Lifespan Faith Formation

“Conversation across difference is essential within our congregations
and in our multicultural society.”
The term “Lifespan Faith Formation” is a way to combine in one expression the commitment UUs make to lifelong learning and personal growth, along with our responsibility to represent Unitarian Universalism through openness to the diversity of ideas possible within the seven UU principles. During a transition, it’s especially important to welcome theological diversity. Conversation across difference is essential within our congregations and in our multicultural society. UU congregations can model this ability to use diversity as a springboard for new learning.

In my work as a transition minister, I encourage and support the religious professional responsible for Lifespan Faith Formation. An excellent program of lifelong learning serves a congregation’s children, youth, and adults as they create meaning and purpose in their lives. It also draws in newcomers who seek opportunities to become fully who they are. When time permits, I enjoy teaching an enrichment course for adults or a class for children. At the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, Ohio, I led several Diversity Learning Circles to help UU volunteers develop intercultural competency. At the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, along with a youth who had attended UU summer Youth Leadership School, I taught a six-week Kids Celebrate! class for 4th–6th graders introduced children to the elements of the Sunday service and gave them practice in presenting readings and chalice lightings—skills they now use from time to time on Sunday mornings, to everyone’s delight.

As a minister specializing in transition, I often train facilitators or lead workshops to help leaders develop more tools for the congregational toolkit. Stakeholder meetings (from Adaptive Leadership) generate ideas to revitalize an area of congregational life or help members attend to the differing perspectives on a contentious issue. One of my goals is to help congregations become more resilient and less likely to be mired in unnecessary conflict.

Photos: Outdoor conversation at a UU camp (top); chalice-lighting at UUA General Assembly.


Faith Formation Curricula (Author):

  •  “Inclusive Conversation Workshop,” teaching through practice how to carry on
  • conversations across the barriers that otherwise might separate us (2001).
  •  “Virtues of Peace: A Curriculum for a Circle of Trust,” (2010) (a small group ministry
  • curriculum on developing inner peace) (co-authored with Peter Goetz).
  •  “Frameworks: The US Constitution and American Public Policy,” a discussion series on
  • constitutional issues affecting social policy and related to UU values (2007-2010).
  •  Workshop, “Introduction to Adaptive Leadership”(2011).

Jennifer has deep listening skills that let people know that they have been heard, which then opens them to a dialogue for understanding opinions and perspectives that are different from their own.  Jennifer is training facilitators for dialogue circles to seek members’ ideas about our mission and the types of supportive behavior to which they aspire. This has been invaluable to members of our congregation as we move through a time of transition.

—Rev. Judith Cady, Minister of Lifespan Religious Development, All

Faith Formation Teaching Experience:

  •  Intergenerational Coordinator, UU Mid-Atlantic camp (with Penny O’Brien).
  •  Planner of “Stone Soup” Sunday and author of kids’ play for the service.
  •  8th Grade Coming of Age Class; helped to re-design program at Paint Branch.
  •  “From Jesus to Christ” (based on video documentary)
  •  “Inclusive Conversation” Workshop (2001-2004)
  •  Organizer, speaker series, Invitation to Religious Inquiry (2003-2006)
  •  Speaker, “Process Theology” at BCD Fall Conference 2007
  •  Facilitator, Weaving the Fabric of Diversity
  •  Facilitator, Frameworks: The US Constitution in American Public Life
  •  Facilitator, “This I Believe” Workshop
  •  Facilitator, “Virtues of Peace”
  •  Trainer of Facilitators, Small Group Ministry Program
  •  Trainer of Facilitators, for Mission & Vision Dialogue Circles
  •  Facilitator, Dialogue Circles on Process
  •  Trainer, Introduction to Adaptive Leadership (2011)