The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Anna Bethea as Lifespan Faith Engagement Director, starting Feb 1. In their new role, Anna will support the Lifespan Faith Engagement (LFE) staff team to accompany and equip youth, young adults, and leaders to put a justice-seeking, radically inclusive faith in action.
“I’m delighted to be able to work with this dedicated, brilliant team as we accompany UUs to continually reimagine the possibilities of our faith,” said Anna. “My greatest hope for this work is threefold: that we honor our ancestors’ prayers and dreamings; that we co-create spaces of healing, belonging and justice today; and that we purposefully plan for the faith legacy we will pass on to our descendants.”
Anna has served the UUA for three years as an Outreach Specialist, assisting congregations to connect their faith gifts with their local communities, as well as co-designing processes for cohesive communications on UUA.org, the WorshipWeb mobile app, and the WordPress Theme for Congregations. Anna also recently completed a year and a half serving on the UUA Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Team, in which they facilitated the development and analysis of a workplace culture assessment survey.
Previously, Anna joyously served as the Director of Religious Exploration at the UU Church of Tallahassee (FL), where they’re now an active member and lay leader. Anna is a Master Level Credentialed Religious Educator, with a particular interest in the intersection of technology and culture with personal faith engagement and religious leadership development. Anna also holds a Master’s degree in Social Work, with experience in serving low-income and refugee communities.
Anna was born near Tokyo, Japan, and raised near Tokyo before moving to Central Florida. They identify as a hafu (mixed race), queer, fluid woman of color and trauma survivor who holds strands of Buddhist, Christian, and pagan spirituality. A former gamer and sci-fi geek, Anna currently enjoys naps, hikes in the woods, and has a newfound love of escape rooms! They live in Tallahassee, Florida with their spouse Daniel and dog Kira. Anna’s mom (and best friend) Yoko lives nearby.
The new Lifespan Faith Engagement office is a merger of the former Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries and the Faith Development Office in summer 2019. The office facilitates meaning-making and faithful living for young and old, with a particular focus on co-creating immersive experiences for high school youth and young emerging adults aged 18-24. This includes specialized programs at General Assembly, Thrive Leadership Schools for youth and young adults of color, Summer Seminary for youth, and Meaning Makers for emerging adults. LFE also advocates for and supports regional, local, and justice-focused youth initiatives through the work of the broader Youth Ministry Roundtable.
The Lifespan Faith Engagement office also continues to develop various curricula and guides throughout the lifespan, including Tapestry of Faith, Common Read and small group ministry discussion guides, the “Families” section of UU World magazine, and the acclaimed Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive lifespan sexuality education curricula series. OWL is a joint endeavor of the UUA and the United Church of Christ, and just recently published its capstone curriculum, OWL for Older Adults. In addition to creating experiences and resources available for lay members and leaders, LFE also supports professional religious educators and musicians through credentialing, certification, and training programs, as well as support for innovation and renewal within faith engagement work.
Anna succeeds Gail Forsyth-Vail, who served as Interim Director until her retirement in December 2019.