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Essex Conversations

Visions for Lifespan Religious Education

Collected by the Essex Conversations Coordinating Committee 

"We religious educators have become isolated from parish ministers, theologians, and scholars of religion. A funny thing: these groups all share a common concern for the religious growth and learning of individuals in our congregations. Why don't we religious educators engage in more conversations with parish ministers, theologians, and others? Think of Sophia Fahs and her groundbreaking work in curriculum development from 1938 to about 1960. As she developed curricula, Fahs engaged in conersations with theologians, biblical scholars, educational psychologists, religious educators, parish ministers and others."
—Daniel Harper, from The Essex Conversations

As Unitarian Universalists enter the 21st century, what is central to our evolving faith? What are our goals for lifespan religious education? What are the vital components of our curricula? Collected here are frank, incisive and diverse responses to these central and driving questions, from 31 religious education professionals who participated in the Essex Conversations in Essex, MA, in April 1999 and April 2000. Useful as a guide for congregations to explore and articulate the mission and faith of their membership, and as a tool for religious education programming.

Praise for Essex Conversations:

"No religious movement thrives without a vibrant, ever-renewed commitment to religious education. When I was President of the UUA, Stonehouse Conversations was still being talked about more than a decade after they had taken place. Essex Conversations, too, is destined not only to be remembered but to shape the nature of our religious education for a generation or more to come."
—William F. Schulz, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA.

"Taken seriously, studied and acted on, Essex Conversations will lay the foundation for excellence in religious education for all ages."
—William R. Murry, President and Academic Dean, Meadville Lombard Theological School

"As a participant in the Stonehouse Conversations more than a generation ago, I appreciate this continuation, update and renewal of that dialogue and earlier book. This book is a provocation to individual reflection and group discussions."
—Earl Holt, Minister, King's Chapel, Boston, MA

"These essays articulate the promises and the challenges we face together in nurturing spiritual and intellectual growth for children, youth and adults. I found this exciting reading, both as a director of religious education and as a seminarian."
—Millie Rochester, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem, OR

"In reading Essex Conversations I am struck by a common theme of need for community, an aspect often overlooked in this electronic age."
—Marjorie C. Skwire, Minister of Religious Education, West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, Cleveland, OH

For more information contact skinnerhouse @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

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