OWL program still thriving at five years
Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Grades 7 to 9 (owl) is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Our Whole Lives (www.uua.org/owl) is an integrated and comprehensive series of sexuality education curricula designed for five age groups: grades K-1, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, and adults. Its goal is to provide age-appropriate information and skills in the context of values, health, and responsibility.
The junior high age level curriculum, published in 1999, has sold more than 1,600 copies. Teachers have been trained to lead the program in 525 Unitarian Universalist congregations. This age group is the most popular curriculum of the series.
The series was developed jointly by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ’s United Church Board for Homeland Ministries. owl itself contains no explicit religious references, but its companion resource, Sexuality and Our Faith, explores the relationship between our faith and sexuality.
New ‘Infidel’ newsletter
The UU Infidels, a new organization of atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists, has begun publishing a newsletter, In Search of Reason. The first issue came out last spring and the second was expected in October.
Editor Timothy F. Travis said part of the newsletter’s purpose is to provide an alternate voice to UU World, which he says “does not represent the full interest of UUs who are skeptics and nonbelievers” and to counter advocates of a language of reverence.
The group may be contacted at UU Infidels, firstname.lastname@example.org.
UUA president is arrested in protest at Sudanese Embassy
UUA President William G. Sinkford was arrested August 25 in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., as part of a protest against genocide in the Darfur region of western Sudan. More than 30 UUs demonstrated at the embassy, including 10 ministers, out of a group of more than 100. The demonstration followed a special worship service at Washington’s All Soul’s Church, Unitarian.
The protest was part of the “Sudan: Day of Conscience” actions organized by the Save Darfur Coalition. In early August, Sinkford was one of the initial signers of the Coalition’s Unity Statement. The text of the statement is online at www.savedarfur.org.
Sinkford was held five hours and released. No court appearance was required. Others arrested were actor/activist Danny Glover, Trans- Africa Forum president Bill Fletcher, and Salih Booker and Emira Woods, also from TransAfrica Forum.
In his sermon at All Souls, Sinkford said, “This is a day of conscience.
We come to stand in solidarity with persons who are suffering, who are
starving, who are dying, who are being raped. Although there are many
things we cannot change, we can change what is happening in Sudan.”
According to event coordinator Paula Cole Jones, an All Souls member and UUA antioppression consultant, witnessing on behalf of victims on the other side of the world is the right thing to do in and of itself, but it also helps further justice within our own UU communities. Reflecting on the day’s events, Jones said, “When the UUA and our congregations take a public stand around matters of race, our religious community and our faith become more relevant to people of color, and as a result, we become more multicultural.”
For more information on how you and your congregation can help in Darfur, visit the UUA’s Washington Office Web site and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Darfur page.
UUs ‘attend’ GA off-site at Maine camp
While 4,700 UUs gathered in Long Beach, Calif., for the 2004 General Assem- bly in June, campers at Ferry Beach, a UU camp in Saco, Maine, held the first-ever “GA Away From GA.”
Through Internet coverage, some GA programs were shown live, including the Sunday worship service, the Ware Lecture with guest speaker Holly Near, and parts of the plenary sessions. Other programs were presented later because of the three-hour time difference.
There were some technical difficulties, but “it was a better experience than most of us had imagined,” said David Tedesco, conference coordinator. “We sang when the assembly sang and prayed when they did. We had our own banner parade with 12 homemade banners.”
“During the Service of the Living Tradition we watched our friends’ achievements celebrated and cheered with them,” said Roger Comstock, another participant. One person at Ferry Beach, the Rev. Fayre Stephenson, was received into final fellowship as a UU minister at this GA, but was unable to make the trip to Long Beach.
“She watched it with us and when her name was called, she went up and pretended to shake hands with the image of Bill Sinkford on the wall,” said Comstock. “It was very real for her and for us. When the Rev. Ralph Mero in Long Beach asked for contributions to the Living Tradition Fund, we held our own collection, raising almost $1,000.”
Eleven campers signed up for the GA Away program, which was the inspiration of Helen Zidowecki, program consultant for the Northeast District. Events were open to other campers as well, and up to 20 attended some events. The camp will repeat the experience next year for the Fort Worth GA.