Here’s a reconstruction of the post I lost yesterday…

The Prairie Star District’s mission statement has four ends: healthy, vital congregations in the District; strong related UU organizations; an interconnected web of Unitarian Universalists; and a world which lives by the UU principles. Now I get the first three. I understand how my work as the district’s program consultant can help congregations become healthy and vital. I see how I can assist in strengthen UU organizations in the District. And I know the importance of connecting Unitarian Universalists across the District and beyond. But a world that lives by the UU principles? Just how the heck are we supposed to make that happen? Well this weekend has shown me one good way.

Right now I’m in Des Moines, Iowa, helping with a combined Junior High/Senior High OWL (Our Whole Lives) training. As you may know, OWL is the successor to the UUA’s pioneering comprehensive sexuality education curriculum know as About Your Sexuality. AYS may well have been the most successful curricula ever developed by the UUA, and OWL has built on that reputation by completely revamping the material and applying it to all ages, not just middle school (hence the name, Our Whole Lives). There’s even been a recent addition that covers young adults. What’s more, while AYS was strictly a UU affair, OWL was developed in conjunction with the United Church of Christ.

Okay, so what does this have to do with a world that lives by the UU principles? Everything. See, because OWL was a joint project with between the UUA and the UCC, the training of OWL facilitators has become an increasingly multi-denominational process. For example, here in Prairie Star we alway make sure that every OWL training we offer has one UUA facilitator and one UCC facilitator. And we promote them to congregations in both of our denominations (and yes, I realize that we’re technically an association–but there’s no need to go into that here). An unintended consequence (but not a crazy random happenstance) has been that denominations other than the Congregationalists have started to become interested in OWL. And that’s where this weekend comes in.

Right now, as I’m writing this post, at the Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa‘s David & Elizabeth Kruidenier Center in Des Moines, a group of 24 people are being trained to become OWL facilitators in their home congregations. And while there are mostly UUs in attendance, there are folks from three other denominations as well (and that’s not counting the participants from Planned Parenthood co-sponsors). We have on person from the UCC, three from the Mennonites, and one more from the Disciples of Christ. I have to say that this is the most religiously diverse OWL training I’ve ever seen. And since OWL is the premier faith-based, abstinence-oriented, comprehensive sexuality curricula in the country, the probability for more progressive religious organizations becoming involved seems pretty high. And that’s where the fourth end of Prairie Star’s mission statement comes in. If helping people become sexually healthy beings is one of the ways we express our first principle, then involving other denominations in that work is one way we can definitely more toward a world which lives by the UU principles.

Mary Louise Smith Resource Center
Dean, Pat, Sherry, and Ben preparing for their presentation at the combined Jr. High/Sr. High OWL Training in Des Moines.

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