My role as Religion Sector Specialist began as the result of the initiative I directed under the auspices of the Peninsula Community Foundation, now part of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Initiating that position provided me with the same sweeping transition as the initial designation of the position of Superintendent of the County Office of Education. My experience was basically, and remarkably, to be acknowledged in the region as “the superintendent of the Religion Sector.” This position enabled me to broadly link people and resources, guiding a comprehensive communal discourse which examined and advanced concepts impacting the nature of (a) the Religion Sector, (b) the relationship between the Religion Sector and the Civic Sectors, and (c) religion in society.
This new Religion Sector 3.0 “Operating System” enhances each facet of constituent and community engagement, extending outcomes to new and greater scales.
Regional Clergy Engagement (RCE)
My first assignment was to ascertain the methodology for constructing the database of every clergy person and congregation in a region. Although this did not exist in any county in the nation, the mechanics were…there, and the database of all 440 clergy was in place within a few months.
Building on Regional Clergy Engagement (RCE), the Foundation had two objectives, (a) the mutual engagement of all clergy, and (b) the collaboration between all the institutions of the Civic Sectors and all congregations, on the widest range of community matters.
As those 10 years progressed, the Peninsula clergy and the Civic Sectors’ leaders realized more and more that they were truly experiencing the new Religion Sector 3.0 era of the landscape of religion in the United States. This enabled all concerned to move forward beyond the barriers imposed by the common misperception of a “wall of separation” between “religion and state” and the attitude that “state” included all aspects of the Civic Sectors – government, education, human services and business.
The historic Religion Sector 2.0 image of the “separation” – among congregations of different religions and between congregations and the institutions of the society – shifted to a structure for achieving “appropriate and efficient” mutual engagement. The perception of a “wall of separation” – not a part of the U.S. Constitution – transitioned to an “alignment” which honors what is the constitutional religion and state declaration, composed of the two clauses: (a) no establishment of religion, and (b) the protection of the right of every individual to practice their religious identity.
Systemic design replaced ad hoc. Alignment replaced misalignment. Appropriate and efficient replaced the misperceptions of inappropriate and ad hoc [inefficient] experiences…
The unprecedented creation of a county-wide database was critical in framing the initial infrastructure platform. As the consultant in other regions, I demonstrated that the existence of that database is not a prerequisite to projects for engaging all clergy and congregations. The methodology derived in compiling the first database provided the know-how to identify and engage all clergy, or any delineated subset to support any project specific initiative.
Multi-Faith Awareness (MFA)
Since the beginning of this project, people have shared privately with me their lack of a common and comfortable language for discourse on religion.
I shared this observation with school superintendents and city managers. They acknowledged that for professional staff, in their academic training and in the institution required diversity training, religion was not included among race, gender, nationality, etc. As part of my role as the regional Religion Sector Specialist, I began conducting training in Multi-Faith Awareness for each sector.
The three sections within the Multi-Faith Awareness curriculum review:
- The Religion Sector in society
- Historic perspectives on religion/state policy and practice
- Augmenting multi-cultural proficiency with multi-faith proficiency
- Religion sector considerations
- Language: inclusive and specific
- Categories of religious practices
- Traditions and rituals
- Religion sector entities and structures
- Collaborative professional relationships
- Case studies
- Religion dynamics in individual and community issues – identification and response
- Religious considerations related to setting organizational policy and practices
- Personnel practices containing religious dynamics
Clergy Social Capital (CSC)
Civic Sectors’ Leadership Religion Sector Social Capital (CSLRSSC)
One clergy Dialogue topic, “Clergy Social Capital (CSC),” focused on how clergy could enhance these relationships and impact their community engagement. What became apparent were the limits on the time available to each clergy person. They now recognized how this limitation impacted their ability to establish essential professional relationships with the key Civic Sectors’ leaders.
It clearly diminished what had now been confirmed as the viability of (a) the greater effectiveness of clergy and (b) their collaborative power and that of congregations on behalf of strengthening community and individual lives.
In response to this reality, I designed a formula that would enable clergy, in 30 hours a year, to know and be known by each of the communal leaders serving their congregants from government – cities, county, state – and education.
This also included establishing relations with the clergy serving the ten closest congregations. The lack of this relationship was consistently stated by clergy…
I initiated the workshop series, “Clergy Social Capital,” which provides clergy with the components and technical assistance to make these connections in a time frame more than consistent with the benefit to them, the congregation and their congregants.
The technical assistance guided them through their initial calls, what to say, and even what not to say, to firmly secure their continuity of mutual relationship.
This personal connection is the foundation for framing collective clergy connections and the Civic Sectors’ leader’s collective clergy engagement through models of “coffees with clergy” and “Congregation Based Constituent Engagement” (CBCE).
There is a parallel curriculum, “Civic Sectors’ Leaders Religion Sector Social Capital (CSLRSSC),” which utilizes “A Local Official’s Guide to Working with Clergy and Congregations.” which I authored for the California Institute for Local Government.
For two decades, I have experienced the positive outcomes of conversations based on Multi-Faith Awareness within all Sectors – government, education, health services, business, and religion.
In those situations, with an individual who was at a loss as to how to have a discussion on religion, it reflected issues of attitude, knowledge, and language. In every case, their personal capacity and the collective value of the discourse shifted 180 degrees. Their personal comfort, knowledge and contribution extended further as they shared in collaborative efforts with colleagues and with institution staff.
We share in a society which promotes the strengthening of community by increasing the level of collaborative consciousness through Cross Sector Collaboration.
I look forward to exploring how you can benefit from enhancing the scope of (a) multi-faith awareness, and (b) incorporating the Religion Sector to achieve the true Cross Sector Collaboration.
Rabbi Jay Miller Religion Sector 3.0
www.rabbijaymiller.com email@example.com 650.740.4411
1.0 On the Town Square 2.0 Walls of Separation
3.0 Alignment: Among Congregations – Within Society