A New Adventure for Joy Berry

JoyBerry1Try as I might, I can’t seem to come up with a good way to start this letter. Sometimes there is no chance to segue gracefully into the changes life hands us. And yet, we have to step forward into them. I need to let you know that I will be saying goodbye to Main Line Unitarian Church and all of you good people at the end of this church year, June 30. My husband and I have made a decision to relocate to North Carolina, where I will continue my work in religious education at the UU Congregation of Asheville, and he will transition into work as a science teacher.

It’s been nearly two years since I began getting to know all of you, and your children and youth. It’s been a time of great growth and opportunity for me as a religious educator, and I want to thank you for that. I have been truly blessed by this congregation’s support and trust for me, even as I encouraged changes to programming and worship that asked a little more of everyone. But being here was challenging for our family; my husband was not able to find employment in his field of expertise, and we found the 1,000 miles that separated us from family an insurmountable challenge—my husband and children have missed our parents and grandparents terribly. And, especially as my parents age and their health declines, I find I want to be closer to them.

This congregation has much to be hopeful about and proud of. Dedicated and inspired lay leaders and committees, mature and enthusiastic volunteers, highly competent and creative staff, and strong ministerial leadership are the rule in this congregation. The Religious Education program will continue to thrive and grow with all their support, and with the trust and vision of the congregation as a whole.

It’s bittersweet to consider leaving this program and congregation. I hope I have planted seeds of change and health that will thrive, even as you all co-create the details of the faith development garden to come. At the same time, I am excited about the opportunity for growth and change I will experience in the coming years. I hope the health and vitality we have experienced together here will continue to accompany all of us, even as we part ways.

In deepest gratitude for the time and work we have shared ~ Joy


 

We hope you will join us in congratulating Joy and wishing her and her family all the best as they prepare for an exciting new opportunity in Asheville, NC. We know that our congregation greatly appreciates Joy’s years of leadership in our Religious Education program, and we are grateful to her for her insight, her energy, her depth of vision, and her tireless devotion to our church’s children and youth and their families.

The process is already underway to assure continuity in MLUC’s lifespan faith development programs. We have been in conversation with denominational officials and staff and leaders of our church, and we are moving steadily toward filling the position of Director of Religious Education this August. 

There will be many opportunities to wish Joy well in these next three months. We encourage you to visit the special event on our Facebook page to add your good wishes.

Yours in our faith ~

Rev. Evan Keely, Interim Senior Minister,

Rev. Morgan McLean, Associate Minister

Youth Learn About Fair Trade During Nicaragua Trip

MLUCNicaraguaThree teenagers from Main Line Unitarian Church (MLUC) now have a much clearer picture of the social injustice that exists outside of the United States. Justin MacDonald, Tyler McDowell, and Mercedes Reyes spent two weeks in Nicaragua last summer on a trip with Witness for Peace, a politically independent grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith. They recently gave a presentation to the MLUC congregation on what they learned and how the experience affected them.

During the trip, the travelers witnessed the effects of U.S. Trade Policy toward Central America, explored the benefits of Fair Trade, and immersed themselves in the culture and history of Nicaragua. Part of their visit included a home stay with a Nicaraguan family.

Mercedes Reyes admitted that the experience was very emotional, but has definitely impacted her buying habits here at home. “The trip to Nicaragua was like nothing I had ever experienced,” said Reyes. “It is in all honesty a beautiful country with beautiful people, but the people there go through many struggles that they do not deserve. I don’t think I could ever describe the emotional impact the trip had on me, but I did start trying to buy everything either fair trade or made in the U.S. in hopes that I can set an example for other people to do the same.”

Each student received a scholarship for the trip from the Craig Roberts Memorial Fund, set up by members and friends of MLUC to honor the life and work of Dr. Craig Roberts, a longtime church member. The late Dr. Roberts was an ardent advocate of social justice and eager for MLUC youth to be exposed to the lack of justice in many Latin American countries. He dedicated much of his time and energy working in post-civil war El Salvador.

Rev. Morgan McLean, Associate Minister of Main Line Unitarian Church, applauded Mercedes, Justin, and Tyler for sharing their experience with the congregation. She said, “I’m proud of the youth in our congregation for showing an interest in local and global social justice. Trips like the one to Nicaragua help shape Unitarian Universalist identity and allow a new generation to live the values of our denomination.”

Other recent volunteer trips have tapped into expanding Unitarian Universalist resources like the UU College of Social Justice, which helped congregants organize a mixed-group service trip to Haiti in January.

For more information on MLUC’s social justice initiatives, contact Communications Coordinator Adam McGrath ().

Photo (from left): Justin MacDonald, Tyler McDowell, and Mercedes Reyes spent two weeks in Nicaragua last summer as part of a Witness for Peace delegation. Each youth was supported with a scholarship from members and friends of Main Line Unitarian Church.

The Future of Religious Education at MLUC

Visioning for the Future, Honoring the Past
A UUA-Facilitated Conversation

Saturday, February 8, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

JoyBerryAll are invited to join together to talk about the ministry of religious education and faith development in our church. During this time we will share our knowledge of the history of RE at MLUC and look to the future, as we envision the program of faith formation we will work to create together. This work is covenantal in nature. All who have an interest in religious education and faith formation should plan to attend—lay leaders, board members, parents, elders, teachers, and youth are especially invited.

From the UUA: The word covenant has broad meaning. It is traditional religious language that refers to a “solemn agreement” or “promise from the heart.” Developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association in the early 1990s, Covenanting for Excellence in Religious Education is a facilitated process between a religious educator and a congregation for purposes of identifying a set of mutually agreed-upon commitments. In its current incarnation, this covenantal process considers present expectations of the congregation and outlines mutual hopes for the future of the program. It may be used as a tool for growth and deeper understandings for the congregation and religious educator, with identified resources, mutual commitments, and support systems. It can specify results expected and how these results will be achieved. The covenant should be a living document that represents more than a list of objectives and aspirations; it reflects a commitment to ongoing congregational transformation. A covenant reflects the quality of the relationships involved, rather than the contractual dimensions of employment.

Setting the stage for congregational change and transformation, a Covenant for Excellence in Religious Education deepens and strengthens the bonds of Unitarian Universalist community through intentional commitment to the common vision, awareness of faith development, and growth and change.

The covenanting process is conducted by trained facilitators, and includes the religious educator, parish minister and other church staff, lay leaders, and other interested congregants. It involves individual and group theological reflection and exploration of the congregation’s history and culture, clarifying and prioritizing goals and expectations, articulating a common vision, and celebrating the accomplishment in a special service.

Context
A Covenant for Excellence in Religious Education invites us to place lifespan religious education and faith development at the center and heart of congregational life.
In this context of religious community, all aspects of congregation life are interconnected and are affected by the changes in priorities and ways in which leadership is shared.

Maria Harris, esteemed religious educator, offers us the philosophy that everything we do is educating religiously. Harris views the entire course of the congregation’s life as its curriculum, the context for its life-long creative and educative processes. Within this framework of Congregation as Curriculum we can identify five central aspects of Unitarian Universalist faith communities:

Social/Community—the people and relationships of the church, pastoral care networks, social events and community celebrations

Social Justice—service projects and social justice activities in the wider community

Worship—worship services and rituals practiced in the congregation

Learning—the more formal learning context of Religious Education classes, workshops, and adult programs, as well as the informal learning that comes from engaging in other aspects

Leadership—opportunities for all ages to learn and practice leadership skills; also the coaching and mentoring practices of professional staff and congregation leaders in empowering others

The Covenant for Excellence in Religious Education process is a stepping stone in the larger process of congregational transformation. Once created, the covenant is intended to be a vital and sacred part of a multigenerational faith community—a true “promise from the heart.”

Please plan to join us. Childcare and lunch will be provided. RSVP by February 3 to .

A UUA-Facilitated Conversation: Visioning for the Future, Honoring the Past

Religious Education at Main Line Unitarian Church