In Community – Synthesis
“Last month, UUCA had a Listening Tour for Religious Exploration. Thank you so much to all the facilitators and participants who made that tour possible, we couldn’t have done it without you! This listening process was immensely helpful to me in evaluating where our RE program is right now, and how it can improve.
The biggest takeaway I had was that when we went to the new Sunday morning schedule, first of Middle Hour and now of Second Hour, I miscalculated the impact that change would have on the families in our RE program. My hypothesis was that if there were two hours of enriching programming (i.e. Middle Hour RE, and a one-hour service either before or after) on Sunday mornings, children and their parents would have the chance to delve deeper into faith exploration on any given week. I anticipated folks could get more out of the one trip per week that many are able to make to UUCA, and that deeper connection to UUCA would increase attendance. Instead, the opposite has happened, as most families we spoke to have ended up needing to compromise or cut back on their regular Sunday morning activities here. Some are able to make it both Middle Hour and a service, but by far the majority of families we have spoken with are having to choose between RE and attending service. This is the antithesis of what I had hoped for.
The synthesis we move forward with is still in formation. I am hopeful that with some slight tweaks to the new Second Hour schedule (like having RE during the 10am service and CONNECTIONS! during Second Hour) we can alleviate some of the trends pushing RE attendance down. We also have the opportunity to make changes that will help RE be more integrated in the overall life of UUCA, a direction that will always strengthen our RE program and our congregation. While any changes will inevitably involve losing elements of the existing structure that we appreciate, it has become clear that our current system is not the best way forward.
I regret that I will not be a direct part of articulating and implementing that next path for RE at UUCA, but I am very grateful for my colleagues Taryn Strauss, Michelle Bishop, and Nanda Shewmangal who will be the staff members in charge once I am gone. I also have the utmost confidence in our many knowledgeable and dedicated lay leaders who we will rely on and collaborate with throughout this process. The future is going to be new, different, and sometimes scary, but with persistence and ingenuity, UUCA will continue to do the good and important work of providing UU Lifespan Religious Exploration.”