It’s really exciting to be getting ready for the arrival of our Sabbatical Religious Educator, Mr. Barb Greve. Barb and I have not worked together, but we’ve met frequently: not surprising, since Barb has seemingly been everywhere and done everything in Unitarian Universalism. I’ve enjoyed every interaction. He has such knowledge, expertise, and love for Unitarian Universalism, particularly religious education (see the announcement on page 11), and it will be a treat to work with him. Then we’ll welcome a newly energized Dan Harper back in March.
Recent conversations have reminded me of something that runs quietly through my life at church but that I seldom articulate: I am also a professional religious educator. Part of it is that I teach Adult Religious Education (ARE) classes and a segment of Coming of Age, of course, and have even taught UU seminarians how to organize and teach ARE, but it’s not just that. It’s more a matter of orientation. Any rabbi will tell you that the meaning of “rabbi” is “teacher,” and that their job is therefore chief teacher of the congregation. Clergy, including rabbis, are other things as well: celebrant of worship and rites of passage, comforter, counselor, volunteer coordinator, community organizer, and director of a complex non-profit organization. But there is no question that, just as my orientation to my own life experiences is “What can I learn from this?,” my preaching, pastoral care, organizational work, and justice are always carried on a strong stream of the question, “What can I help people learn in this moment?” And that’s why I’m a member of not only the UU Ministers’ Association but the Liberal Religious Educators’ Association (LREDA, pronounced Luh-RAY- dah). It’s also why it’s so important to me to include young people in leadership roles for which I’m responsible, like Worship Associates (Miles Chen, Jessalyn Grant-Bier, and Olivia Ramberg-Gomez will all be in the pulpit in this role this fall), and why I devote a big part of my work in this largely volunteer-led community to coach- ing volunteers.
I think we are all learners and we are all religious educators. So as we go into a period of ferment and change in our formal Religious Education programs, let’s all be thinking: what do I teach by what I say and do here at UUCPA? What spiritual guidance am I giving, explicitly and implicitly? What do I want to learn, and what do I want to help others to learn? I would love to hear what answers emerge for you.