Star Island Lifespan Religious Education 2016

Sustainability & Faith: A New Way of Living





Sustainability in our Religious Education programs requires us to approach religious education with an innovative mindset. It requires us to rethink how we do parent and teacher support.

What happens at home is more important than what happens at church.  We must help our families make Unitarian Universalism what they do and how they live.  We can’t control what families do at home, but we can control how we’ve set them up to succeed.  This workshop series will focus on how we can set up our parents, our teachers, and our program to best change the lives of our children.

  • Is your Religious Education program sustainable?
  • Are your parents set up to carry Sunday School to other days of the week?
  • Are your teachers set up to succeed every week in class, surrounded by a supportive environment?
  • Does your messaging help children, parents, and teachers sustain their faith?

Tim will discuss the “Think Orange” model, show how he’s applied it at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, and take you through steps on how you can apply it in your congregational RE Programs.  Then we will move into discussing teacher and parent support. Teacher support goes beyond just an initial teacher training.  Parent support goes beyond just Sunday morning RE. We all need to do both better.

TIM ATKINS has served the Lifespan Director of Religious Education at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship since 2013. Tim worked for an educational services company in Atlanta for eight years before joining the Fellowship Family, where he served as instructor, curriculum writer, and regional teacher trainer. He is proud to serve the greater Unitarian Universalist denomination through the UUA Board of Trustees and as the founder of an online ministry project, Loved for Who You Are. He previously served the Church of the Larger Fellowship as their Director of Social Media, and as a youth advisor and Religious Education teacher at his former home congregation in Atlanta. He spends his spare time writing, playing board games, trying to change the world, and attempting to reason with his cat Dorothea.

At LREDA Fall Conference 2015, Tim discussed in the final Summary Speaker keynote address how we need to innovate through using models from other traditions, regain the mantle of innovation from other faith traditions, and start to see our roles as teacher support, parent support, and prophetic voice.  This workshop series will go in depth with his keynote address (available to watch at



2. RELIGIOUS EDUCATION GONE WILD: Connecting Children, Nature and Climate Justice  by Peter Bowden & Rev. Amy Freedman

Whether we like it or not, addressing the climate crisis is a new core component of our religious education programs. How can we as religious educators help reconnect children and youth with nature, deepen their understanding of our changing climate and associated justice issues, and empower them as climate justice leaders?  Join Peter Bowden and the Rev. Amy Freedman for a week-long workshop exploring our connections to the earth, offering resources in climate education, and spiritual tools that will help you design programs and activities that will energize your community. *Note: we’re drawing inspiration, in part, from Dr Scott Sampson’s  popular book How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature.  

PETER BOWDEN. A ministry & media consultant with a passion for social media, small groups, and collaborative ministry, Peter is known nationally within the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) for his work, and is a popular keynote speaker and workshop leader. Peter’s work is focused on helping leaders understand changing technology & culture, and also helping to mobilize more people to take action on climate, including doing strategy, media and education work with a growing circle of climate leaders and organizations.

AMY FREEDMAN is Minister of Religious Education at First Parish in Concord, Unitarian Universalist. She says, “Teaching and developing enrichment programs is one of my gifts. Before entering the ministry, I was a Preschool teacher and Children’s Theater Director.  I carry my love of learning and dramatic arts into my role as an educator in Unitarian Universalist congregations.”  During seminary, she served as a Director of Religious Education at Starr King UU Congregation working closely with the Rev. Dr. Mark Belletini. Amy served the Unitarian Universalist Society of Martha’s Vineyard as their Interim Minister.

Amy and Peter and their daughter Liza have been coming to Star for many years.





The Teacher Development Renaissance Module is designed to help religious professionals and lay leaders attend to their own faith development journeys asthey guide volunteers in their development as relational, faith-filled teachers inthe context of Unitarian Universalist religious education. Participants will gain the experience needed to use and adapt the module’s material and activities for their own religious education programs.

Goals for Participants

  • To reflect on religious education philosophy and relate that philosophy to
  • the faith development of teachers
  • To participate in a community of religious educators through study,
  • worship, creating, and networking
  • To gain understanding of teachers’ contributions and needs
  • To increase understanding of child development and its relationship to
  • teaching and learning
  • To understand issues related to safety and ethics
  • To explore and develop strategies for recruitment, support, appreciation
  • and recognition of volunteers
  • To work together to develop a sample teacher development program

PATRICIA INFANTE is the Regional Consultant for Faith Development. Before joining the CERG staff, Pat has served in the same arena for the Joseph Priestley District for two years. Before that she held the portfolio for Congregational Growth for two years. She has been a Director for Religious Education at the Cherry Hill, NJ congregation for nine years before joining the JPD staff. She brings a wealth of experience in all aspects of faith development to assist our congregations in growing in faith. Pat is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist.

Leah Purcell is the Director of Religious Education at the First UU Society of Albany. She began serving as DRE in 2007. She graduated from Vassar with a degree in psychology and was a teacher, co-administrator and teaching assistant in both public and private schools. She also served in leadership roles supporting and organizing volunteers in various political and community organizations.



Climate change, depletion of natural resources, invasion of natural spaces, consumerism, and violence at home and abroad: There are so many crises that need our attention.  How do we sustain our souls so we can go forward into the important work of healing the world around us?  Come replenish and nourish yourself through SoulCollage.  This art form of image making and re-making exposes your deep strengths and reveals the shadows that nag at your psyche, often unbeknownst to your conscious self.  In this workshop we will share 6 days of practice and art making to renew you and help you create a sacred space in your life for reflection and creation to sustain your soul.

VANDY LEIGH is a teaching artist and storyteller.  She became a trained SoulCollage facilitator in November 2011 after attending a Star Island LRE week SoulCollage workshop. She says, “SoulCollage brings your story from the inside to the outside through visual images allowing you to reflect upon and integrate who you are.”  Vandy is a certified art educator in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts.  She holds a Masters of Education from Lesley University in Arts Integration.  She is a life-long UU who served the Exeter, NH UU church as DRE for 7 years. Vandy has happily been a shoaler since she was 16.

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