from Karen Harder, Leadership Develoment Team Member
It’s almost time to elect new church leaders. Where will they come from? A group here at Foothills has been busy envisioning a new way of growing our own. Instead of scrambling to find leaders to fill a nomination slate every year, a Leadership Development Ministry Team is working to foster a culture where potential leaders are continually mentored by seasoned leaders and where emerging and experienced leaders learn, grow, and discern together where they are next called to serve.
This new way of growing leaders is inextricably tied to Foothills’ faith formation vision. That vision is the product of a year-long effort by a team of staff and lay leaders to articulate what it means to grow in faith as Unitarian Universalists. The work likens faith formation as a journey, with steps along the way in five areas: growing in self, grounding in Unitarian Universalism, building beloved community, experiencing mystery and awe, and practicing church.
Folks participating in one of Foothills’ new Gather Groups already will be familiar with these components. They are the same five catalysts for deepening faith that Gather Groups explore sometime between their second and third meetings, when members are invited to reflect on their engagement and consider what it might mean to grow in each area.
Core to the new leadership development strategy will be the convening of Leader Gather Groups this fall. Leader Gather Groups will consist of potential and seasoned leaders invited to meet together for at least eight weeks to focus on relationship building, mentoring and mutual learning. They will use the Gather Group curriculum augmented with opportunities to focus on shared learning around leadership-related content. The goal is to harness the power and potential of all in service to the Foothills mission to unleash courageous love.
As the Leader Gather Groups discern together who might be called to serve and how, lay leaders will work closely with the Senior Minister in communicating to the Nominating Committee candidates to consider and place in nomination. Several times a year, emerging leaders as well as any interested congregants also will be offered workshops on specific skills and knowledge needed to serve on the Board of Trustees and other senior leadership roles.
“I’m excited about the new model,” said Jennifer Powell, past president of the Board of Trustees and member of the new Leadership Development Ministry Team. “It has been clear to many of us in leadership at Foothills, that we have needed to mature and expand our training and education for new, current, and potential leaders of the church for some time. The care, thoughtfulness, and connection to our faith that is present in this new model has impressed me. I know you will be, too. Providing this resource, as well as a more comprehensive leadership development program will strengthen our congregation and the good important work we do.”
Other Leadership Development team members are Sue Ferguson, Karen Harder, Jenn Powell, and Tim Weinmann, along with Senior Minister Gretchen Haley.