The first step to learning anything is to admit that you don’t know. Being teachable is vital to our continued growth, and thus, we ought to always remain a little agnostic; I proclaim myself as militant agnostic — I don’t know, and neither do you. I remain open to new information and regularly work to examine my beliefs for flaws and omissions. I hope to experience a little wonder each week.Einstein talked about a “holy curiosity” and allowing one’s self to be in awe at the universe we inhabit. He advised that “The important thing is not to stop questioning,” which tells us that part of being well educated, to this brilliant man, was knowing that there was always more to learn. To me, that is an important part of being a Unitarian Universalist, too. I hold, as a tenet of my faith, that I could be wrong about the nature of the universe. My understanding is that there are things we, as human beings, do not understand… and maybe never will. That allows me to worship in wonder alongside people who believe very differently from myself. That allows me to work with them towards a better world in the here and now rather than arguing about what comes after. I don’t have to believe as they do, nor convince them of my world view, because I might be wrong in spite of all my experience and contemplation. In the 3rd Principle of Unitarian Universalism, our congregations promise to promote “encouragement to spiritual growth” without a stated goal or end point. The implication is that our spirits can always grow, whether it is growing deeper, taller, wider, there is some growth that comes with new perspectives and the amazing amount of new information available through experiment and exploration. And so it is that I welcome you to Life-long learning at Community Unitarian Universalist Church. I hope you will watch for announcements of what kinds of programs we offer as we work to launch new experiences in the coming months. I also welcome your ideas for classes, workshops, and small groups you would like to see at Community.
August 26, 2022
August 12, 2022
“The great end in religious instruction is not …to impose religion upon them in the form of arbitrary rules, but to awaken the conscience, the moral discernment.” ~ William Ellery Channing, from the UU Hymnal “Singing the Living Tradition”, reading #652
The 3rd Principle of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) affirms the importance of “encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.” As such, Faith Development is a duty of the congregation and Religious Education is a service that we must offer in various forms to reach as many people as possible. We are called to growth with no stated end-point, and so faith development should be seen as a life-long process that we never truly complete.And so it is that we begin the first year of Lifespan Religious Education programming here at Community UU Church – At 9:30 every Sunday morning there will be a variety of programs offered for children, for youth, and for adults! We hope to eventually really have something for everyone, whether it all fits on Sunday morning or we need to have evening programs, too. There is no end to the work of exploring truth and meaning in our lives. The goal of religious education in a Unitarian Universalist setting is not conformity but conscience; not creed, but critical thinking. It is, in short, to make better citizens of our members; to help them be people who work and fight for a more Just, Compassionate, and Equitable world. To do this, we must treat Religious Education programming as a service, offered freely and where we expect participation. It should be held for the benefit of all who show up, regardless of their number, because the goal is engagement and not attendance. Having a deep impact on even one person is meaningful. I don’t actually think of myself as a Religious Educator; to me that term sounds entirely too academic. While I am certainly capable of giving lectures and aiding in reports, it is not really my job to teach people how to act out or recognize religion. I think of myself as a Faith Development Facilitator; my job is to help people connect to what is meaningful and help them find hope so that they can go out and do their bit of good in the wider world and to give them the tools to support one another when they come back to the church bruised and weary from doing their best in a world that often fights back against liberal reforms. My job is to help people find inspiration to live up to the aspirational Principles of the UUA and help build Beloved Community. If we want Religious Education to live up to its great ends, we need to give it the means. We have to do better at investing in the programs and the professionals who make them possible. We have to do it because it matters that we build programs that are more than sermons and coffee. We have to actively challenge ourselves in a lifelong pursuit if we are going to be the people Unitarian Universalism asks us to be. To do this, we must treat Religious Education programming as a service, offered freely and where we expect participation; everyone should be part of some RE program every couple of years, whether they bolster or revise their deeply held convictions. It should be held for the benefit of all who show up, regardless of their number, because the goal is engagement and not attendance. Attendance numbers alone cannot measure the real value of RE programming. Having a deep impact on even one person is meaningful.
Thomas Earthman (they/them)email@example.comDirector of Lifespan Religious Education