Kari Kopnick over at the blog Chalice Spark is concerned about Directors of Religious Education (DREs) who are resigning from Unitarian Universalist congregations due to burn out and poor working conditions, and she offers some very practical tips for retaining DREs — pay for professional expenses, give adequate time off, provide sabbaticals, etc. The sad truth is that most Unitarian Universalist congregations provide inadequate pay and tiny professional expenses budgets for their DREs, they provide punitive rather than supportive supervision, congregations expect more hours of work than they pay for, and they believe that it’s cheaper to hire a new DRE every three or four years than to provide sabbaticals.
Every year, I get a call or two from a DRE who is resigning from her job because of the way her congregation is treating her (I use the feminine pronoun because about 95% of all DREs are women, and yes part of the reason DREs are treated poorly is because the work is seen as women’s work and is therefore devalued). If your congregation’s DRE tenders her resignation this year, you might wish to challenge your minister and lay leaders to take an honest look at working conditions and compensation.
And thank you, Kari, for raising this issue.
P.S. Every time I write a post about how DREs are treated poorly, I get an email message or two from an angry lay leader or minister who thinks I’m talking in public about what’s going on in their congregation. If you think I’m specifically referring to your congregation’s treatment of your DRE, I’m not. However, you may wish to examine your conscience to figure out why you’re feeling guilty about this issue.