Introduction to Session 16, Choose to be UU
It seems to me that if the majority of our kids continue to grow up to be "small U" UUs (but join Episcopalian or Presbyterian congregations because that is what their spouses [and partners] are) or join no congregation at all, then we have not entirely failed but we have failed at something important. That is, we have not helped them to understand and feel that Unitarian Universalism is indeed a real faith tradition in its own right rather than just a place to learn about religion. — Rev. Francis Manley
Ours is often referred to as a chosen faith. Choosing is terribly difficult, but it is an important human freedom. Unitarian Universalists lift up our responsibility to choose as a defining aspect of our faith identity.
Yet our faith is about much more than choice; it has deep roots and religious mandates. Unitarian Universalism asks us to think about and evaluate our spiritual relationship with the Divine, calls us to be mindful of our role in the world around us and compels us to help the causes of peace and justice. Yes, our faith demands, too, that we choose it consciously, perhaps more than once in the course of our lives.
Kate Tweedie Covey in her book, Full Circle: Fifteen Ways to Grow Lifelong UUs, offers a challenge posed by religious educator Riley McLaughlin:
So when we raise our children to be UUs are we raising them specifically to join a UU congregation, or to be sustained by UU values in their lifelong effort to be wonderful people?
As Rev. Francis Manley suggests, also in Full Circle, we need to explicitly invite our children to choose to be UU. This session extends that invitation. Children learn how choosing to be a UU is an expression of UU faith on many levels.
The session presents a story of Dorothea Dix. A 19th-century woman who chose to become a Unitarian as an adult, she transformed the treatment of mentally ill people in the United States .
If this is the final session of Windows and Mirrors, have a plan ready for presenting the children's Window/Mirror Panels as a group exhibit for the congregation. You may wish to extend this session with Alternate Activity 3, Window/Mirror Panel Group Exhibit, or add another meeting to engage the children in preparing the display of their work.
This session will:
- Provide participants with an understanding of free will as it relates to a Unitarian Universalist identity
- Challenge participants to choose and articulate preferences, including religious ones
- Invite participants to explore, articulate and artistically express their own religious identity.
- Contemplate the idea of choice and how it relates to Unitarian Universalism.
- Experience finding affinity groups based on their own choices and preferences
- Explore, articulate and artistically express their own religious identity, in a combination of individual and group activities.