I know that you all think that my job is to be a cheerleader for our religious education team and our teachers, advisors, and mentors. Partly, I suppose, you are correct. I certainly want to support and encourage folks in any way I can, to help them be the best advisors and mentors and leaders they can be, for themselves, our children and youth, and for this church.
But really, I want to spend a moment lifting up the excellent and remarkable dedication that our teaching staff show to our part of the world. There are countless examples of this (no kidding), and I’m not going to get into trouble by starting to name individuals, because I would surely leave out someone. What I see, every day and every week, however, are people who care deeply about this church’s religious education program. And although the curricula we use are pretty much strong enough to deploy without a huge amount of preparation time, our folks are going the distance and putting in extra time…because they care.
So I see Coming of Age leaders conferring on their own and with their advisory team colleagues about each class, to make sure that, as we approach Coming of Age Sunday, our youth are getting as much as possible out of every lesson and connecting with their mentors at each possible moment. I see Follen UU Youth (FUUY) adult and youth leaders providing the same kind of support for the very large number of high school age youth who are part of this growing and vital program…to empower youth to raise money for their service trip to the Gulf Coast; to learn about homelessness and mental illness in cities; to support their peers and those in our communities.
I watch the correspondence between some of the teachers for our younger children, as they confer about how to offer a meaningful class for UU children on Lent, or how to understand the concept of generosity. I see our older grades studying Islam and visiting the Islamic Center in Wayland, with their heads respectfully covered and their hearts open to gain understanding about other religious practices and people who are too often maligned. Our youth are learning about healthy sexuality; they are learning about respectful and mutually supportive behavior which – heaven knows – not all adults understand in our society; they are honing their values and growing into the kind of people we need more of in this world.
I see the Religious Education Action team in meetings – sometimes twice a month and sometimes, each week – and working hard to change their leadership model and revisit their goals to adapt to a much larger RE program and its needs. I see people working with dedication and care, to make sure that Follen is the safe and welcoming congregation it aspires to be, for Lexington and Arlington, and for the world. This is a calling and a challenge, and it is a blessing as well.
There is a great deal to be grateful for in this congregation when it comes to working with children and youth. As this year’s annual giving campaign wraps up, I hope that you will remember the significant and endless ways in which religious education is benefitting your children, grandchildren, friends, or that cute child whose name you haven’t learned yet.
And please – remember that there is a place for you in this matrix, no matter your age or your abilities. This church offer a lifespan program of faith development, and we welcome all. So consider yourself warmly invited into the fold – come see me, or Rev. Susanne Intriligator, our Director of Community Engagement, or one of the great members of our RE team led by co-chairs Maureen Markelz and Lisa Levey, and talk to us about getting connected — whether you’ve been here for years or you’re new to the church. We are a team, and we celebrate our lifelong need to learn and honor our Unitarian Universalist values, with you!
Interim Director of Religious Education