Lifespan Religious Education

One of the most beautiful aspects of Unitarian Universalism is that we are forever on a journey of growth and learning. Whether we are new to Unitarian Universalism or have been a member of a congregation for fifty years or more, we are open to whatever else this world has to reveal to us. Lifespan religious education offers us another way to engage, explore, and learn with our congregation. 

For our children’s religious education, as Sophia Lyon Fahs wrote, “we cannot give our children a growing and creative religious life,” rather, it is up to them to discover it. We can support their journey. We can offer them opportunities to explore, to ask questions, to play, and to enjoy learning about religious ideals, about Unitarian Universalism. We can also offer spaces for them to explore what it means to be a good friend, how to process their lived experience through a religious lens, form intergenerational relationships, and learn how they can create a better place for each other here and now.

Rev. Danielle as a dementor for the 4-6th grade Curriculum, Harry and UU at the UU Church of Davis.

Religious education doesn’t end once our youth participate in Coming of Age, or bridge into Young Adulthood, that’s the beauty of lifespan RE! Adult religious education is an opportunity to deepen relationships and practice what we preach on Sunday mornings in a space that is different from worship, coffee hour, or committee meetings. It’s a space to practice making covenants and holding each other to them. It’s a space where the work is so often internal and individual, while being processed at a group level. It’s also a space for creativity. During my internship, I created the UU History Mystery, an interactive dinner theater experience which invited members to play our historic figures, and all in attendance to interview them and work together to solve the mystery.

The cast of the UU History Mystery

Through asking questions, coming together cross generationally, and creating new and engaging ways to learn together, Religious Education in our congregations can encourage growing and creative religious lives across generations.

Rev. Danielle’s creativity was on full display in March (2018) when she wrote and directed the play, UU History Mystery, in lieu of giving a class on famous UUs (Ballou, Channing, Parker, Starr King, Brown and Fahs). She recruited actors, facilitated rehearsals, organized and publicized this theater-dinner event for the congregation. In addition to creativity, Rev. Danielle’s strengths were displayed as well. As Hosea Ballou, I witnessed her ability to work with a new group and her attention to detail. Her enthusiasm created high energy in the cast and all who attended. She created an evening of learning (and laughter) for congregants of many ages: it was an inspirational example of how to teach.

Stefan Harvey (aka Hosea Ballou) UU Church of Davis, CA