In September, the congregation acknowledged and celebrated my 10 years of service as the Director of Religious Exploration at First Unitarian Church of Wilmington. During these 10 years we have accomplished so much in our Children and Youth Religious Exploration program! We added Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education for Kindergarteners/First graders, we completely restructured the Coming of Age rite of passage and we added an Age of Reason rite of passage. We also completely restructured religious education by creating a two year rotation. The first year focuses on living our Unitarian Universalist principles and values, followed by a year focusing on Exploring our Unitarian Universalist Sources and how they inform our faith. Our children and youth participate in a variety of social action/community service projects every year!
These things are just the tip of the iceberg though. Now we have age appropriate furniture, toys and materials that encourage spiritual exploration, a play area in the Warner Room, technology such as WIFI, computers, flat screen TVs, and tablets. Not to mention the amazing couch, chair, café tables and other items we acquired for our 8th – 12th graders. Our youth are now more integrated into the life of the congregation. They teach religious exploration classes, run audio visual equipment, attend worship services and are connected to First Unitarian Church beyond Youth Group. These changes in our Youth Group are a direct result of the sabbatical I took five years ago when I spent five months taking classes, researching, talking with other DRE’s and thinking about best practices for youth groups.
Five years later, it is time for another sabbatical! I will begin the sabbatical on February 5, 2018 and return on April 10, 2018. Wondering what a sabbatical is and what I will do during this time?
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Catherine Williamson, Director of Religious Exploration