I was in Milwaukee over the weekend to do a presentation on Family Ministry at the Central Midwest District’s REALL conference. Actually, I’m still in Milwaukee as I write this, waiting at the General Mitchell Airport for a flight that’s been delayed twice, so I thought I’d catch up on my blogging. And since I told folks that I’d do a series of posts on the information I presented, I figure there’s no time like the present!
I started with the Mormons. I noted that in my hotel room I found a Bible and, surprisingly, the Book of Mormon. Which got me thinking about the intentionality the Mormon religion has shown around families, especially their official designation of one night a week as “family night,” where families are expected to spend time together and the local churches are not allowed to schedule any events. I also mentioned that in the very first issue of a LDS journal called Marriage & Families, there was an article written by a Brigham Young graduate and professor called “Traditions: A Foundation for Strong Families.” In that article there was a sidebar listing four books for further reading. Three of the four books were written by Unitarian Universalist:
- Bill Doherty’s Intentional Family: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties,
- Mary Pipher’s The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families, and
- Meg Cox’s The Heart of a Family (which is out of print: her new book is The New Book of Family Traditions.)
I then went on to talk a bit about how my interest in family ministry comes from my own experiece with the Methodist church my family attended when I was a child, and how the congregation really offered no help at all when my parents divorced. I noted that most mainline Protestant denominations of that era we’re doing much either, and that my situation was one shared by tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, adults. And while right-wing conservative Christian groups have been putting their energy into offering ministries for people like me (and families that are currently struggling with difficult times), mainline Protestant denominations haven’t. So I wonder where are the ministries in UU congregations that would help me today if I were a child or youth whose family was falling apart