Religious Education Corner
November 2014 - Full Week Faith
Fahs Fellow Karen Bellavance-Grace asks the question, “How have we changed the way we do church?” Society has changed dramatically in the past 50 years. Many parents now work at least two jobs if not more. We have become a more deliberately interfaith nation. Sunday is no longer the only day of Sabbath and because of that, other things now occupy Sunday mornings – football games, soccer games, theater rehearsals etc. Yet we still operate with the traditional “Sunday school model.” Our volunteer system is suffering as well as we still heavily rely on women, many of whom now work outside the home and don’t have as much time for volunteering as mothers did 50 years ago. And, let’s not forget the digital revolution. How many youth do we know who do their homework on the computer while simultaneously texting, Facebooking and listening to music?
Religious Education attendance is declining in all denominations, including Unitarian Universalist congregations. We are dependent on over-committed volunteers and a disproportionate focus on the Sunday morning experience. Many families are not passing down their faith traditions like they have in the past. Many of the congregation members sitting in our chairs are converts to Unitarian Universalism. They do not have a historical past or familial ties to our faith denomination. No guilt for us UUs!
So, what would this look like? It could include:
A. more multigenerational worship;
B. more mid-week faith formation (like Potluck Wednesdays or Friday Soulful Sundown worship);
C. intergenerational mentoring (not just elders and children, people of all ages, men’s groups, women’s groups);
D. using social media to link curriculum to the real world (in our community parents are filled in weekly on what is taught in class and ways they can take the lesson home and follow it up if they choose to).
The UUA has tremendous resources to explore these concepts further (www.uua.org). The Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF), has online services each week and inspires “Quest”, a family resources site (www.questformeaning.org). The UUA bookstore carries Creating Justice Together, a new book about social justice projects for multi-generational groups, so families can do justice and service work together.
Ms. Bellavance-Grace suggests that all of this is “experi-learn”. We experiment and we learn from it. It is not all or nothing. Congregations and religious educators all over the country are trying to think up new ways to expand on full week faith formation. Our own congregation has developed a group (not a committee, not a task force just a friendly group) to look at why our congregation is aging and why we are not attracting more younger families into the congregation. The children and youth are the future of not only our individual congregation but the future of our faith denomination. Please see Peggy Fort or myself if you might be interested in joining our group. Suggestions welcomed!
Gretta Johnson-Sally, DRE