“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
— Dr. Seuss
Religious education should offer the opportunity to explore the deep questions of why are we here, what is our purpose, and what holds meaning for us. How we address these challenging questions varies with age and experience. For religious education to be successful, we must create an environment that nurtures and welcomes thoughtful exploration and reflection.
As minster, I want to encourage religious educators first by providing support that also serves as faith development for all of us. One thing I do understand, especially for children and most importantly for youth, is that religious education is at least as much about the relationships between the learners and the teachers as it is the curriculum. Teaching in a church context, therefore, requires that we also support healthy and loving relationships. When we do this, we know it. When we do this, it matters most often for a young person, and it isn’t until years later that we know just how much it matters.
The results of religious education were recently made apparent to me in the comments made by a young woman reflecting on her experience in the Coming of Age youth program. She articulated a commitment to her own spiritual development and how she wants to make her way in the world. She is faithful too, she told us, to the wider world especially in addressing issues of racism, homophobia, and environmental destruction. And she was hopeful. Wow. This, I thought, this is what we’re about. Creating an environment for all our children to be nurtured and brought into wholeness, prepared then to make the world a better place. What I also found heartening was that she was free and welcome to express this in her church. Her sense of self and commitment to the world had come into being in part by the love, encouragement, and modeling to occur in her religious education. Indeed, what we do in our religious education matters. It matters a lot.
First Unitarian of Des Moines
UU Explorers, Wednesday RE programming for 4th-6th grade children. Developed and taught the class with RE Director Tracy Beck, 2013-2014
Facilitator for Small Group Ministry, (Soul Matters) 2012–present
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames
RE Teacher 3rd and 4th grades, UU Fellowship of Ames, IA, 2003-2004
Secret Friends Program, UU Fellowship of Ames, IA, 1996-2000
Mentor for two youth in the Coming of Age Program, UU Fellowship of Ames, 1999, 2001
Marshalltown Community High School
Volunteer, Environmental Education for Marshall County Conservation Board and Envirothon Team, 2004-2007
Marshall County Conservation Board
Taught classes for Uncle Ike’s summer nature programs (for grade school children), 1999-2015
Area Education Agency 267
Created and implemented science programs for middle school Project Share Talented and Gifted Program 2003-2009
West Marshall Community School District
Developed and taught Talented and Gifted Science Summer School, 2002
Cadets Girl Scout leader (Middle School) 1981-1983
Brownies and Juniors Girl Scout leader (elementary school) 1998-2002
Camp Naturalist, Girl Scout Camp Greenwood, Buffalo, MN, summers 1978 -1980
Program Director, YWCA Camp Wanakiwin, Barnum, MN, 1981