For the last month or so the UU Growth Blog has been seeing all kinds of random searches for “Leap of Faith.” I wasn’t sure what that was about until today — that’s the name of the UUA’s new growth initiative. Yes, I’m sure I would have learned about it at GA if I had gone, but I was busy moving. Anyhow, here’s what I’ve learned from the UUA’s announcement today and a quick web search.
Today the UUA announced its new “Leap of Faith” program, a growth initiative based on congregations mentoring one another. The UUA’s Interconnections Tipsheet blog notes that funds raised by this year’s Association Sunday will support the Leap of Faith Initiative.
According to the UUA’s announcement this initiative will involve the following:
- Leap of Faith will create congregation-to-congregation learning communities to share the wisdom inherent in UUA congregations, including mutual mentoring and experiential learning.
- Each aspiring congregation will determine the areas of learning and experience that will help take them forward to sustained numerical growth. These may include new technical skills, adaptive approaches, or culture changes.
- The “first wave” congregational teams will gather in New Orleans in October 2010 for a launch conference, allowing aspiring congregations to develop their congregational narratives and begin to build learning communities with their mentor congregations.
- Going forward, aspiring congregations are committed to sharing what they learn with other congregations through websites, social media, blogging, webinars, and workshops.
A post on the Ohio Meadville District’s blog has some more details.
In May 2010 Rev. Peter Morales invited the ministers of several congregations with admirable records of numerical growth to join him in considering how best to encourage and support numerical growth in our congregations. Out of this consultation emerged the Leap of Faith Initiative. This pilot project has identified 9 vital congregations (called “Aspiring Congregations”) desiring particular support in order to take a big “leap” forward, and match them with mentoring congregations experienced in particular areas of congregational development. The program will use an outside evaluator to help monitor this experiment for effectiveness as it is moved into larger phases of impact in the future. >>Read More
According to the OMD post the following congregations are participating in the pilot:
- Unitarian Church in Summit, NJ
- First Parish in Milton, MA
- First UU Congregation in Ann Arbor, MI
- UU Church in Bloomington, IN
- First Unitarian Church in Des Moines, IA
- West Shore UU Church in Cleveland, OH
- First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, PA
- Emerson UU Church in Houston, TX
- First Unitarian Society of Denver, CO
It is also noted that “The Steering Team is working with a professional outside evaluator in a rigorous assessment process, which will roll forward the most helpful aspects of this project in subsequent years with additional congregations.”
Congratulations to the nine pilot congregations, thank you to the mentoring congregations, and an extra special thanks to those contributing to Association Sunday.