The busyness of the start of a church year is (supposedly) drawing to a close, and it is officially Fall. Welcome, burnt sienna, ochre, and cranberry-coloured leaves. Welcome, brilliant autumn sun and longer, nesting evenings. And welcome, old friends, new friends, neighbours and colleagues!
This month, we open our doors and extend our hospitality to Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists (UUs) across the Western Region, and to Board members and staff of the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC). Winnipeg hosts the Western Region Fall Gathering (WRFG), October 15-17!
This is an all-ages gathering: in addition to workshops for adults, there is a Youth Conference, a Young Fun Program for children six to eleven, and child care for younger ones. Some of our children will take part in Young Fun – a great day on its own, but also a wonderful way for children to experience what the youth do: that as UUs they are part of something bigger than what they see here on Sundays.
During the WRFG the region’s professional religious educators take part in a retreat. Throughout the year we work behind the scenes together, planning workshops for the region, like our upcoming Basic Youth Advisor Training, or last year’s OWL Facilitator Training. We support each other, sharing resources and experience to strengthen our programs.
The weekend following the WRFG, I’m off to New Orleans to attend the Liberal Religious Educators Association’s (LREDA) Annual Fall Conference. This year, Transforming the Jericho Road takes New Orleans itself as the topic. Participants must do homework before arriving, will engage in service within the community, translate what we have learned about solidarity and social justice, and work on ways to bring this understanding home.
I’ll attend an add-on session on youth groups and, as Canadian Liaison for LREDA, I will receive training along with continental Chapter Chairs. Gatherings such as these provide opportunities for professional development, networking, reflection and spiritual growth, and are so valuable.
Getting to New Orleans takes support from the congregation, a donation of airline points from Margo Lane and Bruce Roe, and a scholarship from LREDA. Deepest and warmest gratitude, to all of you.