Last month, I told you how much I love summer learning and offered you my summer reading list and some other fun summer learning ideas. This month, I would like to tell you about the wonderful learning opportunity I was able to participate in this summer.
The week of July 7-12 I attended Religious Educators Week at The Mountain. This week-long series of workshops and seminars was held at the Unitarian Universalist Mountain Retreat and Learning Center in Highlands, North Carolina. The Mountain, as it is called, is nestled in the Nantahala National Forest, perched atop Little Scaly Mountain, 4,200ft up on granite cliffs with spectacular views, and just past the center’s Many Hands Peace Farm, an educational farm dedicated to regenerative agriculture. The Mountain offers mountain and farm camps for children and youth and hosts many UU gatherings and retreats throughout the year as well as individuals interested in relaxation and contemplation.
The main focus of the Religious Educators Week was on the 5-day Multicultural Religious Education Rennaisance Module and the 4-day Dismantling White Supremacy in Religious Education workshop. I was fortunate to participate in both of these workshops as well as a workshop on incorporating music in religious education and another on storytelling.
This past program year, Barbara Miller and I began the Family Song Circle. The purpose of this once a month, multiage gathering is to engage children and families in deepening their faith and UU identity through music. I am excited to bring some new ideas and tips to this gathering and to incorporate more music into our RE program. (This is your official warning that strange sounds and noises that may or may not be called music will most likely be coming from downstairs during worship. Do not be alarmed, or distracted, we are just putting our love and faith into sound!) I am also excited to use some of my newly acquired storytelling skills in the Time for All Ages for this year’s new schedule of bimonthly multigenerational worship services.
In the Multicultural Religious Education workshops, I learned how to incorporate a more multicultural lens to our religious education program. I discovered that the UUA is focusing on editing its Tapestry of Faith curriculum to be more inclusive and to de-center whiteness and lift up the stories of people of color in our denomination and the wider world. The Dismantling White Supremacy in Religious Education workshops opened my eyes to the white supremacy culture that surrounds me and provided concrete ways to begin fighting it in myself, our religious education programming, our congregation, and our world.
I will be implementing some new ideas in the religious education program that align with the ideas of Beloved Community and sharing some new ideas with the congregation as a whole in my monthly newsletter. During the retreat, I worked with a group of religious educators to design a tool for congregations to engage more fully in social justice action with marginalized communities. I will present this tool at the August meeting of the Board of Trustees. I am grateful for the opportunity for continuing education and I look forward to using this knowledge in our religious education program and in our congregation.
Other RE News – Fall Religious Education classes start on September 15, 2019. We are still looking for volunteer teachers. If you feel called by our principles, and would like to encourage the spiritual growth of our youth and guide them in their search for truth and meaning; let’s talk! If you would like to learn more about our faith and develop relationships with some of the coolest kids you will ever meet; let’s talk! If you are slightly interested but feel unprepared or not knowledgeable enough; let’s talk! Teachers generally commit to teaching for one semester (fall or spring) which is 12-13 Sundays over a 4 month period. All lesson plans, materials, and supplies are provided for you as well as a teacher orientation, a classroom assistant, and ongoing support. Help keep our program strong and volunteer “downstairs.” You won’t regret it!