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Preface (Spirit in Practice)

Developed in response to many Unitarian Universalist adults' desire to engage in life-giving spiritual practices, the ten workshops of Spirit in Practice provide avenues for deepening spirituality and affirming spiritual growth in the congregation. Participants are invited to reflect, share, and grow together, exploring ways to nurture their connections with the sacred in everyday life.

As one in a series of Tapestry of Faith curricula for adults, Spirit in Practice weaves Unitarian Universalist values, principles, and sources with four "strands:" spiritual development, ethical development, and Unitarian Universalist identity development, and faith development, Each of the strands is described below.

Spiritual Development. In the book Everyday Spiritual Practice, Scott Alexander defines spirituality as our relationship with the Spirit of Life, however we understand it to be. Our spirituality is our deep, reflective, and expressed response to the awe, wonder, joy, pain, and grief of being alive. In this sense, the Tapestry of Faith programs seek to form children, youth, and adults who:

  • Know that they are lovable beings of infinite worth, imbued with powers of the soul and obligated to use their gifts, talents, and potentials in the service of life
  • Appreciate the value of spiritual practice as a means of deepening faith and integrating beliefs and values with everyday life

Ethical Development. When we develop our ethics, we develop our moral values—our sense of what is right and wrong. We also enhance our ability to act on those values, overcoming oppressions and despair. In this sense, the Tapestry of Faith programs seek to form children, youth, and adults who:

  • Realize that they are moral agents, capable of making a difference in the lives of other people, challenging structures of social and political oppression, and promoting the health and well-being of the planet
  • Accept that they are responsible for the stewardship and creative transformation of their religious heritage and community of faith in the service of diversity, justice and compassion

Unitarian Universalist Identity. A person's participation in a Unitarian Universalist congregation does not automatically create Unitarian Universalist identity. Personal identification with Unitarian Universalism begins when people start to call themselves Unitarian Universalist and feel part of a Unitarian Universalist congregation or community. Identity is strengthened as individuals discover and resonate with the stories, symbols, and practices of Unitarian Universalism. As individuals find and give acceptance, as they cherish the community's people and values and messages, as they find sustenance for their holy hungers, they grow into Unitarian Universalists. In this sense, the Tapestry of Faith programs seek to form children, youth, and adults who:

  • Affirm that they are part of a Unitarian Universalist religious heritage and community of faith that has value and provides resources for living
  • Recognize the need for community, affirming the importance of families, relationships, and connections between and among the generations
  • Accept that they are responsible for the stewardship and creative transformation of their religious heritage and community of faith in the service of diversity, justice, and compassion

Faith Development. When we develop in faith, we develop as meaning-makers. Faith is not about accepting impossible ideas. Rather, faith is about embracing life's possibilities, growing in our sense of being "at home in the universe." Faith is practiced in relationship with others—it has personal dimensions, but it is best supported by a community of shared symbols, stories, values, and meaning. This strand—faith development—emphasizes each person's religious journey as a participant in a faith community and faith tradition, and each person's lifelong process of bringing head, heart, and hands to what is of ultimate meaning and value.

Each of these strands is woven, to some degree, in each of the Spirit in Practice workshops, even though the primary focus of this resource is spiritual development. May these workshops come to life in your hands and in the hearts, minds, and spirits of those you teach.

—Sarah Gibb Millspaugh, Developmental Editor, Unitarian Universalist Association Adult Programs Director

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

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

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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