For those of you that read my posts because I share recipes, you might not know that I’m also a religious liberal. That makes me an oddball in this part of the world, but after nearly 50 years of it, I’m quite comfortable with it all. Here’s the latest article I wrote for my church newsletter.
The Religious Education Covenant
Perhaps your child’s school year started like my daughter’s. Our first day ended with a conversation about why we attend UUFC. You see, two of her four classes began with teachers proclaiming their love of Christ to the classroom. (No, I did not report this. For one thing, I felt doing so would only alienate her teachers. For another, I felt the Universalist in me should honor their personal beliefs. I knew when we settled in South Carolina that we’d have to learn to live in the buckle of the Bible belt.)
Having been raised by two college professors, I knew that education was the best tool with which I could arm my child. So, when she was old enough, we began attending UUFC. Most of those years, I’ve been back in a classroom along with her. My 10 years in RE have been sometimes rocky, but I’ve never regretted taking my child. After a decade of religious education, she is confident enough to have opinions that don’t always mesh with her classmates. She believes strongly in the rights of gays, as the first principle has taught her. At age 11, she became a vegetarian (OK she still eats some fish), as she believes in the seventh principle. We have found her signing online petitions, as she believes in social justice, the sixth principle.
Could we have done this at home? Could we have just taught her this by ourselves, and enjoyed Sunday morning in our PJs? After all, I was the one that was often teaching RE. Why didn’t I just do this on my own and save myself the time and trouble of teaching it to others?
Perhaps, but I honestly believe that not only sharing our beliefs with her, but surrounding her with a community of others that shared many of the same beliefs has made her a stronger person. Yes, it wasn’t always easy to drag ourselves out of bed to get to church, but in the end, it’s been worth it. I remember one Sunday teaching to our middle schoolers and finding that they had given a great deal of consideration to what it meant to be a UU in a heavily Christian atmosphere. I found all of them to be grateful for those beliefs, and proud to be a UU. I am proud to have introduced my child to other members of UUFC, including Kathy and Gordon Crain, Meg MacArthur, Tom and Karen Hiebel, our ministers Alex and Terre and countless others that have been a part of her life.
Bringing your child to religious education should be a covenant between you, your child and the RE program. We’ve done our part and built a great program this year. Many hours have been spent selecting TED talks, Spirit Play lessons. Saturdays have been sacrificed for training and preparation. UUFC has done all this because they believe that RE is the foundation on which congregations are built. We ask that you take RE as seriously as you might dance lessons or soccer practice. If you do that, you will find your child ready to face a world in which they might be different than their peers, and they might find themselves grateful that you’ve prepared them for that reality.