As I begin planning for next year’s faith formation programs, I find myself mentally reviewing all the misconceptions I’ve held myself or heard from others…the ones that lead people to hide in the choir loft when they see me coming. So, I thought I’d address some of them here in the Beacon blog! Ready?
Myth 1: “I’m pretty sure only parents volunteer in RE.”
False! Parents already spend seven days a week fostering the next generation of UUs. By Sunday, most of them need a Sabbath day to refill their buckets for the week ahead. For some parents (like myself), volunteering in RE is an act of spiritual renewal. Others benefit greatly from attending worship or adult programming instead.
Myth 2: “Kids’ programming doesn’t have anything to do with me.”
False! As Reverend Anastassia often reminds us in worship, our UU principles are not academic concepts, but rather embodied practices. Showing up for our children is an important way to model the principles, and to legitimize them in the eyes of our young people. Children are observant. Kids start noticing any disconnects way before reaching adulthood, and report feeling alienated by them. Many of us are pondering ministerial transition and annual stewardship campaigns at the moment…but we don’t always stop to ask ourselves how we are individually stewarding the next generation of UUs. Showing up in the RE wing is an investment in a sustainable congregation.
Myth 3: “I don’t know enough about Unitarian Universalism to volunteer.”
False! The end goal of Unitarian Universalism is not to know everything. Quite the opposite. Instead, we’re called to be open to new learning and new understandings even on our last day of life. Curiosity is the single most important quality an RE volunteer can have. In fact, RE can be a fantastic place to do your own learning, especially if you came to Unitarian Universalism (or religion in general) as an adult. When a child asks you a question, “I don’t know. Let’s investigate that!” is always an excellent answer.
Myth 4: “If I volunteer in RE, I’ll never get to go to worship!”
False! If you volunteer in RE, more people will get to go to worship more often. It’s RE avoidance that leads to short-handed teams. As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work.” That said, we’re diversifying children’s and youth programming next year! What does that mean for you? A greater variety of volunteer opportunities! You could be part of a consistent, twice-monthly RE team; sign up on an as-needed basis to be a resource person in the Makerspace, or lead an occasional book discussion group. I also keep a list of those willing to complete “one and done” tasks, like bringing food to an event, or helping paint one of our classrooms. There’s a good fit for just about any schedule.
Myth 5: “But isn’t this why we have Faith Formation staff?”
Foo. (Say it out loud. You’ll get it.) Our Faith Formation staff do important work, and we care deeply about All Souls children and youth. However, the end goal is not for kids to grow up and join the staff. It’s for them to become fully fledged members of the congregation. Their bond to you is much more important than their bond to me, Rev. Anastassia, Cherilyn, or Amanda. As we know, church staff members come and go, and many among us feel anxiety about that, in part because we’re afraid that the folks who connected with the work they did will stop coming. An interconnected community is the antidote.
So, in summary: Call or write me today to grow, contribute, and connect with fabulous people, many of whom happen to be younger.
– Sarah Cannon