Live your Unitarian Universalist values out loud. Make your year-end gift today!
Play This Video on Smallscreen
General Assembly 2013 Event 2010
Speakers: Liz Jones, Leah Purcell, Barb Friedland, Pat Kahn
Faith development is embodied when Unitarian Universalists (UUs) of all ages live out their religious values in their lives, communities and the world. Hear congregations of all sizes share their experiences developing “moral agents” who act in the service of diversity, justice and compassion supported by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) “Tapestry of Faith” resources.
To introduce the workshop, Judith Frediani presented some highlights of Tapestry of Faith (PDF, 37 pages).
Leah Purcell gave examples of several ways she used Tapestry of Faith in her congregation, specifically the program Sing to the Power: a multigenerational workshop on faith development and service; family reflection questions (PDF) and a Tapestry of Faith volunteer development workshop (PDF). Leah also shared pictures of the Sing to the Power program.
PAT KAHN: Good morning. This is program 2010, the Journey to Commitment, Faith Development and Action. So I hope that's where you were planning to be. And we hope we'll have a great time together this morning. My name is Pat Kahn. I'm the Children and Family Programs Director for the Unitarian Universalist Association Resource Development Office.
And it is my pleasure this morning to have a wonderful team of people to talk to you about putting faith development into action. We are going to start by hearing from Judith Frediani, who is the Curriculum Director of the Resource Development Office at the UUA. Then we will hear from three congregations. We have Leah Purcell from a large congregation in Albany, New York. She is the Director of Religious Education.
Representing a mid sized congregation is Barb Friedland, who is the Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration here in Louisville at the Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church. And representing—this is going to sound strange—with a small congregation is Liz Jones, who is the Director of Religious Education and Family Ministry in San Diego. Now, San Diego, as many of you might know, is a very large congregation, but they have a second campus, a satellite campus. And that one is the one that Liz is going to talk about as a satellite location.
And what we'd like to do is each person will speak for about 10 minutes or so. And then after each one, we'll allow about five minutes for your questions, specifically to that person. And you could use this microphone right up here. And then at the very end, we'll end with, again, probably another five or ten minutes of questions and observations for sharing your stories and congregations. And so, without further ado, Judith Frediani.
JUDITH FREDIANI: Pat, this is about commitment. And since you're a general assembly, you're already about commitment to your congregations and communities, and to your [INAUDIBLE]. I want to tell you a little bit about what a Tapestry of Faith is, because you probably don't know all of the layers of this particular onion. Tapestry of Faith is a collection of resources and curriculum for our congregations.
It is literally something we developed of the people, by the people, for the people, the people being you, Unitarian Universalists, and even beyond to our seekers who may join us in the future. It is a rich and robust resource for you to keep your commitments to this education, to worship, to social justice and action, to strong multi-generational and multicultural communities. It is nothing less than that.
It nurtures UU identity, spiritual growth , a transforming faith, and vital communities of justice and love. And we didn't make that phrase up. We asked you what you want and need, and this is what you said.
What is new about the Tapestry of Faith series? Well, for one thing, it's all online, and it's all free. And that's really cool. It means no matter how small your congregation is, you can afford it. It's free. And all your parents, and all your teachers and any interested people can see it.
It emphasizes community, relationship and interdependence. UUs and the United States in general have always emphasized individualism and uniqueness. We are so unique. And we are, that's fine. We don't really need more help with individualism.
What we need is more help with relationship, interfaith relationship, multi-generational, international relationships, relationships even within our own congregation with different theologies and beliefs. So we are emphasizing interdependence, global independence that hopefully will save the Earth. As a new era in curriculum resources, it's another chance to bring anti-racist, anti-oppresion multicultural lenses to bear, not perfectly. We're not perfect.
But we took this opportunity to make sure we paid attention all the time to those issues. It draws from all six of our sources. We say we have seven sources. The seventh source, which is missing from our bylaws is Unitarian Universalism. That actually is a source of our faith, our unique history and heritage as well as all the wonderful eclectic resources we draw from.
Partly because it's online, it's very family, and friendly and teacher friendly. And our parent or any interested people can have full access to what's going on. It's intentional about faith development, our livable free thinking faith. We aren't afraid of faith language or religious language, not because we share theology, but because we can use this language in a way that is inclusive, faith development as meaning making, as community building, as addressing the big questions of life.
It's intentional about UU growth. Without families with children, we have no future. But without bringing in adults, young adults and older adults in their journeys, we also will not maintain our vibrant communities. And this offers resources to really interact and hold people of all ages.
One thing that is changing in our congregations is how they do RE. There's the thematic approach from a pulpit right down to the pre-school. There's the different organizations of the RE program. Well, this is a resource that's adaptable. No matter how you do RE with children, youth and adults, this is a resource that will work for you.
In the past, and still, I think, in our public schools, often in education, there's an emphasis on content. What are you going to cover? Are you going to cover the [INAUDIBLE]. This obviously, is enormous content, over 16,000 pages of content. We've got content.
But it's focused and designed on outcomes. What is the point? What kind of people do we want to be? What kind of people do we want to nurture? And again, we asked you about six or seven years ago through surveys, phone scripts, and so forth, both online and in print to reach everybody, and this is what you said.
Spiritual development, faith development, ethical development and human identity is what should be the outcome of engagement in religious education at any and all age. But we want to talk about action. In order to meet those outcomes, every single session and workshop, whether it's for a five-year-old or an elder, has spiritual preparation for the leader, so this is grounded as a religious experience, not just secular education experience that could be received somewhere else.
Every single session and workshop is a faith in action, a specific activity that your group, or your congregation or your family can do to make the world a better place, to make the community stronger, whether it's right at home, or in your larger community or in the world. For example, how many of you celebrate the annual Twighlight day? We got one. You must have gotten it in Tapestry of Faith.
Just as an example, you have hundreds and hundreds of specific faith in actions. National International Toilet day is a day to recognize that millions of people have no clean water, but in fact drink the discharge from sewage. So this is hundreds of opportunities to put your faith in action.
Taking home is similar. We might send home taking it home for little kids. This is taking it home for all ages, including adults. Adults are going to take home things to talk about, things to research, things to explore with your families, things you can do, every session.
So again, hundreds and hundreds of examples. And finally, stories—stories aren't new. We've always used stories. But we, again, not just kids. We have stories for all the adults too, because we're a narrative based people as a religious community.
And we don't just tell stories, we listen to each other's stories. And that is part of the cycle of story, reflection, action on that story, reflection, and on to another chapter in our journey or faith and exploration for justice and spiritual growth. So actually, I'm going to end there. Do I take questions too?
PAT KAHN: Yeah.
JUDITH FREDIANI: So I wanted to emphasize that what you didn't hear—you did not hear me say Tapestry of Faith is a curriculum for kids to use in the basement while the adults are worshipping. Did I say that? No, I said this is your resource for children, youth, adults, young adults, not just even for RE programs, but for your worship, for your social justice and social action.
It is an all congregational resource. And you should take advantage of it. And these people here are going to demonstrate ways in which it can be used in congregations of any size. So a couple minutes of questions if you have any, and you can come to this mic.
SPEAKER 1: Two of your goals were faith development, and spiritual growth. I wondered if you could explain the difference between those.
JUDITH FREDIANI: Yeah, I get asked that a whole lot. And the way we picture it, because those words are often used interchangeably, you know how people say I'm spiritual, but not religious? Spiritual is an innate human capacity.
You don't have to be in a religion. You don't have to be in a community. We're intellectual, we're physical, we're sexual, we're spiritual. And so that's kind of the inner sense of awe and wonder, of connection perhaps to God, perhaps to nature, being part of something greater, all of that.
That's my spiritual development. We're using faith to mean a process that involves more than inner capacity for awe and connection. It involves beliefs, theology, questioning on the big religious questions, making meaning and purpose to your life, coming together in the community to learn together.
So it's a much more complicated, deeper set of experiences. That's how we're using it. Thank you. Any comments or questions? Someone's either leaving or asking—oh, they're asking a question.
JULIE STONEBERG: My name is Julie Stoneberg. I'm the minister in Peterborough, Ontario. Thank you for these online resources. We use them a lot, and we are very grateful for them. My question is about the depth of the resources and getting through them.
I just thought that there was something that came up but I haven't had a chance to follow up on in terms of some new curriculum mapping. I was interested to hear you say that it's more than just for the RE program. I hadn't thought about using it in terms of worship. We use the [INAUDIBLE] program. But I find it very dense to get through to find the pieces that are going to work without having studied it all. And I don't know what the answer is, but what can you tell me about search and retrieval?
JUDITH FREDIANI: Right, and, once again, we will talk about that. So I'll just say briefly that in terms of using the curriculum itself, there's actually a core 60 minute or 90 minute, which is not complicated. It's soup to nuts. Here's the opening, two activities, closing. Then there's always alternatives. And the alternatives will go, oh my God. They blow people's minds. But you don't have to go there if you want to stick to the core. That's one way of simplifying it. And your panel, should I say—
LIZ JONES: You can talk about the tag. I was going to talk about the search—
JUDITH FREDIANI: She's going to show you how to use it. I will say we do have some search functions, which Liz will help you with, but we also need more search functions, and we're going to do some more tagging, so particularly for worship and things like that. We'll do more work on tagging to help your search.
And I'll say this. We really listen to what you ask for, and we put it all in there. And now people are saying, there's too much in there. But we were really trying to make sure that we addressed the expressed needs that we heard for a couple years, while we were doing the needs assessment. So that's probably five minutes, right? All right, thank you.
LEAH PURCELL: What should we do for the slides? So I will just say when we're doing this part that we did talk to the tech people about the buzz, and there's nothing that we can do about it right now. There's nothing we can do about the buzz right now.
So can you hear me if I talk like this? How about now? OK, great. So we're going to use the buzz as a spiritual practice, an understanding that we're flexible. So when you hear the buzz, that's just a reminder to bring yourself back to the content. Can we just leave this on here for a minute and I'll just go to—all right. Great.
So I'll get to this in a minute. But again, my name is Leah Purcell, and I'm the Director of Religious Education in the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, New York. We have almost 400 members and about 140 infants, children and youth involved in our program.
And my position is full time. I received my credentialing last year at the credential level. So I wanted to talk a little bit about the logistics that we've been implementing with Tapestry of Faith. And then I wanted to get to how that's gotten us to a different understanding of how and why we do religious education.
So we have a very empowered religious education council that is made up of 12 elected members. So it's a very intentional body. And a few years ago, they said that they wanted to give an opportunity for people to do religion, not just to learn about religion.
So when Tapestry of Faith came on, we said a ha, here we go. But when you have an old congregation with a lot of traditions and you have 8 or 10 groups of children, and you have teams of four volunteers for each group, to make a change is kind of like getting a battleship to turn around. So you need people firing jets off this way and swinging things over here. And the whole thing kind of goes like this. And it's not very pretty, but it's pretty awesome.
So what we decided to do was to start with the younger groups and start with those younger groups doing some of the Tapestry of Faith curriculum. In part because there was a big attachment by some of the parents and some of the RE volunteers to the more traditional curriculum that they thought was really important in terms of the content, like Judy had said. They want timeless themes, so they would have bible literacy.
They wanted neighboring faiths again, so they didn't learn about world religion. So it was kind of safe to start with the younger kids. And then we also did some curriculum for fourth and fifth graders where we just were ready for a change anyway. So this year—I want to show you some of these slides now—we used a new curriculum for our fourth graders called Sing to the Power.
And we picked this one in particular because this group was very artsy. If I do this, will it go big? Super. So in this curriculum, you see that circle with the four quadrants on it? Those are the four powers that the group is going to be relating to for the session. And for each quadrant, there's a little circle with a quality or a power each week.
And so it kind of looks like this, that right there. So ideally, you would have these four quadrants, and you'd have four little circles in each one, and you'd have 16 little circles around there. But we don't have that there. And I figured that out, just because those qualities and concentrating on that didn't work for each of the volunteers.
So they said, this week, we're not going to particularly focus on that. We're going to do something different. And so the children actually kind of led this to tell the volunteers what was most important to them, and the volunteers went with that. And so there was one session about silence and nature, and the kids really focused on that. There was one on solar power, so they did a lot of focus on that.
They were very creative, so they had collages. And there was a 350 degree project that had this awesome little video with a music intro into it, and they were focused on that as well. So I just wanted to lift that up as a way that Tapestry of Faith is very flexible.
So it was brought up a couple minutes ago about how deep and broad Tapestry of Faith is and how there are basic activities, but there's also alternate activities and they all have times associated with each one. And so it can be a little intimidating. So I've created a teacher training with a specific group of teachers. And Pat has put this available online.
PAT KAHN: It will be at the website.
LEAH PURCELL: It will be on the website, so that's a piece of material that you can have. So to help people take steps towards taking the power to individualize the sessions for their groups and the teacher workshop, I presented them with a sample session, and laid out the materials and showed them how it worked, and they said, that is great. And then I showed them all the activities and how I got there so that they saw what could be done instead of oh my gosh, they're all possibilities.
As was mentioned, too, there's a spiritual practice for each session. We talked about this too at a workshop that I did recently on teaching as a spiritual practice. And some of the people said that worked for them. Some said they didn't. And so, again, that's a flexibility kind of thing.
But the thing I wanted to talk about a lot was how Tapestry of Faith brought us to a different understanding. And that was something that Judith talked about too, is that we have gotten away from the idea—pretty much. We still have some work to do on this—that religious education is about content, and that people are getting away from the idea about OK, we're going to have a story, and a craft and cookies, and you're going to bring home this little craft and show you, and that's how you will know what I have done on Sunday school.
I send a link to the parents about the session, so if they want to go find out what it is, the can. But the idea is that our Sunday morning sessions are more about how we are together. It's opportunities for groups to practice compassion as Unitarian Universalists in a way that they do not have an opportunity to do during the week. And this has also translated a bit to our adult education program. We have done Building the World We Dream About, and The New UU, and The Spirit of Life. And with those, it was a little bit of an adjustment for our adults to concentrate on the spiritual and faith sides rather than the intellectual sides.
So we did, in the beginning, give them resources that they could prepare ahead of time so they would have something to hold on to as they brought their own stories to the work that we did together. So that is a quicky quicky of what we do as a large congregation. And so, if anybody has questions, now is the time for you to step forward to the mic. We have about five minutes and we're done.
SPEAKER 2: I'm curious what you mean by practicing compassion rather than contemplating on content.
LEAH PURCELL: So with Tapestry of Faith, it's theme based, but it's not content based. So this is my particular take on it—is that I tell people that the curriculum is there as a springboard. And so that probably sounds familiar to you, yeah?
So when I've done teacher trainings, they have shared with me how they operate. And some people say I take the plan for the day and write it up on the board so that I have a guide. And I kind of see where the children are interested and where it takes us. I have people that say I look it over, I set my intention, and then the whole session in a show and performance piece.
So that's the kind of thing that I'm talking about, and to really lower the expectation that the children are going to walk home with something to have over or this is what I learned in Sunday school today. And I also say to the parents, if you, as your children's primary religious educations, your job is to companion with your children and show them compassion, show them your values in your everyday life as well. So I hope that answered your question. Other questions?
PAT KAHN: OK. I'll ask you a question. Could you talk a little bit about the family reflection that you did more?
LEAH PURCELL: Oh, yes, yes, thank you for that. So there is this awesome set of questions that is also from this curriculum. And I pulled it out and created a document that you can also get online, and I entitled it Questions for Family Reflections on Service Projects. And I have been carrying this around to different activities in our congregation to promote a learn, do, reflect model of faith formation.
So again, it's not all intellect. It's not all action. There are other components that you bring to it to bring your faith forward. And so when we did a service project to pack backpacks at the beginning of the fall for local schools, when we did our craft walk, when we did other events, I brought this out and said huh, maybe you want to think about this.
What do you think worked best about this project? What was frustrating? Who was the most memorable person you met? How do you think your actions change the world even in small ways?
So to get them reflecting on that. And I also did a multi-generational workshop on reflection. And I can get that up on the web too. But it was great, because we had people share. And then we had a word wall of qualities you have that make you an agent for change.
And then I gave them the questions to go home and think about further. But it's really powerful. Thank you for reminding me. All right, so we're moving on to our main slide. Good luck.
BARB FRIEDLAND: I'm multitasking devices here. I am Barb Friedland. I am the Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration at Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church here in Louisville. And some of you may be aware—I can see some faces in the room that I know are aware—that Louisville is known as possibility city.
And possibility is such a wonderful powerful word. And Tapestry of Faith is literally chock full of possibility. I have to tell you, about three years ago when I started looking at these materials, I was really hesitant. I had my old familiar blinders on my shelf. And it's nicely laid out.
And then I looked at Tapestry of Faith, and there were 22 pages, easily, for each session. And I said oh my gosh, how am I ever going to do this? And I think some of my volunteers said the same thing. Some of the folks on the religious exploration committee at the time, I think, probably looked at me and said she's nuts, because we had concerns about how it was going to be for the volunteers.
And while there are some volunteers who had the experience level to be able to dig into something like that and say, oh yes, I will do this, and we'll take that, and I like this alternate activity better, for most of my volunteers, it seems best to provide them with a road map. And sometimes I do include an alternate activity, because in a lot of ways, they know their kids better than I do. But what I try to do is pull together something based on my knowledge of the young people involved and input from the volunteer teams.
If I have a group of over active fourth grade, primarily, boys, I'm going to go with as many active games as I can. We had a session in one of the curricula we used this year, Love Connects Us, that included a bunch of science experiments. And they went crazy over things like how to make a marshmallow puff up and then shrink and things like that.
And really, if we're going to talk about commitment, it begins with engagement, doesn't it, for all of us. So for me, task one in religious exploration is how can I engage people across the lifespan? So I did begin to see the possibilities.
And rather than thinking of Tapestry of Faith as curricula in the traditional sense, I did get to a point where I saw it as this rich, highly adaptable collection of resources. And over time, I began to see that by applying what I knew about the kids and the adults who happen to lead the programs, I could pull something together that was much better than just handing them a CD of everything or printing it all off and putting it in a binder. For our high school youth who love debate and conversation, I this year included a lot more opportunities to engage each other.
We used Virtue Ethics, and they fell in love with the dilemma elements. There were some weeks when they would do their opening circle, their sharing time, and spend most of the rest of the morning on these dilemmas. Does anybody know what I mean when I'm talking about a dilemma? What do I do if? I've got this situation, how do I handle that? They really loved that stuff.
I made it a practice to plug in more of the familiar opening rituals that our church has always used. Some of the Tapestry of Faith materials don't include, for example, sharing time or collecting an offering. One of the ways that we practice commitment and action is that every RE group, except maybe preschool, does some kind of an offering.
We think it's important. So that's something that we adapted and just plugged in, so we would change the opening routine of the elements to be able to include that. The programs we used this year, as I gradually worked on implementing Tapestry of Faith—well, the first year, I only used two. I used Mortal Tales and Toolbox of Faith for elementary level.
And that went pretty darn well—learned some lessons. And then this year, we expanded. We did Love will Guide Us, Love Connects Us, Heeding the Call, at the middle school level, and Virtue Ethics, which I referred to a minute or so ago. And so now, the updated curriculum map, which someone referred to mapping a little bit ago.
The updated map that I've been working on is really heavy on Tapestry of Faith now, because we've grown into it. We've grown to be able to understand how to use it better and how to make it work. One of the things that I absolutely love about Tapestry of Faith materials is that it lifts up the power of story, and Judith has already talked about this just a bit.
But story is such a wonderful pathway of learning, and I love the creative possibilities of how those stories can be presented. It's not necessarily just reading one. It might be having a box of costumes and inviting different age ranges to go ahead and pick something that you think this character in the story might have.
The more involved they are, the more they're going to get out of the experience. And it's the experience that leads to the kind of growth that we're looking for and not necessarily taking something home at the end of the day. It's about the experience.
They could use different voices. They could actually act them out if they wanted to. Unpacking the story and then exploring its meaning is another really important part of what we want to do in engaging.
And not only the series of questions that would be available to us in the particular session, but another possibility that we sometimes used, depending on the kiddos, is inviting them to draw something that they remember from the story, anything that helps them figure out what are you going to hold on to? What does the story mean to you? That's what we want them to get from the experience.
I have a couple of success stories I'd like to share. One of my favorites is from the Love Connects Us group. We used a yard web ritual kind of adapted from the curriculum, where we would do this while we were sharing.
So we had a yarn ball, and one person would share and hold on to the end and roll it to the next person. And at the end of the sharing, we would have woven this fabulous web. And every week, they would love to pick a string in the web and see that it affected everyone.
And so by the end of the year, it got to a point where they would ask. If I happened to be in the room, I would hear them say, oh, come on, are we going to do the web today? Come on, really, please. And I thought that was great, because it showed how important the ritual was to them.
Another great success story has to do with music. How many of you in the room are terrified about singing? Be honest. How many of you who work with any kind of a leadership setting would feel intimidating about helping children or youth sing? Yeah, OK. It's a common thing. A lot of us are convinced we can't do that.
So I'm sort of the music resource person. I play guitar and other things, so I'm frequently asked to go into the rooms and do things. And one of the teachers said, we've got to do the magic penny song. Can you please come in and help us it?
And I said no problem. So I went in and I did it. And the kids said oh, can we sing it again? So we spend about five minutes on the song. But they loved it, and that was important. And then the week, the teacher sen me a text message saying, they want you to do the magic penny song again. Can you please come again? So I thought that was great.
The possibilities of Tapestry of Faith extend way beyond the RE room walls. I intentionally look for opportunities to engage the entire congregation in an experience that young people may have started. In Love Connects Us, we worked on a how our hands help mural.
We had cut out hands in different rainbow colors and put them up on a piece of craft paper, a big piece. And they wrote on each hand, how do I help? And so they started it, and then the kids took it out into the gathering space, put it up on the wall, and they stood there and they engaged the adults as they came out of the service. Hey, add a hand to our mural.
And it was great to see them inviting and talking with the adults about how they help. We've done multi-generational services around Tapestry of Faith components. I recently did this for our closing service this year. We used bits and pieces.
The title of the service was What Connects Us, so it was really easy to draw it in. Youth did an ethical dilemma with the whole congregation and talked about it for several minutes. Our joys and concerns time used the very familiar words that the love connects us, group had heard all year.
And so there was more engagement for everyone. The service music that we used included two songs used in Tapestry of Faith. And I would like to share one quick one with you. Can you move this for me? And I can probably use that mic if it needs. The first thing we're going to want to do is teach you really quickly this chorus.
LEAH PURCELL: How many religious educators does it take?
PAT KAHN: Yeah, that's a good question.
LEAH PURCELL: Slideshow.
BARB FRIEDLAND: Well, while I'm waiting for this to power back up, are there any questions? And I really would like to do the song that we do, because it's about our sources, which I'm thinking—an under featured thing. Does anybody have any questions about how we—yes, come to the mic please.
SPEAKER 3: Sorry, it's sort of a question for all of you. We're hearing a lot of great stuff about the kids, but I'd like to hear a little bit more about how Tapestry of Faith is used with adults.
BARB FRIEDLAND: We're just rolling into that. Our minister has done several of the Tapestry of Faith programs with adults. But interestingly enough, for our fall adult RE evening program, we are looking at incorporating The New UU.
Anything else? Questions? So, let me teach you quickly this, since I don't have very many questions, the chorus to this song. And it goes something like this. It will change when I get my ukulele out, because I'm not necessarily up to perfect pitch.
BARB FRIEDLAND: All right, here we go.
BARB FRIEDLAND: Trying to get in line with me.
BARB FRIEDLAND: Thank you for being patient.
LIZ JONES: So I am going to sort of add a number of different smaller pieces to this because we've had some other requests. I do want to talk a lot about how we use the Tapestry of Faith in our small campus. But before I begin, I want to let you know I do serve a large congregation.
We have been using Tapestry of Faith with adult education. In fact, we were so inspired by the Spirit in Practice curriculum that we have completely adapted our entire adult ed program around the eight spheres of spiritual development that are in that curriculum, so that as we look at all we do, we work toward that. And that's been a huge part of what we're doing.
SPEAKER 4: Which book is that?
LIZ JONES: It's Spirit and Practice.
SPEAKER 4: Spirit and Practice.
LIZ JONES: And it's been wonderful. It talks about eight spheres of spiritual development, the way our spiritual growth, the way we move into connecting with our spirit through eight different ways. And so we use that. We've been using it.
There are programs on ethics. There's programs on UU history. They are large and overwhelming when you look at them. The exciting part about those programs is that they can all be used in pieces and bits and pieces, and single units can be taught as a class, and you don't have to do the entire program.
They are resources that I highly recommend that you explore for the variety of ways you can use them. And I'd be happy to answer more questions about that in the question and answer period as we get there. I want to also add that there is the curriculum map. You mentioned earlier the curriculum map that has recently come out.
There is a link on the Tapestry of Faith page which speaks to you about the scope and sequence of the program, so that as you look at this overwhelming amount of things—It's a great program, and it's huge, but how do we go and approach it? What is it covering? So it's going to give you a brief overview of each of the programs and provides a suggested sequence of those programs. And that's what you'll find if you hit that curriculum map link.
But I want to talk to you about our program. We have a small second campus. It is located in South Bay and Chula Vista near the Mexican border. And this group, in its initial steering period, decided that it wanted to become known in the community by being in the community.
It wanted to be out there, engaged in what the community needed and wanted, and become known that way, not by trying to recruit people in, not to try to do other things, but by being out there. They wanted to be known as the love people, and they wore their Standing on the Side of Love shirts everywhere. They went out there. And we have become known as the love people.
But as we began working with our small number of children—and when I say small, I'm saying two to four children on a Sunday morning that ranged in age from 5 to 10. That's a lot to cover, but a small number of kids. So we decided that we really wanted to connect them to what that community saw itself as, which was engaged in the community through the Standing on the Side of Love campaign.
So we chose the Love Surrounds Us curriculum to use. Now, that's a K, 1 curriculum, but we're using it for kindergarten through, basically, fifth or sixth grade. And as we're looking at how we're going to do this, we found that it works because one, it's story based, and stories speak to all ages.
Those stories can be used with adults as well as children, so it didn't matter. Because it's story based, we could use it. We did have to adapt it for a lot of things, and that's the piece that comes in. All of this program is adaptable.
We had to make some choices. What could we do? And how do we adapt it? And one is the dialogue that goes with the story. How do we include it so this basic enough for a four and five-year-old who might be in there, but also has enough content material for that fifth and sixth grader?
And so by adapting the questions a little, not a lot, we were able to include a much broader age range for our work. We had to adapt to our time frame. We basically had the kids in the classroom only 30 minutes.
Well, if you have a program that's designed for 60 to 90 minutes, that means we really had to cut down. So what was the core of what we wanted to work with? The kids loved the opening ritual. That spoke to them.
The song of Love Surrounds Us to the tune of Jesus Loves Me, was one that the kids truly engaged with and was possible for every one of the leaders that we had to be able to teach and sing. They loved the opening ritual. We were able to change things. We had to pay attention. What can you do with two to four kids?
Well, hands on activities worked fairly well. Games, not so well, because most games require that you have a few more than two children to do, so we had to know we weren't going to choose those things. And space limitations—what could we do? We didn't have outdoor space. We had a parking lot that was shared, because this place is in a strip mall. So we're sharing it with a bunch of other groups, including another church.
So we can't take our kids outside, so we have to make sure that what we could do was only what we could do inside. But it was simple enough to choose. And that's why these programs work for us, is they give us the ability to do that kind of adapting to cut it down timewise, to cut it down for the number of kids, to expand the age range. And that's the piece that I think is so exciting about this material.
It can be done by a staff person. I did a lot of this. But it can be done by committee members. It can be done by the individual teachers, giving them the permissions we already heard, training your teachers to be able to take the material and make it their own. Doesn't matter who does it, but it does require adapting.
And we all need to do that. But we all did that with the hard paper curriculum that we had before. We all took them. Sometimes we had to retype them into something in order to do it. It's online. It's very easy to cut and paste it and make it your own. I promise you, it works.
It is a piece that can be done with all this. The other part that really worked for us were the faith in action pieces. Because these engaged faith in action pieces, some of which you have to plan ahead. You can't just sort of drop it in, you had it on Thursday and know that you're going to do it on Sunday.
But you have to be able to plan ahead for them. But that enabled us to engage our children in the entire congregation. This is a place where because it's small, they feel our community of a whole.
The other piece I want to tell you about what we've done is that we've made a major change to our worship services this past year. We now have three completely distinct services. At our Hillcrest campus, we have a traditional worship service at 9:30. We have a contemporary worship service at 11:30.
And we are now offering to our entire congregation, at 9:30, at our South Bay campus, the fully multi-generational worship service. So the children are not leaving, they're staying. We've now grown from two children to six children in one year. It's slow, but it's moving.
But what I found is Tapestry of Faith is still working for us in this case because we're able to take the stories from Tapestry of Faith, the faith in action pieces from Tapestry of Faith and weave them into those multi-generational services. And we're able to do that because of the other piece I want to talk to you about, which is the search engine. If you go to the Tapestry of Faith page, you will find a thing that says, search Tapestry of Faith. And if you click on that link, it's going to take you to a dialogue box where you can search first by keyword.
So if you're using themes, you might stick the theme, whatever the topic of the worship service is. It might be anything that you want. Whenever your theme is—and that's probably where the tags that Judith was talking about are going to go.
So you're going to put your keyword in. Then you can search by age group—adult, child, youth, multi-generational, and also resources that aren't part of those will be there. So you can search by that, and then you can type by the type of resource—activity, handout, leader resource, programming session, workshop, story.
So you say what you want. You put it in. You hit Search, and it'll bring up a list of the things that fit the categories that you want. And it's right there on the Tapestry of Faith page. Just click that Search Tapestry of Faith.
And it really provide you an opportunity to use it for lots of different things. And as I say, we're now using it for our multi-generational worship service that we're offering, and we're growing because of it. So I'm open for questions. Yeah, come on up.
SPEAKER 5: It's a long way. I guess listening to you and all of you. I'm really curious how to maybe through the search engine screen, Tapestry of Faith to the home environment, especially during the summer when a lot of RE programs are not happening in a small congregation [INAUDIBLE] program, when as a parent, I would love to have some maybe just casual program with my kids. They're 13 and under. I kind of did a brief search on Tapestry of Faith. But is there a home program? That would be really awesome just to have.
LIZ JONES: Well, I can say to begin with, the taking it home pages all include things for you to do with your families. So not only does it say this is what we did this week. It'll say here are things that you can do together as a family to further extend this program.
SPEAKER 5: I guess that's it. So we're not doing it in the classroom, something ready made.
JUDITH FREDIANI: One thing that's very made, in a sense, are the multi-gen programs. Like Circle of Trees would be published as soon as you get back from GA. But yeah, there's Spirit. They are meant for all ages together to do, like plant seeds and you learn about stewardship of the Earth and everything. And that one's for a family.
LEAH PURCELL: And I want to say too that I had a family that said, we can't be here this year. And I said, here's the curriculum. Here's the link. And I think it was Creating Home, and that's one that has a concentration on spiritual practices, and the parent was particularly interested in that. So it gave her a chance to practice at home exactly what the kids were doing in Sunday school.
SPEAKER 5: OK, I think that's helpful, because it's hard to bring it home, and my kids go to a parochial school, so I feel like I need to have a balance of other things, and parochial schools are very good about this.
LEAH PURCELL: I think all the curricula is very accessible.
SPEAKER 5: And would that be a tag word to be searched, like home?
LEAH PURCELL: I would go to the different curricula, and it has ages. And then you could pick the ones that would work best for your kids.
LIZ JONES: And I do want to say that that's the exciting part. It is online, and it's available. And you can go to it and explore it to your heart's content. A lot of our curricula, when they were in books, people had to come into the offices or the church and look at them and do it. It's available for any parent who wants to look at it on their own at home any time. And that's really exciting for many of our parents, to really be able to explore what their kids are learning in their classrooms.
SPEAKER 6: Great point. I'm traveling from Maine. And my focus is on adult ed. And I'm very encouraged to hear what you had to say about flexibility in use of the Tapestry of Faith materials. And I wonder if you could just comment on something that happened on the welcoming congregation class—this was a while ago—in which the interim minister, who was leading the class, suggested that the various class members, each go to the Tapestry of Faith of materials. And each one would pick out one of the sessions, and then the member would be responsible for going through the materials, picking out the activities that he thought would work with the group, and facilitating the session.
LIZ JONES: And that's a great way to do it. Every place has got a different way of doing it. If that works in that congregation and the people are engaged, then that's a great way to engage people in the process of doing it. I think that's wonderful.
The thing is that you can go and you can take pieces. And we all are learning every single one of them can be a standalone in many ways. And that allows you to pull those out. And by empowering the members to be able to take it and do it, you're not only engaging them in the process, but you're also helping train future leaders for future classes, which is really exciting.
SPEAKER 6: Thank you very much.
JUDITH FREDIANI: I want to say a little more about the adult programming, because we didn't say as much about it. And I want you to understand that never in the history of Universalism or Unitarianism, or marriage of the two, have we had so much for adults and so much for youth. And may I ask just to say a little bit about the youth, so that they know what's available. I'll say a little bit about the adult.
One important thing to understand—and you guys mentioned it. I want to emphasize it—is the adult programs might be 8 or 10 or 12 sessions. But virtually all of them are really a series of independent workshops, and you can benefit from just doing one of them. And it's so important not to have to sign up for 12 weeks. One of the most popular adult programs is Harvest the Power, which is leadership development.
You could just do one of those with you RE community, your board or whatever, and it would be a real benefit. But we also have two fantastic programs on UU history that not only inspire us with our values, but also humble us a little bit, where we fell short of our values. So it's not just a back thumping look at our history, it's a more realistic look that we're human and we don't always achieve our highest values.
It's a little more complex than that—very interesting. And those can also be used pretty much independently. There's ethics for adults. There's theology for adults. There's spirit in practice. There's also spirit of life.
And it's sort of based on the song, Spirit of Life. And that's by Barbara Hamilton-Holway. Erik Wikstrom wrote Spirit in Practice. So there's two completely different approaches to spiritual development for adults.
The New UU is six workshops. You don't have to do all six. We have really put a lot of energy into both adult programming—and I use programming advisedly, because again, we're not just talking about classroom. We're talking about taking this out to our retreats, to our larger community life.
And the only other thing I want to say to you before Jessica tells you how rich the youth offering are for both junior high and high school, I want to say who wrote all these. As well as UUA staff, because we certainly wrote some. But we engaged dozens of people in writing this, including young adults, including the diversity of ethnicities, racial identities, sexual identities, whatever. So ministers, religious educators, laypeople—and I really think that diversity is worth mentioning.
It's not sort of the same old people. It is very inclusive, and I think it's reflected in the diversity and richness of the programs. And, Jessica, could you tell them a little about the richness? Jessica York serves as the Youth Programs Director and had a lot to do with these youth programs, including writing some of them.
JESSICA YORK: Hi, so in the same way that the adult programs are very adaptable, and they're written to be workshops, which can be done individually instead of having to do the entire program, the youth workshops are also created in the same time. And that's really important, I think, for youth work. Because a lot of congregations have a culture where the youth don't do a curriculum, where the youth have a lot of fluidity in terms of their time and where they have a lot of say as to how they want to spend their time.
Some of you may have been in with a group of youth or may yourself have been a youth where you've only got 60 minutes work of time and check in takes 60 minutes worth of time. But the importance of us having this youth curricula, as Judy mentioned, more that we've ever had before is that you also want your youth to understand that the time they spend together is time for faith development. And so that sharing—yes, that's faith development. But there's also additional faith development we can do that can be very intentional.
So these youth programs—you can do one individual workshop with youth. I know there are some groups that have four different things that they do within a month. Maybe one Sunday a month, they're working on doing a justice activity, and one Sunday a month, they're doing workshop from one of the youth curricula. And they may be taking one program and doing it the whole year long just by doing a workshop at a time.
Most of the youth curricula have about 8 to 12 different workshops that you can do. It's easy to spread those out throughout our year. It's easy to take one workshop and do one workshop as a piece of a retreat. If you're doing something like an all church retreat, it's easy to take one or two activities from a workshop. You don't even have to do the entire workshop.
They also have a faith in action piece, as we've mentioned before. And the faith in action pieces are frequently multi-generational faith pieces, where they can work with the entire congregation or where they're working out in the larger community. There's also the taking it home piece, taking it home in youth and adults is addressed to the individual, as opposed to the children's program, where taking it home is really addressed to the family.
And you're going to find pieces in there for things that you can do, not just with your family but also with your peers. When you're sitting down at the lunch table, have a discussion about the topic that you were talking about today. When have you been in a situation where you had to change your mind about somebody? You had some preconceived notions and something happened to you to change your mind.
Have that discussion with your peers might be what is suggested in the taking it home. So we have programs for junior high aged children, which I believe is probably the first 10, 12. We have more in that category than we've ever had before. Heeding the Call has been mentioned previously. Heeding the Call is a program about the qualities of a justice maker.
We have a program on families and family diversity, and what truly makes a family. We have programs for a high school age. One that's going to be forthcoming online soon is Building Bridges, which is sort of a world religions curriculum, but not just let's learn about this religion, but really asking ourselves if this religion has some pieces within it that mean something to me and my religion.
And how am I, a Unitarian Universalist, in a world with a person who is of Hindu faith. What does that mean for us? A Place of Wholeness, which is a curriculum very much about new identity and about developing your own faith statements and understanding what Unitarian Universalism means for you.
Virtue Ethics, which was mentioned earlier, is an ethical development, character development, curriculum. So there's a large range of choices out there, and you should feel free to pick and choose. And if your youth have never done a curriculum before, show them the curriculum and let them find something that might be interested and exciting for them.
PAT KAHN: Thank you, Jessica. And we still have time for more questions if people want to ask. But I also want to just say I hope that you all stop by the resource development booth in the exhibit hall. Because you can see in person many of the things that we've talked about—the new curriculum map and scope and sequence that are published online.
There are also copies of that available at the booth. Another thing that's available there are copies of the family pages. How many of you are familiar when the UU World magazine comes out, right in the center there are family pages. And I was thinking of you in particular. Copies of recent ones are also at the booth, and that's a marvelous resource.
LEAH PURCELL: They're online separate—
PAT KAHN: And they're also online, separate, that's right. And any of the resources, particularly the documents that Leah mentioned, et cetera, and probably the PowerPoint—we will put those online, so that when you go to the website and you look for this program, you'll see the resources that we talked about on there with them.
So we have a little less than five minutes. Are there any other questions that people have or experiences? Yes, please, come on up.
SPEAKER 7: Hi. We have a very small church with multiple age, mostly elementary class, although we've been growing our youth also. And we have used several Tapestry of Faith programs, and really like a lot of the things that you talked about. One of our issues, I would say, is that we're volunteering time, because it does take a lot of time to go through whatever the lesson is.
And we also only have about 30 minutes, because our children are in the service for the first part of Sunday morning. So this is kind of more of a comment. But we really love it. We have not used it at all with preschool. Is there any preschool curriculum, and that would be why.
PAT KAHN: They start at kindergarten and first grade.
LIZ JONES: I just want to say that the volunteer work that has to be done, if you do it far enough ahead of time, if you plan, then it makes the Sunday mornings or the work that had to happen a lot easier. And a committee, or a group or someone else putting that together far enough in advance and then providing it for whoever's going to lead, it makes it work for those small—and in a small program, sometimes overworked volunteers.
SPEAKER 8: [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 9: All three [INAUDIBLE].
LEAH PURCELL: What I do is I send an email out to everybody and say hey, here's a link to the section. Check it over. And they do that on Tuesday.
So every Tuesday, you get an email from me, and it says, let me know if you need any of the materials. And I have found that people who normally would look at the resources at 9 o'clock on Saturday night are responding to me by Thursday. So you might be able to reset their clocks.
SPEAKER 10: How much does this cost?
PAT KAHN: It is free. It cost a lot of money to create. And part of that came from lots of different places, but it's all free online.
LIZ JONES: Free online.
LEAH PURCELL: If your congregation is fair share—
PAT KAHN: You have paid for it.
LEAH PURCELL: You have paid for it. And so when I talk to people in my congregation about stuff like this, I say thank you for being fair share.
SPEAKER 10: Thank you.
PAT KAHN: Thank you.
BETH: I'm Beth from Baton Rouge, and I have a question that's so ridiculous, I'm embarrassed to have to ask it.
LIZ JONES: This is going to be good.
BETH: As you know, there are many curricula for children with the word love in it. I have a lot of resistance from parents and council members to use any of those curricula because they feel that their children will not want to participate because it has that word love in it. Have any of you had a similar problem, and do you have any thoughts about how to sell this kind of curricula.
LEAH PURCELL: Well, I think it's one of those things where kids aren't paying that much attention, and it's probably the adults that have problems with the word. And I know that in our congregation, people say, I'm an atheist, I can't talk about love.
JUDITH FREDIANI: I would rename the curriculum.
PAT KAHN: That's what I was going to say.
JUDITH FREDIANI: You know all the people who didn't call it the Haunting Church, because their children were afraid of going to a haunting house. Just call it something else. But I have to say, Beth, you want my position? I've never ever done that before, never did that, no.
BETH: Well, that's a great idea.
PAT KAHN: But yes, just change its name.
BARB FRIEDLAND: You know, one thing I'd like to mention briefly about that particular concern is I do play a lot of word games in my work as DRE. And one of the things that most adults are pretty comfortable with is talk about compassion.
So what we can do is explain to the parents that we're using the word love because sometimes it's a little bit easier for younger kids to get than the idea of compassion. And maybe, how about have a session where you took out a piece of the curriculum you'd like to use and help them know this is not scary stuff.
PAT KAHN: OK, I think we are about out of time. Thank you all very much for coming, and be sure to come by the booth down in the exhibit hall. Tha
For more information contact
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Wednesday, July 3, 2013.
Sidebar Content, Page Navigation
More Ways to Search
Donate to Support This Program and the Ongoing Work of the UUA
Read or subscribe to UUA.org Updates for the latest additions to our site.
Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.