Acting Religious Educator Job Description

The Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington is seeking an Acting Religious Educator

The goals of our religious education program are to nurture a Unitarian Universalist identity in our children and youth, to encourage them to explore their own questions, and to foster respect for the beliefs of others.   

Responsibilities:

This position reports to the minister, representing a 20 hours/week commitment. Responsibilities include:

  • Work with the minister and Religious Education (RE) Committee to present a vibrant RE program integrated in keeping with the mission of the congregation. Our mission:  Seek Answers Everywhere, Include Everyone, Live with Compassion
  • Recruit, train, and support volunteer teachers
  • Prepare classroom space and materials, and send weekly lesson plans to teachers
  • Be on-site to assist teachers at least 3 Sundays per month
  • Participate in developing/presenting Message for All Ages, intergenerational services, and periodic Children’s Chapel
  • Coordinate intergenerational community building activities, including Social Justice/outreach opportunities
  • Communicate regularly with parents and the congregation regarding the RE program
  • Supervise teen helpers
  • Welcome and orient new families
  • Administrative responsibilities include: registration; maintaining attendance records; budget development/monitoring; writing monthly reports to the minister/RE Committee; tracking/reporting hours for paid youth assistants
  • Coordinate selection, and adaptation of curriculum, working with minister and RE Committee
  • Keep current and implement good practices related to child safety and faith development.
  • Manage development of RE policies, and ensure implementation
  • Attend staff meetings, and monthly RE Committee meeting

Qualifications:

  • Experience working with children and youth
  • Experience in a Unitarian Universalist congregation, or in another liberal religious congregation
  • Experience in education program development preferred

Starting salary is $19,000. The Acting position will be reviewed in June 2022, and next steps for the program will be determined in June 2023.  At that time, the person in this position will be welcome to apply for a permanent position.

Please send a resume and letter of interest to Reverend Glenn Farley at RevFarley@gmail.com.

Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington, 25301 Halsted Rd, Farmington Hills, MI 48335

Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington

Located in Farmington Hills, we are a small congregation, with a mix of ages and religious/philosophical backgrounds.  Over the past 25 years, we’ve moved from predominantly humanist to a broader range of “spiritual paths.” 

Sunday mornings are important for our congregation.  The church service usually draws between 30 to 50 percent of our membership.  The Religious Education program has been growing strongly in recent years, and we have supervised child care for younger children.

A legacy of the church that carries forward to today is a deep interest and participation in Social Justice. The Social Justice committee has historically been one of the largest of the standing committees, providing several opportunities each year for members to engage with community food banks, shelters, and support groups. Where possible, they look for activities where families can participate.  

Pre-COVID we’ve always enjoyed a large number of group social events, including a yearly dinner and auction, summer picnic, and family weekend at a local camp, as well as frequent potlucks after Sunday Service, and other ad hoc activities. The auction usually offers numerous dinners/gatherings for smaller groups, but also several events open to everyone.

Special interest groups also play a role, including family game night, an artist’s group, men and women’s luncheon groups, and a “Daytimers” group for those over 55. Over the years, adult education classes have also been popular.

 Our Mission and Values:

Mission:  Seek Answers Everywhere, Include Everyone, Live with Compassion

Our core values include our commitment to maintaining a close-knit church community (including our children), having a positive impact in our local communities, and focusing on environmental issues

To maintain our church community during the pandemic: 

  • We continued to provide a strong presence on Sunday mornings through virtual services, RE classes, and coffee hour.
  • When state guidelines allowed, we gathered outside for services and other family-oriented events including Halloween on our nature trail, and a fairy garden scavenger hunt.
  • For the children, we created and hosted role-playing games on Zoom, built “UUCF” using Minecraft, and hosted virtual movie nights
  • For our elders, drive-by celebrations were arranged for birthdays, and calls were organized to keep in touch.
  • Some of our social groups continue to meet virtually. 

We actively participate in local community support organizations.  Examples include: 

  • Building a playground and hosting events for an asylum seeker shelter.
  • Each year collecting backpacks and supplies for homeless shelters.
  • When meeting in person, the collection plates from one Sunday a month are given to community organizations.
  • We have an ongoing collection (different items each month) for a shelter for women and children.

In support of the environment:  

  • We started a plastic-use-reduction program involving education opportunities for members, reducing/eliminating using plastics for coffee hours and church social events, and re-writing our rental policies regarding what could be used at catered events.
  • To involve our children, we held a drive to collect hundreds of pounds of plastic caps which were turned into benches (one for our playground, and one for Freedom House, a local home for asylum seekers).

 Our History 

Founder Sergius P. Lyon, a layman, arrived in Farmington, Michigan, from Western New York in 1837 with his wife Lucinda.  He wasted no time in calling for preachers of the faith, primarily Rev E. M. Woolley, to spread the good news of Universalism to his newly found friends and neighbors. It was “through his determined energy and zeal” that a Universalist preaching station was established here.  After arriving in Michigan, Lyon worked as a carpenter, architect, and builder. Many homes and barns constructed in and around the township were the work of his skilled hands. 

The need for a meeting house had become apparent by the end of the 1840s. From 1849 to 1851, Lyon raised money, purchased lumber and other goods, and got the work started. As a master builder, he knew it was necessary to prepare lumber well in advance of construction. Acquiring the best logs he could find, he hand-hewed them into squared beams measuring sixteen inches across in either direction, then allowed the wood to cure for at least a year. 

Today we are thankful for Lyon’s skill: He knew how to build a structure that would last indefinitely. Construction of the Meeting House began in the spring of 1853.  The work, done by the expert hands of the architect of the congregation and assisted by volunteer labor from other members, was completed in the summer of 1853. The dimensions of the original meeting house we1840s – Universalists began meeting at Sergius P. Lyons’ residence. 

Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington timeline:

1853 – The church was built and services were held in a dedicated building.

1866 – Members abandoned the old designation “Union Society” and set up “The First Universalist Church of Farmington.”

1860s – Sojourner Truth spoke against slavery at the church. 

1894 – 1911 – The Ladies Union was responsible for fundraisers and recruiting efforts that allowed the church to survive many difficult years.

1949 – Extensive remodeling of the Meeting House including a basement and repositioning of the building.

1961 – Renamed “The Universalist-Unitarian Church of Farmington.”

1967 – Building moved from Warner & Thomas in Farmington to Halsted Rd in Farmington Hills, site of Centennial Farm owned by members Ethel and Harley Gibson.

1970s – Rev Robert Miles Eddy hosted a local talk radio program.  The first non-theist minister to serve UUCF, Rev Eddy espoused controversial views regarding the Vietnam War and sexuality.

1980s – Rev Joan Kahn-Schneider made concerted effort to reach out to the gay community.

1986 – Expansion of the building including sanctuary and modern kitchen.  Installation of stained glass window above the altar gifted by Rev Kahn-Schneider.

1990 – Establishment and dedication of the Memorial Garden. 

1999 – Celebration of 150th anniversary of founding.

2000 – Created a nature trail on property.

2008 – Achieved Welcoming Congregation certification.

2006 – 2014 – Adult Education Program offered to members and public in the spring and fall (6 week sessions)

2011 – Elevator installed.

2018 – Paved parking lot 30 feet wide and 40 feet in length.  

2021 – Installed solar panels, which were donated to the church by Dave Friedrichs and Dennis Slotnick in honor of their mothers, both long time members of the congregation.

Date founded:  1838 according to History of Oakland County. 

Our Building and Grounds 

Our sanctuary began its life as a Universalist church in downtown Farmington.  In 1967 it was moved from Farmington to its location on seven wooded acres by members from their former family farmstead.

Over the years, many improvements have been made to the building and grounds, including:  expanding the meeting house; adding a full social hall and kitchen; building a wing for classes and office space; improving accessibility with an elevator and accessible bathroom; and building a nature trail that winds through our woods.  Through all, we’ve maintained the historic beauty of our original meeting space.

 Our Connection to UUA Resources and the Community

Our Religious Education committee has used curriculum from Soul Matters in the past, but over the last year, we pulled from multiple sources to make our own curriculum, calling it “Holy Stories” and focusing on world religions. Last summer, we pulled from the Tapestry of Faith Curriculum “Creating Home.” For art projects we pull ideas from Reggio Emilia-based websites such as artfulparent.com and mericherry.com. Prior to the pandemic, we had plans to train members to be OWL instructors for our future growth in RE. 

Our Social Justice committee maintains connections in the community with organizations such as Freedom House (asylum seekers shelter/program), Gleaners Food Bank, Affirmations (local LGBTQ+ organization), CARES of Farmington Hills (food bank), CROP Walk, and Lighthouse of Oakland County (homeless shelter). We also host a weekly social justice group called “Save the World” that explores different topics and tasks. We have ongoing letter writing campaigns to government officials in conjunction with MUUSJN (Michigan UU Social Justice Network).

Our Sunday Service committee often utilizes resources for service elements through the UUA website (including litanies, chalice lightings, and virtual minister database), hymnals, and local interfaith groups. We have several committee members who are well connected with speakers and ministers of a variety of faiths, and look to bring in diverse and unique speakers, as well as tap into the personal experiences of our membership. We have also tried to grow our exposure and our membership through social media, using Facebook and YouTube to broadcast our service on multiple platforms at the same time. 

Sunday Service

Sunday mornings, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. (when meeting in person), coffee hour following (coffee hour is curtailed during the Pandemic).  These services have been live-streamed, and available on Facebook/YouTube for several years. 

During the pandemic, we continued to stream services each Sunday, with a virtual coffee hour afterward.  When able to meet outside, in addition to live streaming the service, we broadcast on a short-range FM frequency for those who wished to remain in their car.

Our Religious Education Program

Our Religious Education program has grown greatly over the last several years, going from a community of mostly young lower elementary children, to recently adding a teen group and having our largest group in upper elementary this year. Pre-COVID, we had four sections of offerings during service – nursery, lower elementary, upper elementary, and teen. While the church was closed, we held weekly Zoom sessions for ages 6 & under, 7 & up, and teens. We had book discussion groups, art projects, outdoor distanced scavenger hunts, and even found a way to teach the seven principles through a Dungeons & Dragons type role playing adventure. Currently, the nursery is closed and the elementary children meet in Adams Hall, a large meeting space that allows social distancing. The teens occasionally join the younger group, depending on the topic, or meet separately.

RE often looks to collaborate with other committees – such as collecting bottle caps for a recycled bench with the Social Justice committee, or sending out Valentines to older home-bound members with the Membership committee. We began a quarterly magazine this year, featuring writings and artwork from our kids and the church community. Our RE committee and volunteers are a creative and enthusiastic bunch who are excited to continue to grow our programming by adding a Coming of Age this year and an OWL program in the future.  After the pandemic, we hope to have a summer camp week.

The Community We Serve 

UUCF is located in Farmington Hills, a northwest suburb of Detroit.  Detroit is the center of a vibrant metropolitan area. It provides world-class locations for art, music, sporting events, and higher education (including University of Michigan and Wayne State), as well as spots of great beauty.

The two communities of Farmington and Farmington Hills together act as our home. Farmington is the historic center, with an impressive “small town” feel to its downtown, surrounded by older homes. Farmington Hills grew up around it, and is much more suburban in flavor. With figures from the 2010 census, there were 90,112 dwelling units in the combined cities. The population was 69.9% white, 16.7% black, 10.5% Asian, and 1.9% of some Hispanic heritage. Average per capita income in 2010 was $45,156.

Within a roughly 10 miles radius of UUCF, and excluding Farmington and Farmington Hills, there are 12 municipalities. Several have nice walking downtowns, others are more suburban. In 2010 there were a total of 446,908 dwelling units in them. Demographics vary significantly, but the average was 77.3% white, 6.6% black, 11.1% Asian, and 2.9% Hispanic people, and an average per person income of $47,790.

Within the roughly 10 mile radius, there are no UU churches aside from UUCF. There are, though, several more in metro Detroit.