The new RE year is upon us!! Woohoo! Several themes will run through this RE year: social justice, diversity, and inclusivity. We are also working with an evolving reality for religious exploration, for both WSUU children and within the UU world. Some of the evolutionary forces are discussed in a thought provoking article in the UUA Bulletin about the “Death of Sunday School and the Future of Faith Formation.” I don’t agree with everything in the article by any means but the article is an important contribution in a larger discussion about the ways religious exploration is evolving in UU congregations. Here is a link to that article: https://www.uua.org/sites/live-new.uua.org/files/the_death_of_sunday_school_and_the_future_of_faith_formation_ksweeney_june2017.pdf
Westside’s RE program is evolving in response to many factors. Many of our teachers are burned out and need a break. People’s schedules – including potential RE teachers and those of our families and their children – are overflowing. Many who want to teach in RE also want to be in the worship service. Families are juggling a huge number of commitments for school, sports, after school activities and other organized events during weekends and evenings, as well as church. This means that the amount of time available for religious exploration both for children and for teachers is limited. Families also want religious exploration/education classes to be offered during services so they are able to all come as a family just once during the week.
This year, in response to these changing realities, we will have more Chalice Chapels (worship services for children ages 5-12 instead of RE classes). These will focus on social justice, diversity and inclusivity. We have an inspiring lineup of teachers for the ten Chalice Chapels we will offer this year. We will also be including children older than 5 years of age in some all generation services this year. We have always offered these services and we will have a few more of them this year. Our White Supremacy service on October 15th will be our second all-generation service this RE year. These services provide an opportunity for parents and children to hear the same sermon and music and discuss ideas and questions that arise, at home later.
When our children participate in regular Sunday services their faith formation intersects that of their parents and the rest of the congregation. Witnessing adults grapple with big questions, social justice issues and participating in spiritual practices encourages children and youth to experience faith formation as an ongoing reality everyone engages in. Faith evolves through our relationships with each other and all that we share with each other in community.
Let us engage, this year, in a conversation as we experiment with different ways of offering religious exploration, as RE evolves at Westside in ways that best meet the needs and faith formation of our children and families. I’m excited about this journey!
Meanwhile our social justice classes in 2nd-3rd grade, 4th-5th grade and Middle School all kicked off this Sunday (the 24th) with a bang! The curriculum is fun, exciting and engaging and the children were wowed! Our year-long Coming of Age program’s release ceremony was held Sunday and our youth in the COA are now embarked on their year of spiritual exploration and growth. We’re thrilled to support our youth in the COA and in the Youth Group that kicked off a couple of weeks ago with their overnight here at Westside! It is going to be a wonderful, fun, amazing RE year! Stay tuned!