Lifespan Religious Education News - January, 2012

From our Director of Religious Education:

Catherine Farmer LoyaHappy New Year! As I write this, it has not yet arrived — the holidays are staring me in the face, and our Winter Holiday pageant is fast approaching. This is always a busy time, especially in these last few pre-pageant days, but as hectic as the holidays are, what stands out in my memory once they’re over is not the anxious rushing around, but rather a clear vision of what our community is really all about. I love our big, messy pageant every year because it’s one time when our whole church community fully participates in worship together.

Once the New Year arrives, though, my thoughts turn toward the new beginnings I’m hoping for. Resolutions and goals and aspirations, oh my! It is a time of searching for a better path, of seeking to be more fully myself. The life of our congregation mirrors the individual path at this time of year, too. We are midway through the church year, and January is a time when we reassess our programs to see how they’re going. It’s also a time when many new opportunities for connecting and growing are launched. Be on the lookout for signups for many new adult as well as multigenerational programs coming soon!

This month’s ministry theme is Wisdom, a theme that reaches to the heart of our Unitarian Universalist tradition. Hosea Ballou, an influential Universalist preacher in the first half of the 19th century, wrote these words in his 1805 book, “A Treatise on Atonement”: “We feel our own imperfections; we wish for everyone to seek with all his might after wisdom; and let it be found where it may, or by whom it may, we humbly wish to have it brought to light, that all may enjoy it; but do not feel authorized to condemn an honest inquirer after truth, for what he believes different from a majority of us.”

I suspect that the search for wisdom has been a part of human life as long as there have been people. As Unitarian Universalists, though, we are a people who know that wisdom is to be found in many places, and we honor the search for truth and knowledge as one of our core principles. This month, let’s celebrate the search for wisdom together. Think about the things you know now that you didn’t know this time last year, or 10 years ago, or 30 years ago. Reflect on the best piece of advice you were ever given. Remember the elders who were part of your own life when you were a child, and think about what you learned from them. Then share some of your own wisdom with those you see at church on Sunday. And ask them to share some of their wisdom with you.

— Catherine Farmer Loya

January in the Classrooms

We have a very full month planned in the children’s RE program. In January, preschoolers will celebrate some of the wonderful ways in which people differ from one another and will also celebrate the Chinese New Year. Early elementary participants will explore our interdependent web with stories from science and nature and will engage this month’s theme of WISDOM. Upper elementary children will continue exploring the amazing natural world around us in their UUniverse Story class. Middle schoolers in Neighboring Faiths will complete their study of Buddhism with a trip to the Santa Monica Buddhist Center and the Venice Buddhist Temple. And we’ll also take part in this month’s Faith in Action project on January 22 with a visit to the Turning Point transitional housing shelter, where we’ll take a tour and will make bag lunches for the residents. A big thanks to all UUCCSM members for your generous contributions to our Common Ground Faith in Action project in November; RE participants compiled 160 hygiene kits (nearly double last year’s total) and sorted many donations of warm clothing and blankets, including 170 pairs of socks and more than 50 sweaters and jackets!

Children’s Programs subcommittee members welcome your comments and questions.

— Nicole Henderson-MacLennan, Susan Hendricks Richman, Sabina Mayo-Smith, Kim Santiago-Kalmanson.


Patio Chat with Leon Henderson-MacLennan

Monthly UUCCSM Religious Exploration Theme Discussion 
January 22, 2012 at 10:10 a.m. — WISDOM


Share UUr Stories

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, under the auspices of the WPA, the Federal Writers’ Project sent writers and historians around the country to collect oral histories of the American people. There was a strong focus on former slaves as well as on immigrants, artists, and musicians. These interviews are archived at the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and in the collections of various universities throughout the country.

Today, National Public Radio has a project called Story Corps. A bus travels around the country making audio recordings of people’s stories and broadcasts them on the radio; in Southern California they can be heard on KPCC (89.3 FM). They are archived on the NPR website, Each of the stories is in some way thought provoking and inspirational.

There is no more powerful tool for building community than sharing our stories. From the pictures drawn on cave walls eons ago to the era of scratchy wire recordings in the 1930s to all of today’s high-tech options, we are blessed to have the opportunity to learn from the wisdom of our ancestors, our peers, and our children.

Our intent is to carry on the tradition of sharing our stories by creating a UUCCSM video archive of the reminiscences of our members and friends. We will launch our project on January 15 during the Sunday morning service when we hope to show a clip from a video of the late John Raiford, made by Jerry and Nathan Gates.

Also on January 15 in the afternoon, Maggie and Ernie Pipes will host a screening of “Sunset Story,” a documentary on the residents of Sunset Hall. Sunset Hall was a senior housing facility for labor activists and political radicals near First Unitarian Church in downtown Los Angeles. The documentary was seen in over 300 cities in the country in 2005 on the PBS series Independent Lens as well as in theaters nationwide and at film festivals throughout the world. It follows Irja (81) and Lucille (95) as they “attend demonstrations, register their fellow residents to vote, and debate everything under the sun.”

Our project is intended to be the primary focus of the Multi-Generational Subcommittee of LRE for the remainder of this church year, and will be ongoing into the future. We’ll focus first on the elders in our congregation and on long-time members who are leaving Southern California. We hope to enlist our youth to be videographers (and interviewers if they are willing), and even the younger children can participate by asking questions of our members during coffee hour. Our video interviews may be conducted by someone from the project, by a family member, or by a friend of the interviewee. We may also video gatherings of groups of peers sharing their stories, and we might also document groups working together, for example doing a newsletter mailing or at a Second Sunday Supper. We hope that the entire congregation will get into the spirit of the project. Visit the Lifespan table in Forbes Hall to check for updates and to make suggestions and sign up to be interviewed. Subcommittee members would love to hear from you.

– Judy Federick, Leon Henderson-MacLennan, Carol-Jean Teuffel, and Larry Weiner.

Photos from the Annual Friendly Beasts Pageant