having the opportunity to serve a church community like first parish church united (fpcu) during a time of such transition in pastoral staffing has been amazing. as someone who is both a member of the community but still slightly removed, i love seeing how the congregation and the church work together to serve the creator and the wider community. i have been privileged to experience and assist with many community events, both social activities and service activities, as well as lead the religious education classes for middle school students on sundays. being welcomed into this fantastic congregation has been surreal. the amount of love and warmth that has poured out of these congregants has truly been phenomenal. their support for my work here in the community as well as the life I feel called to live has been breathtaking and i feel so honored to be here serving.
one of my favorite facets of my life here at fpcu has been teaching the middle school religious education classes on sundays. before I arrived at fpcu, a different teacher taught the middle school class almost every week. this particular age group discusses a different world religion each month, and the kids were in a whirlwind with all of the different faiths and teachers that were being introduced to them. i brought a sense of consistency and passion to my work (along with a decent amount of nerdiness and sarcasm) with the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in this church.
fostering close small group dynamics and leading deep and meaningful discussions has always been a passion of mine, and i have really been able to put these skills to work here with my kids. each month i choose a world religion to discuss with my students and then, together, we pick topics that they are interested in discussing. some weeks my kids want to talk about the old testament and the historical inaccuracies and whitewashing that is so prevalent in hollywood biblical productions. other weeks my class wishes to discuss things like the concept of eating halal meat or living in the way of the tao. more recently my class has been discussing the historical jesus and the historical context in which the gospels were written. just last week i was leading my middle schoolers in a dialogue about scandalous stories from the old testament and it turned into a conversation about how women have historically been cut down by patriarchal society.
my class is filled with curious young minds that are just as fascinated by the historical context of a faith as they are by its beliefs, which brings me so much joy. each sunday after our class is over i feel incredibly fulfilled and delighted, and i’m reminded just how lucky i am to be a presence in these children’s lives. i’m helping to grow and challenge the next generation of members, and I couldn’t be more enthused about all that I’m doing here. these middle schoolers blow my mind — they’re just that fantastic.