Developing Leaders in Shared Ministry

Shared ministry is at the heart of what happens at UUFA. Lay leaders and lay volunteers share the ministry with our called minister, the Rev. Alison Eskildsen. Members of the congregation serve as leaders and volunteers in many ways. Along with more prominent roles such as officers, board members, lay ministers, and committee or ministry team work, there are many other areas where leadership takes place, such as ushering at Sunday morning worship services, making coffee, running the sound system, singing in the choir, teaching religious education, mowing the grass, replacing light bulbs, washing dishes, and more.

But leadership is more about the person than it is about the job. It is much, much more than simply finding warm bodies to fill positions. Leadership development is about helping each member recognize and develop his or her own gifts and talents. As the Rev. Erik Walker Wikstrom writes in his book, Serving with Grace, leadership development helps each person “understand lay leadership as its own spiritual practice which can stretch you in new directions. This practice calls you to live out your Principles in a community that shares them. It calls you to develop and strengthen spiritual virtues that will carry forward into the rest of your life.”

Leadership development is about helping people deepen their connections to each other and this congregation, which we also call the “Stepping Stones” that take you further down your own spiritual path and deeper into our congregation. Leadership development is embodied in UUFA’s Mission which calls us “to support our members and to commit deeply to our shared Unitarian Universalist principles by worshiping, playing, and exploring life’s meaning together.”

The Leadership Development Program is being guided by a team composed of Lee Cornell, Vivian Sellers, Karen Solheim, Aleta Turner, Myrna Adams West, and Herb West.

Elements of the program include:

  • Offering members opportunities for service and spiritual growth.
  • Identifying and offering to new members “one-shot” opportunities for service, as well as offering regular and organized opportunities for seasoned members.
  • Promoting ongoing programs such as the “New to UUFA” class for newcomers, our vibrant Small Group Ministry program, or existing “Stepping Stones” adult education opportunities.
  • Offering new programs such as:
    • A Chosen Faith
    • Deepening Connections to UUFA
    • Harvest the Power, a UUA curriculum for leadership development.
    • Serving with Grace:  Lay Leadership as a Spiritual Practice
  • Encouraging participation in training, workshops, and programs offered outside of our congregation at the denominational (UUA) level:  online courses or webinars; regional, district, or cluster events; the annual UUA General Assembly.
  • Planning and facilitating the quarterly meetings of the UUFA Leadership Council, focusing on leadership development and training.

The Leadership Development Program complements and supports the work of the Nominating Committee by identifying, recruiting, and educating potential congregational leaders and volunteers.