From Chris Buja, Director of Religious Education and Congregational Life
Recently I attended a workshop led by Kimberley Sweeney based on her position paper provocatively titled, “The Death of Sunday School.” Her paper was drawn from her experiences as a UU consultant for New England Region congregations as well as studying nationwide trends in religious community participation across denominations. You can find a link to the full paper at: http://www.uuinstitute.org/courses/deathsundayschool-150-f17/.
Perhaps this congregation can identify with some of the challenges noted in the paper- such as increasing competition from other activities on Sundays that make worship and religious education attendance and volunteering more difficult and less consistent. As eager as many workshop attendees were for Ms. Sweeney to hand us the “off the shelf” solutions to these challenges, it was not to be. Instead, it was powerful to be in small group conversations and share and listen to others’ experiences of religious education and why it was so important. These deep reflective conversations helped us to remember what is at the core of our religious education ministries, regardless of what the specific programs and classes look like.
UUCM’s Religious Education Committee for Children and Youth continues its Think Orange philosophy implementation by seeking events outside of the traditional RE times on Sunday morning to include all ages in religious education. RE Coordinator Iris DeLaPaz and other volunteers brought Dia De Los Muertos learning and activities to coffee hour on October 15 as one example.
The REC and staff welcome your ideas on how we can bring religious education to and with families throughout the week. Whatever the response to the challenges noted in Ms. Sweeney’s paper, surely the solutions will include the input and participation of parents. If you are a parent and haven’t helped out in an RE class, please sign up to be an assistant to see what it’s all about. It will help the kids during the class itself and it will help you learn and carry the UU message home throughout the week. Please speak with me, Iris, or any Teaching Team coordinator to see where help is needed in RE!