Family Ministries—Religious Education – September 2020

From Judith Hogan, Director of Religious Education

“Seeds are the one thing that are the only genuine promise we have of the future.” —Nun/Activist Sister Joan Chittister 

A great deal of contemplation goes into any new beginning. Having recently accepted the position of Director of Religious Education for UUCM, I am faced with the challenge of growing the seeds that Lily Rappaport, our former Director of Family Ministries, has planted. My goal is to create a thriving and sustainable Religious Education program.

Clearly, the ability to plan, grow, sustain, and tend to our “RE garden” will be impacted by the current pandemic. Like all programs at UUCM and elsewhere, the restraints that come with this global challenge require us to be innovative, patient, and intentional about how we use our human, financial, and intellectual resources. 

Being intentional means having a clear vision of the role we want Religious Education to play in our congregation. First, my vision is that RE at UUCM will grow beyond its traditional format, which is geared primarily towards children and adolescents. This means offering meaningful UU-related learning opportunities not only to ALL members of our congregation, but to other UUs whose congregations have been impacted by the pandemic, resulting in decreased educational opportunities. 

Additionally, it is important to have creative and compelling programming that addresses the spiritual, developmental, and practical needs of the community, while also offering formats that take into consideration the reality of pandemic living. As such, I am working to cultivate a religious education program rooted in faith, grounded in practice, and nourished by the community.

Specifically, some of the programming initiatives currently either in use or being considered include the following:

· Creative and compelling programming that works well in an online format and encourages continued dedication to RE

· Innovative approaches to teaching, learning, and community-building in RE

· Expanded reach into other UU communities 

· Revitalized curricula

· Expansion of the core group of RE teachers to include other individuals who can bring their talents, skills, and life experience into the classroom 

· Allowing space for additional input from our ministers, members, parents, students, and external UU-related sources

The foundation is being laid for a beautiful and thriving garden. As with any garden, we must have patience, trust the process, and deal effectively with things outside of our control. We then have the joy of reaping a harvest in which individuals and the community as a whole can blossom and grow.