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October 2018 Family Ministry by Kathy E. Smith

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Questions for Self-Reflection: What are the ways UCBR currently involves adults and the adult community in caring for and helping form the faith of children and teens (e.g., education programs, social-recreational programs)?  How can we build on this to create stronger ministries to families of all sizes and configurations?

Building Our Vision for Family Ministry  Part II – A Look at Family Ministry Today

At the Family Ministry Visioning workshop in August, Courageous Faith Consultant Kim Sweeney helped us look at the history of our church and the larger history of religious education and led some wonderful discussions about what ministry to families needs to look like in the 21st century.  Over the next few months, I will be using my newsletter column, as well as email, Facebook, and conversations with the community, to help us engage with the work of building a family ministry.  Much of this work may seem as if it is directed at children.  But keep in mind that part of the work of re-thinking family ministry is how we do ministry with the whole church, with all families of whatever size or age or configuration.  We are in this together.  

So we continue with some current recommendations for family ministry, excerpted from a longer article titled  Re-imaginging Faith Formation by John Roberto, who is writing for a Christian audience (and here I have translated the information into Unitarian Universalism).  As you read, keep the reflection questions in mind. How would you answer them?  Are your answers different from others in your family?  If you’d like to talk more, my door is always open.  

“We can discern at least eight essential processes of forming faith … which facilitate faith growth and make a significant difference in the lives of children, youth, adults, and families. They provide a foundation to address the challenge of religious transmission from generation to generation, and promote lifelong growth.

  1. Caring Relationships. Caring relationships across generations and in a life-giving spiritual community of faith, hope, and love—in the congregation and family. 

  2. Celebrating the Liturgical Seasons. Experiencing the seasons of the church year as they tell the story of our faith through the year in an organic and natural sequence of faith learning. 

  3. Celebrating Rituals and Milestones. Celebrating rituals, sacraments, and milestones that mark significant moments in one’s life journey and faith journey. 

  4. Sharing sacred texts and stories. Encountering the divine in sacred texts and meaningful stories from Unitarian Universalism and other faith traditions, to find meaning and application to our everyday lives. 

  5. Learning our Unitarian Universalist Tradition and Applying It to Life. Learning the content of our tradition, reflecting upon it, integrating it into one’s life, applying it to life today, and living its meaning in the world. 

  6. Spiritual Practices. Growing in faith through meaningful spiritual practices that are both individual and communal.

  7. Serving and Justice. Living our mission in the world—engaging in service to those in need, care for the interconnected web of life, and action and advocacy for justice.

  8. Worshipping together. Sharing joy, wonder, gratitude, sorrows, and inspiration through music and the spoken word, and being challenged to take our inspiration and faith into our daily lives.”