I am in my eleventh year as Director of Religious Exploration at First UU Church of Wichita. I retired in May, 2014, after 36 years teaching with the Wichita School District. The last 22 of those years were as Drama teacher for Buckner Elementary Performing Arts Magnet. I am a singer, songwriter and artist. I began creating assemblages as a result of my interest in design and composition. When I combined this with my love of the Earth, a good garage sale find, and a commitment to recycling and reusing everything, I began to see a real opportunity for unique creations.
These skills and experience are part of what I bring to the RE program. But it is my belief in the UU principles that brought me here initially. The lessons and curriculums I choose or design are all built around those principles and adapted for the appropriate age levels. In kids’ language, the principles are: Each person is important; Be kind in all you do; We’re free to learn together; We search for what is true; All people need a voice; Build a fair and peaceful world; and We care for Earth’s lifeboat.
In addition to the curriculum lessons, we celebrate many holy days and holidays from various religions and cultures. We do community service projects, and the older students are involved in social action. There are occasional Sundays where the children and youth participate in an intergenerational service. And in the summer months, lessons are led by congregation members as a way to share interests and to get to know one another.
When asked recently why they liked coming to church, a child answered, “because it’s fun, and interesting, and I can just be me”. I, too, believe it is a great place to be!