Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills

Open minds, loving hearts, helping hands



Author Sarah Ahrens, Written Sep 2, 2015

(The following also appears in the UUCSH September newsletter)

“LREDA” stands for Liberal Religious Educators Association- it is the professional body to which I and many other religious educators- from part time to full time, narrow focus to lifespan focus- are members.  There are several “levels” of LREDA- the continental body that includes the United States of America and Canada, the Metro New York Chapter, and the New Jersey-Pennsylvania cluster (there are actually two PA congregations within MNY District- in Beach Lake and Stroudsburg; there is also a NY-CT cluster).  The continental body organizes major professional development events in the form of a Fall Conference (this year in Morristown NJ) and professional days at General Assembly.  The MNY Chapter arranges a fall professional day and a spring professional day attached to District Annual Meeting.  The Cluster meets about once per month where NJPA religious educators can worship, check in, share a meal, and learn about some professional development topic of interest.  In addition to these events, leadership on all levels work throughout the year to support religious educators, advocating for their professional standing within congregations and the UUA, helping religious educators and congregations in times of transition, among other things.

Continental LREDA has invited congregations to contribute to its endowment fund and UUCSH will have an opportunity to do so on Sunday September 20, 2015.  UUCSH sets a great example of religious education staffing in its commitment to funding a full time, lifespan religious educator- not all congregations are willing or able to make and keep that commitment.  Even though UUCSH struggled to maintain that level of staffing when finances were dire, the congregation rebounded and restored the position from one quarter time to three quarters time in 2006-07, and then full time in 2007-08 and to the present.  UUCSH also received a $15,000 grant from LREDA in 2001 during those financial hard times.

By increasing the LREDA endowment, more funds will be available for scholarships for training and Fall Conference for religious educators with limited (if any) professional development funds, more training events, and direct services to LREDA chapters and support of isolated religious educators through web resources and connections.

I hope I have always made it clear how supportive UUCSH has been of me personally and professionally from day one of my arrival at UUCSH- and most recently the tremendous support through sabbatical and paternity leave.  The support I have received via LREDA activities and colleagues over the past nine, going on ten years as a religious educator, has also been extremely important in helping me learn and grow as a professional and to do this work in a sustainable way.

As we re-covenant/commission/install the Religious Education volunteers for 2015-16 on Sep 20, the first day of RE Classes, please give generously to a special, separate collection for the LREDA endowment fund.  Checks can be made out to “UUCSH” with “LREDA” in the memo line.  And by all means feel free to donate in advance if you can’t be at service on 9/20.

On behalf of LREDA and religious educators everywhere- thank you for your generosity!

You can read more about LREDA here.