The Ideal DRE

The Ideal DRE
Compiled by Mr. Barb Greve from the collective wisdom of colleagues.

The ideal DRE is young at heart, connects with teens, wise beyond his years, and holds multiple degrees in child psychology, special education, theology and social media. She organizes excellent multigenerational worship services, leads engaging Children’s Chapels, preaches stimulating sermons and inspires the children to want to be at church every Sunday.

Adorned with a masking tape bracelet, supplies in pers pockets and rollerblades on pers feet, per wears pers best suit to finger paint with the preschool class. Ghe has eyes in the back of gher head, ears that hear only good things, and a constant smile. S/he knows where the coffee, trash bags and toilet paper are located, can shut off the building’s water, fix the office electronics, clean the classrooms and is available to answer any question at any time.

She makes $50 a week, has a model family life, drives a practical car, and tithes to the church … and Heifer Project International. On his day off he shops for classroom supplies, volunteers at a local shelter, reads up on church dynamics and educational theory and bakes delicious nutritional allergen-free snacks for the church school program.

Ze plans far in advance, never makes decisions rashly, is quick to respond to requests, keeps all options open and is flexible to change, all the while being in excellent communication with the congregation. Phe makes rational decisions, has excellent relationship skills, understands how decisions and actions may affect each member of the community, and keeps everyone happy. Ghe is an expert on family systems, learning theory, comparative religions, comprehensive sexuality education, early, middle, teen and adult development, special education, theology and technology.

The Ideal DRE is deeply introspective and energized by interacting with large groups of people. S/he calmly responds to last minute requests on Sunday morning while warmly greeting each congregant at the front door. He is excellent at managing the nitty-gritty details and keeps everyone focused on the big picture.

She communicates telepathically with all families, corresponds comfortably on email, Facebook, Twitter, websites and through the church newsletter, postcards and bulletin boards. Ze cheerfully attends every child’s extra-curricula activities, all committee meetings, is active in Associational work, regularly attends zers professional organization’s meetings and personally teaches every adult RE class, while modeling good boundaries and a balanced life.

Published in: on 22 January 2011 at 19.19  Comments (2)  

11th Annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance

Published in: on 20 November 2009 at 10.38  Leave a Comment  
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Opening Worship Reflection

23 October 2009
Liberal Religious Educators Association; Providence, RI
Mr. Barb Greve

As some of you know, my mother is a (once again) retired Director of Religious Education. As a child growing up in the congregation in which she served I got to see what was happening behind the curtain, and I swore that no matter what, I would NEVER become a Religious Educator! There seemed to be no end to the amount of work: teacher recruitment, committee meetings, lesson plan copying, supply closet cleaning, meetings with parents, meetings with the board, budget worries, locking and unlocking the doors, making coffee, cleaning up coffee, finding last minute substitutes, putting away tables and chairs, creating worship that works for all ages, buying Kleenex, sleeping on church floors for youth overnights, and never leaving the building when she said we were heading home. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why my mother enjoyed her job as much as she did. But she did and still does love her work and our faith and that love of both has rubbed off on me.

I have been a Unitarian Universalist for almost 40 years. I am a member of the first generation of Unitarian Universalists – those who were raised in the post-consolidation; after the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association combined their congregations and resources to create the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Unlike what happened in the sanctuary, what was taught in the religious education programs in the post-consolidation was a new religion, not a merged form of the two faiths from which we come.

I have been practicing Unitarian Universalism my whole life and can say only one thing for certain: Our faith is not an easy one to practice! It demands of us that we be in constant awareness and dialogue with the world. Unitarian Universalism requires religious engagement, not just when it is convenient or easy, but in every moment. We have a rich history and complicated thea/ology but too often our members and even we religious educators, shy away from learning either. One of the greatest strengths Unitarian Universalist thea/olgy offers is an image of life that is in motion and pluralistic.

Now, there have been times in life when I wished for a colossal puppeteer in the sky with whom I could scream and beg and who would make the changes I desired. But our faith challenges us to not place all the blame and expectation on a puppeteer but rather on ourselves and those around us. Through our focus on community and covenant, we learn that the holy takes place in our connections to and with one another. Because divinity exists in these connections it is important that we are careful with how we treat one another, which is why I am committed to combating oppression and celebrating multiculturalism.

The faith of my childhood taught me to put my trust in that mysterious force we sometimes call God or Goddess or Allah or Vishnu or Nature… and always call Sacred and Divine. This faith taught me to trust my life experiences (question them always, but still trust that the experiences were real).

One of the most transformational experiences of my life can be credited on none other than Pat Ellenwood. In my late teen years as I was successfully rebuilding the youth group of my home congregation, Pat invited me to lead a workshop on successful advising of youth groups for the district’s annual religious educators conference. With this simple invitation, Pat opened a door for me, a door that I would, from time to time peak through. And as I met many religious educators and learned more about the profession of religious education, I continued to shy away from the profession, if only because the long list of “to-do’s” seemed unbearable. During my 10 years working at the Unitarian Universalist Association I resisted becoming a member of LREDA. Not because this organization isn’t anything other than fabulous, but because to become a member would mean admitting that I was following in my mother’s path – a path that would take more time in my life than I thought I was willing to give up.

So it seemed a strange suggestion when Deb Levering suggested that I apply for the interim director of religious education position in Hamden, CT. But having just graduated from Starr King School for the Ministry, I was anxious to find a paying job, religious educator or otherwise. What I learned soon after I started in Hamden is that I love “the work.” I love the opportunity to help members of the congregation connect their daily living with their spiritual lives. I love working with committees as they struggle to decide what is important and how to make decisions based on faith and values. I don’t even mind the shopping for supplies and the long hours!

Your work is important. Our work is important. We have the opportunity to open doors for those who don’t realize the doors are even there. We are poised at the threshold of the mundane and the mystical. We will remind the world that, in the words of the great Unitarian Minister and leader of Unitarian Universalism, A. Powell Davies, “Religion is not something separate and apart from ordinary life. It is life–life of every kind viewed from the standpoint of meaning and purpose: life lived in the fuller awareness of its human quality and spiritual significance.”

Your work is important. Our work is important. May it always be so.

Published in: on 23 October 2009 at 20.24  Comments (3)  

Sometimes life is too beautiful!

March walkway

March walkway

I went to leave my folks’ house today and my mom pointed out the walkway. We paused for a moment to enjoy the wonderous beauty and for a moment were grateful to not be rushing past.

Published in: on 10 March 2009 at 21.54  Leave a Comment  

The Magic of Finances at Canvass Time

Something magical happens in our building on Sunday mornings. Where else could you witness one group of young children outside exploring the frozen tundra as they learn about the Arctic explorer and ethnologist, Vilhjalmur Stefansson (who was at one time a student for the Unitarian ministry)? Or find another group of slightly older children learning about the Unitarian inventor, Lewis Latimer by making marshmallow blowers out of pvc pipes and joints? Head on to the next room and you might witness one of our ministers talking with the children about the roles and tasks of a minister (even answering the question “are you a real person?”). In the next room you might be tempted to join in the making of duct tape crafts as the students discuss the flexibility and sturdiness of our faith. And just when you think it can’t get any better than this, head to coffee hour where the 4th/5th grade class is helping to sell the fair trade products as a way of learning about homelessness, economics and the need for good practices all ‘round. All this and more on any given Sunday morning – it truly is a magical place.

One of the challenges of running such a wonderfully magical place is finding ways to help our children understand how the magic happens. They see their teachers each week and have a sense of the love and effort the teachers put into preparing each class. But our children are removed from the finances of congregational life. The children are dismissed for classes before the offering is taken each week, which means that they miss out on this tangible reminder that it takes the resources of all of us to keep the congregation running.

During the monthly children’s chapel services we do collect an offering, explaining the significance of doing so. But this is a once a month event and most of the children don’t remember to bring any money with them (hint – the next Children’s Chapel will be on 15 March). Our annual stewardship time is a great opportunity to help our children and youth understand the mysteries of finances and money, particularly around our congregation.

Inviting our children into the conversations of Stewardship will help them to more deeply value what they are experiencing in the congregation. I encourage you to take time this month to talk with your children and youth about your canvass pledge to the congregation. Share with them what you value most about the congregation and ask them what they value most. Explain how you come to the financial amount you choose to give and invite them to give a portion of their income to the congregation. Help your children/youth understand the magic of finances in our congregation.

Published in: on 5 March 2009 at 22.15  Leave a Comment  


So I was getting my hair buzzed today (yup, for those of you who haven’t seen me in a while I have been growing my hair out – high & tight – nothing too long).

Anyway, there I was sitting in the barber’s chair when I noticed the print on the jar. I’m just sayin’ … it made this guy think. Perhaps that’s why I’ve kept my head shaved for so long.

A friend once said that people attracted to me should be called “Barbsexual.” Does that mean that people who would kill me would be guilty of Barbicide? I’m just wondering…

Published in: on 6 February 2009 at 23.41  Leave a Comment  


(It is rare when a church joke catches me off guard and causes me to laugh out loud. The joke below did just that. I don’t know where it originated from, but I read it on a list serve I subscribe to and loved it. Thus, I’m sharing it with you in hopes that the end result is that your day is brightened as well!)

The Joke:

One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque. It was covered with names and small American flags mounted on either side of it. The six-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, “Good morning Alex.”

“Good morning Pastor,” Alex replied, still focused on the plaque. “Pastor, what is this?”

The pastor said, “Well son, it’s a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.” Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque.

Finally, little Alex’s voice, barely audible and trembling with fear asked, “Which service, the 8:30 or the 10:30?”

Published in: on 31 January 2009 at 0.01  Comments (1)  

Excellence, Ministry & Oppression

My dear friend and colleague, the Rev. Sean Dennison has posted a commentary via blog that is well worth reading. His words resonate with me as my current position rounds the last bend and I enter into the search for a new congregation to serve. I encourage all to read his words on the TRUUsT website.

Published in: on 19 December 2008 at 0.03  Leave a Comment  

The Ideal Religious Educator

At a recent workshop participants were asked to create something that depicted the ideal Religious Educator. Being one who doesn’t enjoy working with construction paper and feathers I went to a medium I enjoy working with … the computer. I created a Power Point presentation, which you can view below: (It’s not as smooth as the actual power point presentation, but other than choppy transitions and no soundtrack it’s close.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “The Ideal Religious Educator II“, posted with vodpod
Published in: on 11 December 2008 at 23.31  Leave a Comment  

Our Fading Heritage

Also found on the American Civic Literacy website is a 33 question Civics quiz you can take. So of course I took it. Now, you would think that having grown up with a father who reenacts the Revolutionary War and is now a historian, I would know my USA Civics inside and out. I knew I hadn’t aced the quiz, but was surprised when I got a score of 73%. Take the Civics quiz and find out how well you know your USA Civics.

Published in: on 25 November 2008 at 23.49  Comments (2)