“Unitarian Universalist religious education is about equipping adults and children to face life experiences, to reflect, make meaning, and grow from those experiences. In this way religious education helps to “orient” you to your own path. Stories are a powerful tool, they help us to understand the way things work in the world, teach us about family, conflict, and about our values. This is why much of our religious education is based in stories. We want both children and adults to have a library of potential narratives to help make sense of life, to help know which way the wind is blowing, and how to deal with obstacles that come our way.” — adapted UUA
Religious Education, or Faith development, is an ongoing, lifelong process. From parents nurturing infants and modeling values to their children, children exploring the world, young adults questioning and challenging “truths”, adults increasing their understanding of the world with all its complexity, uncertainty, and choices, and elders enjoying freedom and living with grace and courage meeting life’s challenges, faith development is an ongoing journey with opportunities and changing needs along the way. It is also a process that takes many forms: learning, unlearning, engaging, caring, daring, forgiving, creating, supporting and being supported in a beloved community.
Meet the Director
Ms. Bethany S. Ward
Director of Lifespan Faith Development
Bethany grew up the daughter of deeply religious parents in mid-Ohio and later spent her early adulthood raising her three children with her husband in Cleveland. In 1997, while seeking a religious home to nurture the spiritual lives of their children, Bethany found that the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland gave their family that very opportunity. To her delight, she also found that her own love of their newly adopted faith tradition would eventually blossom into a deeply rewarding career.
Bethany served First Unitarian first as a Religious Education teacher, then as the chairperson to the Youth Religious Education Committee. It was in this role that she changed her college major from Psychology to Religious Studies and voraciously pursued a professional career in liberal religious education.
She has served the Olmsted Unitarian Universalist Congregation as Director of Lifespan Faith Development and is currently the President for the OMD Chapter of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA).
Seven years ago, Bethany and her family moved to an historic farmhouse in Bath Township, Oh, to cooperatively use the principles of permaculture to cultivate a small homestead. It is here where they now happily live and grow together, sharing their farmette with their large and beloved menagerie.