Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St Croix

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May Newsletter

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Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Croix

Newsletter—May 2014

The Fellowship meets at the Jewish Community Center in Herman Hill (Route 83)

the second and fourth Sundays September-May. Services and Sunday School are held at 10 AM. Refreshments and conversation follow.

 

SCHEDULE

May 4: No covenant group due to triathlon.

May 11 (Mother’s Day): “The Flower Ceremony” by Elizabeth Peacock (Sunday School children will participate)

May 18: Covenant Group at home of Emy Thomas

May 25: “Getting to UU.  My Journey”  by Susan Kraeger followed by Annual Meeting. (Agenda and proxies will be sent by email in a few days)

 

VICE PRESIDENT NEEDED. We will be voting for officers for next year at the annual meeting and we don’t have a candidate for vice president as yet. Be thinking about it!

 

MUSIC ACCOMPANIST NEEDED: We’re still looking for an accompanist for next year. If you know of a pianist who might be interested please let us know.

 

UU IN WOMEN RACE: Lots of UU members and friends participate in the annual Women Race which benefits the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix. This year men are invited to participate as well and we will all identify ourselves as UUs. When you register for this year’s race on June 1 please remember to put UU in the team blank.

 

SUMMER GET-TOGETHERS: Although we have no official meetings during the summer we like to get together a few times if possible. You will be receiving a general survey shortly and will have a chance to express what activities you would like planned during the summer.

 

QIYAMAH’S COLUMN

 

Religious Education as a Transformative Vehicle

 

No religious movement can thrive without a vibrant renewed commitment to religious education. Thus, nurturing spiritual and intellectual growth for children, youth and adults remains one of the most compelling challenges facing any faith community. Thus, the selection of a new Director of Religious Education, Shelli Brin, is just one of many efforts to bolster such a vibrant and renewed commitment at UUFSC.

Eleanor Morton, Director of Religious Education in Minneapolis, Minnesota, asserts that Sunday School has not always been a mainstay of American life According to Eugene Navias, the first documented Sunday School was started by Theophilus Lindsey in 1763 in Yorkshire, England A printer in Gloucester, Robert Raikes, published Reading, Riting and Religion which spread quickly through England and then America. The Sunday School movement emerged in the late 18th century shortly after the formal creation of American Universalism by John Murray and just prior to the emergence of American Unitarianism. Early universal public education reached out to“community children who would otherwise be deprived of basic schooling.” Likewise, Morton contends that Raikes initial intention was to provide religious education. Instead, the teachers soon realized the need to provide reading and writing. Thus, it could be said that religious education was “the forerunner of public-supported education”.

Reverend William Ellery Channing, a Unitarian minister, represented one of the early influences on Unitarian Universalist religious education. In 1837 he urged the audience of the Boston Sunday School Society to have faith in children and instead of stamping their adult thoughts and ideas, to stir up those of the children. He further emphasized the importance of helping children to see and feel the love of God rather than merely telling them of God’s love. While the curricula being used by Unitarians and others at that time were “didactic and authority-centered”, Channing, though he objected to catechisms, had otherwise a very progressive vision of education that included the transmission of the author’s or teacher’s beliefs to the learner.

Kathleen Carpenter, Director of Religious Education, at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charlotte, mirrors William Ellery Channing’s views though she and her contemporaries are many years removed from Channing. She asserts, “Instead of educating individuals about RE, we need to give them tools to deepen their spirituality and emphasis on UU identity. Carpenter contends that in the 1960s and 1970s UU curricula were very secular with a focus on world religions and UU identity. However, the mid 1980s and early 1990s presented a shift so that new curriculum reflects a focus on faith development. Approximately sixty percent of UU curricula used are UU developed.

Judith Frediani, Director of Lifespan Faith Development of the UUA, articulated the following role of the newly named Department formerly known as Religious Education, “Our job in Lifespan Faith Development is to help people make life religious – help make our lives meaningful, ethical, spiritual, connected, mindful.”[1] Currently, the movement in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is away from RE to faith development philosophy.

RE as a Corrective Tool to Oppression

Transformation of society is a worthy goal for a faith community and it stands to reason that one of the tasks of religious education is to help learners embrace a spirituality of transformation. Effective religious education captures bonding, mutuality and resistance of destructive behaviors and attitudes that might lead to alienation and depersonalization. Sacredness of individuals, reflection and critique of contemporary society’s narcissistic focus on the self provides some balance by actively encouraging service to others. The demise of community and tendencies towards alienation and ennui can be challenged with transformative curricula that reflect UU principles and values.

The purpose of RE is to sponsor persons toward a mature faith – towards freedom of choice. The role of religious education in reproducing the diverse ideologies, values, perspectives and lived experiences of its faith community cannot be ignored, particularly as it relates to its own religious culture and the larger social norms. Faith communities seeking to embrace diversity as an integral dimension of its religious beliefs by putting its faith in action must be prepared to constantly interrogate its values. The ability of the religious to create spaces in our lives where we can do the work of creating Beloved Community is indeed its true work.

Come and let us build Beloved Community Together!

Rev. Qiyamah

P.O. Box 3034, Kingshill, VI 00851 * www.uustcroix.org

Rev. Qiyamah: revdocrok@gmail.com 704-458-7676

 

[1] Judith A. Frediani, Lifespan Faith Development-Board of Trustees Report (Boston: UUA, April 2007), 1.

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