Free, fully searchable religious education curricula for all ages.
They were asking for the moon. In return, they got the moon and the stars. Over the last decade, a team of UUA religious educators has compiled 14,000 new pages of religious education curricula. All of those pages are now available for free on the Internet in the UUA’s comprehensive Tapestry of Faith program. They support religious education programming starting in kindergarten, with abundant resources for students through high school as well as curricula for young adults, adults, elders, and retirees.
“No other denomination has all this online free,” said Judith Frediani, curriculum director of the UUA’s Resource Development Office, which created Tapestry of Faith. The accessibility of the information means that it can be used not only by religious educators, but also by anyone else searching the Web. “It’s a tool that brings religious education out of the basement,” she said.
The lesson plans—which are all fully searchable at UUA.org/re/tapestry—are now in use by Sunday school teachers each week. And many others are finding ways to use the information, too. District leaders search the database for chalice lightings, conference leaders find stories for workshops, and ministers discover historical information for sermons. “This is a resource that’s ready to use wherever UUs are gathered,” said Frediani, who has worked at the UUA for 27 years.
The site receives more than 100,000 searches each month, as UUs and others navigate the site seeking to learn about Unitarian Universalism or make use of the rich collection of factual information and suggestions for activities and discussion. Among the most popular curricula for children’s programming are “Toolbox of Faith” (Grades 4–5) and “Moral Tales” (Grades 2–3). Popular adult lessons include “Harvest the Power,” about lay leadership, and “Spirit of Life,” which explores spirituality. Each lesson includes a “Taking It Home” activity.
In addition, all the lessons incorporate UU rituals, such as chalice lightings, closings, and faith-based reflection, said Gail Forsyth-Vail, adult programs director, who notes that all the lessons use a common UU language to build the UU community and faith.
The 14,000 pages were nearly a decade in the making. From 2001 to 2003, Frediani and her staff surveyed congregations, religious educators, parents, and youth groups about their religious education needs. They commissioned a team of more than 40 authors to write on specific topics. There are currently 37 different curricula on the site, with more coming.
All the lessons are intentional about viewing issues through the lens of Unitarian Universalism. “It’s called Tapestry of Faith because we’re no longer shying away from acknowledging that we are a religion with a strong heritage of Unitarianism and Universalism,” Frediani said.
Mission:The Office of Resource Development, which produces the Tapestry of Faith curricula, creates materials and provides leadership to support religious education programs for children, youth, adults, and multigenerational groups in congregations.
This article appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of UU World (“Inside the UUA: 'Tapestry' puts curricula online,” page 55).
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Michelle Bates Deakin, a member of First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington, Massachusetts, was a UU World contributing editor from 2006 to 2011 and a UU World senior editor from 2011 to 2014. She is the author of Social Action Heroes: Unitarian Universalists Who Are Changing the World (Skinner House, 2011) and Gay Marriage, Real Life: 10 Stories of Love and Family (Skinner House, 2006).