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The Director of Lifespan Faith Development (DLFD) position is currently funded for 20 hours a week. Providing initial funding that would be structured over time to become a part of the annual budget would expand this to a fulltime, 40 hour a week position, and would bring these benefits to the Religious Education Program:
Outreach to Local Community
Right now there is very little flexibility within this part-time position for the DLFD to make meaningful connections within our local community. Expanding this position’s weekly time would allow more connection with other Unitarian Universalist churches, as well as other local faith communities. We could also make concerted outreach efforts to the Cumberland Valley population through participation in community events and hosting large, family-friendly events open to the public. This kind of outreach would bring new members to the church, and also bring in more volunteers for the Religious Education program.
Intra-Congregational Community Building
Part of the focus of the DLFD position is to encourage community building within the congregation. This can look like hosting family-friendly events to encourage children to form friendships with each other, and also multigenerational events that encourage congregants who may not have much contact with each other to spend more time in fellowship. Currently it is possible for this part-time position to support one event per quarter, but expanding the position would allow us to offer events each month.
Adult Religious Education
The DLFD currently must focus on RE programming for grade school children and keeping nursery care running. Expanding this position to full time would allow the DLFD to offer more support for faith development over the lifespan, including more involvement in the Youth Group, and creating more opportunities for young adults to explore their faith and build community.
Our Whole Lives (OWL) Classes
Offering comprehensive age-appropriate sexuality education through the OWL program is something that makes Unitarian Universalism unique, and is often mentioned as a primary reason that families initially build a relationship with UU. Currently we have the capacity to host one of the shorter modules of OWL once a year. Expanding this position would allow the DLFD to recruit and train more facilitators to offer the full 28-week OWL curriculum for grades 7-9, and to offer the shorter modules more often. We could also offer OWL modules for young adults and older adults.
Building a Safer Congregation
The DLFD is responsible for chairing the Safer Congregation Response Team (SCRT) and leading their activities. The purpose of this team is to create policies and procedures to prevent and respond to misconduct, including child abuse, sexual harassment, and other disruptive behavior. While the support of the team allows a part-time DLFD to meet these responsibilities, a full-time position would allow the DLFD to develop much more comprehensive prevention education efforts, including offering ongoing workshops on modeling consent for kids, effective bystander intervention, responding to disclosures of abuse or harassment, and exploration of how the prevention of interpersonal violence relates to our UU faith.
Stability and Sustainability
Finally, expanding this position to full-time would support the sustainability of the Religious Education Program by making it possible for a DLFD to consider this a long-term career position. Part-time positions by their nature involve a lot of burn out, as there are many competing demands and never enough time. Financial considerations also lead talented individuals to seek other opportunities that are fulltime. This leads to a lot of turnover in the position, which costs the church both in terms of time and money, but also heavily impacts the stability of the RE program. It takes about a year for a DLFD to build up a sustainable pool of volunteers and devoted RE committee, and much of that momentum, institutional knowledge, and bond with UUCV families is lost when the DLFD position is in constant transition. The need is there to expand this position to full time, so that the DLFD can build a sustainable and comprehensive Religious Education program at UUCV.
Clarification on Funding
The Capital Campaign Silver and Gold plans contain funding to support the DLFD position as a full-time staff member for three years, stepping down to partial funding in the 4th and 5th year, as the operating budget (supported by the annual budget drive) picks up some of the additional staffing costs.
The Capital Campaign would make it possible to staff for growth during this period, as we would expect to see this position attract additional families and promote congregational development and enrichment. When we reach Year 6, the general operating budget would have to increase proportionally to sustain funding for the DLFD.