Religious Exploration – Cynthia Westby, DRE October Column

In the world of Religious Exploration we DREs are responsible for finding creative ways to encourage, inspire and support the work of faith exploration and formation at home and at church.  As Westside’s RE program evolves to keep pace with the evolution of the needs and availability of children, volunteers and parents, I am re-imagining the offerings of our RE Programs.  In addition to RE Classes this year, we are experimenting with offering more Chalice Chapels and a few more all generation services.  As I create these programs, I am conscious of asking myself, our parents, our children and our congregational community, when and where faith formation occurs and how can RE and I support that.

I want our RE Program to support the evolution of our children and youth in learning to articulate their credo or faith.  I want to help our children and youth believe they can be a part of making a difference, making a future where hope, peace, love and joy are real possibilities for all beings. I want to be inspiring and supporting parents and children to grow and mature spiritually.  I want to support and encourage parents to see themselves as important in the spiritual faith formation of their children.

As I have been witnessing the changing needs and requirements of RE here at Westside I have been speaking with my LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators) colleagues about ways I can better serve you and support our children, youth, and parents in meaningful ways. It is clear as Westside grows that morphing my role in some important ways would serve Westside.  For instance, there are many times right now when the minister’s presence is imperative for the sense that a ritual in RE is complete.  However, with the many pressing obligations on our minister as our congregation grows, this can be extremely challenging to schedule and arrange.  I have come to see that it is important to actually be a minister in my service as DRE for Westside’s children, youth and families.  Having that title, being ordained, will shift the perception of my role here and allow me to oversee rituals and ceremonies in RE as the minister.  It is useful to note that more and more DREs are becoming ordained.  A few in the Pacific Northwest are either already ordained or in the process of becoming ordained.

Therefore, I am thrilled and excited to let you know that I will be moving through the Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley’s Interfaith Ministry program and will be ordained as an Interfaith Minister in September of 2018.  This will allow me to be able to meet the evolving needs of our RE program as it morphs in these coming years.



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