From Our Director of Religious Education For Children and Youth

Sierra-Marie-Garfao / Director of Religious Education
Sierra-Marie-Garfao / Director of Religious Education
Dear Congregation, 
As we approach the start of a new “Religious Education year,” I hope you will take time to attend the information session Rev. Kathleen and I are hosting on Friday, September 9th. We are really excited about the plans we have been making for this year’s programs, and we can’t wait to share!

As we have made these plans, we have paid close attention to your feedback and the responses of children and youth to the wide variety of programs we have offered throughout the pandemic. We have paid close attention to wisdom from other congregations. We have paid close attention to best practices of our fields and research that might indicate what will serve children and youth well in this new era. And we have paid close attention to innovative religious professionals and educators throughout the country.

I hope when you hear what we have planned, you get as excited as we are. Further, I hope that if you have children and youth, you feel moved to ensure their participation and inspired to reinvigorate your family’s experience of religious community in support of your children’s development and well-being. None of us can do it alone, and school and sports won’t be enough help for kids to begin to truly answer their own deepest questions, such as:
  • “Who am I and what is my place in the universe and in my community?”
  • “What is the right thing to do?” “What makes something good?” “Does what I do even make a difference?” and “Why does [fill in the blank] matter?”
  • “What will happen when I die?” and “Is my grandma really just gone?”
  • “Am I loveable?”
  • “What if the mistake I just made means I’ll never have friends again [or insert other concern]?”
  • “Is it possible to do something so bad it is unforgivable?”
  • “What do I do with this feeling of [insert feeling: loneliness, anger, ecstasy, grief, etc.]
  • “What if I am no good at school?” and “What if I am no good at sports?”
  • “What if I am not the person my parents keep telling me I am?”
  • “Do other people ever feel this way?”
  • “What kind of person do I want to be?”
However, even though Rev. Kathleen and I have made some plans to get us started, it is really the community that creates its programs. I am here to partner with you as you articulate and live into your intentions for this community. I can provide you with resources to guide and support your work, but I can’t do it for you. If any of the experiments Rev. Kathleen and I have planned based on your feedback end up coming alive, it will be because you showed up and made them so. What will we do this year, together, for children and youth?