As American Unitarian Universalists, we have inherited a long tradition of congregational polity. Basically, I explain to the kids that this means we are organized and governed at the level of local congregations. The decision-making and governing authority in a UU congregation is the congregation itself, based on the democratic processes of its membership body.
Taking part in congregational decision making is part of how one engages with their UU identity – we are a people who get a vote and a voice. I think it’s important for our kids to also experience this in their religious education program.
Each year for the last three years I’ve held a Children’s Annual Meeting in the spring. I blogged about the first year of it back on my other blog, The Curriculum of Love. Each year I’ve repeated that basic process, with three committees and a simple voting process to choose where to send the Children’s Offering money.
It is honestly one of my very favorite things I do with the kids all year long. Every year, they have been actively engaged in this process. The kids seem interested – in fact one of the adults helping this year said afterward “kids really like committees!”. I think they experience some genuine empowerment through getting to make real decisions.
I think a democratic RE program is so important, in fact, that I’m wondering if next year I couldn’t hold two meetings, one in the Fall and one in the Spring. What other decisions should the kids be making for themselves?