24 October 2004

Our Whole Lives and Unitarian Universalist Influences on Liberal Protestants

This post is in response to a discussion thread on Philocrites blog regarding Unitarian Universalist influence on liberal Protestant thought.

I'll disagree that Unitarian Universalism isn't in the vanguard of liberal religious thought today when it comes to one of the most important religious education topics we cover in our congregations. There's one area where we have led the way and blazed the trail for Protestant denominations.

Back in 1967, deryk calderwood was the LREDA (Liberal Religious Educators Association) Fall Conference theme speaker.

In 1968, deryk and a team of curriculum developers were later asked by the UUA to create a sexuality education curriculum for use in UU congregations in response to requests from parents in our congregations. They wanted resources to educate our youth on a potentially emotionally charged and delicate subject. They also wanted a curriculum that reflected UU values. In 1971, the UUA had a curriculum for early adolescents called About Your Sexuality or AYS. AYS was used for many years and revised three times before going out of print in 1997.

Some background history on UU involvement in sexuality education can be found here:

"Sex Education and Religious Liberty" by Rev. Dave Weissbard

and here:

Our Whole Lives Interfaith Roots

You're probably asking yourself .... "Steve, what does this have to do with liberal Protestant thought?"

Here's my answer:

In 1992, Gene Navias (UUA Religious Education Department) and Faith Johnson (United Church of Christ's United Church Board for Homeland Ministries) started discussions that led to the creation of Our Whole Lives and Sexuality and Our Faith. OWL and Sexuality and Our Faith are a lifespan curriculum series for grades K-1, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, and adults that can be taught in UU, UCC, and secular community settings.

Since most UU adults were not raised as UU (and didn't have the opportunity to take AYS or OWL as adolescents), they now have an opportunity to participate in Adult OWL and discover how UU sexuality education engages the mind, body, and soul. It also respects us as complete persons with our sexuality as a major component of who we are.

From our initial ground-breaking work in late 60's and early 70's, we moved to partnership with the UCC in the early 90's. And in Summer 2004, this partnership has expanded to include the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Rev. Kaye Edwards (Disciples of Christ Director Of Family and Children's Ministries) was recently trained to be an Our Whole Lives K-1/4-6 trainer. I'm looking forward to seeing more interfaith cooperation in religious sexuality education in the future.

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