Teacher Recognition Ritual

Can you imagine a school in which children attend once a week for an hour, attendance is optional, teachers volunteer on their day of rest, children have a variety of teachers, and teachers change the lesson plan to fit the community? My dictionary defines Miracle as "a marvel, outstanding accomplishment." To me the miracle of religious education is the volunteers who come to do a job and are transformed by the subject and delighted with the children. It's the enthusiasm of people working and learning together. It's knowing that children want to be here. It's knowing many people give so much of their time and energy to lift up our community. An important symbol for the Jews is the Menorah, which remembers "a great miracle happened here." Perhaps our lighted candle [and the chalice that is lighted in children's worship each Sunday] should remind us "a great miracle happens here" every Sunday. —the words of Beth Brownfield, adapted

In gratitude for the miracle that is religious education, let us bless our teachers and our children. Let us give thanks for the year that is ending today in our Sunday school and the summer that is beginning.

Today we recognize the children and youth of this congregation and those involved in their education. The call to be involved in education is a high calling, as those who teach our young people help shape the present and the future of Unitarian Universalism. We give thanks to the Sacred, woven in and among us, for the teachers, youth advisors, youth mentors, and parents in our community.

Gathered community:
We celebrate your calling and pledge to support you and others in our communities who are involved in the lives of our children and youth. We raise our hands and bless you in this ministry that affects and changes us all.
We pledge our support to parents and guardians. Part of our role is to encourage and strengthen you as you care for children, youth, and young adults. Children and youth, we lift up your caring hearts and minds as they develop in our community. We believe in you and care about your education, both here and outside of [congregation]’s walls. What gifts have you found within yourselves this year?
(Children open the gifts they made in Sunday school several weeks ago and tell worship leader what their gifts are to the community; leader repeats them)

All together:
We seek out together courage, wisdom and strength to make positive differences in our lives and the life of our congregation. May we be open to the grace in teaching and learning together. May we feel free to give and receive forgiveness when we make mistakes. May we strive to have inter-cultural and anti-racist lenses available to us when we examine our learning. May we be understanding with each other when we struggle. May we notice when a student needs something that we can provide. May we recognize the many gifts that children, youth, parents, and teachers bring to us. May we remember to be kind with each other, knowing that in kindness, the great Love that binds us all is present.

Minister:
If you taught Sunday school this year, please come forward to receive a gift.
Dear people, you are a major part of the great recipe of [this congregation]. As such, today we share with you a chalice cookie cutter, a recipe for sugar cookies, and ingredients for a sweet treat.
(People come up and get their gifts)
May the blessing that we have shared together today and the blessing that each of us are to this community be present in our minds as our church summer begins.

About the Author

Elizabeth Harding

Elizabeth Harding is one of the affiliated community ministers of Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, IL, and serves as one of the bereavement counselors for Journeycare, the largest non-profit hospice and palliative care provider in the state of Illinois. She lives outside of Chicago with her...

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