RE Celebration Sunday, May 13, 2012 - Just Imagine
As they make their way through their own search for truth and meaning, young people need
- To learn with their minds, hearts and hands
- To engage in integrated experiences that are anchored by soul-stirring stories
- To learn faith, by doing faith
- To be empowered as knowers, practitioners, and creators of Unitarian Universalism, and
- To know the transformative power of justice and love
[UUA Tapestry of Faith, adapted]
I'd like to try to paint you a picture of how we do this here, with some highlights from our religious exploration program.
As I write, it is early December. I'm newly returned to the church after a leave of absence and I've just spent a Sunday playing seasonal games with our children and then having lunch with our youth. I missed them dearly; it is great to be back.
As Christmas approaches, I am intentionally focusing on gratitude. I first learned how important the expression of gratitude is to me after I lost my mom several years ago, as I struggled to find meaning in the midst of my grief. I took up a practice of listing things that I am grateful for every day (yes, there's an app for that!) – everything from sunshine and sparkling snowflakes to playing cards with friends or a delicious meal.
As the church year draws to a close, and our children and youth become even busier with sports, camping, and other activities, I look back with joy and pride at the year that was.
Our congregation hosted both Youth Advisor training and a Youth Conference for the Western Region this year. We now have five trained advisors, three trained youth leaders, and many connected and engaged youth. Two youth plus advisor Margo Lane attended a regional Youth Con in Saskatoon, and four youth plus advisor Jim Gardiner attended the national conference, CanUUdle. Jim acted as advisor for four Calgary youth as well. We hope to support at least one of our youth at GoldMine Youth Leadership School in Toronto this summer. Our Youth Group is growing in depth, commitment and leadership, if not in vast numbers! I am so proud of their involvement, here and beyond our walls.
One recent Sunday, I was making my rounds among the religious exploration rooms and I popped in to visit the eight-to-eleven year olds. There were at least ten children present and their lesson plan that morning was on Judaism. During check-in someone asked a question like, “Is Unitarian Universalism a religion, or just a group of people coming together on Sundays?” That spawned about 50 follow-up questions about God, spirit, faith, community, religion, the history of UUism, whether you really can “believe whatever you want”, and more. I pulled up a chair and stayed with the teacher, the lesson plan went out the window, and we had a wonderful, engaging, deep conversation. In fact, several of us stayed long after refreshments were done, to continue our talk.
Next month the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) celebrates its 50th anniversary during the Annual Conference and Meeting (ACM). What exactly is the CUC, you ask? It’s really us – all the members and friends of almost 50 Canadian congregations, as well as individual members. The CUC has an elected board, which sets policy, a staff to carry out these policies, and volunteers who provide services to congregations across the country. The CUC represents Canadian Unitarian Universalists in the media and to the federal government on issues such as housing security and the crisis in Libya.