Saturday, March 24, 2007

Up and Coming---an unofficial UU pre-teen rite of passage

I spent the afternoon with our DRE Lorie and two of our UUCWI youth, talking about UU history and our values. Lorie and I put our heads together earlier this year to try to dream up a modified "coming of age" program for our very scanty youth group.

To call them youth is to stretch the definition a bit, since they are not yet teenagers, but they are the oldest kids in our RE program and were getting pretty short shrift, as most of our kids are primary age and younger.

So we dreamed up a very modified COA program, shortened because of my available hours and Lorie's other jobs. Two adults from the congregation have agreed to serve as mentors; parents have been part of the process and we are pleased with the cooperation and interest of the two youth.

We have had two sessions so far, plus meetings with parents and mentors. Today's session consisted of watching the FOCUS video produced by the Rockford IL UU Church, discussing it a bit, and talking about values and how they play out in our daily lives.

The youth have been great! Both of them are fairly willing to talk about their experiences and yet they are very different. Both are bright and creative, in different ways. And each of them shows maturity in different ways.

Tomorrow one of them will act as my layleader/celebrant for the church service. In April, the other will act as layleader/celebrant for the intergenerational Earth Day service. At that service, they both will offer musical performances as well.

Upcoming sessions will cover theological questions from a 12 year old standpoint, so that they can develop a personal credo to present at a service in June; we will also arrange a very minimal Vision Quest for them, where they spend a couple of hours totally alone, writing or drawing in a journal about their beliefs. And I want them to help me design the June service at which they will present their credos.

We are really just dipping our toe in the COA process with them, but it has been a lot of fun. I hope that in coming years we will be able to offer these two youth (and maybe more kids their age) a more advanced COA experience, but this year's attention is (I think) helping them feel more at home in the congregation. They are both getting lots of positive attention from mentors and Lorie and me, which has helped us understand them better, and, I hope, helped them know us better.

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