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Ministerial Start-Up Workshop Oct. 24, 2009


History of Ministry at First UU Pittsburgh. Congregational Norms and ... Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change by Mark Lau Branson. Alban Institute. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ministerial Start-Up Workshop Oct. 24, 2009

Ministerial Start-Up WorkshopOct. 24, 2009
Rev. Tracey Robinson-Harris, Diversity of
Ministry Program, UUA Rev. Joan Van Becelaere,
Ohio-Meadville District
Chalice Lighting
  • With humility and courage
  • born of our history,
  • we are called as Unitarian Universalists
  • to build beloved community
  • where all souls are welcome as blessings,
  • and the human family
  • lives whole and reconciled.
  • UUA Senior Staff/President
  • October 2008

  • Chalice Lighting
  • Welcome/Introductions
  • Clotheslines and Kite Strings
  •  History of Ministry at First UU Pittsburgh
  • Congregational Norms and Myths
  • Lunch
  • Systems Thinking and Congregational Change
  • Institutional Habits and Values 
  • Assessing Success for the First Year
  • Wrap up and Closing

Kite Strings Clotheslines
  • Valuing Our Differences

History of Ministry
  • Which ministers have been most memorable?  Why?
  • How did each minister serve the congregation?
    What was her/his focus of ministry? 
  • What was the congregations focus during this
    time period?  How did it see its mission in the
    larger community?
  • Where there any critical events?
  • What has the congregation learned from these
    changes? Learnings that might impact diversity?

Norms and Myths
  • Myths are powerful images, phrases or short
    sentences that shape a communitys perception of
    itself. This is who we are.
  • Norms are unwritten, maybe even unspoken rules
    that govern behavior in the congregation. Just
    the way we do things around here.

Systems Thinking
  • Things do not exist independently, only in
    relationship to something else. The whole cannot
    be understood by simply understanding each part
  • Each part contributes to the whole , things
    function as they do because of the presence of
    one another. My behavior affects you, yours
    affects me.
  • Change is one part produces change in other parts
  • Systems like equilibrium, status quo,
  • Interactions between different people affect the
  • Relationships are not merely interesting-its all
    there is

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  • When change in one part of a relationship
    produces change in other parts of the
    relationship, you know you are dealing with a
  • In the recent past, what change(s) has your
    congregation faced? Any changes in relation to
    ARAOMC work?
  • How did this change result in changes in other
    parts of the congregation?
  • What parts were affected most? Why?
  • How did people (including you!) react?

Systems Thinking and Congregations
  • Where two or more are gathered, there is an
    emotional system.
  • All human beings live in emotional systems. The
    same emotional processes occur in all
  • Systems thinking takes away polarities of
    either/or and cause and effect thinking. Every
    cause is a reaction and every reaction is a
  • Emotional systems are automatic, instinctive,
    reactive and defensive. Driving these systems
    are innate forces that seek survival. The
    resulting reactions are not learned or thought
    out. They are wired in, natural phenomena.

Systems Thinking and Congregations
  • Congregations are emotional systems with patterns
    and habits. (norms)
  • They resist change from the familiar pattern even
    if it is dysfunctional. (Weve always done it
    this way even though we hate it!)
  • Relationships in the present can have more to do
    with emotional processes that have been
    reinforced for many generations than with the
    logic of their current context.
  • No emotional system will change unless people
    change how they behave and function with one
    another in the system.

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Systems Thinking and Congregations
  • Emotional systems are driven by two major forces
    - separateness and closeness.
  • Two needs influence all relationships -the
    need to be separate, to stand alone, to be
    independent -and the need to be close, to
    connect, to interact with others.
  • Anxiety arises when individuals sense themselves
    outside their comfort zone relative to
    separateness and closeness, habits and change.

Systems Thinking and Congregations
  • The Balancing of Separateness and Closeness is
    the process of Self-Differentiation.
  • A healthy person or group balances the two
  • Healthy persons (and group)s are separate and
    responsible for their lives and functioning.
  • They are also connected and responsive to others.
    They dont get sucked into others emotional
  • The Universe and congregations work best with
    a healthy process of balancing and

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Congregations as Emotional System
  • Self-Differentiation is most evident in the way
    we work out differences and conflict with each
  • Self-Differentiation is the capacity to like the
    way your mother fried potatoes but not to be
    overwhelmed by anxiety if someone elses mother
    fried them differently. This means you dont try
    to convert others to your mothers fried
    potatoes, nor do you give in to anothers need
    for fried potatoes of a certain kind. And you do
    not disconnect from another until they fry their
    potatoes your mothers way.
  • Peter Steinke

Anxiety in Congregations
  • Anxiety is natural. It affects all human
    relationships, communities and systems.
  • It is an automatic response to a change or a
    perceived threat - real or imagined.
  • Anxiety is a critical part of all humans
  • It arouses us to make needed changes in our
  • But when it gets too intense and crosses a
    threshold it paralyses us and affects our

Anxiety in Congregations
  • Anxiety may be ordinary, acute or chronic.
  • Ordinary anxiety is part of life in social
  • Acute anxiety is situational and time-bound.
  • Chronic anxiety is habitual. It is structured
    into the relationship or system itself. A small
    issue or trigger sets it off.
  • Healthy systems handle anxiety with resiliency.
  • Unhealthy systems are, by nature, anti-resilient.

The Human Brain and Anxiety
  • In intense anxiety, we move to reptilian
    response, self-preservation, rapid reaction to
    potential danger.
  • The mammalian brain interprets whether something
    is painful or pleasurable. Anxiety can push the
    brains reaction to love or hate in the extreme.
  • The thinking brain has the potential to regulate
    the mammalian and reptilian brains.
  • Certain triggers can bring out emotional
    reactions in undifferentiated people that bypass
    thinking brain.
  • A differentiated person can regulate reactions
    and respond thoughtfully, creatively to anxiety

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Anxiety in Congregations
  • The fourteen most common triggers of anxiety in
  • Old versus new
  • Growth/survival
  • Staff conflicts/resignation of staff member
  • Internal or external focus
  • Major trauma, tension, or transition
  • Money
  • Type of worship

Anxiety in Congregations
  • Issues involving sex/sexuality
  • Pastors leadership style
  • Harm done to a child/death of a child
  • Property building, space, territory
  • Distance between the ideal and the real
  • Lay leaderships style
  • Boundary issues

Anxiety in Congregations
  • Reactivity rises, knee-jerk reactions.
  • Some push for a quick fix to lessen anxiety.
  • Others want to blame someone, anyone.
  • Communication is closed, secret, distorted
  • Use of threats, manipulation and tantrums
  • Splinter groups form
  • Those who introduce change of any kind are
    rejected, dont rock the boat
  • Leadership roles may rapidly change
  • People think in polarities either/or, win/lose

Anxiety in Congregations
  • Highly anxious people find it hard to avoid
    extremes in reactions. Instincts take over.
  • We loses clarity, insight, direction, judgment
    and resiliency.
  • Anxiety is contagious. Group think, and mob
  • Anxiety acts like a virus, seeks out weakest
  • Viral anxiety is maintained nurtured by
    relationships in the larger system.
  • Anxiety becomes focused on people in two
    positions the most responsible and the most
    vulnerable. People want to focus anxiety

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Anxiety and Congregations
  • Healthy groups are not always peaceful
    tranquil. But not chronically anxious, either.
  • Healthy churches respond to change and problems
    with resiliency, flexibility, creativity,
  • Leaders analyze, evaluate change calmly and
    develop effective responses to acute anxiety.
  • The leaders help the people reason through
    differences and reactions to change.

Congregations Change
  • Leading Change in the Congregation Spiritual and
    Organizational Tools for Leaders by Gilbert R.
    Rendle. Alban Institute.
  • The Power of Spirit How Organizations Transform
    by Harrison Owen. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
  • Memories, Hope and Conversations Appreciative
    Inquiry and Congregational Change by Mark Lau
    Branson. Alban Institute.

Congregations Change
  • When chaos strikes, transformation begins. The
    Spirit of a people enters a critical process with
    possible end results ranging from dissolution to
    the emergence of a radically new, more complex,
    adaptive organization.
  • The process itself is that of grief working,
    enabling us to let go of what was in preparation
    for what is yet to be. Harrison Owen

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Congregations Change
  • Shock and Anger
  • Denial
  • Memories, stories are repeated
  • Open Space - Despair
  • Open Space Silence, Time of Decision
  • Questioning/Imagining
  • New Vision

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People on different parts of the roller coaster
may speak the same words with different meanings
Leadership in Times of Change
  • Leaders must realize that our congregations are
    interdependent systems.
  • face the reality of change ourselves, know the
    stages and signs of grief and where we are
    located in our own personal process.
  • realize that people go through the grief process
    at different rates.
  • work to make our congregations truly safe places
    where people learn to accept change, work with
    it, and create a new vision of the future.

Congregations Change
  • How does First UU Pittsburgh respond to change?

Institutional Habits
  • Either/Or Both/And
  • Scarcity Abundance
  • Secrecy Transparency
  • Individual Action Collaboration/Coopera
  • Inward Focus Outward Focus
  • Dominant Culture Multicultural

  • Efficiency
  • Effectiveness
  • Faithfulness

What weve learned about Leadership Identity as
a Leader
  • Critical self reflection
  • Cultural humility/cultural empowerment
  • Systemic knowledge of oppression/privilege
    (individual institutional)
  • Willingness to engage messy, complex difficult
    conversations and knowing how to have them
  • Knowing how to bring others along
  • Understanding how to change systems
  • Commitment/determination to stay at the
    table/commitment to interrupt business as usual
    at the table.
  • Adapted from various sources including work by
    Frances Kendall

  • Does the agenda include items addressing
    oppression and privilege?
  • Do reports reflect our commitment?
  • What evidence is there in our process of outreach
    for the purpose of accountability?
  • Do we share responsibility?
  • Are we conscious of the systemic power of
    oppression and privilege? How is this so?
  • Do our decisions/actions move us closer to our
    vision of an ARAOMC institution?
  • How does identity intersect with the work we do?
  • How do we incorporate what we learn from our

  • Relationship involve those affected by decisions
    in decision-making
  • Values apply anti-oppression/anti-racism/multicul
    tural lenses to decision-making
  • Policies and Practices reflect commitment to
    social justice, particularly with regard to
    historically oppressed identity groups

  • Welcoming
  • Respectful
  • Inclusive
  • Honoring principle-centered
  • Boundaries
  • Honoring Diversity

Signs of a Successful First Year
  • Groups of 3
  • Determine 3 three accomplishments or signs or
    events that would signify to you that the first
    year has been successful.
  • Write each item on a separate sheet (abbreviate)

  • With humility and courage
  • born of our history,
  • we are called as Unitarian Universalists
  • to build beloved community
  • where all souls are welcome as blessings,
  • and the human family
  • lives whole and reconciled.
  • UUA Senior Staff/President
  • October 2008