Threshold Conversations

Threshold Conversations is a project in process, the work of religious educators from several UU institutions including the UUA, the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA homepage), and Starr King School for the Ministry (SKSM homepage).

The Goal

The goal of Threshold Conversations is to update, reimagine, and renew the work of Essex Conversations: Visions for Lifespan Religious Education, first published in 2001. Like the contributors to Essex, we seek to understand and attend to the emergent needs of our Unitarian Universalist communities—but also of a complex world beyond it that needs our faithful attention, grounded in the values and principles we share as UUs.

Like Essex before it, Threshold Conversations seeks to lift up and promote the essential work of religious education as the learning process through which we grow in faith; ideally as a lifelong endeavor, for all UUs. And now, Threshold Conversations seeks to expand that vision of religious education.

The Grounding

We understand religious education as the ongoing, revelatory work that inspires the formation of faith - a transformative experience that both grounds and compels our faithful action in the world. We are called by our UU theology to be a justice-seeking, change-making, inclusive and welcoming people. As such, faith formation is our most essential and sacred work, and should be at the core of UU identity, culture and community.

Yet we know it is often voices from the margins that lead us onward. We are beckoned toward a future faith that can inspire and sustain and grow souls, beyond what we have known and done before. It is, therefore, a “threshold moment”. We find ourselves in a doorway, our long history of religious education behind us. Before us: an awareness that the future calls us to transform this work of faith formation in ways we cannot yet fully know, but that we commit ourselves to making real. It is a moment of preparation, of readying ourselves in solidarity of purpose, for what is ahead.

Threshold Conversations is not a compendium of engaging activities or best practices, a roadmap, or a blueprint for a successful religious education program. Instead, it seeks to gather and lift up the voices, perspectives, and ideas emerging from the wisdom of our communities. It honors religious education’s past, and the work done by so many to get us here, with an understanding that we are called in this moment, with clarity and purpose, to both shape—and be shaped by—its future.

Introductory Activity

If you'd like to understand more about how your whole congregation defines and experiences faith formation, we invite you to take part in an activity to find out—and we'll take care of creating a word cloud just from your community’s answers.

This activity has ended. Thanks to all who participated! We will be sharing a gallery of word clouds from participating congregations in the coming weeks as we invite participation in the next phase of Threshold Conversations. We are exploring ways to invite more religious professionals to use this activity in their congregations.