Our Legacy in Religious Education
In 1971 the About Your Sexuality (AYS) program was started in selected Unitarian Universalists churches around the country. It was rare then to talk openly about heterosexual sex, and it was radical to discuss the sexual practices of homosexual partners. The curriculum was based on the notion that sexual behavior should not be isolated and should be consistent with one’s value system. First Universalist was chosen for an AYS pilot program, and as a result then religious education director Nancy Carlson became a mentor to teachers in Minnesota and surrounding states. She explained, “This course is not on the nuts and bolts of sex, but on human sexual behavior. It deals with concepts and attitudes and people as human beings.” The curriculum evolved to “Our Whole Lives (OWL),” a year-long class for eighth graders with a focus on helping participants gain the knowledge, values and skills that lead to healthy, responsible lives.
In 2006 the congregation engaged in an extensive discernment process that focused on religious education as a whole and, as a result, changed the name of the Religious Education Program to Lifespan Faith Development. By 2009 Lifespan Faith Development had become increasingly diverse in providing opportunities for education, spiritual growth and community service. The Coming of Age Program for ninth graders results in faith statements presented to the community in the spring, representing where they are on their spiritual journey, not their final destination. They receive a rose at this ceremony just as they did at their child dedication, but with the thorns intact because they now know how to protect themselves.
~ Excerpted from First Universalist Church of Minneapolis: The First 150 Years, October 2009.