The interim process began in the summer of 2014 with the hiring of a Director of Lifespan Religious Education. That small title change signaled a shift in the congregation’s understanding of the complex nature of Unitarian Universalist identity formation, fostered by the formation of an Adult Spiritual Development program. With the onset of the second year of interim work (under the direction of a new settled minister and a second interim professional), there began a much deeper and intentional effort to engage the congregation in experiencing the difference between “religious education” and “faith formation.” This included challenging the idea that children and youth “do education” and adults do “spiritual development.”
The shift in framework began with workshops and retreats as well as the I-DLRE’s involvement in areas of church programming where historically there was little or no previous involvement. The I-DLRE and the RE Committee began working with Pastoral Care, Membership, Social Justice and Worship Associates. There were more multigenerational worship services and the I-DLRE took the lead on many of the “Stories For All Ages.” The RE Committee led multigenerational outreach programs that connected everyone to each other and to their faith. The monthly Chapel services included a Worship Associate who co-led with the I-DLRE. While this was taking place, the Leadership Development Team spearheaded trainings and retreats which helped bring the RE Committee into the larger life of the church.
The RE Committee’s first and most heart-felt goal was to “un-silo” the program. Acknowledging that all we do is formative, regardless of our age, signaled a belief that “we belong together, that we need each other, that children and youth yearn to identify with the larger purpose of church and that it matters that our individual chosen faith calls us to live out our values with people of all ages.”
By May of 2016, the professional and lay leaders made an intentional and strategic move to rename program Faith Formation which included changing the Interim’s title from I-DLRE to I-DFF. The congregation’s understanding of UU church life in the 21st century continues to deepen and evolve. A religious professional who can partner with the congregation in the journey of Faith Formation has us very excited about our future.