I’ve had a career in non-profits long enough to know: people get nervous about new people who come along and say “we’re going to try doing this a little differently.” Human beings have a tendency to assume that the way we are currently doing this is the correct or best way to do them, and when someone comes a long and proposes a new way, it feels like a criticism or a rebuke. Also, we usually have good reasons for our current methods. Change often feels like those good reasons are being overlooked or misunderstood. None of that feels good.
As your Religious Education Coordinator, I have a little confession: I’ve been feeling a kind of self-conscious. After all, the primary work I have been doing in the year I’ve been with you so far has been to shrink the RE Program. I have been making a lot of changes to the RE Program to adapt to the congregation as it exists now, and changes always feel like risks. I worry: does shrinking the program disappoint our kids and their families? Will people be upset with me for having kids in services more frequently? Are our kids getting enough time together if we’re meeting every other week? Am I letting them down by not using a formal curriculum?
Right now, RE at UUCE looks very different than it did when I was growing up. But then again, so does the church as a whole, and we don’t have the resources or volunteer teachers we once had. Changes were necessary, to be sure. They have also been awkward and uncomfortable.
But I also want to acknowledge for the whole community: I am new to this! After a year working with this community, I still feel quite new! And I am open to feedback and criticism. If you have ideas for RE or think there are ways our program could be better, I hope you feel empowered to come to me with them so we can work on it together. My door is always open, and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
As ever, thank you for letting me work with your awesome kids and youth. They are a blessing to me and to the UUCE community.
Marj Askins (she/her)
Religious Education Coordinator – Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin