A Prayer for Religious Educators
Owen Huelsbeck, Senior Dean of General Assembly Youth Caucus, delivered this prayer at the 2013 LREDA Fall Conference. – Ed.
Spirit of Love,
Thank you for this time for liberal religious educators to be able to come together, refresh each other, teach each other and commune together. Please hold them well and give them the strength and courage and perspective to keep putting faith formation at the center of congregational life.
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who create the kind of space that our youngest kids delight in. I have a younger brother, only 5 years old, who wakes up every morning asking if it’s a church day, pretty disappointed, not that he has to go to school, but because he has to wait 6 more days until a church morning. I want that for every young child.
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who make sure Our Whole Lives is offered at every level. It taught me how to better know and love my body. It has helped me talk to my friends about things that aren’t usually talked about. It has built confidence, trust, and safety. That curriculum saves lives.
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who get a diversity of teachers who are not our parents, who recognize that out parents often need a break from us. And us them. It really can take a village to raise us, and I want to know the whole village. I want to know and be known by as much of the congregation as I can. That’s important.
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who take the time and energy to support the mentors and teachers of Coming of Age. People that age are coming up with their own theological answers to the wonderful mysteries around us. They’re theologians. I give thanks to the DREs who recognize that and provide us with the support and the launch pad we need.
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who advocate for youth to become full members of their congregation after they complete Coming of Age. Being a part of the democratic process we hold as one of our fundamental principles is a part of coming of age. It makes a difference! A big difference.
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who ensure youth have spiritually mature, differentiated adults guiding our youth groups. We learn by example. Give us really good examples.
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who have clear safety policies. We have come to expect two adults in the room at all time and other such rules. We understand the purpose behind these, and It shows that you love us.
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who go to Youth Conferences and Rallies. Not just who send a van full of us, but who go themselves. We are doing some pretty cool things ourselves, and we absolutely love it when you come share that experience. Really, they aren’t just for youth. We love it when you come!
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who advocate for youth to take leadership positions in the congregation, and give thanks to those who help adults figure out how to be good allies. It is a very tricky process, incorporating youth and all our unique gifts into the leadership of a congregation. And totally worth it. How else are we going to learn?
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who give parents the tools and the inspiration to bring Unitarian Universalism back home. Who really hold the hand of parents and equip them with how to talk to us youth about the hard stuff. It’s a blessing to have that kind of relationship back home as well as at church. My mom herself is a religious educator and I want that for every youth.
I give thanks for Directors of Religious Education who take Sabbath just like we do. Those who work their hours and no more, stay faithful to meeting with colleagues regularly, and have a spiritual practice, because I’m watching and taking notes. It gives me, and other youth, permission and inspiration to live our lives like-wise. We look up to you.
So, Spirit of Love, transformation, and faith formation: Shower these good people with blessings. Help them to know that they really are making a difference. I am here, right here and right now, because of religious educators. I have become who I am today in large part to you. And I give thanks!