Religious Education

Lifespan religious education is fundamental to the mission of the church. From character formation in children, to transition rituals around youth and young adulthood, to ongoing conversations about moral and spiritual development throughout life, religious education is beneficial for all. As with most aspects of church life, it is the responsibility of everyone and it benefits from having professional leadership to plan and guide it.

People learn all the time; children and adults learn as much from observing human interactions as from formal classes. Worship, coffee hour and social justice projects can be as educational as RE events. We must therefore be aware of our words and actions in all settings—-optimally, we would welcome children and youth into worship frequently, and invite all ages to the various rites of passage (from child dedication to graduations to bridging to marriage/union to retirement to funerals, etc.). This is not only beneficial for the children, it can prevent or reduce the feeling of disconnection between the worshipping congregation and the families in the RE program.

“Thank you for chaperoning the trip to Lake Geneva.  [My teenager] came back happier
than I’ve seen in months.”

–Linda, UUSG

I enjoy working with children, and I make it a priority to connect with the older youth. Starting in junior high or so, I try to build relationships with our young men and women, to help them feel invested in, and respected by, their church. I engage with teenagers regularly, as there is much change in those years. Through these efforts, and by working with the MRE/DRE, I hope to instill a commitment and appreciation for UUism.

“[The best part of Chip's class was] the open-ended discussions which he kept on track very unintrusively.”
–anonymous feedback, Rockford

As emotional and faith development occurs throughout life, I offer adult education classes and facilitate covenant groups to meet the evolving needs of our members and friends.

I believe that finding and supporting good volunteers is crucial for an RE program. I support RE from the pulpit, and I work actively and collaboratively with the RE leadership to foster the success of this vital ministry.

At UU Congregation of Grand Traverse:
• Co-taught children’s religious education experiences several times per year
• Co-led family-based Chalice Circle (using Evensong for Families curriculum)
• Co-led fully multigenerational worship services at least four times per year
• Served on local school system’s Sexuality Education Board
• Participated in children’s Toy Project each fall (buying and wrapping gifts to make available to families in local domestic violence shelter, for them to give each other)
• Served as “Mystery Friend” to an adolescent boy
• Led and co-led Chalice Circles virtually every year (no Circles in 2007-’08)
• Led discussion group of Buehrens’ Understanding the Bible, 2007
• Led discussion group of Gilbert’s Prophetic Imperative, 2008
• Led workshop featuring Merzel’s “Big Mind” process, 2010
• Co-led presentation on white nationalism, based on Rowley & Soohen’s film, White Power USA.

At Countryside Church UU:
• Leader of Sunday School Program (108 children & youth; 40+ adult volunteers)
• Facilitator of Coming of Age program (8 young men and women)
• Started “Parents with Young Children” and “Young Adult” groups
• Lead “Skylight Chapel” for children and youth approximately three weekends per month
• Slated to present “Movies Against the Grain: Identifying and Subverting Stereotypes in Film” at the annual Adult RE weekend retreat, Journeys.

At the UU Church of Rockford, in summer, 2004:
• Wrote and facilitated a six-week adult RE course, “The Religious Humanism of the Grateful Dead” (11 regular participants);
• Presented 60-minute “The Bible: Mystery and History” to the Very Special People (senior citizens, 50+ attendees)

During internship at the UU Society of Geneva, 2003-’04:
• Co-led (with two other adults) Coming of Age Boston trip with 5 teens
• Mentor to 8th grade student
• Co-led 8th-grade retreat (5 teens, 2 other adults); helped present their worship service
• Facilitated discussion on diversity training for teens working with Habitat for Humanity
 90-minute session; with folks from Indianapolis—40 teens, 8 adults
• Taught session on UUs and abolition, for Boston Bound teenagers
• Co-taught at least one week in every class level, toddlers through teens
• Wrote and facilitated four-week course, “Jesus the Man” (16 regulars)
• Adapted and facilitated Building Your Own Theology II (5 regulars)
• Facilitated a covenant group
• Taught UU history for New Members Orientation, twice

At the First UU of Columbus:
• Co-taught 5th-6th grade, “How Can I Know What to Belive?”, 1997-‘98
• Chaperoned (with 4 other adults) Coming of Age trip to Boston with 5 teens, May 1999
• Inaugurated (with two other adults) Youth Group attendance (a dozen teens) at the all-church Labor Day Retreat, 1999 & 2000

so may we categorize: