Religious Education Committee Interchange Reports
Please join us for a day focused on Teaching Friends across the Generations: a Day for Sharing our Wisdom and Inspiring One Another held at Frederick Meeting House, February 23 from 10-3:30pm, with a snow date of April 13th.
The morning will focus on what we have found most meaningful and successful in our individual Meetings. We will share with each other our most successful lessons and programmatic approaches and have time to hear from a couple of our elder teachers. In the afternoon we will brainstorm ideas about some common challenges we face, (eg, unpredictable attendance, honoring differences in children while keeping the group together, shrinking and inconsistent attendance, establishing a nurturing and constructive environment for teachers/teacher recruitment.)
We will close by exploring and developing an idea from our RE discussion/listening groups: Learning Boxes for Teaching Across the Generations. This would involve developing “Learning Boxes” or resource packets which would contain lesson plans, book recommendations, etc. for each age group-from preschool to adult RE. Each Learning Box would focus on one particular theme or topic, such as simplicity or compassion. All members of the Meeting would concurrently study some aspect of the same theme, giving an opportunity for increased intergenerational cohesion and interaction.
For this retreat to be most productive, we need you. If you can’t make it, please recruit someone from your Meeting to attend. For information or to register, please contact Ellen Arginteanu, at email@example.com or 814-206-6712.
The Religious Education Committee has exciting work to do. Would you join us?
Groups of people interested in Religious Education have met at Interim Meetings and at Annual Session 2018. These rich discussions generated ambitious and exciting goals for the committee”
- Develop a resource list including “must have books” online teaching resources, different curricula available
- Develop/ gather teaching packets with “ready to go lessons”
- Explore the idea of Learning Boxes- Learning Boxes for Teaching across the Generations- Is it possible and desirable to develop Learning Boxes or resource packets which would contain lesson plans, book recommendations, etc. for each age group- from preschool to adult RE. Each Learning Box would focus on one particular themes or topics, such as simplicity or compassion. All members of the Meeting would study some aspect of the same theme, concurrently, giving the opportunity for increased intergenerational cohesion and interaction.
Would you like to join us in working on these or other RE related goals? Contact your Nominating Committee representative or Ellen Arginteanu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-206-6712.
The Religious Education Committee of Baltimore Yearly Meeting is offering generous scholarships to current and prospective first day school teachers and Meeting Religious Education Committees to attend the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative (QREC) Meeting being held this August 18-20 in Richmond, IN. Up to 100% cost of attendance paid for depending on need and number of requests. Car pool is a possibility as well. Please inquire with Windy Cooler at WindyCooler@gmail.com about BYM scholarship. Please see http://www.quakers4re.org/ for more info about the collaborative.
Members of Four Yearly Meetings (BYM, Philadelphia, Lake Erie and South Central), as well as a representative from Friends General Conference, meet for a weekend consultation in Philadelphia the first weekend in January. Baltimore Yearly Meeting was represented by MJ Foley and Gail Thomas; Marsha Holliday, Clerk of BYM RE, while unable to attend, is also much involved.
We created an inventory of the strengths and needs of RE in our Yearly Meetings and discussed ways we can help one another to provide support for both our First Day School and Adult Education teachers. One hope is to create a common website, since several of our Yearly Meetings, including several not able to send representatives, already post curriculum and ideas for building stronger programs. Below is the Minute we approved.
To Friends Everywhere:
Ten Friends gathered from four yearly meetings and Friends General Conference with a concern for the state of religious education in our Yearly and Monthly meetings. We met at the Mother Boniface Spirituality Center in Philadelphia, PA, January 4 to 6, 2013 with the support of a grant from the Clarence and Lilly Pickett Endowment for Quaker Leadership. The Friends in attendance were chosen by their Yearly Meetings as Friends with knowledge of the religious education programs within their Yearly Meetings.
We came together with passion and love for religious education. We were hungry for time to meet in person to support each other in our calling to develop and nurture Quaker religious education for all ages. We quickly experienced a sense of community, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. We considered the question of what is included in the full scope of religious education, and while there are many topics to be covered, we would ultimately want religious education to provide a fertile environment for Friends to experience God as love.
We looked at the state of religious education in each of the Yearly Meetings represented among us through an exercise of taking inventory, considering a wide range of components that would be part of a vibrant religious education program. We found that this exercise affirmed our strengths and revealed where we need additional support for religious education programs and teachers.
We are concerned that we currently lack an organizational structure for bringing Friends together across Yearly Meetings to care for religious education. We noted the diminishing of staff support for religious education within several Friends organizations and discussed the challenge this creates in nurturing vibrant religious education programs.
The areas we identified as priorities for renewal are:
- Communication with religious education teachers in Monthly Meetings regarding the resources that exist and the best uses of these resources. We are concerned that Friends are not aware of, and not using, the available materials.
- Training for teachers, and tools for Friends to use in providing this training.
- A system for mentoring religious education teachers, programs and committees.
- Venues for meeting face to face to support each other in this work and nurture new Friends in becoming involved at a deeper level.
We began to wrestle with potential solutions to these challenges and to seek concrete ways to solve them through collaboration across Yearly Meetings.
We ask for your prayers as we continue to seek God’s guidance for this work. We pray that you may be blessed with an abundant and joyful spirit for religious education.
Yours in the Spirit,
Joan Broadfield, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
MJ Foley, Baltimore Yearly Meeting
Kathleen Karhnak-Glasby, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Becky Morehouse, Lake Erie Yearly Meeting
Carla Pratt-Harrington, Lake Erie Yearly Meeting
Trudy Rogers, Friends General Conference
Gail Thomas, Baltimore Yearly Meeting
Michael Wajda, Friends General Conference
Melinda Wenner Bradley, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Liz Yeats, South Central Yearly Meeting
The Religious Education Committee will be continuing the Friendly Religious Education Consultant (FREC) program that supports visitors to Annual Session who share their knowledge and experience as Friends Religious Educators. This year we will welcome John A. Stephens! John has been a member of Alexandria Friends Meeting at Woodlawn where he has taught FDS to middle and high school aged teens. Before that, he attended San Francisco Friends Meeting intermittently throughout 1999 and 2000. His religious web stewardship is focused on two monthly meetings, Valley Friends Meeting and Woodlawn, and a handful of Quakerrelated peace projects. Currently, he serves Valley Friends Meeting as the clerk of its Communications Committee. John will speak with Friends on a personal basis, lead interest groups as topics arise around discernment and FDS, share in teaching Friends about our new website during the RE sources workshop and at other occasions that arise, support Friends interested in web research on topics related to FDS, and share in the JYM program as way opens. Please come with questions so that he may provide the most help to your needs.
The Religious Education Committee has scholarships for Monthly Meeting Religious Education Committee clerks to attend Annual Session. For information, contact MJ Foley, Clerk, Religious Education Committee.