Children’s Religious Education: It Takes a Congregation
There is a phrase, perhaps overused, that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Whether this is an actual ancient proverb from Africa or one from the indigenous peoples of North America or some modern aphorism, whether it arises out of many places and cultures in much the same way as the many versions of the Golden Rule, there is truth in it.
When Unitarian Universalist congregations celebrate together with the parents and grandparents and other extended family members of the new young person born into that family through the ritual dedication of that child, as we did recently with Patricia Garcia’s family, we are saying that not only does it take a family to raise that child to its full potential as a human being, but it is also the responsibility of the congregation, which is like a very big extended family, or a neighborhood, or a village, to raise that child with our shared values which are grounded in the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism. It takes a congregation to raise a child.
That is why we encourage members of the congregation to engage with our children and youth, whether or not you are currently parenting any children in our program. The Children’s Religious Education program is collaborative in the sense that all members are asked to contribute to the success of the program each year by learning, serving and caring for the young people in our midst. It is part of the covenant, or promise, we make when we join the congregation. It is part of the covenant we make at the time of a child’s dedication, at their coming of age, and again when they bridge from youth to young adult.
In so doing, we affirm and promote the lived theology of our interdependence within the web of all existence.