Greetings from Rev. Jamil!
I would like to extend warm greetings to you. I am the Rev. Jamil Scott and I am very excited to join your community as the new Director of Lifelong Learning. I appreciate that all of you, with the help of the search team, have given your valuable time and effort to the search process. I am also very encouraged that on this new journey toward a lifespan focus of spiritual and faith development at Woodinville UU Church, we are inheriting a healthy child and youth religious education program from the current co-coordinators of RE, Lindsay Rogers, Cora-Goss Grubbs, Rebecca Guthrie, and Alison Bush. Please join me in thanking them for the hard work they have done to create and maintain an exceptional religious exploration program at WUUC.
Lifelong Learning? Spiritual Formation? Faith Development?
First things first, although child and youth religious exploration is a significant and important part of my portfolio as Director of Lifelong Learning, it does not encompass my entire ministry. I am your Director of Lifelong Learning as well; I am here to discern your needs and develop programming to help you be your best selves. I am opening the dialogue to all of you; families, youth, young adult, and elders, to speak with me about your spiritual and religious education goals and hopes.
In my first year, I hope to focus on learning the child and youth program, ensuring it remains healthy, and positioning the program for growth. Next year, there will be more room to discuss adult spiritual development and eventually bridge our programs so that we have true multigenerational learning at WUUC. It will be a continuous effort to seamlessly integrate our adult and child religious exploration program so that we are learning together as one community. I will continually search for new and innovative learning and worship opportunities that will support this goal.
As a Buddhist, I bring nearly 20 years of meditation experience to this ministry. I am also ordained by the International Order of Buddhist Ministers, a Buddhist-humanist endorsing body. My ministerial calling is in religious education and spiritual formation; UU religious education and spiritual direction has provided a non-sectarian, multi-faith and multi-generational opportunity to fulfill this calling. It is this ministry that I offer to Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church and with you I hope to develop a ministry of religious education and spiritual development for all ages at WUUC.
Having been raised in the Black Christian Church in Mississippi, a church formed in the heart of the struggle for civil rights, my religious orientation is heavily justice centered. In my opinion, the aim of religious practice is to see peace, fairness and equality in our world. Our denomination finds itself at a critical juncture with an exceptional opportunity to serve the world. Our earth is suffering tremendously from the pressures that we humans are exerting on her, indigenous peoples are continually being dehumanized, and the disinherited in this country are being impoverished, imprisoned and isolated. And still, my queer family is struggling for equality and social justice.
As a congregation of conscience, this can all feel very overwhelming, but Unitarian Universalists are rising to the challenge by speaking out for the earth, fighting in solidarity with the marginalized, and standing on the side of love. I have heard of your efforts in each of these areas and see your justice work as part and parcel of the lifelong learning focus. Buddhist training has taught me that our primary spiritual goals should be the development of a compassionate heart and cultivation of skillful methods to help heal the world from suffering. These two, the Buddhist approach and our Unitarian Universalist ethic, inform my ministry and I offer these to you as we articulate the faithful path at WUUC.
The lifelong learning focus allows us to map out the spiritual path of our members and friends from birth to the later stages in life; it asks that we all, children and youth, learn together as one community. With the theoretical foundations of the faith development lens articulated by faith developmental giants such as M. Scott Peck, James Fowler, Sophia Lyon Fahs and others, we can define a path of engagement and learning that helps us become our best Unitarian Universalist selves, congruent and self-differentiated, aware and mindful, justice-seeking and full of loving kindness. In the next couple of years, I hope to work with you as we develop a comprehensive path of faith development for our church.
With both our children and adults, it is important that we differentiate between academic learning, traditional education and spiritual/faith development. In Unitarian Universalist child and youth religious education we often try to emulate the traditional classroom, imitating the secular pedagogy, which often causes our children and youth to disengage because they aren’t looking for more school. They, like us, are in church to be in community, to worship, to heal their hearts and find the beauty in the mystery of the universe.
For this reason, we are beginning a program called SpiritJam in our K-5th grade classroom here at WUUC. Our elementary-aged children will alternate Sundays between children’s worship and workshops that are worshipful, experiential, and fun. The workshops, called Jams, include opportunities for engaging our monthly worship theme with music, art, yoga, dance, theater, earth sciences, and play.
This is the beginning of an effort to employ experiential and transformative learning in our entire lifelong learning program at WUUC for children and adults. With the REALL team (religious exploration), I hope to develop programming and administer curricula that address the spiritual needs of our children and youth as well as our adults. We will continue to explore experiential learning modalities and innovative children’s worship that addresses all learning styles and engages a variety spiritual practices.
We Need You!
I look forward to partnering with you in our exploration of lifelong learning. I extend my hand in fellowship to you and welcome a new covenantal relationship with you. I ask that you join me with an open mind and heart in our new path together. As you know, transitions are never easy, I ask that you covenant with me to stay open, to communicate your needs or issues directly to me, to keep the spirit of love in our interactions together, and to make an extra effort to engage in lifelong learning at WUUC as we enter a new and exciting phase of church life at WUUC. We will need your help with both child and adult programming in the next couple of years.
Often we think the job of religious exploration for children and youth is solely the responsibility of parents of our children. This can cause a divide in congregations, the RE program and the adult congregation. The lifelong learning focus asks us to question this assumption. In the spirit of Paulo Freire, we understand that learning happens collaboratively with students and teachers. Volunteering in our children’s program offers an opportunity for all, those with and without children, to learn more about the faithful path. We cannot do lifelong learning at WUUC unless all members of our church engage with our children and youth. Furthermore, the children at Woodinville Unitarian Universalist Church, are all of our children.
There are a few vacancies that need to be filled for this coming year. Whatever your talents are, we need them. Artists, educators, engineers, computer scientist, meditators, and all are welcome to join the child and youth learning community at WUUC. Please email me asap if you would like to enter a path of co-learning with our children and youth this year. Our children and youth have many lessons to teach us. The commitment can be one Sunday to many Sundays throughout the year. We need YOU! Later in the year, I will be asking for a few persons interested in joining me on a new lifelong learning committee to help articulate our adult religious exploration learning path. Please keep a watchful eye out for the opportunity and join me in growing our program.
I want to disclose that I am terrible with names and although I say this when a year has passed and I still haven’t learned names folks then take me seriously. Please forgive me ahead of time, remind me of your name when you speak with me, and wear name badges. Please know that although my nominal short-term memory is exceptionally bad, I see you and care for you.
In an effort to get to know you and your families I am offering an opportunity to have tea or coffee with me after service is portable 1A from 11:15 to 11:45 throughout the year. I hope to meet with three individuals or families each Sunday that I am available. Please sign up here to have Tea time with Rev. Jamil.
Wheew! That is all for now. Thank you for taking the time to read this not so brief greeting from me. May you be well and I look forward to getting to know all of you!