Friday, March 29, 2013

No Fahs Lecture at GA?!

When I was a brand new Religious Educator, I think it was something like 10 days into the job, I was lucky enough to attend the General Assembly of Unitarian Universalist Congregations in Fort Worth, Texas. I could swear to you that some guiding hand was leading me around there, although I don't believe in any sort of spirit like that, really. Well, maybe kind of. Because everyone I sat next to happened to be a Religious Educator. No kidding. Each of those kind souls carefully looked over my curriculum plan for the year with me, and they gently gave me advice and information. The now Rev. Jeff Liebmann finally made fun of me for being a "curriculum geek" and spending every free moment at the UUCARDS booth in the exhibit hall.

It was wonderful.

I'll admit that I didn't know which sessions I was attending half the time, I kind of picked one and went to it. But as the years progressed and I continued to attend GA, I learned that it was vital to my professional development and my personal education to always attend the sessions sponsored by my professional organization, the Liberal Religious Educators Association. The most important session was always the Sophia Lyon Fahs Lecture. It was a piece of our history as Religious Educators, and it always, always came home to the congregation I served. When Bill Doherty spoke on home grown religion, we became the first congregation west of the Mississippi to test his Sources Supper. When Dr. Mark Hicks spoke about Religious Education for People of Color I added an entire component about race to our teacher training and continuing ed modules. This was real support for enriching the work I was doing.

When I left the work of religious education I continued to pay dues to LREDA because I strongly believe in the work of the organization. So this morning when I got an email from LREDA I didn't think much of it, we're always getting updates, good information and newsletters. But this news was most unwelcome and unexpected. Of course I no longer serve on the LREDA board so all I know is what I read:

"Dear colleagues,

It is with heavy hearts that we inform you that neither the Sophia Lyon Fahs Lecture nor the LREDA-sponsored workshop were selected by the General Assembly Program Development Group for inclusion in this year’s General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky."

WHAT? The Fahs Lecture has a history dating back to 1974. It's one of the most effective outreach events for topics that LREDA feels it is important to get into the discourse of informed and active Unitarian Universalists. And it didn't make the cut? I am certain that the other LREDA-sponsored workshop would be equally as important to the depth of learning at GA.  

I'm furious. I have no idea what happened, but I feel quite strongly that it needs to be remedied immediately. I call on the General Assembly Program Development Group to find a way to bring the Fahs lecture to the people who need it, and remember to book a large room--it is often attended by hundreds of GA attendees. 

And please, someone tell me what on earth happened to allow the Fahs lecture, at least, to be left out of the schedule of workshops. I'm listening, or trying to around my anger and disappointment. 


Debra Gray Boyd said...

I am the liaison for the GAPC to LREDA & the LREDA announcement was the first that I heard about it. Rev. Natalie Fenimore (President of LREDA) & I are in dialog at this point. I don't know what is possible this year, but the GAPC has spent a large amount of time voicing support for all religious professionals to be actively engaged in our largest national gathering. Please give us just a little room & have a little faith that fallible humans are making decisions in the best way that they know how for our collective good. We had a LARGE number of applications and a VERY SMALL number of slots this year as the board needed to have more time in plenary as they tabled two years of business so we could engage in Justice GA. All will be well. In service, ~Debra

Kari said...

Thank you for the response, Ms. Boyd. I do appreciate it. I hope that you and Rev. Fenimore can find a solution.