August: Religious Exploration

Many people associate summer as a time of kicking back and relaxing. Phrases like “summer- and the living is easy” and “the lazy days of summer…” permeate our language and imagery. For others, summer means adventure and travel.

While I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a whole lot of kicking back time this summer, I have managed to connect with a couple of long lost pals and take in a ball game and a music festival. I’ve also done a fair amount of church-related travel. The most recent trip was to Beloit Wisconsin for Midwest Youth Leadership School, where I was on staff. Midwest Leadership School is held each summer at Beloit College and there is an adult school running concurrently with the youth school with some overlap between the two.

The goal of the school is to develop lay leaders in our Unitarian Universalist congregations. It is an intense week with a densely packed schedule of instruction, self reflection, fellowship, and worship. The youth school also includes a day of service. This year Caritas, a local Beloit food pantry that also has clothing available for their “neighbors” who need a hand was transformed by the 44 youth and adult leaders who filled food orders, cleaned, painted, sorted through and packaged food and clothing donations, and worked in the garden. (Check out the video from our day:

We have an upcoming summertime adventure planned to occur in our own church yard. Twenty-one children are registered for Hogwarts Camp, a Unitarian Universalist/Harry Potter themed camp, to be held here at church in the early evening and staffed by youth and adults from our congregation August 6-8. Our staff includes Professor of the Magical Forces, Marty Becker, Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Kat Braz, Professor of Divination, Lee Sullivan, Professor of Transfiguration, Amy French, and Professor of Magical Creatures, Beth Misner among others. We are also slated to have some special visitors pop in. For those registered for Hogwarts Camp, updates as they occur are being posted on our new children and youth religious exploration blog Click the link and go to our page to subscribe. You will get an email notification of updates for Hogwarts Camp and all things R.E. as they occur!!

However you’ve spent your summer, it’s also that time to consider the start of the new school year and regular Sunday Children and Youth Religious Exploration programming. In the coming weeks, families who have registered their children for R.E. classes can expect a letter outlining upcoming changes to how we do our Sunday morning classes. If you have children and haven’t registered them yet, the forms can be found on a table near the church library and fellowship hall. I will also be contacting those of you who have expressed an interest in taking an active role in helping out with our child and youth religious exploration program. If you have been a teacher in the past OR think you might be interested in helping out this upcoming year with teaching/chaperoning OR if you have a special talent or interest that you would be willing to share on a single Sunday, please let me know ( as soon as possible. Because of the new model we are introducing this year, we hope to get more members of our congregation involved in helping out with R.E. classes. If all goes as I envision, we will have more multigenerational interaction and the time commitment for adult volunteers will be less. (Like the old saying goes: more hands, less work!)

I hope you all find ways to keep cool and enjoy the last days of summer. I also hope to hear from many of you very soon- enthusiastic to play and learn together with our children and youth in the upcoming year.

See you in church,
Sheila Garrett, Director of Religious Exploration


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