Updated: Apr 2
I have been hoping for a solution for RE like this for five years. That was when I met the new DRE at New Braunfels, TX. She described how she was usually the lone teacher. A childcare employee provided the safety of a second adult. The children who were not quite mature enough for RE went back from the lesson area to the nursery area when they needed a break. Then, if something interested them, they’d return to RE. There was only one problem with this vision: children were still segregated from adults and so was the DRE.
Our new and improved version of New Braunfels' approach includes everyone according to their abilities and needs. Everyone of all ages has the chance of finding out about their chosen faith through religious education. Even the youngest children can be exposed to the lesson while playing quietly. When worship starts, they can stay in the nursery, or they can come into the sanctuary. If worship gets to be too much, they can return to the nursery. The nursery during service is not the quiet place it is during RE. The rule is, when service starts, the noisy toys can come out to play.
During worship, people of all ages now have a choice of sitting in the pews or doing something with their hands as they listen, either in the pews or in the back of the Sanctuary. Many of the coloring pages are geared toward adults, and there are more activities to come. I can't tell you how many religious educators I saw knitting or embroidering at the LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators Association) conference in November!
The nursery being just behind the activity area is for the convenience of children who are not ready for the all ages service experience. For those who want to be in the Sanctuary but need a break, there is even a spot in the back corner where one can curl up and read during service.
I think that having children in service is going well, so far. Let me know what you think. And I hope that everyone will give the new RE format a try. I can tell you that it's not the first time I've had adults attend RE, just because they were interested. If you come, let me know what you liked or what you hope to see in future. This is your church. This is your faith. Come learn about it.
April Lessons from Tapestry of Faith
(Descriptions by Moral Tales authors The Reverend Alice Anacheka-Nasemann and Elisa Davy Pearmain)
April 7 Moral Tales Session 6: Welcome One and All
This session is based on the notion that justice and goodness require an attitude of radical hospitality towards all others, regardless of race, class, or creed. In their book, Radical Hospitality (Paraclete Press, 2002), Daniel Homan and Lonni Collins Pratt amplify this notion, which is also a natural extension of our first Unitarian Universalist principle, which affirms the worth and dignity of all people.
April 14 Moral Tales Session 7: Seeing Others with Awe
To enter into the presence of another human being ... is to enter into the presence of God in a new and different way. — Stephen L. Carter
In traditional religious terms, as stated in the quotation from Stephen L. Carter's Civility, we bring awe to that of God in every living being. A non-theist might bring awe to the Spirit of Life, the "inner light" or simply the uniqueness in every person.
April 21 No RE; Easter Sunday
April 28 Moral Tales Session 8: Do Unto Others
This session promotes the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and the suggestion from scripture to "Love thy neighbor as thyself." The central story, "The Good Samaritan" from Christian scripture, guides exploration of what it means to "love thy neighbor" and helps raise the idea that our "neighbors" include everyone in the world.