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I’ve been reading Ed Bastain’s book on InterSpiritual Meditation as part of a e-course I’m taking through, and I ran across this simple and beautiful Family Prayer. I could see it being used at dinner or as part of a bedtime ritual.

We give thanks for our variety of skills and interests;
For our different ways of thinking, moving, and speaking;
For common hardships and common hopes;
For this family gather here;
For living together and eating together;
For all our good times and not so good times;
For growing up and growing older;
For wisdom deepened by experience;
For rest and leisure;
For the privilege of work;
For time made precious by its passing;
For all that has been,
And all that will be;
For all these blessings, we give thanks.

Ed says that the source is unknown, which seems fitting for the beautiful sentiments this prayer expresses.

At any rate, I shared this prayer with the wonderful group of Pacific Northwest District religious educators I had the privilege of spending the day with yesterday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Vancouver, Washington. We spent our time going over the Seven Tools for Building a UU Home I’ve blogging about here for the last week or so. Great conversations ensued. Here’s the group photo I took of them at the end of our time together:

Gratitude for time well spent among colleagues!


Sometimes it seems that the only time I find for posting is when I’m waiting in an airport for a flight to or from home. Which is what’s going on at this moment. I’m in the Albuquerque International Sunport waiting to catch a flight back to Minneapolis/Saint Paul. It’s been a long week away from my family and I’m looking forward to seeing them soon. It’s also been worth the time away, both personally and professionally. The most important part of this week has been the LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators Association) Fall Conference. The theme this year was on multigenerational religious community, and there was a lot of good information presented. Rebecca Parker (president of Starr King School for Ministry) was the keynote speaker, and she gave us a theological grounding for multigenerational community based on her new book Saving Paradise. There were also breakout workshops on various aspect of multigenerational programming, which I’ll write more about later. For now, I just wanted to share with you this bit of learning from Jesse Jaeger, former director of the Youth Office at the UUA. It’s a “Congregational Generational Continuum” he came up with that really lays out what’s involved in creating genuine multigenerational communities in our congregations:


  • Only one age group present
  • Most often people between the ages of 45 and 60
  • Sunday morning worship usually the only main program
  • If RE is present it is small and more like a childcare program

Generationally Segregated

  • There might be three or four generations present
  • RE is the realm of children, youth and their parents
  • Sunday worship is the realm of the middle aged and seniors
  • Generations rarely mix socially


  • Looks like the Generationally Segregated church
  • Main differences are specific and limited intergenerational events like:
  • Yearly youth worship
  • Holiday worship
  • Children attend first part of Sunday service only


    • There are programs (and ministries) that are designed to meet the specific developmental needs of all generations
    • There are programs (and ministries) that regularly bring different generational groups together in meaningful ways
    • These two are part of an intentional church plan

    The reason I’m so impressed with Jesse’s continuum is that it was a perfect set up for the workshop that Unity Church-Unitarian DRE Kerri Meyer and I presented today on multigenerational learning, which I’ll write about in my next post. For now it’s a quick bite to eat before boarding.

    I’ve received a steady stream of inquiries over the last few month about the availability of Bill Doherty’s 2007 Fahs Lecture at General Assembly, “Home Grown Religion,” so I was happy to find a printed copy of it when I opened up the most recent packet of materials from LREDA (the Liberal Religious Educators Association). It’s a fantastic lecture, and it may well hold the key to the future of faith development in Unitarian Universalism, and perhaps even to the future of our faith itself. Here are some of my favorite parts of “Home Grown Religion.”

    Religion is caught more than taught, and it’s caught most fully in the family. Church programming can supplement but not replace the home. Most parents and religious professionals agree would agree, but we know more about running organized programs in church buildings than we know about supporting faith formation in the home.

    It’s a fantasy that getting out of our children’s way or teaching them a little about all religious traditions will release them to find their own path. The reality is that we hand our children over to the gravitational pulls of a me-first mainstream consumer culture that does not satisfy their spiritual needs or help them flourish—and that sometimes leads them to turn to a more authoritarian religious community.

    My point is that because our children feel strong pulls from the culture of self-absorption and the culture of authority, our ambivalence about exerting our own gravitational pull towards Unitarian Universalism leaves them religiously abandoned. We either raise our children ourselves or others will raise them for us. If we want our children to grow up spiritually alive, free, and engaged with the world, we have to offer them citizenship papers in our Unitarian Universalist tradition.

    The central venue for faith development is the home linked to an intentional UU community. The key active ingredient that makes this work is not what we spend most of our time on: Sunday school classes, worship services, and youth activities. Instead, the key active ingredient is the spiritual development of parents and other adults, and their grounding in both a local church community and the Unitarian Universalist tradition.

    You can find a PDF version of the entire lecture at the LREDA website, or you can download a copy: Home Grown Religion.

    The last of the four Tapestry of Faith strands is probably the least understood. After all, the whole shebang is called “Faith Development,” right? Why does there need to be a specific strand with the same name? Here’s how the Lifespan Faith Development Staff Group at the UUA looks at it:

    Rather than referring to a specific portion of the vision statement, the LFD Staff Group says, “Together, all of the vision statements of Tapestry of Faith describe the development of a vital, lifelong liberal faith.

    “This strand–faith development–emphasizes each person’s religious journey as a participant in a faith community and faith tradition, and each person’s lifelong process of bringing head, heart, and hands to what is of ultimate meaning and value.” Makes sense? So here are the Goals:

    • To participate in an evolving and deepening faith
    • To experience Unitarian Universalism as a faith with lifelong value
    • To be willing and able to engage with life’s challenges and transitions
    • To engage in making meaning of life and finding purpose in life
    • To affirm life, seeing all life as a gift
    • To explore and articulate one’s own faith
    • To feel a sense of belonging in a faith community and part of a tradition.

    The Elements are:

    • Exploring the religious Big Questions such as, Who or what is God? Why are we here and what is expected of us? What is the meaning of life and death? Why do good and bad things happen? Is the universe a friendly place?
    • Integrating faith components:
      • What we know (cognitive)
      • What we trust (affective)
      • How we act (behavioral)
    • Applying one’s faith to life issues
    • Exploring and articulating one’s evolving beliefs and personal faith
    • Understanding and utilizing religious language and concepts
    • Reflecting, discerning, thinking critically
    • Understanding with [Sofia] Fahs that “Life becomes religious whenever we make it so….”

    So, what do I think of all these outcomes? If this is what we’re truly trying to do together as a people of faith–life, learn, and grow in the direction of the LFD Vision Statement and these specific Goals and Outcomes–then I’m proud to be part of the team!

    Next, I’ll post on the time line for the release of the individual Tapestry of Faith components.

    Here are the outcomes for the Unitarian Universalist Identity thread of the new Tapestry of Faith curriculum series, as presented by the Lifespan Faith Development Staff Group of the UUA at last weekends LREDA Fall Conference in San Antonio, Texas. The Goals and Elements for this strand relate to the second, fifth, and third components of the LFD Vision Statement (I’m not quite sure why they’re out of order, though).

    • Affirm that they are part of a Unitarian Universalist religious heritage and community of faith that has value and provides resources for living,
    • Recognize the need for community, affirming the importance of families, relationships and connections between and among the generations, and
    • Accept that they are responsible for the stewardship and creative transformation of their religious heritage and community of faith.

    Here are the Goals;

    • To be grounded in UU history and heritage
    • To understand what Unitarian Universalism is and stands for
    • To confidently articulate what Unitarian Universalism is and stands for
    • To identify Unitarian Universalism as one’s religious home
    • To share a common UU vision, language, and identity.

    The Elements include:

    • UU history and heritage
    • UU Worship, rituals, symbols, and traditions
    • Meaning of covenant
    • Principles and Sources: understand, articulate, and live
    • Universalist legacy of love, faith, hope
    • Unitarian legacy of freedom, reason, and tolerance
    • Rites of passage
    • UU identity (personal, communal)
    • UU stories
    • UU language
    • UU polity.

    In some ways, this may be the most difficult of all the strands. Unitarian Universalists are, on the whole, just not very good at talking about what it means to be a UU. That’s not too surprising given our relatively brief existence as a merged tradition, which is why I’m glad that there’s some awareness that we need to include understanding our separate Unitarian and Univeralist legacies here. After all, we didn’t arrive out of the blue as a fully formed religion in 1961.

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