Our Religious Education Community is made up of four groups: the children, the teachers, the parents, and the rest of the congregation. Often, we spend time focused on the children and the teachers. But parents and other congregants have a large part to play in the success of our Religious Education (RE) program.
While children may spend thirty five hours a week in school, they only spend an hour a week in RE. To maximize the impact of that hour, there are many things parents can do. The simplest one is to make sure they actually attend, carving out time for them to be with their classmates and teachers. While this may seem daunting during soccer season and difficult during finals, the values they learn at Mount Vernon Unitarian Church will last a lifetime, and serve them as well as athletic or academic skills ever will. If your teen is having a hard time committing to RE, perhaps he would like to join choir, assist with grounds maintenance, sit on a committee, or teach RE. Children are always welcome at MVUC.
A second way to make the RE experience a rich one is to carry on the discussion started at church throughout the week. To find out what your child has been doing in class, ask the teacher at pick-up time, check your e-mail for messages from the teaching team, look at the curriculum on line to see the suggested parent/child activities (send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org for help with this), or ask her directly! Drawing parallels between subjects discussed in RE with everyday experiences makes the learning more immediate and applicable.
Third, MVUC parents can seek out resources on UU parenting. Examples include books such as Full Circle, and Tending the Flame (http://www.uuabookstore.org/Full-Circle-P16733.aspx, http://www.uuabookstore.org/Tending-the-Flame-P17090.aspx and the Call and Response Blog http://callandresponse.blogs.uua.org/.
But if you do not teach, if you do not have children in RE, if you are not associated in any overt way, how are you a part of the RE Community? You are automatically an important person in the RE Community if you are a part of the MVUC Community. When a child is dedicated at our church, the entire congregation pledges to take responsibility for supporting that person’s spiritual upbringing. Unitarian Universalists believe in the inherent worth and dignity of each person, regardless of age or size and there are several ways you can demonstrated this belief.
One simple way to act on your responsibility to Religious Education is to chat with a child during coffee hour, asking about what they did in RE and anything else of interest. Second, supporting RE is also enjoyable when you patronize RE events; buy items from bake sales, attend the Lasagna Dinner on March 5 before the Variety Show, and attend the Easter Egg Hunt. Half of the commitment is just being there!
Third, think of the RE program when you pledge. How important is it to you that we raise young people who have the kinds of liberal values and ethics that will change the world for the better? What does it mean to you that MVUC children visit Acadia Farm to learn about the importance of fresh vegetables for those who don’t have access to a grocery store? Does it matter that MVUC children will learn about other religions first hand, by attending services and talking with people from those faiths? If so, consider increasing your pledge because you want to keep our RE program strong and meaningful.