First Thoughts from Fall Con

Well, 4 days of intense exposure to learning, theology, colleagues and worship have left me happy, tired, inspired and ready to WORK!   The Fall Conference of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) was terrific!  About 260 Religious Educators attended.  There were Directors of Religious Education, Ministers, Youth Advisers, Seminary Students, Music Directors and other Lay Leaders!   LREDA is organized into Chapters all across the country and Canada.  It is almost entirely made up of Unitarian Universalists, but is open to other liberal religions as well.

I began with a training meeting for chapter leadership (I serve as the North Atlantic Regional Chapter Scribe) all day Friday, our chapter was also responsible for leading the opening worship.  We had a great team leading the worship, and I was proud to work with them!

Saturday,  the talks were a seamless blend of worship, music, lecture and movement lead by Rev. Dr. Thandeka, Rev. Dr. Peter Steinke and Kevin Tarsa .  Thandeka discussed a “Global Positioning System” for UU’s that helps us live in connection with our bodies and our community.  She talked about how our body speaks a language of emotion, and that when our experiences do not fit our emotions there is a disconnect which is harmful.  She highlighted three elements as vital to our “Global Positioning System” :

  1. A Transformative Change of Heart
  2. A Religious Community of Care and Compassion
  3. Doctrinal Freedom

When all three of these elements are in place, we are building a stronger community.  We are part of a community that loves beyond belief Love. Beyond. Belief.  (isn’t that a cool elevator speech?) Experiencing our emotions and the feelings of our bodies.  Paying attention to the changes to our theology and the deepenings of our understanding of life, then bringing our WHOLE selves into our beloved community.  The people who embrace us and help us and guide us and need us, without belittling our path to truth, but encouraging us to learn and live our thoughts and actions.  This is good stuff, no?

Peter Steinke focused on neuroscience and psychology to highlight the important connection between our emotions, our brains, our birth order and how systems work in organizations.  I am still processing some of the great insights he gave, and bought one of his books, Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times.   For this talk, he seemed to be focused on the importance of differentiation in out work in community.  That it is vital that we know who WE are so that we can better serve each other.  Thankfully, there will be video tape of all the lectures, so I can go back and watch them again and review my notes!  I’ll let you know when they are on the LREDA website.

I also attended a workshop on stewardship, and got some great resources on building that elusive “mindset of abundance”.  I am excited about what I learned!

And I haven’t even mentioned the new songs I learned and lovely people I spoke with.  It was a truly unique experience which I would not have been able to attend if the LREDA Board had not granted me a scholarship.  I am very grateful to them for covering half the cost, as my professional development budget was eliminated this year.

SO many thanks to Betsy Dees for covering my Sunday away and to Kim Shute, Mike Lanowy, Rick Osborne and Bill Westall for helping make the Fall Frolic another fun filled success!  I lookforward to seeing everyone this week for our Intergenerational Serivce.