Family Ministries—Religious Education for the 21st Century – February 2020

From Lily Rappaport,  Developmental Director of Family Ministries

Adaptive challenges happen when we ask people to adopt new beliefs or when we help people see that the ways that they have been doing things in the past no longer work for them. Regarding our congregation’s religious education program, there has been a general shift of the practice to separate children and youth on Sunday mornings to one that reflects a deepening engagement with our commitments to inclusivity, and continued growth and learning for all ages. The adaptive shift comes from incorporating some ideas to doing lifespan learning from various innovative RE models for the 21 century. This includes:

Workshop Rotation: Learning Centers/Stations—This model has been in use in Christian denominations for years and has been adapted in UU congregations. It gives children more time and different ways to process their learning by focusing on one story per month with enriched learning environments, such as workshops on art, drama, music, games, storytelling, and any other educational media. Workshop leaders are recruited based on their gifts and expertise. For more information:

Small Group Ministry – The publication, Adapting Small Group Ministry for Children’s Religious Education by Gail Forsyth-Vail, describes her congregation’s program which includes an emphasis on relationships, pastoral care, and building a “spiritual tool kit.” It begins with a half hour worship every Sunday, then proceeds to intentionally mixed age groupings for check-in, reflection, carrying our faith into the world, and ends with appreciations and closing.

Spirit Play is a Montessori based Unitarian Universalist religious education program based on the work of Jerome Berryman, who developed the Christian education model called “Godly Play.” This model uses sacred stories in the moral and spiritual development of children. See Spirit PlayGodly Play, and the books Godly Play by Jerome Berryman.

Way Cool Sunday School: Religious Education Without Walls, a model developed by the Rev. Greg Stewart, is a experiential, hands-on method of learning which includes multi-age worship and multi-age service projects, as well as curriculum-based classrooms and the arts. At its heart lies the conviction that children are best served when integrated into the whole life of the church. Read more about this model in the essay titled “Long Live Sunday School! Sunday School is Dead” found in The Essex Conversations.

Religious Education Calendar

February 9:  Grade 4/5 OWL Parent Information Meeting 12:30-2:00 pm

February 11: Grade 4/5 OWL Parent Information Meeting 6:30-8:00 pm

February 16: UU Young Adults Meeting 2-5pm

February 19: Coming of Age meeting with Ministers 7:30-9:30 pm

February 21: 8th Grade OWL Sleepover 6:00 pm

February 23: Children’s Chapel (K-5); Senior High Youth-Led Service at 9:30 & 11:15 am

February 29: RE Committee Retreat (Offsite)