Religious Education Committee Annual Reports
The text of recently received Annual Reports are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.
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The Religious Education Committee generally meets once every two months, so that we might further our mission of supporting our Local Meeting Education programs.
The members for 2020/2021 have been: Joanna Fitzick, Mike Hansen, Susanna Laird, Susan Williams, , Charllete (Rory) Kennison, Nancy Moore, John Adler Stephens, Margaret (Peg) Hansen and Ellen Arginteanu (co-clerks.)
Over the years, BYM Religious Education committee has witnessed the creativity and dedication of those working in our local meetings’ Religious Education programs. The abundance of strengths and gifts in local Meetings has convinced us that our meetings have much to share with each other. It is because of this, we are focused on developing ways for our local meetings to meet, support, share, and brainstorm. To further this goal, we began Quarterly Zoom Calls. Fortuitously, the first Zoom call for RE coincided with the start of the Pandemic, when uncertainty reigned, and everyone wondered how to keep RE programs going and how to use a tool new to most of us. The “Zoom Anxiety” experienced was high, but was matched by shared creativity, suggestions, and brainstorming on our part. We have made subsequent quarterly calls with local clerks, via Zoom, centered on RE during the time of Covid. We heard of many wonderful programs that happened during these times, and the myriad of ways in which teachers and clerks have connected with their classes.
Nonetheless, the significant challenges of this period of time have taken its toll on teachers, staff, and families causing the common experience of the pervasive “Zoom Burnout.” Flexibility and persistence have kept our local programs afloat including ways to safely run in-person events to supplement their Zoom RE programs. It seems all are waiting, hopefully and eagerly, to resume a more “normal” Religious Education program in the coming fall. The Committee’s energy also lagged during the late winter and spring months, resulting in decreased frequency, and productivity, within of our group. After spending a couple years working on producing lesson packets and lists of resources to supplement the Curriculum written five years ago, we have made little progress moving forward. After discernment, we realized the job was larger than our capacity allowed, and that we don’t want to reinvent the proverbial wheel, since there is an abundance of resources on the web. Our focus has shifted to assuring that the local meetings are aware of these resources, and to encourage their use. As we venture onward, we will explore additional ways to connect our local meetings not only with BYM, but local meetings to each other.
Members of the Religious Education Committee have worshipped, worked and grown together over this past year, as we have “begun again” after the committee had a couple years of low membership and inactivity. Our six current members share long term commitments and passion for religious education. Together, as a committee, we strive to find ways to nurture our Monthly Meeting’s adult and youth religious education Programs.
During our two face to face meetings and five Zoom meetings, the committee has worked toward three main goals: 1. developing book list and associated “lesson packets“ available for Meetings on our webpage, 2. Finding new ways to reach out to and connect to Monthly Meetings and 3. Re-starting the yearly retreat.
We have developed drafts of lessons for different age groups focused on the theme of “Exploring the Light.” As we proceed in the development of lessons and review related books, we will be alert for resources that may include “micro-aggressions.” This effort was wonderfully interrupted by the donation of approximately 650 books by the Peace Study Center in Baltimore to BYM. Thanks to the efforts of a subgroup of the committee, led by Nancy Moore, these books have been cataloged and categorized, including a section on Equality and Diversity These books are currently stored at Stony Run Monthly Meeting When the Yearly Meeting again meet in person, we will bring the books so that Monthly Meetings can take for their own RE libraries. In addition, the list of books will be posted on our committee’s webpage so that MM who are not present can view and request books. Of note there are many books dealing with equality and diversity that can serve as a resource to our Monthly Meetings as they deal with these issues.
To expand our outreach to our Monthly Meetings we discussed instituting Zoom meetings with MM clerks. The initiation of the project came to fruition just as “Sheltering in Place” began. 12 Meeting Clerks from across BYM gathered on two different Zoom calls to share their thoughts and concerns about handling RE during this crisis. Resources were shared during and after the call. These Zoom Meetings for Monthly Meeting Clerks will continue on a quarterly basis. (next to occur mid July)
In the past, RE has held an annual retreat and we hope to revive it. This year, we chose the theme “How Do We Plumb the Riches of Our Diverse Spiritual Journeys?” to speak to the challenges for both youth and adult Religious Education programs. We learned much and were quite excited as we prepared for the retreat. Unfortunately, low registration shortly before Sheltering in Place began, led us to cancel. We look forward to offering it again, as way opens.
The committee rejoices in the fellowship with each other and the work it has done. We know there is much to do to enrich our RE programs; we would warmly welcome input from the whole BYM community, as well as welcome others to join in as we continue this work.
Clerk, Religious Education Committee
The RE committee held three in-person meetings- at Annual Session, Fall, and Spring Interim Meetings. At each meeting, the two official members were joined by guests who helped deepen and enliven our discussions. In addition to these meetings, the committee convened twice by phone, and conducted occasional business by email and individual phone calls. We fully accomplished two of our goals and have made progress on two others:
- Finalized and posted the RE Curriculum on our website. (The curriculum was largely written by the RE committee under the two previous clerks, from 2016-2018)
- Organized a Retreat/Networking Day on February 23, 2019: Teaching and Spirituality in Our Meetings. June Confer shared insights from her years teaching RE- her deep faith in the wisdom of children, the need to give them time to discern it and our need to take time to listen. Rob Duncan shared his basic rule of building a youth program- the youth need to feel ownership- it works best if they have their own space, they need input into their “curriculum” The person teaching needs to love teaching this age group- be both flexible and excellent with boundaries. The rest of the day was spent sharing our Meetings accomplishments and challenges in their RE programs. We learned much from each other about dealing with our changing populations and the impact that the world around us has had on our RE programs.
Goals in progress:
- Develop a thematic and aged bibliography and internet resource list to post on our website
- Develop “learning boxes.” These will center on a theme, such as “Quakers go at the speed of Light,” and be available for Meetings to teach a theme across all the age groups in their Meeting. They will contain lesson ideas/plans coupled with resources for different age groups within the Meeting. Central to the “boxes” will be a summary sheet for all teachers and adults, containing ideas about children's and adults' spirituality, along with ideas about how to teach the concepts.
Plans for the next year are: 1. Entice others to join in the creation of exciting resources for future generations and to help nourish the teachers and committees currently making our Religious Education fun and edifying throughout our Monthly Meetings. 2. Steadily progress toward completion of first goal and complete a couple/several learning boxes. To do this, we will meet bimonthly by Zoom. 3. In addition, we plan to host another Retreat/Networking Day in late winter, early spring.
Ellen Johnson Arginteanu (Richomd), Clerk
Nancy Moore (Baltimore, Stony Run)
Peg Hansen (State College) and Marcy Seitel (Adelphi), faithful volunteers
No report received.
No report received.
On March 19 and 20, 2016, the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Religious Education Committee had our third REtreat, this time at Richmond Friends Meeting in Richmond, VA. We began work on a core curriculum to describe what every Quaker should know about religion at every age or stage in life. This work had been requested by the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Ad Hoc Vision Implementation Committee in order to provide guidelines to Monthly Meetings for what to teach to different age groups.
Participating in the writing and editing of this document were Barb Adams, Ellen Arginteanu, Jules Argenteanu, Virginia Avanesyan, Stephanie Bean, Windy Cooler, Marsha Holliday, Deborah Legowski, Jessica Farley, M. J. Foley, Harriet Schley, Howard Garner, Susanna Laird, Lauren Brownlee, Meg Meyer, Michael Beer, Michael Newheart, Nancy Moore, Bob Rhudy, Marilyn Rothstein, Amy Schmaljohn, Marcy Seitel, and Gene Throwe. We divided into eight working groups: Nursery, 4- to 5-year-olds, 6 to 8, 9 to 11, Tweens, Teens, Young Adult Friends, and Adult RE, with each group writing a portion of the core curriculum. We plan to put the finished version of the core curriculum on our Religious Education Committee website in the near future.
Simultaneous with our REtreat, the Youth Programs Committee offered a Junior Young Friends Overnight at the Clearing. Parents were able to drop off their middle school-aged children at the Clearing and then attend the Retreat.
Gail Gann continues to represent the BYM RE Committee on the Sue Thomas Turner Quaker Education Fund. Gail also supports the historic BYM Religious Education Curricular Library, which is housed at Stony Run.
This past year, Windy Cooler (Adelphi), co-clerked the BYM RE Committee with Marsha Holliday (FMW), who is rotating off the Committee in August.
The Baltimore Yearly Meeting Religious Education Committee’s work to promote and provide a strong future for religious education in BYM has lead us to request a part-time Religions Education staff member. We brought this concern to Interim Meeting a year-and-a-half ago and are awaiting the arrival of the new General Secretary with the hope that this hiring will go forward at that time. With the support of an RE staff person, we anticipate additional religious education programs at the Yearly Meeting level and more support and assistance for our Monthly Meeting religious education programs. Religious Education is a very important outreach and advancement tool of Yearly Meetings. We look forward to having staff assistance in the future.
The Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Religious Education (RE) Committee has been working this past year to promote and provide a strong future for religious education in BYM. In March, we brought to Interim Meeting a request to hire a part-time Religious Education staff member. That request was approved. With the support of a staff member, we anticipate more frequent religious education programs at the yearly meeting level and more religious education support and assistance for our monthly meetings.
On October18 and 19, 2014, we had our second REtreat, this time at Stony Run Monthly Meeting in Baltimore. Simultaneously, the Youth Programs Committee had a Junior Young Friends Overnight at Homewood Friends Meeting and Parents Retreat at Stony Run. Parents were able to drop off their middle school-aged children at Homewood and then attend either of the Retreats at Stony Run.
Recently, the work of the RE Committee has expanded to include adult education. For the 2015 Annual Sessions, the Committee is planning two adult workshops. Windy Cooler is doing a workshop on “Religious Education Committee: Playing Well with Others,” and Marsha Holliday is offering a workshop with Vonnie Calland, Michael Beer, and Rich Liversidge on “Sharing Beliefs and Spiritual Journeys.”
Gail Gann represents the BYM RE Committee on the Sue Thomas Turner Quaker Education Fund and supports the BYM RE Curricular Library, which is housed at Stony Run.
The Committee has recognized a need to write a timeline for a core curriculum addressing what every Quaker needs to know about Quakerism at each stage in life. We decided to make this work the focus of our next REtreat, which will be at Richmond Friends Meeting on March 12 and 13, 2016. We will divide into eight groups: Nursery, 4- to 5-year-olds, 6 to 8, 9 to 11, Tweens, Teens, Young Adult Friends, and Adult RE. Each group will have one BYM RE Committee member in it as recorder. We are inviting eight different BYM Friends who are engaged in RE to lead these groups. Once again and simultaneously, the Junior Young Friends Overnight will be held at a nearby location.
The BYM RE Committee wants to be able to provide more services to and support for religious education in our monthly meetings. We look forward to having staff assistance with our work. We are also planning to connect by conference calls in the coming year.
Marsha Holliday (Friends Meeting of Washington), Clerk
Sarah Buchanan-Wollaston (Deer Creek) of the Relgious Educatin Committee started off the year with a workshop at Baltimore Yearly Meeting: Fresh Ideas for Religious Education. We took a look at FDS curriculum that is available, Quakers on the web, and shared best practices. Other R.E. members brought materials for R.E. teachers to peruse as well, and this was presented during an interest group session and the workshop.
John Stephens was our Friendly Religious Education Consultant. John has been a member of Alexandria Friends Meeting at Woodlawn since 2001 where he has taught FDS to middle and high school aged teens. John spoke with Friends on a personal basis, lead an interest group as topics arose around discernment and FDS, shared in teaching Friends about our new website during the RE sources workshop, supported Friends interested in web research on topics related to FDS, and shared in the JYM program as way opened.
Marsha Holliday presented her policy for addressing concerns of those who are sex offenders who come to Meetings, including those who maintain an interest in teaching first day school. Her policy is to be placed on the website for perusal before final approval.
MJ Foley, (Williamsburg), Clerk
The Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Religious Education (RE) Committee has had a busy year, having had five committee meetings thus far, with attendance ranging from five at Little Britain Monthly Meeting to ten at Sidwell Friends School.
Our most ambitious project has been planning for our REtreat, a treat for BYM religious educators, which will be held on November 9, and 10, 2013, at the William Penn House in Washington, DC. All who work with any educational program of BYM are invited to attend. Our REtreat will be led by Amy Schmaljohn (Gunpowder). Publicity and registration have begun. As the BYM RE Committee has not sponsored a retreat in a couple of decades, we hope this is the beginning of a revived tradition.
Also new for the RE Committee is our decision to actively support adult education. We realize that we do not have a good idea of what kind of adult educational programs are held at the Monthly Meeting (MM) level. Consequently, we wrote a survey, which we will send in September to MM RE Clerks or to MM Ministry and Worship Clerks of Meetings that do not have a MM RE Clerk.
One of our first efforts at adult RE will be our workshop at BYM Annual Session by our Committee member, Mark Cannon (FMW) and Ed Tignor (Bethesda), entitled “What do Friends Believe?”
Our Committee sent two representatives, MJ Foley and Gail Thomas, to a Consultation initiated by Kathleen Karhnac-Glasby which intends to put Quaker curricula on-line. Our Committee heartily endorses this effort, as First Day School curricula is no longer being published by Friends General Conference.
Our Committee has written and approved a proposal to create a Sarah Buchanan-Wollaston Memorial Fund to further teacher education. This proposal will be sent to the Clerk of YM to be forwarded for approval by the Development Committee and the Trustees.
Gail Gann now represents the BYM RE Committee on the Sue Thomas Turner Quaker Education Fund, and she reported about their annual meeting. Gail also supports the BYM RE Curricular Library, which is currently housed in boxes at Stony Run.
Projects for next year include offering another REtreat in the fall of 2014, exploring ways to make written curricula available to BYM First Day School and Junior Yearly Meeting teachers, continuing with adult education, studying the results of our adult RE survey, organizing our BYM Curricula Library, developing and publicizing a BYM library use policy, pursuing our proposal to create a Sarah Buchanan-Wollaston Fund to further teacher education, and planning an RE Committee visitation program of MM RE Committee Meetings.
This has been a quiet year for the Religious Education Committee.
We welcomed three new committee members: John Bakker of Stony Run, Sarah Huntington of Goose Creek, and Christine DeButts of Langley Hill.
Guidelines of Child Safety for First Day School were added to the website.
Kathleen Karhnak-Glasby and Sarah Buchannon-Wallaston both presented workshops at BYM Annual Session in 2011. Sarah shared literature which she had used to enrich her first day school plans. Kathleen not only facilitated a workshop, she was our FREC (Friendly Religious Education Consultant) for the 2011 session. Kathleen shared reflections she had regarding her experience as our FREC, and this report will close with those reflections.
MJ Foley, (Williamsburg) Clerk
I very much enjoyed the chance to be with BYM friends with a focus on religious education. I was honored to be invited into the JYF and YF programs as well—they are both very energizing groups! The workshops I offered for adults were sparsely attended—MJ and one other participant and I were the only ones for the workshop titled, "Talking with your kids about sex." It was a good conversation, however, and I trust that the right people were there and that the right words were said. The other workshop, "Starting a sexuality program at your Monthly Meeting," drew no participants so instead, I joined the workshop Sara led on new literature for use in First Day School.
I was blessed with many wonderful conversations over meals and in other impromptu situations, some of which were specific to sexuality education, and some more generally about children's religious education. There were Friends from several different Monthly Meetings who asked specific questions about the program I have used and took information about it. I also received feedback that for some Meetings, it seems like there are so few First Days when they see the kids that they would rather focus on topics that are more explicitly religious. This feedback told me a few things: one is that the topic of sexuality is not given the same weight as other areas of our lives, and a second is that we (as the Religious Society of Friends) are not looking broadly at what our children get in First Day School over their lifespan (i.e., if there was confidence that a broad array of topics had been covered throughout the child's life, there may be less concern about "losing" some Sundays to the topic of sexuality). This is by no means a reflection on BYM Friends -- it is something I have noticed very clearly among Philadelphia YM Friends as well!
One Friend told me that if First Day School teachers are the intended audience for the FREC, annual session is not the best choice of venues. Few First Day School teachers come to Annual Session. (In my experience in Phila YM, those who do tend to be busy running the children's programs and a bit too worn out for workshops anyway.) Something that we did in Philadelphia YM many years ago was a "share-shop," where FDS teachers gathered and 6 or 8 offered sessions about particular topics which they had prepared in advance. Each participant received a binder with the handouts from all the sessions, so even if they did not attend a particular session they would still have some resources on the topic. Child care was available, we had a lunch together, and all tolled we were probably together about five hours. We all came away energized with new ideas, and we felt spiritually supported in our work as FDS teachers by the act of gathering together with our attention to FDS. This might be an option to consider in BYM, with regional share-shops in a couple of geographically dispersed locations within the YM over the course of the year, and it may reach well beyond the audience of those who are already involved at the Yearly Meeting level.
I also had occasion for wonderful conversations with Friends about the Yearly Meeting more generally, and enjoyed getting to hear about what is working well and where some of the YM's sticking places are. This was the first time I have engaged in intervisitation to another YM and I found this part of my experience to be very satisfying and spiritually refreshing. And since BYM was where I first started going to Meeting, it was a particularly sweet visit for me.
There was a topic mentioned in the committee meeting, death and children, which I did not have occasion to speak to at the time, but I would like to provide a few resources I know about. The Phila YM has developed an extensive set of book lists on various topics, and one of them is on death. There are a few children's books and books for adults regarding children and death on that list: http://archive.pym.org/pm/lib_comments-53656.php. Also, while this is for younger children than the middle schoolers that the Friend present was thinking of, there may be a kernel in here that's helpful for older children also: a piece written by Fred Rogers. http://www.fredrogers.org/new-site/par-death.html
Another topic that has been on my mind generally for Quaker religious education, and which a few conversations at BYM triggered additional thoughts, is how we share resources across YMs. There are some ways that are obvious: intervisitation, traveling ministers who are invited to particular Monthly Meetings or other gatherings, and FGC's work are three ways that come to mind. I am interested in fostering better collaboration across YMs, extending beyond those areas. I would like to be in touch with the BYM religious education committee in the future if this nudge takes a more structured form.
Thank you again for your invitation and your hospitality. I was blessed to spend that time with you.
The Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Religious Education (RE) Committee had another busy year, having our first REtreat, circulating our adult survey, commencing work on adult religious education, and writing a proposal to hire a part-time (1.5 days a week) Religious Education Staff Person. As a Committee, we met five times this year.
On November 9, and 10, 2013, we had a very successful REtreat, a treat for BYM religious educators, at the William Penn House in Washington, DC, led by Amy Schmaljohn (Gunpowder). Our evaluations were very positive and told us that there was a need for gatherings of religious educators. This was the first BYM RE Committee retreat in some time, and we want to begin a tradition of an annual REtreat. Consequently, we have scheduled our next REtreat for October18 and 19, 2014, at Stony Run Monthly Meeting. Simultaneously, our Youth Coordinator is planning a Junior Young Friends Overnight at Homewood Friends Meeting. We hope parents will drop off their middle school-aged children at Homewood and then attend the REtreat at Stony Run.
Also new for the RE Committee is our active support of adult education. We have circulated an adult education survey to Monthly Meetings, which is currently being tallied. One of our first efforts at adult RE was our workshop at BYM annual sessions in 2013. Mark Cannon (FMW) led an adult worship entitled “What do Friends Believe?”
Gail Gann continues to represent the BYM RE Committee on the Sue Thomas Turner Quaker Education Fund. Gail also supports the BYM RE Curricular Library, which is currently housed in boxes at Stony Run.
Our biggest undertaking for this year has been the writing of a proposal to hire a part-time (1.5 days a week) Religious Education Staff Person. The Committee approved our draft, which is laying over for a second reading at our BYM RE Committee Meeting during Annuals Sessions. We plan to bring the first reading of our request to Interim Meeting in the Fall 2014. $12,000 has been put into the 2015 budget for the salary and travel expenses of our potential RE Staff person.
In addition to our REtreat on October 18 and 19, 2014, and our plans to hire a RE Staff person, projects for next year include exploring ways to make written curricula available to BYM First Day Schools and Junior Yearly Meeting teachers, continuing with adult education, planning three BYM RE telephone conference calls for First Day School teachers to call in with questions and concerns they may have, and determining how to write a core curriculum for religious education for all ages.
Religious education is exciting and rewarding work. I feel grateful to be clerking the BYM RE Committee.
Marsha Holliday (Friends Meeting of Washington), Clerk