|Collegiality is not a competition. It is a community.|
Collegiality is one of the “three c’s” of the UUMA’s mission to “nurture excellence in ministry”. The UUMA Board “vision statements” that guide our work in promoting and living out this mission states that: The UUMA promotes multiple models of collegiality, offering spaces for our members to gather in covenant that are shaped by a culture of vulnerability, intimacy, trust and accountability to one another.
One thing the comprehensive survey of our UUMA Membership revealed is that the Board is right on track in pursuing this vision. However, it is “getting there” that continues to challenge all of us, UUMA Trustees, Staff, Chapter Leaders and colleagues of every stripe. The survey results remind us again of the importance and value of collegial relationships, in ministerial formation and as we move through all the stages of our ministries.
We have known for generations that good collegial relationships are essential for excellence in ministries. And note that we are not pursuing perfection in our ministries, but excellence - the quality of living into and out of our call, where success and error, connection and distance teach us the arts of resilience.
It seems that the possibilities for collegiality and connection offered by social media remain mostly a gleam in a Chapter Leader’s eye. The survey indicated that there are colleagues making use of things like Facebook and Adobe Connect and Google Chat, but they are not universally as productive and accessible yet.
All of this needs to be part of our planning. However, before we jump on to the next bright shiny thing to solve all our problems, I believe we, as leaders in our ministry, need to take seriously the words of our mission and vision for excellence in ministry - particularly the “culture of vulnerability, intimacy, trust and accountability to one another.”
This shapes the character of our chapter life and our ministries. Without these qualities, we cannot go deeper, cannot be the support and connective tissue we colleagues need in times of struggle, when we are insecure, as new ministers or as we entering the chapter or the ending a ministry in one way or another. This vulnerability and trust and accountability makes room for everyone, but it will ask a lot of us.
Collegiality is not a competition. It is a community. And building that takes the intention and commitment of all colleagues, not just the Board or your UUMA Staff. As another survey respondent stated: “UUMA leadership will need to model this and intentionally work towards it, including telling chapters/members what is expected of them. Chapters and members will need to actually be willing and actively participate in bringing this vision to fullness.”
Reverend Dr. Susan Veronica Rak