Need Some Skills as a Board Member?

Do you have new board members joining your leadership team this year? Do you have returning board members?

Board leadership in a UU congregation calls on a unique set of skills and attitudes. Not every person elected (no matter how enthusiastic they are!) comes to the work with a full sense of what is means to serve and the skills needed to serve well. Do all your board members have the skills they need to be a strong board member and not become frustrated? Not sure? We have resources to help!

Every year our staff offer Board Basics trainings in clusters around the region. These trainings are designed for both the newbie who has never served on a congregational board and your returning board members. Topics we cover include what makes congregational boards different from other kinds of non-profits or corporate boards, a governance overview, the role of the board member, how to manage dissent, and attributes of good board members. One other perk of the in person trainings is that you get an opportunity to learn with your fellow board members and to network with those from neighboring congregations. You can find the currently scheduled trainings on our calendar.

If you were unable to attend a training in your area, never fear, we do have other options for you.

The UUA LeaderLab has a 12 part training for board members that your board can do as a team or new members can do on their own. Each section contains a video or reading to illustrate the topic. There are many ways you could cover this as part of your normal board operations. You could assign a section for each meeting, then spend time talking about what you learned as a board during your meetings. If that sounds like it would add to a packed agenda, remember that some of the skills learned, such as consent agendas, are things that could shorten your agenda, allowing the room for this team learning process.

Last year we offered an online version of this training for those who were not able to attend one of our in person trainings. The videos from this three-part presentation are available on the CER YouTube Channel and embedded below.

Your regional staff wants your congregation’s board members to have the best experience they can while serving on your board. So we encourage you to explore one or more of these training methods to get your board up to date with today’s practices and procedures. Please reach out to your primary contact if you need help!

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Board Basics Series Helps Boards Develop Skills

This year, the Central East Regional Staff decided to offer a 3-part webinar on Board Basics. While normally an in-person, all day training, we realized that not all our congregations could take advantage of that. So the webinar idea was born. The purpose of the webinar is to be a primer in what it means to serve on a Congregational Board, how healthy Boards function, and what are ways your congregation can function better. The webinar is presented by Rev. David Pyle, CER Governance Program Manager and Beth Casebolt, CER Operations Manager and Communications Consultant.

The webinar series is in three parts. Part 1 covers the theories around board governance. Parts 2 and 3 will cover various skills board members need.

The current webinar is full, however we are recording the series and offering it for anyone who is interested to view. You can view the first session below. Additional sessions can be found on the Board Basics playlist on the UU Leadership Institute YouTube Channel.

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Three Congregations Converge for Joint Board Retreat

Two rivers flow along the Southern Tier of New York—the Chemung through Big Flats and the Susquehanna the Susquehanna through Binghamton–and converge just south of the border in Athens, Pennsylvania before flowing south to Towanda. Another convergence occurred when the UU Congregation of Binghamton played host to a joint leadership training and board retreat for the three smaller congregations:  The UU Church of Athens and Sheshequin, the Big Flats UU Fellowship, and the Towanda UU Fellowship.

participants in the joint board retreat
Participants in the Joint Board Retreat

The three congregations share a minister, the Rev. Darcey Laine. (Rev. Darcey is the called half-time minister of UUCAS, the consulting quarter-time minister of Towanda and is a contract minister for Big Flats, preaching once a month and providing pastoral care.) Rev. Darcey and the board presidents of the three congregations met via Zoom conference call with their shared CER Primary Contact, the Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, to plan the day.

The morning program—which was open to all three congregations’ leaders–focused on hospitality and growth, starting with the video What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? A Parable, which served as a case-study for ensuing conversation. After lunch (which was organized by Binghamton member and out-going SLD president Jeff Donahue), the boards met separately to set goals for the upcoming year, which they then shared with one another at the end of the day. They also planned a January check-in web meeting with one another to share their progress toward their goals.

The day was a lovely example of interdependence in our UU movement!

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke


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