I am what I am because of other people and they are what they are because of me being around.
~Maasai Tribal saying  

2014 is still brand spanking new and maybe because I love babies, new beginnings and that new car smell… this year seems especially spectacular to me. With the help of Rev. Audette and Audri Mata and our partners at Wyoming Equality, we had our inaugural GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) Coffeehouse, which was AMAZING. I could not have guessed that Brett Edward had it in him to perform a jump split off the stage while singing “We need a hero,” but, lord, am I glad that I got to see it. Providing a safe, welcoming space for LGBTQI teens and allies in Cheyenne is a long overdue and necessary service. Drop me a line if you want to know how you can help it grow.

Another exciting area for me in 2014 is a FaceBook group that I started last year for DRE’s to share information. The group has grown to 145 members and it’s become a great place for me to share and learn from men and women who have been doing this work for a long time. As a small sample, I want to share with you the words of Joy Berry, the Main Line UU DRE  in Devon, Pennsylvania who shared the sewing mandala that you’ll see at our next multigen service, “Sitting still, with nothing to do but listen, can be hard for kids and even some adults. In fact, neuroscientists are learning that some activities actually help us focus in on what we are hearing or learning—especially activities with our hands. Sometimes called “fidget items,” classroom teachers know that activities like pipe cleaners, play-doh, and coloring can actually help listeners focus better. In particular, knitting, sewing, and coloring mandalas have been found to create the same brain patterns as those found during meditation–bestowing a calming, balancing effect. Often, busy hands = calm mind and body. It is in reflection of this new understanding that our activity packs now include sewing, mandalas to color, and both pipe cleaners and “wikki sticks.” Adults are invited to try an activity pack too… It’s good for your soul, and that’s faith development. I couldn’t have said it better myself and thanks to great sharing opportunities among DRE’s, I don’t have to.

Another source of shared wisdom came from the Rev. Andrea Lerner when she was the DRE in Austin, Texas. The question was, what are ten ways we can motivate people to volunteer in RE? This was her response:
10. Because lying in bed, reading the Sunday paper, is just not my idea of a good time!
9. Because your class will paint any room in your house if you let them have a lock-in.
8. If I came to church and sat around playing with clay and paint without the kids, people would look at me funny.
7. I get up early anyway – You know, since Saturday Night Live went downhill, there just isn’t any reason to stay up late.
6. UU guilt rules my life.
5. Because it’s not anything like a committee meeting.
4. I do it for the snacks.
3. Teaching Sunday School isn’t beneath Jimmy Carter, and he was the president.
2. Because, as the Church Lady says, “It’s just so special.”

 1. And the Number 1 reason why someone would want to be an RE teacher…. Karma Kredit!
If any of those reasons speak to your soul and you want to get 2014 off to a great start with us, please drop me a line.
Sara Burlingame, Director of Religious Education (DRE)