First Ever National Humanist Clergy Collaboratory

First Ever National Humanist Clergy Collaboratory

Crowdfunding Completed: December 29, 2016

Amount Funded: $1763

Project Owner: Washington Ethical Society

Short Description of Project

Humanists are served by so many movements—Unitarian Universalism, Ethical Culture, Humanistic Judaism, and more—yet the clergy of those movements rarely work together; in fact, they barely even know each other! We want to change that, so that the humanists of the future can be better served, better connected, and better able to act for justice in the world.

How was this project connected to UU?

This project’s leadership includes two Unitarian Universalist ministers, the Rev. Amanda Poppei (Senior Leader, Washington Ethical Society) and the Rev. Dr. David Breeden (Senior Minister, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis), who are working alongside Rabbi Jeffrey Falick of the Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism. It emerged in part out of conversations within, and is supported by, the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association. And it has already received financial support from the Fund for Unitarian Universalism, part of the Unitarian Universalist Funding Panel. Rev. Amanda serves as clergy in two traditions—Unitarian Universalism, in which she is an ordained minister in final fellowship and active in her local Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association chapter, and Ethical Culture, in which she is a certified leader and active in the National Leaders Council. As a border-crosser herself between those two traditions, she’s seen how they can learn from each other, and how we are stronger in relationship than when we imagine ourselves as competitors. Unitarian Universalism can be a leader in this work…if we are ready to step up to the plate.

Unitarian Universalism, nationally, serves the most humanists (along with atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers) of any denomination. Humanism is a huge part of our history, beginning with the first articulation of religious humanism from a Unitarian minister 100 years ago, right up to the present. But we don’t usually work in tandem with other humanist traditions the way we do with other more traditionally religious groups (like our justice collaboration with the United Church of Christ). The Collaboratory aims to change that, and in so doing to connect Unitarian Universalism more broadly with the growing humanist movement in North America. Our own UU clergy can learn to serve the humanists in our congregations even better, and our work for justice will be significantly increased as we work with other humanist traditions. The research from Pew and others is clear: humanists, spiritual-but-not-religious, and the nones are on the rise. Will Unitarian Universalism be ready to embrace the humanists of the future, and will we do it with a spirit of relationship and connection, rather than competition? The Humanist Clergy Collaboratory seeks to build our capacity to do just that!

Full Description of Project

Why reinvent the wheel? Why work in silos? Why not connect—and better serve the world?! The Humanist Clergy Collaboratory aims to do a brand-new thing: to connect clergy serving humanists from different denominations across North America. Humanist-friendly denominations (like the Unitarian Universalist Association, the American Ethical Union, and the Society for Humanistic Judaism, as well as university-based humanist chaplaincies) can be just as sectarian as our more traditionally religious siblings…but there’s no need to be. Using community-organizing principles centered around relationship and shared hopes, the Collaboratory will connect clergy across denominational lines, with the ultimate goal of building our capacity to serve humanists better and act for justice in the world. This isn’t a conference with a lot of talking heads; it’s a chance for clergy to actually connect, learn about each other’s different styles of humanism, notice the similarities, and create ongoing relationships that will allow for joint action in the future. We’ll have special, in-depth conversations on how humanism interacts with Anti-Racism Work, Spiritual Direction, Death and Dying, Interfaith Work, and more. Drawing on the historical distinctions of our past, we’ll ground our present in relationship and work toward a future of shared commitment to serve humanists and our world.