Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
— Rumi

By Karen Bellavance-Grace

Thirty-one. Not Baskin Robbins flavors. Not Heinz varieties. Not even the number of Sources of Unitarian Universalism. That number represents our families.

Last year a group of UU religious educators described different family configurations showing up in their congregations. They counted 31.

Photo courtesy Karen Bellavance-Grace
Photo courtesy Karen Bellavance-Grace

Mom + Dad + kids families. Single parent families. Queer families. Step-families. Grandparents raising grandchildren. Foster families. Families with one parent imprisoned. Immigrant families. Blended families….

Not to mention a healthy mix of lifelong UUs, recent converts, and families dividing time between two faith homes.

How hard it is to plan rich religious education programming for all of these families! To plan curriculum arcs, meet all the spiritual growth and health needs, equip wildly varied parent constituencies to carry faith home… and to fit all of that into a couple dozen Sunday mornings a year. It’s the kind of task that’d make Sisyphus grateful all he has to do is roll a rock uphill forever!

Our times and families have changed. Although our faith formation ministries still largely focus on Sunday morning as though it were the one way we know to kneel and kiss the ground, we are called today to show up in new ways. Religious professionals must show up where our families are, because although they cannot all be with us on Sunday mornings, they are still all our people. Our parents must show up to live Unitarian Universalism at home, in neighborhoods, and even on soccer fields. Our world is moving rapidly from an Age of Enlightenment culture into a new and radically connected Age of Embodiment. We all need to embody our faith in new ways that help our own people understand and live out our theology and help our communities know we are the Love people.

I started talking about a Full Week Faith approach to spark conversations and collaborations around innovative, shared ministries of faith formation. I wanted to encourage the brave souls willing to engage and embody our faith not just on Sundays, but all week long. Because with all of the varieties of people and places that need our Love and the saving Grace of Unitarian Universalism, we must act with the conviction that there are, indeed, hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Karen Bellavance-GraceDirector of Faith Formation, Mass Bay & Clara Barton Districts of the Unitarian Universalist Association, developed Full Week Faith during her 2013 Fahs Fellowship for Innovation in Multigenerational Faith Formation, supported by the Fahs Collaborative and the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA).

Next Steps!

Read about the Full Week Faith approach and see sample Full Week Faith activity cards (pictured above) on the Full Week Faith website. A video of a presentation on Full Week Faith can be seen online.

To learn more, join the UUA Faith Development Office on Tuesday, July 22, 1 pm or Wednesday, July 23, 9 pm (Eastern time) for a free, one-hour webinar on Full Week Faith presented by Karen Bellavance-Grace with Pat Kahn. To register, email faithdevwebinar@uua.org.

The new Tapestry of Faith Toolkit Book from the UUA, Creating Justice Together, offers 36 family and home activities to “model and encourage ways to step up, even to act up, to share justice and love.” Do you know other sources for faithful acts a family can do together? Please share!

 

 

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Comments

  1. Moonstorm Erosong

    Where could I find the full list of 31 kinds of families?

    Reply
    • Karen Bellavance-grace

      Hi Moonstorm,
      It was a list generated by a group of religious educators attending a professional development conference last summer. One of them served in my district and told me the story when our paths crossed. I will reach out to her and see if she or any of her colleagues created anything more permanent than their shared experience.

      Reply
    • karen bellavance-grace

      This conversation took place on the porch of one of our UU summer camps, and was not during a workshop or “on” time, so the DRE’s involved didn’t have newsprint or google docs to add to – they kept track in more old fashioned ways, like fingers and hatch marks. So a full list doesn’t exist – but they were very comprehensive. There were the usual suspects: Nuclear family; step family; adoptive family, etc. But they were also quite precise – like adoptive family (domestic) and adoptive family (foreign) were two separate types of family. Similarly, Single parent, dad and Single parent, mom were two kinds of families (not just ‘single parent family’). You can imagine the many combinations of gay/trans/queer/straight and married/divorced/remarried/single/widowed are in the possible universe! Other examples included immigrant families, and families with one parent imprisoned, and families that had escaped domestic violence – all of which are members in their congregations and each of which presents its own pastoral needs, of course.

      Reply
    • karen bellavance-grace

      This conversation took place on the porch of one of our UU summer camps, and was not during a workshop or “on” time, so the DRE’s involved didn’t have newsprint or google docs to add to – they kept track in more old fashioned ways, like fingers and hatch marks. So a full list doesn’t exist – but they were very comprehensive. There were the usual suspects: Nuclear family; step family; adoptive family, etc. But they were also quite precise – like adoptive family (domestic) and adoptive family (foreign) were two separate types of family. Similarly, Single parent, dad and Single parent, mom were two kinds of families (not just ‘single parent family’). You can imagine the many combinations of gay/trans/queer/straight and married/divorced/remarried/single/widowed are in the possible universe! Other examples included immigrant families, and families with one parent imprisoned, and families that had escaped domestic violence – all of which are members in their congregations and each of which presents its own pastoral needs, of course.

      Reply
  2. Susan Lawrence

    Hi Moonstorm Erosong — We asked Karen Bellavance-Grace, Director of Faith Formation for the UUA’s Clara Barton and Mass. Bay Districts, and she replied, “This conversation took place on the porch of one of our UU summer camps, and was not during a workshop or “on” time. The DREs involved didn’t have newsprint or Google docs to add to, so they kept track in more old-fashioned ways, like fingers and hatch marks. So a full list does not exist – but they were very comprehensive. There were the usual suspects: Nuclear family; Step family; Adoptive family, etc. They were also quite precise, for example, Adoptive family (domestic) and Adoptive family (foreign) were two separate types of family. Similarly, Single parent, dad and Single parent, mom were two kinds of families (not just ‘single parent family’). You can imagine the many combinations of gay/trans/queer/straight and married/divorced/remarried/single/widowed in the possible universe! Other examples included immigrant families, families with one parent imprisoned, and families that had escaped domestic violence. All of the family types they named were represented by members in the DREs’ congregations and each presents its own pastoral needs, of course.”

    Reply
  3. Sandra Fackler

    Knowing how inclusive UUs are, I would assume a number of senior family combinations. And I surely hope that UU counts single people living alone as a family; the never married, the divorced, and the widowed. I also would assume there would be the domestic partnerships that are often created in later life to protect income or assets. Many kinds of families, all in need of beloved community.

    Reply

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