A liberal religious congregation which seeks to create connections, find inspiration, and engage the world, the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca seeks a 7/8 time (average 35 hours/week) Director of Religious Exploration (DRE). The DRE works to support and strengthen our program for children and youth, and to incorporate families, youth and children into the life of the congregation. The DRE supports the vision and mission of FUSIT by leading religious exploration and faith formation ministries for children and youth, ages 0 – 18 years of age, and families. 

The DRE is primarily expected to help build strong, positive, and meaningful relationships with and between children, youth, and adults that live out our Unitarian Universalist values. We envision a DRE who can nurture and strengthen a respectful, inclusive, supportive, and safe environment; truly enjoy working with children and youth; and support FUSIT’s commitment to become an intentionally and actively anti-racist, welcoming congregation. This person serves as a resource in guiding our volunteers to implement UU religious education curricula and programs.  The DRE collaborates with the Religious Exploration (RE) Team, the Minister and staff, and others.

Our ideal candidate is enthusiastic with strong interpersonal, communication and organizational skills. They should be familiar with and experienced in UU religious education programs and have knowledge of early childhood education, including children with special needs.  Our preferred candidate would have experience and interest in implementing activities and programs involving all levels of congregational life, including worship.  

We will invest in you. You will be afforded a variety of personal and professional development opportunities. As a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), you will have access to many resources and a network of other religious education professionals to support you in your work.

Compensation is commensurate with experience and in alignment with UUA fair compensation guidelines for a religious educator, beginning at $39,000, plus UUA benefits, to include vacation and study leave, professional expenses budget,  health care, and retirement.  Position will begin in August 2020.

Read a complete job description here.

About our Religious Exploration Program

Over the last couple years, we have experienced program growth as enthusiasm for an engaging Sunday experience has attracted more families with children and youth. Our growing religious education program is currently led by an acting DRE with assistance from a staff assistant and 40+ volunteers. Sunday worship services begin with children in attendance. They participate in a Time for Wonder (a short story or Q/A) before departing to the classrooms.  Classroom Sundays engage children and youth with age-appropriate curriculum, or during monthly Creative Sundays children age 5-10 share in an active learning workshop, ie Music and Instrument Making, Worm Composting, Yoga, a Fall Equinox Celebration. Once a month, children and youth join the worship service for a multigenerational worship experience. This past year, we have revitalized the renowned UUA sexuality program Our Whole Lives, with plans to expand that in the coming year. Multiple events throughout the year and Nature Church in the summer help build connection across generations.

About Us

First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, has been worshiping in downtown Ithaca, NY for over 150 years. We are a thriving mid-sized liberal-minded congregation of approximately 300 adults and 75 children and youth. As our worship and RE attendance are growing, we are exploring the possibility of adding a second Sunday service. We are actively working toward developing more multigenerational programming.

We are Unitarian Universalist and Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, atheist and agnostic, believers in God, and more. Our members’ spiritual practices include spending time in nature, music, physical activity, meditation, reading, and community service. Our staff consists of eight employees ranging from full-time to part-time. We have long-serving staff members and some that were recently hired.

We are a Welcoming Congregation. This means we affirm and include people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer at every level of congregational life—in worship, in program, and in social occasions—welcoming them as whole people.

We like to have fun. Every September we serve ice cream sundaes to the community during Porch Fest. Our annual service auction includes excellent food and a chance to bid for great dinners, vacations, and services provided by members. We march in the annual Ithaca Festival Parade where many members play their UU Ukuleles. Our last “regular” service of the year is held at Stewart Park and is followed by a potluck lunch by the beautiful Cayuga Lake. And each year 100 of us spend a long weekend camping in the Adirondacks together.

Our Minister

Rev. Margaret Weis is called to a ministry that is both pastoral and prophetic, where people are called to nurture themselves and each other, seek deeper understanding, and heal the world. Rev. Margaret began her ministry at First Unitarian Society of Ithaca in August of 2017. She is seeking a religious educator who is collaborative, creative, organized, and ready to try new things. Ours is a dynamic and multifaceted family ministry with many vital pieces – perhaps all we’re missing is you!

Our Minister, Rev. Margaret Weis

Our Location

The First Unitarian Society of Ithaca is located three blocks from the center of the city. Known for its scenic parks and beautiful waterfalls, the city of Ithaca is one of the most picturesque college towns in America. In addition to Cornell University, Ithaca College, and nearby SUNY Cortland and Tompkins Cortland Community College, Ithaca is the seat of Tompkins County. Ithaca appears on many best-of lists, including Best Small Towns in America, Best College Towns in America, and Best Waterfront Towns in America. 

Ithaca is a small city with a big dose of community spirit with annual events like the Ithaca Festival and parade, Porchfest, the Apple Festival and the annual Chili Fest . And when you’re done with all that eating, drinking and dancing, the city offers plenty of ways to walk it off through town, along the Waterfront Trail, through the Farmers Market, and on to the Black Diamond Trail.  Hiking abounds, with 3 state parks in the county, as well as water activities on Cayuga Lake.

From http://tompkinscountyny.gov/ : “Living in Tompkins County is a fulfilling and wonderful experience. The City of Ithaca and the surrounding area is thriving with locally owned businesses, restaurants, shops and all of the festivals, activities, and events that occur throughout the year. Our community is composed of volunteers, educators, and philanthropists who are passionate about the arts, health, diversity, sustainability, and community engagement. Tompkins County is not only a great place to live and work, but it’s a great place to get involved and give back to the community.”

To Apply

Please send a cover letter and resume to dresearch@uuithaca.org by March 31, 2020. Interviews will begin in March and continue until the position is filled.