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TopClara Barton &
Massachusetts Bay Districts
of Unitarian Universalist Congregations

NEWSLETTER: January 2012
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February, 2012
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May, 2012

Get Ready for
Justice G.A. 
UU Mass Action logoThis year, General Assembly will focus on justice making, activism and immigration. UU Mass Action and Clara Barton & Mass Bay Districts would like to help you prepare both for that gathering and for immigration justice-making in Massachusetts. Look for a "Prepare for Justice G.A." event coming in March to a congregation near you!

For more information about Justice G.A.
CLICK IMAGEGA2012
Congregational Annual Certificate Deadline: 
FEBRUARY 1st 

Certification is open; all Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations are asked to provide statistical and financial information, update UU Directory data, and participate in the Congregational Poll by February 1, 2012. Only certified congregations may  send voting delegates to General Assembly (GA).

Faith. Fully Engaged.  

Karen Bellavance-Graceby Karen Bellavance-Grace  
Director of Faith Formation


Ever since I began my work as the Director of Faith Formation for our Districts, the two questions my non-UU friends and family ask are, "What exactly is Faith Formation?" and "How exactly does any one person 'direct' it?" Good questions, and worthy of thoughtful reflection. I've borrowed journalism's "5 W's" to draft a working definition of Faith Formation that informs my work and that of my colleagues on the District staff. It's an evolving definition that will benefit from ongoing conversations and feedback from you, our sisters and brothers in Unitarian Universalism.

Who is faith formation for and whose job is it?

The answer is: all of us. From the youngest child to our eldest members, there is something innately human about a search for connectedness, for meaning, that is a core purpose of religion. These yearnings never leave us. We are capable of spiritual growth at any age. We all must take responsibility for participating in our own faith journeys, but we'll also have opportunities to be mentors to others. We will need spiritual mentors and the guidance, support, and direction from religious professionals - ministers and religious educators - and other leaders with the calling and training to engage us in positive, healthy, reflective faith experiences.

What does faith formation look like?
While it includes Sunday morning religious education, it does not end there - it's much too big a task to fit into one hour a week! Faith formation happens in formal classes and informal conversations; it happens in the silence of a peaceful mind in meditation and in crowded pews on Sunday mornings; it  happens between parents and their  children and between a single  person  and the wisdom of their soul; it  can  happen  in parish council  meetings,  choir practice and youth  group  meetings; it can happen across generations, in large groups and small.  Faith  Formation is  relational -  we may do much of the work of  building our  faith at home  or on our  own, but the spiritual growth  will come through  returning  to our  covenantal communities.  We will  need that time and  space in  our faith  community to actively engage,  intentionally focus,  and  authentically  connect to our theology and the  traditions of our  faith  to support our  reflection and spiritual  growth.

 [More]
Sustainable YM Sustainable Youth Ministry
by Mark DeVries

An accessible and insightful look at why so many congregationally based youth ministries struggle. DeVries suggests strategies for intentional, spirit filled and - most importantly - sustainable youth ministry programs. The book references contemporary realities described in Faith Formation 2020 and also incorporates the work of Thomas Bandy (Kicking Habits) to help us think about how we can better serve our youth in growing their faith in the 21st century.

February 9, 2012 - 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM 

Snow date: February 16, 2012 - same location
First Parish Church UU of Northborough, MA 

with Karen Bellavance-Grace, Director of Faith Formation  

Fee: $15 / person - includes morning refreshments and lunch. REGISTER NOW! 

 

Join other teams of ministers and religious educators from throughout Clara Barton and Mass Bay as we engage the future of lifespan faith development in our congregations. We've seen the predictions, considered the demographics, and heard the words of warning and hope in Faith Formation 2020. We know that the way we approach faith formation and other aspects of congregational life need to change to serve 21st century realities. What we don't necessarily know is what it will all look like when we get there.

 

Religious Educators and Ministers know better than most that our families are  

 

"living in the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth. They're being besieged with information and calls for their attention from every platform - computers... iphones...hundreds of television channels" [Sir Ken Robinson, from a talk at the Royal Society of the Arts]

 

and yet so many of the core faith formation offerings in our congregations are based on theories of education developed in the industrial age. [More]  

 

FeatureFaith. Fully Engaged. (continued from top)

When does Faith Formation happen?
Now.
There is never a bad time to tend to the life of your soul. That said, milestone moments in people's lives are excellent times to make religious connections and to celebrate and share what matters to us about Unitarian Universalism. Child dedications, marriage, times of illness or death; or smaller milestones - first days of school, anniversaries, new home purchases. These are times we look beyond ourselves to connect our struggles and our achievements with a larger, transcendent story. This is a role of religion; this is a task of faith formation.
 
Where does Faith Formation happen?
In our congregations, of course, but also in our homes, in workplaces, in places where we engage the wider world, in schools, on softball teams. Wherever we are, we are making decisions, taking action (or not), speaking out (or not), all based on how we understand our role in the world as people of faith. We can pray or meditate about our choices, we can check ourselves with UU friends, or our small group ministry circle, we may seek the counsel of our minister, religious educator, or pastoral care associate, but wherever we are, alone or companioned, we can be working on our own faith formation and spiritual growth.

Why is Faith Formation important?
Because we are given 'this one wild and precious life', in the words of poet Mary Oliver, and to live it most fully, we must care for our selves in body, mind, and spirit. And because intentional faith formation practices deepen connections to our faith, to our core selves, to our friends, family and faith community, and to a world in great need of healing.

This understanding will inform our work in support of the ministry of faith formation in our districts. I will continue to work with congregations to support the transitions of professional religious educators, and with search committees and other congregational leaders exploring ways to develop their faith formation ministries. In addition, I will be collaborating with other district staff, religious professionals and congregational leaders from around New England to inspire, imagine, and share best practices in 21st century faith formation. It's such an exciting time to be working in this field. It is such a privilege to partner with others who love our faith and do all they can to live into the promise of Unitarian Universalism. The ministry of faith formation is critical to our denomination's growth, depth and influence in the new century. Because this world needs us - and we deserve - to live our Faith. Fully engaged.

Welcome to our work.