I was thoroughly inspired at the recent Liberal Religious Educators Association Fall Conference, where the theme was celebrating our history. In the beautiful setting of historic Williamsburg, VA, the conference theme acknowledged the setting and the importance of our shared history. Rev. Dr. Paul Rasor and Rev. Dr. Nicole Kirk were both keynote speakers and each brought a depth of wisdom about our UU history that was riveting. (Their keynote addresses will be posted soon at LREDA.org). The aspect of bringing our identity to our UU history was a recurring theme of Paul Rasor's astute observations, and I began to think of the multiple ways to incorporate this consciousness into religious education programming, especially for youth.
We have a layered and rich history in Unitarianism and Universalism, and for hundreds of years here in North America the sheroes and heroes of our movement have stood on the front lines for decent and fair treatment of all living beings, including standing up for the welfare of animals. Instead of a dry as dust exploration of historical figures, what if your RE classes were an immersion experience, similar to what folks experience in Colonial Williamsburg -- not so much the place and time of colonial America, but a time and place of your choosing, where young people encountered a host of famous people in our history and then went about immersing themselves into the life of that person. The endeavor would require some research, some exploration of historical context, and some review of how our contemporary thinking and identities impact of our understanding of that historical person. Imagine youth appearing on a Sunday morning who are embodying famous UU's, such as Whitney Young, Clara Barton, and more!
Here is the part that we were truly challenged to think about at the conference, which is....who are the people in our history that don't show up in the history books? Are their remarkable leaders in your congregation's history that your children and youth should know about and celebrate? So, here is your history challenge -- spend time exploring your congregation's history and find engaging ways to celebrate the remarkable souls who stood for justice and who distinguished themselves as UU's.
I would love to hear from folks as they go on this immersion experience -- hope you do engage in your history, and don't wait for a milestone anniversary of your congregation to take part in stepping into your history!
In faith that we walk in the footsteps of historic UU leaders.