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Religious Education, by Rev. Phil Schulman

“RE” often becomes a synonym for our children’s program. However, religious education might best be considered as the central task of the religious community. Every church activity provides us with an opportunity for religious education.

RE is concerned with our consciousness and the development of spiritual awareness. It involves our attempts to realize our values. RE happens in classes, in services, and in support groups. It can even happen in business meetings.

How we raise money, how we share responsibilities, who decides matters of importance all demonstrate and teach our values. Our religious education program is offered through the words and deeds that raise and answer big life questions such as: “How do we choose to live? What are our ultimate concerns? What do we hold as sacred? What is our relationship to each other and to life?”

One of the most important issues that shape a religious community is how it educates its children. Children deserve quality religious education that passes on UU values, imparts important historical information, and nurtures spiritual awareness. Congregations are wise to make use of the wealth of outstanding resources developed through the UUA. However, with children as with adults, classes are only part of the answer. How do we invite our children to participate in our movement’s principals and purposes? How do we teach our values?

Answer; we value our children. We value our elders. We value every person. There are many ways to accomplish this important task. Diversity is a hallmark of our movement. What is essential is that we strive to do it. A congregation who thinks well about its children, teaches them and learns from them will benefit greatly from its efforts. A congregation that values lifelong learning, that observes its own behavior and strives to live up to its espoused principals, will be a treasure indeed.

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