Transitions training moves to online format for educators, musicians

An online training has been developed for religious educators and music leaders who wish to serve as interim educators or music leaders. The course is also open to educators and musicians who simply want to understand the dynamics of their jobs better.

The training replaces a two-and-a-half-day in-person training that cost significantly more. Jan Gartner, UUA professional development associate for religious education and music leaders, said the online training takes place over six weeks. It has been called Interim Religious Educator Training, but the name may be changed to Transitions Training to highlight its broader applicability.

The training begins with a webinar to introduce participants and explain the technology that will be used. Then for four weeks participants have reading assignments that they also discuss among themselves through blogs and other means. Week five is devoted to case studies. The final week includes a closing webinar, when presentations on the case studies are made. There are also course evaluations and reflections on the training experience.

Gartner said four online trainings have been conducted, including the pilot training in the spring of 2012. Thirty people have taken the trainings, including two music leaders. The online version of the course was developed and has been facilitated by Michele Grove, a Credentialed Religious Educator-Master Level and an interim training facilitator.

The fee for the online training has been $100. Gartner said the fee would increase modestly for future trainings. She noted the cost will still be substantially less than the in-person training that cost $350 to $400 plus travel expenses. The online course will be offered again sometime this summer. Contact Gartner for more information.

Gartner said she was initially concerned whether participants would bond online. “When we did these classes in person . . . participants spent four times more money to come together, learned a lot of information in a short time, and left with their heads spinning and the fear that most of the information would not be remembered. Now there is time to talk with each other, reflect on the learning, and continue the conversation over a six-week period. By the end of this period, everyone has had the opportunity to truly integrate the material and develop a supportive community where they can continue the conversation.”

Gartner said it’s possible that another in-person version of the course may be offered at some point, but one has not been scheduled.

Advice on interim ministry

A new book on practicing interim ministry is available at the UUA bookstore. In the Interim: Strategies for Interim Ministers and Congregations was edited by the Rev. Barbara Child and the Rev. Keith Kron. Child, a longtime UU minister, has served several congregations an an interim minister. Kron is director of transitions for the UUA.

The book is a compilation of advice from more than 20 experienced interim ministers. Chapter headings include “Why Have an Interim Minister?” “The Interim Minister as Systems Analyst,” “Working with Staff,” “Predictable Roadblocks,” and “The Temptation to Rush the Search.”

The authors note: “A period of interim ministry poses unique challenges and opportunities for both congregations and ministers. Much more than a ‘caretaker’ ministry, an interim ministry can help a congregation navigate and get the most out of a time of transition. In this practical and insightful volume, interim ministers and other congregational leaders provide a road map for a transformative and fulfilling interim period.”

The 280-page book is $17, with discounts for multiple copies.