“There is no end to education. It’s not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life – from the moment you are born to the moment you die – is a process of learning. — Jiddu Krishnamurti
Learning is a lifetime activity. There is not a point in our lives where we say, “That’s it, I know enough, I will stop learning.” Nowhere is this more true than in our spiritual lives.
As UUs who are called to undertake “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning,” too often, we have focused on what we do not believe, and then, having found a community which allows us freedom of belief, we begin to rest comfortably and neglect our spiritual development as adults. As co-travelers on the spiritual journey, our work together is to continue to encourage, inspire, and explore new vistas of spiritual maturity. Just as the religious understandings that nurture us at age five may not serve us well in adolescence and young adulthood, as adults entering new arenas of challenge – parenting, losing a parent, facing retirement, the “empty nest,” approaching death – we continue to need to deepen in our spiritual maturity.
In my ministry, I am passionate that the congregations I serve create and sustain a fully multigenerational approach to ministry. That means that we eat, worship, and serve together. It means that we study together, as well – using theme work to allow us to explore common religious and spiritual themes in a manner that allows for our differing stages of development, yet binds us as a community and encourages us to learn from each other.
I believe that the Minister/s and religious educators or lifespan faith development professionals must work together to build the common ministry of the church. These are not separate silos or independent ministries; the ministry of the church and its learning environment should be of a whole, and should an include and incorporate learning and leadership along the entire lifespan. I would expect to see children leading parts of worship; teens serving in key leadership positions, our most senior elders serving with children and attending classes as they are able….Beloved Community is for all of us, and in every stage of life we are both teacher and student.
I love the Soul Matters themework, and believe its a rich resource for congregations to explore, alongside the terrific resources in Tapestry of Faith.
Soul Matters: http://www.soulmatterssharingcircle.com/
Tapestry of Faith: http://www.uua.org/re/tapestry
Online Classes and Seminary leadership
I am currently an adjunct professor at Iliff Seminary in Denver, CO. I am teaching UU Congregational Polity and Mission-Based Ministry, which examines our congregational polity in terms of both history and how it might shape our future as a denomination – as well as basics in church administration and congregational conflict.
One of the most exciting elements for me is that it is my first time teaching in an online environment; I am learning how to design and lead online learning, which will be an integral element of congregational and leadership work among institutions. It has already revolutionized how we can deliver information and services to significantly more individuals and groups, and it also allows for relationship-building that is no longer determined strictly by proximity. I believe it’s a necessary skill for leaders in a rapidly changing religious and leadership environment.
Examples of Classes and Workshops I have led:
- Ethics (Richard Gilbert’s UU version)
- What Moves Us: UU Theology
- The Wi$dom Path: Money, Spirit and Life
- Shaving the Inside of Your Skull – Creativity & Inspiration
- Minister’s Book Club
- Spiritual Parenting
- UU 101 & 202
- Lay Pastoral training
- Covenant Group leadership training
- monthly TEDTalk luncheons
- Theology Pub
I have been working to create online versions of some classes, in order to accomodate diverse schedules and as outreach to those not currently in congregations.
7th Principle Work and Faith During Crisis: a Climate-Changing World
I want to hold a special place for the work that we must engage as people living in a time of global change. My first ministry was interfaith work dealing with environmental issues. I have lead weekend retreats, workshops, and preached on these issues. In the coming years, I believe that our religious communities must hold our 7th Principle as core work, and take a multifaceted approach: work that includes –
- sustaining faith in anxious times;
- creative approaches to sustainable living, with a multigenerational focus;
- rapid response plans;
- gaining competency on the issues that are most likely to impact our community, so we can be creative and engaged learners and doers.
There are ways to be hopeful and to face the pain of change together. I look forward to this work being central in our ministries in the days to come.