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LEADER RESOURCE 1: Pathways of Faith

This is based on an essay written by Rev. Dan Harper.

Harper, Dan. Learning Types and their Needs. In Essex Conversations: Vision for Lifespan Religious Education, ed. The Essex Conversations Coordinating Committee (Boston: Skinner House, 2001).

Lay out the pathways roughly as they are presented in the diagram below. Use pieces of paper to mark eight developmental stage points. On one side write the number and on the other write the name of the developmental stage. Use masking tape to create paths between numbers as shown below. Make sure you leave enough room for two or three people to stand at each number. Then cut the numbered case statements apart so that you can give them to different participants.

Pathways

1. Young Children

2. Children

3. New Youth

4. Long-term Youth

5. Deep Youth

6. New Adult (A. Come-outers, B. Come-inners and C. Pass-throughers)

7. Long-term Adult

8. Deep Adult

Diagram of Pathways:

Case Statements

1. Hi, my name is Anne! I come to church almost every week. The other kids and I start off in the worship service with the adults for about 15 minutes and then we head off to our religious education program. I used to have trouble sitting quietly through those first 15 minutes but my parents tell me that I have gotten much better. I am really starting to like the time with all the adults. I like the singing and the chalice lighting. The stories are really fun, too.

2. My name is Leslie. My best friend Carol and I are now ten years old and we have been coming to this congregation for a really long time. We like learning about Unitarian Universalism, about the Bible and about all those other religions. We really like telling other people about what we have learned. Just recently, Carol and I have started sitting together away from our parents during the first 15 minutes of the worship service before we head off to religious education.

3. Hey, my name is Mary. My friend Bob talked me into coming to his youth group at the Unitarian Universalist church. My parents really are not that religious so I have never been to a church. I like Bob and his friends from church seem really cool so I decided to check it out. As I have come to youth group meetings I am beginning to get what it is that Unitarian Universalists believe and I think I like it. I have not been to a Sunday service yet but maybe I will go with Bob and his family next week.

4. My name is David. I just turned 15 and I have been a part of this congregation my whole life. I know quite a bit about Unitarian Universalism and other religions from all the religious education programs I have taken. Recently I have begun to think a little bit more about what it means for me to be a Unitarian Universalist and why it is we do the things we do at church. I am not quite sure how to put it yet but I think I will figure it out.

5. My name is Bob and I love this church. I am a senior in high school and ever since I started in the youth group I have been getting my friends, like Mary over there, to come to church. I also teach religious education classes. That is really fun! This year I am teaching "Why Do Bad Things Happen?" to the fifth and sixth graders. Leading this class has really forced me to think about what I believe so that I am able to better talk with the younger kids about it. It is funny but I think teaching this class is helping me understand myself as much as it is helping the kids in the class.

6A. Hello, my name is Joel. I was raised in a pretty strict Lutheran household. I went to church all the time when I was a kid and in high school, but by the time I got to college I really started to question all the things I was being told at church. It just stopped making any sort of sense. After I graduated from college, I met Kathy who had grown up Unitarian Universalist and had been pretty involved. We ended up getting married in a Unitarian Universalist church and as I got to know the minister who married us I started to think that I might like this church. Kathy and I have started to come a little more regularly and I am starting to figure it all out. I like that I am not being told what to believe but instead I am challenged to think about my own beliefs.

6B. Hi, My name is Diana and neither my partner Jen nor I have really ever been involved with a religious community. However, I am pregnant with our first child and we have been feeling the need to find a spiritual home for us and our kids. We know that our kids will get taught about religion one way or another. That certainly happened to me when I was a kid and I do not want my kids to go through the same confusion I did. The funny thing is that as me and my partner have been attending this fellowship more often, I have found that getting in touch with my own spirituality is really important. Maybe this will not just be about the kids.

6C. Hi my name is Jeff. Two years ago I started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at the local Unitarian Universalist congregation. I had been in a bad place for years and was just starting to try to get my life together. I would often come to meetings a little early and sometimes the minister was still around so we would talk. I really liked her so I started to come to the Sunday services. It became this really important place for me to just sit and think about my life. The members of the congregation were also very nice and welcoming. At one of the summer services the minister was not there but a person from the local Zen Buddhist meditation center was leading the service. He led us in some meditation and it was like a light went off in my head. This is what I needed. I started going to the meditation and gradually stopped attending the Unitarian Universalist congregation. But I will always be grateful for that minister and the people in that congregation for helping to turn my life around.

7. Hello my name is John. My wife Kathleen is really into the church. She teaches a bunch of religious education classes and is on more committees than I can think of. I am glad Kathleen is really involved but that is just not my thing. I come to church once or twice a month. I like helping out by taking food that the church collects to the local food pantry once a month. I feel like going to the worship services are enough for me right now. I could see getting more involved later on and even taking one of the adult religious education workshops, but I do not feel like I need that right now.

8. Hi, I am Kathleen. My husband John and I have been coming to church for 15 years now. I am super involved, and my husband... not so much. But that is okay, because I do plenty for the two of us! I teach religious education classes, have been on a ton of committees, and just got done with my second stint as the board president. Sunday worship really feeds my soul and I like taking the adult religious education programs that the minister offers. One of my favorite things about volunteering at the church is getting to have deep conversations with other members. I learn and grow so much each time I have one of these conversations. I have to admit that every once in a while I think about becoming a minister myself. Maybe that will be my retirement plan!

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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