Last week as I was working with Jen Johnson to complete the Religious Exploration section of our Annual Report, I couldn’t help but marvel at everything we have managed to make happen in Religious Exploration this year. Hopefully, you were able to catch the Faith Development service on Sunday, May 7th so you have had a glimpse of what we’ve been up to in RE. While we have been lucky to have increased registration numbers and growing Sunday attendance in our RE programs, we have also worked really hard to bring all of our fabulous programmings to you. We have had the help of about 40 volunteers in RE this year and we truly could not have done it without them. With their help, we have been able to offer 4 different OWL classes, serving 40 children and youth. Our youth group may be small, but it is mighty! The youth offered another beautiful worship service this year, modeling fun, meaningful worship for the rest of us. Our Crossing Paths middle school group made visits to 8 different houses of worship this year! They began the year learning about Unitarian Universalism and used that lens to explore other religions. Our Religious Exploration program is thriving, thanks to the work of our volunteers, staff, children, and youth, and of course our whole welcoming community!
Even as we are wrapping up the “church year” this month, we are hard at work planning for the summer and fall. Many of our families and congregants travel in the summer, but we still offer RE nearly every Sunday in the summer. This summer we will bring back some of our favorite activities from last summer (fair trade chocolate tasting!) as well as some new activities (fairy houses and toothpick architecture!) from the Can Do Summer curriculum by Soul Matters. These activities will be fun for all ages and a way for us to stay connected over the summer. We do need some help though, as of this writing only one person has signed up to help with Summer RE. We are looking for more adults to help out this summer, older kids are also welcome to lead and assist with our Sunday activities! If you can help out one Sunday, please sign up here! RE staff will be there to help, and we will provide the simple lesson plans and all supplies needed.
I mentioned earlier that we had 40 fabulous RE volunteers this year. In order to offer everything that we want to in 2023-24, we are going to need more volunteers. I also mentioned that our registration has increased, which means that some of our groups have been BIG this year. We did not offer Coming of Age this year, which freed up some time and resources, but means that we will have a large Coming of Age group next year that will require even more volunteers, especially when we factor in the amount of mentors needed. We are offering programs like OWL in RE that can be hard for folks to get in other places; classes and groups that focus on equity, the search for truth and meaning, science and facts, helping others, and being radically welcoming. We are providing space for our children and youth to be their whole selves in a time when it is increasingly difficult for them to do that in schools. Our volunteers become trusted adults for our children and youth, which is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. Our children and youth feel loved, supported, and secure in our community. We will have a table in Sandburg Hall all month to sign up new and returning volunteers, please come see us if you are interested or have any questions! While we do ask parents and caregivers to make a commitment to RE, we need all sorts of people. In order to have parents and caregivers participate fully in congregational life, we need other folks to volunteer with RE! Not all of our volunteer positions directly interact with kids so we’ve got something for everyone! If you want to see what the choices are and sign up here.
Kim Collins, Lifespan Religious Educator