Call and Response Archive
Faith Development
  • Parenting with Heartbreak

    UU religious educator Rayla Mattson, a black mother of three, turns her UU faith and full heart toward her children, how to raise them and to be with them in pandemic, societal trauma around race, and, perhaps, hope.
    By Rayla D. Mattson | 6/22/2020
  • American Willing to Listen

    An old activist friend of mine, Fran Peavey, used to travel the world’s benches in the 1970s and 80s with a simple sign that read, "American Willing to Listen." We’d be looking at a different political landscape now if only more of us had. Flying home from a recent trip, I...
    By Sarah Conover | 6/27/2017
  • Big-Question Poems to Grow Young Spirits

    How do we help young children grow in faith? The answer can be curriculum, a discussion, or an experience. Whatever conduit we use will only help children grow in spirituality if it engages the heart of the family.
    By Christy Olson | 5/2/2017
  • The Courage to Hold Up a Mirror

    Dear Keepers of the Faith, It takes a lot of courage to witness to injustice . Some of our brave colleagues, notably Aisha Hauser and Christina Rivera, have held up a mirror before the UUA and named what they see. I do not think it is necessary for us to agree on what the mirror...
    By Jessica York | 3/29/2017
  • Ready to Learn from New Orleans

    Our first task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we find ourselves treading on [another's dream]. More serious still, we may forget that God was there before our arrival. —...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 3/24/2017
  • Choosing to Say "Hands off the Hijab"

    by Kathy Slade I had tried to talk Linnie out of going to the protest as she had another obligation. I said she'd be one person among thousands and her being there would not matter as much as it would at the meeting she was supposed to attend. But she persisted and got out of...
  • For a Child's UU Identity: Love and Help

    What promises are made in my family about how we treat one another? How am I like my friends and how I am I different? What are some Unitarian Universalist things I know by heart? The second edition of Love and Help , a UU identity activity book and program for 7- to 11-year-...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 3/7/2017
  • A Time to Act and a Time to Learn

    The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered when I was in eighth grade. I remember so clearly watching the news on my family’s small black-and-white television, shocked at what I saw. They replayed news clips of the march on Washington and the “I have a dream” speech, of...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 2/19/2017
  • Signs of Resistance, January 2017

    By UUA Ministries and Faith Development: Faith Development Office | 2/7/2017
  • Where Do #WokeBabies Come From?

    The weekend of the Inauguration, millions took to the streets in cities all over this nation and all over the world. It was a show of resistance to the looming threat of tyranny. We needed to reassure ourselves that this country’s great experiment in democracy has a fighting...
    By Marisol Caballero | 1/31/2017
  • Qualities of a Leader: Time for All Ages

    This inauguration week is an unsettling one for many Unitarian Universalists. While some view the new presidency as an occasion for hope and a fresh start, many others anticipate the immediate future with anxiety. If you are responsible for a Time for All Ages this Sunday, you...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 1/18/2017
  • A Religious Educator's New Year's Prayer

    You know that you might really be praying all the time:
    By Natalie Fenimore | 1/6/2017
  • Empathy Carries Us to Standing Rock

    You may be aware that Chief Arvol Looking Horse, spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations, invited clergy of all faiths from every nation to come to the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock on Sunday, December 4th, 2016. In his appeal, sent far and wide, he said...
    By Harlan Limpert | 12/7/2016
  • Thinking About the "Christ" in Christmas

    Technically, Unitarian Universalism is not a Christian faith. As congregations and individuals, we are united not by creeds or rituals but by values and covenants. Although many view UUism's seven Principles as a manifesto of beliefs, they are actually a covenant with which we...
    By Susan Lawrence | 11/30/2016
  • Reflection and Action, after the Presidential Election

    I awoke Wednesday morning to a United States that had elected as president a man whose campaign was riddled with sexism, racism, ableism, Islamophobia, childish taunts, and all manner of uncivil discourse. To me, as to many, it felt like a nightmare. The only way we will get...
    By UUA Ministries and Faith Development: Faith Development Office | 11/10/2016
  • Reading for Solidarity: A Common Read for GA 2017

    The 2017 UUA General Assembly (GA) will affirm solidarity with movements for racial, economic, and environmental justice. When we gather, June 21 through 25, we will invite the people, culture, geography, and history of New Orleans to be our teachers. Whether we will be an in-...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 10/20/2016
  • UUCA’s RE Volunteer Orientation: The Movie!

    Have you noticed how life seems to be getting more and more hectic lately? As a person who spends a lot of time working with volunteers, I certainly have. If I can find a date/time that works for 50% of my volunteer teachers and me, I consider that a win! At the Unitarian...
    By Michelle Bishop | 10/4/2016
  • A Love of Learning and a Social Hall: Where UUism and Homeschoolers Meet

    I’m going to preach to the choir here for a minute. We have excellent—truly, truly excellent—faith development models, curricula, and resources. The content is rich, fun, and edifying. The pedagogy is progressive and engaging. And the philosophy is grounded in the best of child...
    By Teresa Honey Youngblood | 9/22/2016
  • Exposed and Transformed: UU-UNO Spring Seminar Energizes UUCF Youth

    From the moment our group of seven youth and three adults from the UU Congregation of Fairfax (UUCF) heard the first speaker, we felt the weight of injustice and we began to wear the colors of inequality. The 2016 Unitarian Universalist-United Nations Office (UU-UNO) Spring...
    By Linnea Nelson | 9/14/2016
  • When the Phone Rings, Will You Answer the Call for Justice?

    This fall, Unitarian Universalists have a rare and profound opportunity for faith development when Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War airs on PBS on September 20, 2016. The 90-min. film tells the story of two WWII Unitarians who went into Nazi-occupied Europe to help hundreds...
    By Carey McDonald | 9/6/2016
  • A Leap of Faith: Together with Presbyterian Christians

    Have you seen the Android commercial where the rock, paper, and scissors become friends? It’s the latest using the tag line, “Be Together. Not the Same.” I admit to loving these ads. My life has been full of experiences of being together with people in groups where I am...
    By Jessica York | 4/25/2016
  • ”Back to Normal” Makes an Argument for Shedding Labels

    When one of my children was five years old, they entered kindergarten. The child we entrusted to the school was a high energy, affectionate, interesting kid. A kid who “bounced,” just like A. A. Milne’s Tigger in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. A kid not always aware of their...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 4/5/2016
  • Marshman and Fields Scholarship: Reflections on a Legacy

    One of the first things I did as a new religious educator in the mid-1980s was to get in contact with those who had been doing the work for years and had much to share. I lived for monthly meetings of the Mass Bay Religious Education Team. I would come home brim full of ideas,...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 3/24/2016
  • Outside the (Question) Box: Sharing Ministry in Worship

  • Women Shaping UU History

    In 1980, when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the week of March 8 as National Women's History Week (now Month), he said, "Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women...
    By Susan Lawrence | 3/4/2016
  • A is for Africa: Using African-centric Material with Preschoolers

    By Andrea Arrington As a professor of African history, one of the first things I do with my classes is assess what they know—or think they know—about Africa. We discuss images in mainstream Western media and pop culture and identify problems in those presentations of Africa and...
  • A White Privilege Wake-Up Call

    A wake-up call, according to the Urban Dictionary, is “when you've been doing something self-destructive for some time (perhaps without realizing it) before something serious happens that forces you to come to terms with what you've been doing and that you need to stop.” ...
    By Pat Kahn | 2/2/2016
  • Turning Wine into Water

    By Bart Frost My first congregational event as a brand new Director of Religious Education was an ordination. I was greeted with smiles, handshakes, and a keg sitting in a bucket of ice. This was my first professional gig and I had no idea about what the expectation was around...
  • Our Whole Lives Visits the National Sex Ed Conference

    Last fall, I shopped for owl-print clothing online . I waded through countless options until landing on a grey dress with a big white owl at the hem; a dress made of fabric of covered with bright blue owls, and pink pajamas printed with brown owls. Meanwhile, Amy Johnson, MSW,...
  • Keepsakes in the Attic

    Our attic needed to be emptied for an insulation project. We brought down boxes and boxes of clothing that had once belonged to our three grown children. It all needed to be sorted for saving, discarding, or recycling—a huge, overwhelming job that I intended to get through as...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 1/5/2016
  • Let the Ceremony of Light Begin

    Two weeks ago, I was part of an interfaith gathering where we asked one another, “What is weighing on you? What signs of hope are you finding? How do you see God’s spirit moving in the world?” One by one, people named the troubles that swirl around our communities and our world...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 12/21/2015
  • 5 Values of Great Teams

    You might not think that an historic resort on an isolated island would be the perfect place to talk about dynamic, innovative and faithful teamwork; but you’d be wrong! Last summer, 160 UUs came together for Lifespan Religious Education Week on Star Island and had a...
  • A Humanist Holiday Season

    The holiday season is upon us! This is a time of religious celebration. Christmas music is playing on the radio and in stores and restaurants, and nativity displays are everywhere. Many of our UU congregations have nativity displays as well. Our choirs sing Christmas carols, and...
  • Reclaiming the Heart of Humanity

    A UU, two Hindus, and a Baha’i walk into a Christian Ethiopian restaurant. The opening line to a culturally insensitive joke? No, my last dinner at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In October, I attended the fifth Parliament in Salt Lake City. This one followed two...
    By Jessica York | 11/23/2015
  • Southern Witness: Inspiration from Our History

    How would your congregation respond if a bomb threat forced you to shorten the post-service reception welcoming new members and re-locate child care for the stewardship dinner that evening? In March of 1965 Unitarian Universalists in Birmingham, Alabama, responded to such a...
  • Military Ministry: Welcoming All Souls in Our Congregations

    Welcoming people into our congregations takes a conscious effort. Being open to their stories, accepting them in their differences, and allowing their presence and experiences to transform us can be difficult, even when a person’s stories seem similar to our own. But, when a...
  • Both Relationships and Ramps

    How intentionally does your faith community include people who have disabilities? I would guess that leadership meetings about buildings and budgets are where the intentions show up: Can we build a ramp to the front door? How much will it cost? Of course, physical accommodations...
    By Susan Lawrence | 10/26/2015
  • Multigenerational Faith Community: Everyone Included!

    Overwhelmingly, Unitarian Universalist faith communities want to be more inclusive of all ages, but aren’t sure how to do it. Creating intentional multigenerational communities means doing things differently. It means thinking creatively and constantly asking, are we considering...
    By Pat Kahn | 10/15/2015
  • We Read Together: Just Mercy

    Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson is the 2015-16 UUA Common Read. This beautifully written book looks closely at the life stories and circumstances of people who have been sentenced to die at the hands of the state or to live out their lives in...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 10/1/2015
  • Tashlich and the River

    Fifteen years ago, when I was the religious educator in North Andover, Massachusetts, we held a tashlich ritual as part of marking the Jewish Days of Awe. People of all ages put bread crumbs in bowls of water to recognize the actions they were sorry for and to symbolize a new...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 9/22/2015
  • Hand in Glove: UU Faith Development and Teaching Tolerance

    I recently had a fantastic opportunity to attend a Teaching Tolerance workshop on their new Perspectives for a Diverse America (free) curriculum. Teaching Tolerance was founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center to help reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relations, and...
    By Pat Kahn | 9/12/2015
  • "Hybrid" Renaissance Modules: Survey Says... YES!

    Last spring, 20 religious educators experienced continuing education that blended online and in-person learning in the first ever "hybrid" Renaissance module, co-led by Pat Infante and Gabrielle Farrell. ...
    By Pat Kahn | 9/1/2015
  • Bedtime Stories

    As parents and caregivers, we sometimes have to hold difficult conversations with children. I have had a few of those while raising my daughter. One that I will never forget happened in January, 1998. My daughter was seven and a serious book lover. Though she could read for...
    By Jessica York | 8/18/2015
  • From Long Ago and Many Lands….to Here and Now!

    A fine way to celebrate August 2, the birthday of Sophia Fahs, is to take a look at her classic story collection, From Long Ago and Many Lands: Stories for Children Told Anew. It is now available on the Unitarian Universalist Association website, at no charge (PDF, 288 pages...
    By Pat Kahn | 8/4/2015
  • You Don't Gotta Catch 'Em All

    For several years, my family and I participated in the Birmingham Hospitality Network , a non-profit that worked to provide shelter space for families who lost a home. The families are hosted by congregations. Congregation members volunteer to provide meals. My family would pick...
    By Jessica York | 7/24/2015
  • Let Us Worship Barefoot

    Let us worship with our eyes and ears and fingertips; let us love the world through heart and mind and body. — Reverend Kenneth Patton In May, my daughter was married in an outdoor ceremony in Vermont. She and her new husband walked barefoot over a grassy pathway marked with...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 7/11/2015
  • Makerspace: A New Way in Religious Education

    By Joy Berry Ask adults what they remember from Sunday School and you’ll hear memories of doing . That convinces me that religious education (RE) should be as hands-on, innovative, and creative as possible. Like Makerspaces. Around the country, “Maker Culture” is developing....
  • How to Help First-Year College Students Be Sexually Smarter

    By Melanie Davis Many parents will spend the next few months packing college dorm-bound boxes with bed linens , ramen noodles, and laundry soap. I hope they will also include condoms, dams, and personal lubricant; a book on sexuality; and encouragement to make smart sexual...
  • Channing Is Still Relevant on "the Noblest Work on Earth"

    In a previous Call and Response post (Parents and “Fellow Laborers,” July 2013), we shared advice for parents from the famous Sunday School Address by William Ellery Channing (1780-1842). The Unitarian minister also had lots to say for those who teach in our religious...
    By Pat Kahn | 5/25/2015
  • The Place I Am From

    When I was six years old, my family moved to a town along the Merrimack River in northeastern Massachusetts. In those days, we talked about living “within smelling distance” of the river. It was a mess, about as close as one could get to an open sewer, with manufacturing plants...
    By Gail Forsyth-Vail | 5/15/2015


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