From Our Director of Religious Education For Children and Youth

Dear Congregation, 

While it is not always visible on Sunday mornings, we have an active ministry for children and youth. There are kids in Greater Danbury who understand themselves to be part of the community at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury, even if they are not present with you on Sunday mornings. 

Last month I asked you about what might help you feel connected in this new era, when we are “more than Sunday, more than one way.” I didn’t hear from anyone. If you are reading this, let me know some upcoming Sunday that you read it, and I will give you a prize. That way I can discern whether my not having heard from anyone last month was a matter of people not knowing what might help them feel connected, or if the newsletter simply is not a good way to move some conversations forward. 

One thing that I think congregants should be aware of is that most of the children you remember running around on Sunday mornings before the pandemic are now middle schoolers. These kids are in our new Middle School Youth Group and those who are in the 7th and 8th grades will begin the 25-session Our Whole Lives sexuality education program soon. 

Because the middle schoolers make up the bulk of children in this congregation, the majority of children in the congregation will be graduating in four to six years. If you intend to continue offering ministry to children and youth in Greater Danbury beyond that time, we will need to turn our attention now to what this new era calls for in terms of ministry for families with young children. 

In this congregation, we have a number of people whose older youth or adult children were raised in the congregation and who remember with joy the way they sought a particular kind of experience for their kids many years ago and found it in this community. However, family needs have been changing for a number of years now, and of course the pandemic introduced additional changes. It is time for a needs assessment, not based on what has worked in the past, but based on the needs of families in this community today. 

Over the holidays, you may be spending time with people who have young children. I encourage you to listen carefully to them, not through the filter of what worked for you, but with an open mind and open heart. What ministry needs do the families you know have at this time? What are their hopes for their children? What are their worries? What do they want for their children that they worry they are not getting? How do they talk about their children’s spirituality? Where are they finding community? What kinds of experiences make them light up and get excited? What challenges and struggles mark their days and weeks? 

As a congregation, this spring, we will be talking about some of the things you learn in these conversations as we consider ways we might minister to another generation. 

Warmly in Faith,