Faith Formation Focus: “What’s in a Name?”

One of the first and most important ways that we connect to another person or thing is through learning their name. Each of us is identified by our personal names and by the names we call ourselves like, in my case, mother, sister, wife, friend, director and Unitarian Universalist.  Some people would even say that in order to think about (or especially talk about) anything, we have to name it first. Eskimos have 50 names for different types of snow, because in Eskimo culture snow just doesn’t cut it. They think more, talk more, and know more about snow than we do and so they have more names. In Isaiah 43 it says, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” When you can call a thing by it’s name, it more belongs to you.

In an article called Evangelizing our Children, Toni Morrison talks about what we should be teaching our kids.  And he says for starters we should be teaching our kids the name of our church.  Our church has a very long (in fact, 10 syllable) name since the merger so this requires some focus.  In service of trying to teach our little ones the name of our religion we sing a song in Religious Education to the tune of Bingo that goes,

There was a people had a church and UU was it’s name-0.  Unitarian Universalist, Unitarian Universalist, Unitarian Universalist and UU was it’s name-O!

After kids know the name of our church they can add to that concept what it is that UUs believe.  Here is Morrison’s simple answer and I think it is a good one.  Unitarian Universalists believe in–

1) Loving your neighbor as yourself, which includes trying not to steal, lie, kill or hurt people in any other way.

2) Making the world a better place, which includes working for justice peace and freedom for all people

3) Searching for the truth with an open mind  


Morrison admonishes us to listen to the ideas and beliefs of our children and also to, “Tell them why you belong to a UU congregation and, heresy of heresies- tell them you hope they will be Unitarian Universalists too when they grow up. That’s right.  Of course you will love them whether they do or not but this is a good religion and its doing good things.  And nothing is wrong with telling our kids we hope they will keep up the good work.”

We will be exploring the theme of Identity during the month of February. Do our kids yet identify as Unitarian Universalists? No matter where they are on the spectrum of identifying with our faith, as teachers and parents it is important to share our own religious identities with them.  Through embracing the identities that mean the most to us we can all “keep up the good work” of loving and supporting our kids as they strengthen their own identities both in and out of our church.

Coming up in February:

Sunday Feb. 12th – Mystery Pal Party after second session of church in the R.E. wing

Sunday Feb. 15- Youth Ally Summit at BVUUF from 5:30- 8:30 p.m. for all those who work with our youth in both congregations

Friday Feb. 10 and Friday Feb. 17 – High School Night for planning Youth Service

Wed. Feb. 22nd– Middle School Night  (6:00-8:00)

Sunday Feb. 26 – Full Church Youth Service offered by our High School group