I have only heard of one congregation in the Unitarian Universalist Association that has a called Director of Religious Education. That congregation is Horizon UU Church in nearby (to me) Carrollton, TX.
This is an important as well as an intriguing step in the development of Lifespan Faith Development. A called DRE or DLFD has a different relationship to the congregation, to the minster(s), to the staff, and to the job than someone hired by the board or hired by a senior minister or a committee or some combination thereof. Like a minister in a congregation, the called religious educator is in a covenantal relationship with the congregation and reports directly to the church’s board or governing body and is an ex-officio member of that body. Thus the minister(s) and religious educator are partners in ministry and lifespan faith development.
This assumes a willingness to see ministry as a team effort and assert that all we do in a congregational setting is faith development – weekly, Sunday worship is faith development, committees and various ministries are faith development, social justice work and community outreach and involvement is faith development.
I like the model. It’s difficult for a congregation to commit to this type of call with a religious educator, especially financially, when some find it difficult to commit to even one full or part-time minister, but I truly believe this is the direction in which we must move and the goal towards which we must strive.