It's been a long journey for me as a director of religious education at the UUCBV.
We joined this church in 1996, and I volunteered in RE for three years, 1998-2001. I applied for the DRE job in 2002, but found a full time job, and withdrew my application.
When I came back as DRE in 2011, RE was thriving. There were plenty of children and volunteers. Molly Ward was RE Chair, and she was a rock for me.
By February 2013 there was a lull in attendance. In September the RE students came back. I developed a volunteer team of young adult teachers. That was such a fun year! Summer 2014 brought us lessons researched and presented by older students, and that was a blast.
2014-2017 were years of plenty and plenty of fun. My favorite lesson plan was “Around the World in 90 Days.” I made passport books and stickers for world religions by country.
During 2018, the last full year of traditional Sunday school, numbers fluctuated. That year, the RE Committee read Kimberly Sweeney's The Death of Sunday School and the Future of Faith Formation.
The RE Committee consisted of Barbara Abercrombie (chair), Molly Ward, Allison Faber and Pam Johnson. We contemplated making a big change all that year. There was a meeting in December, which the entire church was invited to attend, to discuss the change. I asked the RE Committee if we should meet again in the new year, but people who responded said we had reached a consensus.
Even before March 2019, when we began All Ages RE and Worship, I had been fully launched on a path of Shared Ministry with Rev. Donna Renfro. With other ministers I might participate in service twice a year. I was invited to do “big people church” almost from the beginning of her tenure. We did Purim, Samhain, Cornbread Communion and more, not just Christmas and Easter as Multigenerational services. I can't tell you how fulfilling it was!
This is the future of faith formation. People of all ages learning and worshiping together. Adults need to learn how to be Unitarian Universalists. Children need to learn how to worship. Everyone needs to see that there is not a hierarchy of people with adults being the “real congregants” and the children, teachers and DRE doing less important work.
Yet somehow, I don't think this congregation has embraced this. It's the future of our denomination. I am fully connected to religious professionals throughout North America, so I know. Your ministers know it.
I can't go back to the Sunday school model of RE. I can't face a future where ministry is not shared.
I have given my resignation to the board, and won't be teaching RE in August or beyond.
Thank you so much for the portions of this journey you have shared with me. Thank you for the encouragement given. I hope that you can find a way forward that fits your philosophy of faith formation as a congregation. I wish you all the best!