Religious exploration (RE) is the umbrella term we use to describe our exploration of Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources and the formation and development of our personal faith. RE programs are known by different names in different congregations; they may be called religious education, spiritual exploration, lifespan learning, faith development, or something else. But all of them are designed to honour and respect each person’s search for truth and meaning, to encourage spiritual growth, and to support participants in deepening and living out their values.
We know that religious exploration isn’t just what we teach intentionally, through carefully chosen methods, lessons, and approaches. It includes what we teach by our actions and words, and also what we teach by our silence. And it happens not only in our congregations but also when we’re with our families, alone in nature, among peers, at the table, in the car, and in many other times and places. RE programs are often overseen by religious professionals working with a team of volunteers, and religious educators collaborate with ministers and other congregational leaders in support of a comprehensive program.
Religious exploration programs are ideally available to members of all ages. Making meaning and learning new ways of engaging with and exploring values is a lifelong adventure. Each congregation chooses or creates its own curricula, but many take advantage of the Tapestry of Faith programs, which offer a wide range of topics designed for a variety of age groups.
Excellent RE programming for children and youth
- encourages young people to participate in the larger community, learning with and from members of all ages,
- includes regular worship and prayer or reflection, both together with the whole community and in age-specific groups,
- helps them understand the history, tradition, principles, and values of Unitarian Universalism,
- enables them to describe their faith to others, and
- engages them in service work that benefits both their faith community and the world.
Becoming a Religious Educator
Religious educators come from many backgrounds. Some are credentialed, but most congregations do not require any specific educational program or certification. But they must have a wide range of skills and knowledge! If you’re planning to become a religious educator, you should become familiar with the following fields and topics, if you aren’t already:
- Administration, including recruiting and managing volunteers
- Communications technology and social media
- Our Whole Lives sexuality education
- Pastoral care
- Safe congregations
- Stages of faith development
- Worship service planning and leading
- Youth ministry
The Unitarian Universalist Association’s Renaissance Program, a major component of the credentialing program, offers standardized training in many of these areas. Once you are serving as a religious educator you can apply for the full credentialing program, which includes being matched with a mentor. The Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) also offers professional support and resources for all religious educators.
Contact the CUC’s director for congregational life development in your region for more information and support:
- British Columbia and Western: Joan Carolyn, firstname.lastname@example.org, 204-960-4944
- Central and Eastern: Rev. Linda Thomson, email@example.com, 905-332-3851