RE Connections

What a fun going-away party you all threw for me on May 4! Thank you so much! I enjoyed the energy, the festivity, and the faces of so many people I’ve become fond of over these past four years. I am glad that I will be with you all through the end of the church year, so there are still more opportunities to see you all and to say goodbye.

As the end of the school year and church year are on the horizon, I’ve been starting to reflect on my time at FUUSN. What a time it has been! Together, we expanded our Our Wholes Lives sexuality program to encompass the 1st and 5th grade curricula as well. We added a Junior Youth Group, allowing our middle school youth to get to dive into activities they’re excited about, to do justice and create spirituality, and to build community with other kids across the grade levels. We expanded the Coming of Age program to allow our participants to go deeper into the Comparative Religions program and to spend the Coming of Age year getting to work with our Youth Programs Coordinator, participate in the Junior Youth Group, and attend FUUSN worship services, in addition to the Thompson Island trip, the activities with mentors, and credo-writing pieces, while honoring the busy schedules of today’s youth. Taking a new perspective on Youth Ministry, we’ve supported and expanded our Youth Teacher program, reincorporated Coffee House in our Religious Education program, and revitalized the presence of youth in our congregation. The Adult Faith Development Task Force took a deep dive into exploring the religious and spiritual strengths and needs in our congregation and a committee is mapping the way forward while we’ve also started exploring how we do religious education for our children and families and whether that is working as effectively as it could be. Together, we’ve responded to challenge with a restorative justice process, experimented with bringing faith home with the Traveling Chalice, taught kids to lead worship for each other on Special Sundays, and more. It’s been a full and rich four years, and I’m amazed by both how much fun I’ve had and how much I’ve learned through the process. re connections (continued)

It is precisely because of my love for you all and the work we have done together that I am continuing on to my next step, starting the Master of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School. While I’m not entirely sure where this next step will take me, I know that I am excited to continue learning and to explore the diversity of roles and tasks that fall in the category of ministry. And I also know that I will miss you all dearly as well. As is the custom, I will be taking some space from FUUSN this coming year to let your new DLRE find their place here, and to allow me to focus on my own studies as well. I will be thinking of you all often and will come back to visit when I can!                                                                                                  With love & in faith, Rowan Van Ness