A New Model of Engagement (Perry's Ponderings)

A bouquet of pipe cleaner heart flowers is displayed on my desk. It is one of the sacred objects that reminds me of the meaning of being a religious educator. The pipe cleaner bouquet was handed to me by a little girl during an RE Sunday worship service. Those heart-shaped “flowers” speak to the connections we make in congregational life that are truly the heart of the matter. I begin my first year at Community Unitarian Church with the wonderful anticipation of getting to know a community of special people and walking together on a journey of exploration, wonder, and discovery.

Those multi-colored heart flowers on my desk represent the diverse group of people that make up our community, each with their own backgrounds, ideas, perspectives, passions, and talents. When we bring our diversity together with similar values, we create amazingly vibrant opportunities. I look forward to supportively empowering what each of you brings to CUC, so you are able to share your essential self and be nurtured in return

The Religious Education Council held a retreat over the summer to vision new ways of creating dynamic programs for children, youth, and adults. As we laid out all that happens in RE, it was apparent why this small group has felt their plates overflowing at times. The process of looking at what we do in RE was described as dumping the puzzle pieces out on the table. Once we saw it all with fresh eyes, we endeavored to put the puzzle together.

I presented the Council with a structure that I developed in my previous congregations to create greater capacity. We decided to move forward with this model that provides many bite-size roles for involvement. We are creating six RE Support Teams (REST) that focus on a particular area of the Religious Education Ministry:
  • Adult REST - developing spiritual practice offerings and learning opportunities for adults
  • Connections REST - connecting RE families and creating intergenerational links
  • Justice REST - fostering social justice activities in RE and for families to o together
  • Teaching REST - supporting teachers and choosing curricula
  • Worship REST - augmenting Children’s Worship and multigenerational services
  • Youth REST - enhancing Coming of Age, further developing the opportunities for high school youth, and building a stronger bridge from one to the other.
Each RE Support Teams offers clear manageable roles for engagement in RE for all ages. These teams allow for a more efficient structure to support RE and open up paths for faith development. Your participation actually becomes part of your personal spiritual journey in CUC community. By joining an RE Support Team in your area of interest, you enhance your experience of growth and discovery. Please contact me to add your “heart flower” to our bouquet.

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