By Susan Curtis
At UUFA religious exploration is open to everyone, at any age. In May the congregation celebrated the grownups who supported the RE programs for children and youth. This month the Volunteer Recognition Team is thanking the leaders of Adult RE in the past year as part of the Education Ministry led by Vivian Sellers and Aleta Turner. Several of the Adult RE classes teamed with other Ministry Clusters to provide learning opportunities across UUFA priorities. The classes also served as Stepping Stones to build engagement in the Fellowship.
In the tradition of UUFA, the Forum committee presented speakers from within the membership and beyond who brought a broad range of topics for lively discussion every week. Building on the leadership of Bob Cements, Frank Boardman, Richard Boultin, and others, the 2014-2015 committee – Betsy Bean, Al Bergins, John Bleyle, Bob Bitowft, Terry Jones, Barbara McLaughlin, Karen Solheim and Jim Thomas – invited speakers who drew large audiences.
UUFA adults also flocked to bi-monthly Small Group Ministry sessions. Todd Dinkelman and Michele Swagler coordinated the year’s nine SGM groups which served more than 80 participants. Todd and Michele oversaw setting up the groups and led quarterly meetings of group facilitators: Rosemary Woodel, Linda Gilbert, Marguerite Holmes, Judy and Carl McNichols, David Jarrett, Richard Gottleib, Illona Stewart, Kelly Case-Simonson, Melanie Hennings, Carol-Lee Baker, Jim Leebens-Mack, Lee Cornell and Kip Tanner. Todd and Michele also facilitated a group. They commented, “We believe SGM is a core feature of what UUFA has to offer, as it brings people together in ways that other activities simply do not. We hope that even more people will get participate in coming years, and that the program continues to mature as an important part of UUFA.”
Book Talks, the UUFA book reading group facilitated by Clarissa Finco, met second Sundays September through May for discussion and a bag lunch. Since its start in 1977, the group has discussed more than 150 fiction and nonfiction books. Clarissa reports To Kill a Mockingbird led the past year’s selections in discussion. Watch in early fall for the 2015-2016 titles selected by participants.
New this past year was the Bible study led by Liz Weaver. The group considered New Testament readings through the lens of the play “Godspell.”
Bringing Adult RE and Spiritual Arts together, Myrna Adams West has facilitated “Writing as Spiritual Practice” first Sundays since October, 2012. The group offers an opportunity to explore spiritual expression through various genres responding to prompts created by Myrna, often following UUA’s monthly themes. Myrna commented, “One of the most successful sessions of this program year was the session at The Mountain in October, 2014. The theme was based on the hymn ‘For the Beauty of the Earth,’ and the participants read their writing for the Sunday morning worship service at The Mountain.”
Leadership development was central to the adult RE discussion of Serving with Grace: Lay Leadership as a Spiritual Practice. Aleta Turner, the group leader, commented, “The book has interesting points about how to conduct business so that we are respectful of each other and ourselves. Most importantly, it got us talking and thinking about things deeply, and I hope the participants carry some of this forward with them as they continue to serve UUFA.”
Social justice came together with Adult RE in two discussion groups. Vivian Sellers led a group looking into Reproductive Justice, a UUA Study/Action Issue, last fall. Six women participated, and there is the possibility that another class will be presented in the fall of 2015. Greg Davis, David Jarrett and Ange Kahn facilitated discussion of another UUA Study/Action Issue, Immigration as a Moral Issue. Watch for news of follow up to the group.