UU Leadership Institute > About

Vision, Mission and Values


UU faith communities need vital leadership to have impact.

  • The UU Leadership Institute provides a scalable model of leadership formation that fosters deeper lay leader involvement and formation and leverages financial resources and UUA staff involvement.

Leadership formation is a part of lifelong faith development.

  • The UU Leadership Institute will be offered in semesters, with a variety of course offerings every semester that cover different competence areas for different lay leader needs.
  • The UU Leadership Institute will supply certificates and other tools to help Lay leaders track their own formation’

Cohesive leadership teams can effect lasting change and ensure organizational health.

  • Participants are strongly encouraged to register as part of a congregational (or other covenantal community) team (4 or more members) during a semester. Congregational Team members can take different tracks and will have a chance to interact and share their learning as part of an in-person “Community of Practice” meeting.

Leverage face-to-face time to build connections.

  • Each semester will be structured with a combination of online, asynchronous[1] instruction (webinars and other assigned material), conference/video call “Practice Circles” with other track participants and in-person “Communities of Practice” by local geographic cluster.
  • In-person time will reinforce the online materials by using activities, exercises, case studies, projects and other learning opportunities that will enrich the learning experience and help build relationships within and between congregations that participate.
  • Each community of practice will be asked to work together on a cluster project of their choice.

Combining the experience of lay leaders and the expertise of staff will foster innovation.

  • The in-person “Communities of Practice” can be facilitated by “Peer Hosts” or “Elders.” These will be vetted local lay leaders, clergy and/or religious educators who will host the in-person experiences of the participants.
  • Peer hosts will have significant input into the in-person curriculum developed and provided by the UU Leadership Institute instructors, helping to keep it relevant to congregational life.
  • Peer hosts will be supported by the UU Leadership Institute instructors with training and ongoing mentoring. They will also potentially be a resource to local congregations as “peer consultants” for needs like board retreats, committee start-ups, etc.

[1] Access to course materials will be available “on-demand” to registered participants.


The purpose of the UU Leadership Institute is:

  • To grow Unitarians, Universalism, Unitarian Universalism and to support leaders with liberal religious values
  • To provide opportunity for people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, economic means, ability and circumstances to grow into leadership
  • To help leaders to develop sensibilities (lenses) around culture, race, generations and other identities so that we become more skillful in intercultural relationships
  • To provide opportunities for deeper connection in clusters
  • To provide leadership formation that is also faith formation with a strong grounding in Unitarian and Universalist Theologies
  • To provide opportunities for lay leadership formation that offers the depth of seminary but without the cost or credentials
  • To provide training for leaders in entrepreneurial and non-ordained forms of ministry (e.g. church plants, house churches, in-congregation deacons, chaplains or elders, etc.)
  • To leverage our resources so that they can deployed to provide the most impact


  • No one of us has all of the answers. The world around us is always changing and we always have something new to learn.
  • All relationships should be consensual (never coerced)
  • Our communities should be places where all souls can flourish
  • We are called to build the Beloved Community and we have faith that we have the resources to do so
  • We need to work at being our best selves
  • We need to be able to make mistakes with humility and forgiveness
  • Our Covenants help us to be accountable to all of the above values

*Loosely based on Guiding Principles for a Free Faith by James Luther Adams