First Unitarian Church of Baltimore

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Director of Religious Education

Director of Religious Education

Director of Religious Education

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RE Program Priorities

Monday, 16 September 2013 12:36 Published in RE-Connect Baltimore

The Religious Education Committee for Children and Youth met through the summer to work on some re-visioning for our work within the congregation. Out of this work have come some fantastic, forward thinking priorities and great hope for our congreation. 

In our visioning mini-workshop in June, committee members and other leaders came together to consider these questions:

• Why is church important to you?

• As they go through and graduate from our religious education program, what do we hope our children and youth will KNOW?, BE?, and DO?

• What is the purpose of our religious education program?

In our discussion, we worked to clarify not only what the purpose of our work with children and youth, but also which aspects of our purpose do we see as most important? In prioritizing, we are better able to allocate limited resources to the heart of our purpose. Three items rose to the top of our list:

#1 — Encourage generosity, responsibility to others, service with and to

#2 — Create community among the kids as well as across generations to strengthen relationships, both to provide role models and sounding boards for the children and youth and to enrich the lives of adults

#3 — Develop a religious life across contexts and as a core part of your identity. Learn to be a UU in the world, inside church and beyond


Using these priorities as our inspiration, we have made strides to redirect our RE program for kids and youth from being about the delivery of UU content to being about building relationships, engaging in service, and practicing ritual. A renewed focus on consistent and diverse adult leadership is one part of this plan. Volunteers will be asked this year to serve consistently in seasons instead of occasionally throughout the year. Adults who may not see themselves as "teachers" will be encouraged to serve as mentors and leaders in shorter periods to share their hobbies and interests. Regularizing our activities each Sunday will contribute to building confidence in our young UUs and enabling them to see and understand Unitarian Universalism in a clearer context. Finally, our Director of Lifespan Religious Education will have a renewed sense of purpose in creating ways for our UU "content" to be made available for families to use at home and as family and multi-generational groups in church. 

Growing Unitarian Universalism together, from the inside, is our new direction and it feels energizing! 

Find more resources on our RE-focused tumblelog or sign up to receive our weekly RE news bulletin to stay in the loop.

Home Groups Begin!

Monday, 16 September 2013 12:30 Published in RE-Connect Baltimore

Our elementary age children met for the first time in "Home Groups" this past Sunday, beginning a new practice of small group ministry for kids. Find out more about what Home Groups do together in this video overview

Each Sunday children will meet with one adult leader and one assistant, who will be their every-week companions through mid November. This consistency will benefit both kids and adults and help support the developing goals of the RE program, including building relationships, engaging in service and practicing ritual.


RE Volunteer of the Month—Melinda Walker

Wednesday, 10 July 2013 10:21 Published in RE-Connect Baltimore

Melinda Walker is simply one of those folks who is always willing to help. If she can’t substitute or help with an event, it’s only because she’s doing another important job at church, for her community, or in her professional life. Many of us aspire to benevolent usefulness, but Melinda personifies it. She has been one of our best Mystery Buddies, a reliable substitute teacher, an excellent youth advising volunteer, a kind ear to children, youth, and adults, and a dedicated RE Committee member. Thanks so much Melinda, you are a gem!

RE Chair, Karla Peterson writes: I would like to nominate Melinda Walker for RE Volunteer of the month. Whoowee — what would we do without her can- do spirit? She helps out in so many different ways (the table, the committee, the parties, the youth) and she doesn't even have a kid in the program anymore. And she is so great with kids of all ages. What an inspiration to us other parents!

Thank you Melinda! 


Have you seen an RE Volunteer go above and beyond in their work at First Unitarian? Now's your chance to let us know in a quick and easy way! We are now accepting nominations for the RE Volunteer of the Month onlineCheck it out! Take a break today to say something nice about the folks who make our program possible!

Your Religious Education Committee will be embarking on some important work this summer! Our meeting on Thursday, June 13 (6:30-8:30 pm at the church) will include RE Committee members and other interested parties and will focus entirely on two questions:

• What is the purpose of Religious Education for Children and Youth?

• What should be the priorities of our program? What are the most important elements of religious education on which we should be focusing our resources?

These are questions we will be thinking about and working on with the whole congregation throughout the year, but will begin with our own process at this June meeting. To prepare, I have gathered some resources that can inform our conversation. They are available online to view and download. I am hopeful that each participant at our June meeting can read through this information to enable us to start from a foundation of thoughts on the topic. Please read as much as you can, but if you find time is short, concentrate on items I, II, and VI of the packet (Guiding Questions, Tapestry of Faith Vision Statement, and First Unitarian RE Families Survey).

If you'd like to be part of our visioning process this summer, please RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . I hope you can join us!

I look forward to our work in June and throughout the year!

RE Volunteer of the Month: Lee Dix!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013 16:23 Published in RE-Connect Baltimore

Special thanks to our RE Volunteer of the Month, Lee Dix. Lee is one of those volunteers all committee chairs and staff dream of. She’s multi-talented, dedicated, and passionate about music, social justice, and education. Since joining our community in 2007, Lee has taught in the RE program every year, organized the annual Halloween party multiple times, led the multi-generational chimes choir, served on the RE Committee, organized nearly all of our RE service projects, and more! 

We are proud to recognize Lee as our first RE Volunteer of the Month. We are so lucky to have her in our program!

Here's what folks had to say about Lee:

A student writes:  She has done a great job of teaching the kids.  Also she is great at making the lessons interactive.

A fellow RE leader: Lee is always willing to help—cheerfully, and with enthusiasm!

RE Chair, Karla Peterson writes: I would like to nominate Lee Dix as Volunteer of the month. I really don't know where we would be without her. She serves on the RECCY and really comes up with lots of great ideas. She helps out with events (especially the Halloween Party) and is so enthusiastic about helping everyone have a great time. And she feels so passionately about teaching that she has been teaching the Questers as well has organizing service Sundays. And beyond RE, she creates an inviting intergenerational experience for us by leading the Chimes choir. She really is a gem!

Thank you Lee! You are a treasure!


Have you seen an RE Volunteer go above and beyond in their work at First Unitarian? Now's your chance to let us know in a quick and easy way! We are now accepting nominations for the RE Volunteer of the Month onlineCheck it out! Take a break today to say something nice about the folks who make our program possible!

On Friday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. Saru Jayaraman, activist, author and professor, will present our next Zoerheide Lecture. "Behind the Kitchen Door: Paying Fair Wages and Building a Just and Sustainable Food Industry" will be presented in Enoch Pratt Hall, 514 N. Charles St. in Baltimore.

Ms. Jayaraman is the author of Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press 2013).  She asks how restaurant workers survive on some of the lowest wages in America and how poor working conditions and exploitation affect the meals that arrive at our restaurant tables. 

In her book Ms. Jayaraman argues that, “Sustainability is about contributing to a society that everybody benefits from, not just going organic because you don't want to die from cancer or have a difficult pregnancy. What is a sustainable restaurant? It's one in which as the restaurant grows, the people grow with it.” 

Saru Jayaraman is co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a graduate of Yale Law School and holds a Masters Degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She has been profiled in the New York Times “Public Lives” section, was named one of Crain's “40 Under 40” and one of New York Magazine's “Influentials.”

The Robert and Jean Zoerheide Lecture Series speaks to the civic values of the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore (Universalist & Unitarian), and provides regular opportunities for public dialogue with leading voices in the Unitarian Universalist and other liberal religious traditions. The series honors our late Minister emeritus and his wife for their years of leadership in Baltimore. For more information, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or call the office at 410-685-2330.


Monday, 18 February 2013 17:01 Published in RE-Connect Baltimore

by Becky Brooks

My parents left the Catholic church shortly after I was born and I grew up unchurched. My early religious education, as a result, was from pop culture. Most notably, Star Wars. (Or, more specifically, Empire Strikes Back). Picture it…our hero, Luke, has been stranded on a strange planet. With the help of his spiritual advisor, Yoda, he begins to learn his practice. During a moment of frustration while attempting a project that is so large and overwhelming it seems impossible, Luke is ready to give up. As Yoda urges him to keep up with his work, Luke says—unconvincingly—that he'll try. Yoda responds: "Do. Or do not. There is no try."


The thing about wisdom is that it can take a while to settle in. Though this scene made a big impression on me as a kid, I've only recently begun to understand it. Luke wants to give himself an out. He wants to be able to say, when his efforts fail, that he wasn't dumb enough to think that he was capable of doing such an enormous task to begin with. He wants to preserve his dignity (and identity) by being right. But Yoda sees through that. 


We do this a lot. We use "trying" to protect us from failure. Giving something a "try" helps cushion the fall and lighten the blow. But it also prohibits us from committing to an endeavor. Imaging wearing water wings all the time. You may stay safe, but you never learn to swim. What might it look like to resist the impulse to protect ourselves from failure? What might it look like, instead, to choose commitment. Or, just as valid, to understand our limitations and choose inaction? I would argue that the act of commitment itself is not only a spiritual practice in learning to be one's best, whole, self, but also a tool for ultimate success. 


I've never been a great goal maker. I am very good at dealing with the present moment and focusing on what is right in front of me. It's difficult for me to create a goal for the future and keep it in my sights long enough to accomplish it, especially in regard to personal change and growth. But when I do manage to meet a significant goal, it's because I have committed to it. And when I commit to something and I fail, it hurts. There's no pretending it doesn't. Failure hurts. But so does setting myself up for failure, and so does—in a way—lucking into success. 


We have the opportunity in our congregation to commit. To projects, to tasks, to each other, to acting faithfully with one another, we can choose to commit. I hope we can remember the power of that choice, of action (or, even inaction). Committing together to be our best, whole selves, is the only way we can make that happen.

Join us for a SOUPer Lunch on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, after church!

Our Religious Education classes will be cooking up a big 'ol batch of chili & cornbread for the whole congregation. A suggested donation of $8 per person (or $25 for the whole family) will benefit the Maryland Food Bank. 

This is the second year we've participated in the SOUPer Bowl of Caring, a nationwide effort to raise money and awareness of hunger and poverty all across the United States. We will join congregations, individuals, and other groups to do what we can to help our neighbors. 

Fill your belly on Feb. 3 and help us provide food for other Baltimore families.

Mystery Buddies Sign Ups Begin Feb. 3

Monday, 28 January 2013 11:25 Published in RE-Connect Baltimore

Drop by the Religious Education Table any Sunday in February to sign up to be a Mystery Buddy!


What are Mystery Buddies?

In this fun intergenerational program, kids and adults or youth are matched in Mystery Buddy pairs, with the goal of getting to know a little more about each other every week until identities are revealed on March 24. Adults, youth, and kids who sign up to participate will choose a mystery nickname, fill out a brief questionnaire, and decorate a mailbag. Pairs will exchange clues each Sunday, March 3-24 (see attached document for some ideas.)


How does it work?

Every Sunday before service, mailbags will be out by the front doors of the church, ready to accept letters and small homemade gifts* from both older and younger buddies. After service begins, mailbags will be moved to the Parish Hall for coffee hour when participants can check their mailbags for that weeks' clue. The event will culminate in a potluck breakfast on March 24 when Mystery Buddy identities will be discovered!

(* we ask that you spend no more than $5 over the course of the month on any gifts for your Buddy)


Who can participate?

Anyone under the age of 18 can be a "younger" buddy and anyone over 12 can be an "older" buddy (youth can choose to be an older or younger). All participants are asked to exchange at least a little clue each of the four weeks (either in person or by proxy—just let the DLRE know if you will miss a week!)


Sign up today! Clue exchanges will begin March 3. 

Have you seen an RE Volunteer go above and beyond in their work at First Unitarian? Now's your chance to let us know in a quick and easy way! We are now accepting nominations for the RE Volunteer of the Month online. Check it out! Take a break today to say something nice about the folks who make our program possible!

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