The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is pleased to announce they have hired Joy Berry as the Children and Families Faith Development Specialist, starting January 23. The position has been re-established as part of the Lifespan Faith Engagement (LFE) team to fully integrate the needs of children and families in the office’s support for congregational religious educators. Joy will be listening and seeding promising practices for whole congregation faith development. She brings a developmental systems perspective which weaves together meeting critical needs and equitable resourcing in faith communities with values-based models for human belonging and flourishing.
Reflecting on the possibilities of this new role, Joy noted, “The challenges we face now as a denomination are both internal and external. We need solutions that are as emergent as they are faithfully grounded. I look forward to witnessing and working together with UUs to center faith formation: to build and deepen shared UU identity, grounded in our liberatory theology, and supported in covenantal community. I believe that is the best way to minister to children and families - because they need whole, healthy congregations to flourish. I’m especially excited to collaborate with religious educators, both to honor and elevate the value of their sacred work and to accompany, equip and inspire them for the challenges - and the possibility - ahead.”
Joy Berry most recently served as the Interim and Assistant Director of The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological School, where her focus was innovative practices in faith formation. In addition to her work with the Fahs Collaborative, Joy has served as a professional religious educator in three very different congregations across three regions, and consulted and volunteered for denominational jobs big and small - in furtherance of her own long-haul faith formation and to serve her colleagues and the larger faith.
Joy is most proud of her testimonial about the nature of religious education in the latest UU Pocket Guide, her work to develop several UU curricula, including Creating Theology Together and Beloved Conversations for Families, the upcoming Justice Stewards and Beloved Conversations YA (both for young adults) and most currently, co-adapting the renaissance module Leading UU Culture Change with Rayven Holmes. She was honored to work on the new multimedia Anti-Racism congregational packet with mentor and Fahs founder Dr. Mark Hicks. Joy is also part of the emerging Threshold Conversations project, re-imagining religious education for a liberative future. She hopes to continue her development of “Wrought Faith”: a theoretical framework that “talks back” and grapples with James Fowler’s faith development stages, to describe what we have missed in our approach to religious education in congregations - and why it’s existentially essential to mind that gap.
When she isn’t conspiring and collaborating to center faith formation for the future of UUism, Joy can be found sequestering carbon with regenerative farming and grazing practices on a ten acre working farm in western NC, in deep relationship with cows, sheep, chickens, and working dogs she raises and breeds. Choosing to live in an extremely rural, extremely conservative area like the one she grew up in is part of a lifelong call to return, renewal, and resilience: building deep connections and networks of mutual support around community, food, and farming - and learning how to be a good neighbor and a better human, from folks who have never heard of Unitarian Universalism.
The Lifespan Faith Engagement office puts a justice seeking, radically inclusive faith in action by creating experiences for meaning-making and faithful living; accompanying people to make a home in our faith; and advocating for youth engagement and lifespan faith development.