. It is also in our portfolio to engage in imaginative congregational discussions―find out about your aspirations, dreams and stories. The Fellowship’s role is to take advantage of this open space. Wonder and imagine how we live into the vision of bringing love and reason to life to build a just and compassionate world.
“Everything we do is faith development.
All we teach is Unitarian Universalism.
The congregation is the curriculum.”
– Connie Goodbread / Susan Smith
One of the 5 congregational goals for this year is to determine the readiness for hiring Lifespan Faith Formation staff. Faith formation sits within the School of the Spirit and is held by the Committee on Shared Ministries. It is a core of this congregation and is part of our heritage as Unitarian Universalists. It’s not just up to the religious educator, the School of the Spirit Council, staff or parents. It’s up to you too. A dedicated lifespan spiritual exploration program, including adults and youth ministry, consumes much of our budget and pledge dollars. It’s vital that you pay attention. Here’s what you can do:
- Pay attention to the search process for a new religious educator. Follow the search progress. Attend any gatherings or town hall meetings. Make your voice heard through surveys or questionnaires. Even if, especially if, you don’t have, or no longer have, children in the program―we need your input.
Further Resources- A special thanks to my colleague, Steven Mead, for the inspiration for this blog.
- Interim Religious Educators | UUA
- Interim Ministry | UUA
- Transitional Ministry Handbook (PDF, 43 pages) (Word) | UUA
The updated comprehensive guide for all transitional ministries. Includes sample contracts for both interim and consulting ministries.
- Special Care Congregations (PDF, 14 pages) (The Necessities of Two Year Interims)
By Robert Latham.
- Starting to Parting (PDF, 40 pages)| UUA Supporting Religious Education and Music Staff in Unitarian Universalist Congregations
- Religious Educator Search Process | UUA