My “most favorite” Sunday of the year is Coming of Age Sunday. The two services Follen had on May 21st were joyful and filled with the beliefs and learnings our fourteen Coming of Age program graduates held in their minds and hearts. They blessed us with their vision, their hopes for the future, their connection to all that they value. And we are the richer for these gifts they offered us.
Coming of Age is a wonderful program that is a cornerstone of Unitarian Universalist religious education. I am deeply grateful to the advisors of this program who worked as a team to help our tenth grade youth learn and grow during this year: Chris Campbell, Leslie Coney, Janet Lane, Gray Watson, and Nancy Wurtz; and to the individuals who gave of their time and wisdom to mentor our youth: Beth Bernstein, Howie Bernstein, Ann Bobo, Tara Fleming Caruso, Aimee Fox, Janet Lane, Jack Lloyd, Tammy Mulligan, Greg Shenstone, Jane Spickett, and Kim Vandiver. These adults – along with the parents of our youth (who serve as their primary religious educators), and with additional support from Rev. Claire Feingold Thoryn and Rev. Susanne Intriligator, helped us offer our youth a successful Coming of Age program.
Nearly at the same time as these tenth graders were marking their Coming of Age with thoughtfulness and ceremony, news broke of the horrifying attack at a Manchester, England stadium where children of the same age and younger gathered to hear Ariana Grande perform. Now, with a death toll of 22 (at the time I write) and more than 55 injured, we are reminded once again of the fragility of young lives and how everything can change in just an instant.
As we near the end of this church year I hope, and I pray, that you will take time to celebrate the children and youth and loved ones in your life. Even on the difficult days (and we all have them) try to remember that our children and youth are the most valuable part of our world – more than houses, cars, good salaries, or vacations. They are what matter most, and they are worth treasuring…and the reality is that we never know what will happen tomorrow. So I encourage you – even if it is just for a moment, and even if the children or youth in your life think you are being very sappy – to take a moment to recognize the beauty of these children and youth who make up the Follen community and who bless our lives. They are gold.
Deborah Weiner, Interim Director of Religious Education