It feels good to be wrapping up my first year with Tahoma UU Congregation! It seems that I now recognize more people in the congregation than not, know most families, can call nearly all the children and youth by name, and have a grasp on what elements, rituals, and traditions are an important part of our Religious Exploration year. One of my favorite sayings about the trajectory of a transplanted tree is the rule of three years, “first it sleeps, second it creeps (the roots establish themselves), third it leaps (in height and visible foliage).” I think this applies equally to an RE program that has experienced significant transitions in leadership. This was our sleeper year, where most of the focus was on program maintenance as we took the time to test the waters of our new relationship. What does program maintenance look like though? This year it looked like this:
- Designing & implementing Chalice Camp, a 5-day summer camp in early August, for children ages 5-11, that focused on the intersection of science and our faith.
- Managing RE rooms upgrades, including new paint and carpet.
- Supporting the youth group by:
- Initiating a parent meeting to introduce a shared understanding of youth group.
- Restructuring youth group format and focus.
- Hiring a new youth group leader
- Meeting weekly with the youth group leader
- Collaborating on 4 Full Community Worship Sundays.
- Co-creating 2 Full Community Worship Sundays, the Youth Service, and RE Appreciation Sunday.
- Creating both static and news content specific to RE for the new web site.
- Introducing new tech tools for additional methods of communication such as Survey Monkey and Sign Up Genius.
- Working with various congregational committees; RE Committee, Membership, Facilities, and Stewardship.
- Managing teacher schedules, assistant schedules, supplies, and visiting families follow-up on a weekly basis.
These efforts supported:
- 29 registered families with a total of 58 registered children and youth.
- An average attendance of 36 children and youth per Sunday from mid-September to mid-May.
- Nearly a third of those Sundays saw attendance range from 40 to 46.
- We welcomed 15 visiting families that signed the guest book, with 26 visiting children. Twelve of those children are now regular attenders.
Looking forward, our RE program will be creeping into some new territory starting in the fall with a different program for our K-5th grade group, known as Learning Labyrinth. It is a shift away from the traditional classroom model, instead utilizing a wide variety of learning modes, so that children can self-select what is best for their own learning. It will also emphasize the experiential and relational nature of religious education and faith formation.
Additionally, the RE Committee has made a strong commitment to support the relational nature of our life here at TUUC in 2016-17 with a variety of family-friendly social events throughout the year. You will find these listed in the new RE calendar that will be distributed in August.
As always, please feel free to connect with me if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns. Email is generally best, and I am onsite the first and third Sunday of the month.