Religious Education Corner

 

RE Corner                                 January 2016

 

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
─Franklin D. Roosevelt

What exactly is a “Coming of Age”?  A Coming of Age is a young person’s transition from childhood to adulthood.  The age at which the actual transition takes place varies in different societies.  In many societies, the Coming of Age is associated with an age of religious responsibility.  For Unitarian Universalists, the Coming of Age (or COA) program is designed for youth ages 12-14 or seventh-ninth graders and it acknowledges the transition from child to youth. In this program, youth focus on themselves, their own spiritual journey, and their goals for themselves.

So What is the Coming of Age program?  On Long Island, The Coming of Age program is presented by LIAC (the Long Island Area Council of Unitarian Universalist congregations.) The Coming of Age (COA) Program is about learning, sharing, growing and bonding with other Unitarian Universalist youth from various Long Island congregations. The purpose of the program is to acquaint the participants with an understanding of Unitarian Universalism, explore their developing personal religious philosophies, examine and discuss adolescent issues and to foster the development of open communication among the youth and between the youth and their families. Students learn about world religions including a detailed study of their own religion. They discuss their personal beliefs with their family, their mentor and fellow students. They are expected to work on a service project.

Finally, each student writes their own statement of beliefs as they currently exist known as their “credo”.  The program ends with their participation in a COA ceremony held in June.  The youth also read their statement of personal beliefs (credo statement) before their home congregation at the “Growing up UU” Service also held in June at our own Fellowship.

Who is the COA program for?  The COA Program is for Unitarian Universalist youth whose parent/guardians are members or friends in good standing at any LIAC affiliated UU congregation. While all Long Island Unitarian Universalist youth in, grades 7-9 are eligible, older youth will be given first preference. Participants will be notified of their acceptance into the program by Dec 31.

What is required to complete the COA Program?  Successful completion of the COA Program requires:
• Attendance and participation in COA Orientation and five COA program sessions
• Completion of homework assignments, which include light reading and conversations (guiding questions will be provided) with parents/guardians, mentors or other adults in the UU community that allow participants to explore various UU points of view.
• Completion of two projects of the participant’s choosing. One project is focused on the larger faith community, and one is congregation-centered. Projects can be tailored to the student’s needs, interests and abilities. The mentor will provide guidance on the selection and completion of the projects.
• Completion of community service hours

How do you select a mentor and what do they do? The mentor is an adult from the youth’s congregation chosen with the help of the youth’s parents and Religious Educator. The goal is for the youth to build a relationship with another Unitarian Universalist adult outside of his or her immediate family circle.  The mentor should be a Unitarian Universalist and a role model for the youth. Potential mentors will be required to sign an ethics form stating that they have not been convicted of any crime against a minor. The mentor must be able to meet with the youth, face-to-face, at least once each month to monitor the completion of program requirements.  Youth are encouraged to ask their DRE for guidance in selecting their mentor.

What is the Boston trip? This traditional trip includes a visit to the Unitarian Universalist Association headquarters and other famous UU historical sites. It begins on Thursday afternoon (after school) and ends on Sunday evening. Youth are transported by 15-passenger vans and sleep in a UU church. Note that participation in the Boston Trip is not required to complete the COA program.

Some of our youth will begin their Coming of Age spiritual journey in the spring of 2016.  Please support them as they begin to develop their own belief systems on their personal quests for truth and meaning.

~ Gretta Johnson-Sally. DRE