Greetings and Welcome!
As a history major in college I have always been fascinated with the process of reveal. The big historical events take decades, even centuries, to parse out and often we think we know what happened, understanding their implications, when new information arrives and BOOM, we scramble to re-arrange the pieces. Right now religious education is part of a larger reality, indeed a historical shifting, of how UU communities are responding to change and adapting to “do faith”. A decision, for instance, to share a DRE with another congregation may be on the cutting edge of the BOOM, but most congregations will be rearranging their pieces in the next decade.
One piece of significance emerging in religious education is the role of technology. It’s here, entrenched in our lives, so how do we use it as a tool of connection and spiritual growth? Many congregations are experimenting with that question. For some the focus has been on the youth; including a multi-media component to every discussion or using the apps Instagram or Snapchat to share reflections on a theme, Others are providing opportunities for their RE teachers to receive nourishment and connection in their weekly newsletters with video links to Sunday’s service. One of my all time favorite uses of tech is the “Coming Home” video that the First Unitarian Church of Rochester developed, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbJ32h-YpQA, Not only is it joyous & celebratory, but you also have a clear image of what the space looks like and can imagine how you’ll be welcomed.
In RE at TUUC this year, we are also playing with new ways of using technology. Each week, I reach out to the teachers with a feedback form through Survey Monkey in order to know about each class, find solutions to challenges and help with support with materials. In addition, this winter all parents had a chance to select their volunteer slots through Sign Up Genius, giving everyone a chance to work in real time with their personal calendars. While administration tools are handy, we are also trying new ways of connection in the youth group using the group text app Remind. Not only can we send short reminder texts of upcoming events, but also invitations to consider a theme, build a music playlist around a topic or share a themed video.
Yes technology can be daunting to learn, and it took me several You Tube videos to understand Remind, but should not be overlooked as a powerful way to grow and support deep connections within our congregation. Cheers to the experiment!