During the last year, I have been participating in conversations with UU lay leaders and ministers from the New England Region about spiritual leadership for cultural change. These conversations have been challenging and inspiring as I witness what happens when congregants see themselves as leaders. It isn’t just ministers or staff who lead, each member of the community has potential to contribute as leaders in different capacities in the ministries of the congregation. Spiritual leadership, according to facilitator Meck Groot, involves the following practices:
1. Centering gifts: We all have gifts. Leaders are called to acknowledge, receive and uplift these gifts in our community. This helps reframe our understanding of wealth and abundance while moving away from a scarcity mindset.
- Doing the inner work: Leaders work to support staff and volunteers to create and sustain community that supports healing and nurtures resilience as we process our own journeys. The community reminds us that no matter our journey, we belong to each other as equals.
- Tending our tradition: Leaders support bringing forth the gifts of our tradition with awareness of the importance of acknowledging and working for reparation for current and past harms. Our faith is not static. We are continually evolving in what it means to be UUs as the world we live in also evolves (sometimes it may seem like it is devolving!). Working toward adopting the 8th Principle and understanding why it matters is a way of tending to our tradition. Join us for worship October 23 to learn more about the 8th Principle and participate in the Sermon Reflection Circle after the service.
- Covenanting: Leaders promote the covenanting and re-covenanting process in the work and life of the congregation. Covenanting involves not only behavioral agreements but also agreements about what is needed for community to thrive, learn and take risks together. Covenanting is a practice, not a product. We not only make commitments to each other in community. We also make commitments to the Earth, justice, future generations and the other congregations with whom we covenant to affirm and promote our principles.
- Faithful risk taking: Leaders collaboratively discern when to take risks for justice and love that move the community beyond their comfort zone or need for certainty and perfection. Ha! I wonder when those occasions might arise for us.
These are just the basics that I hope generate curiosity as we continue to explore our hopes for this community and its new settled minister. I wonder which of these practices we would like to see more of in our current leadership (myself included) and a future settled minister. I also wonder how these practices can support the work of our Justice Ministry Council which has been tapped to hold the board and congregation accountable for implementing the recommendations brought forth by the Racial Justice Advisory Council to support our goal of being a radically welcoming, anti-racist congregation. Lastly, I wonder if these practices resonate with you. What intrigues you? What is missing? I’d welcome an opportunity to hear your thoughts.
Rev. Claudia, Minister of Faith Development