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Using OWL to Grow Congregations

Posted by Deborah Neisel-Sanders // March 28th 2012 // Guides and Tools, young adults, youth // no comments

A thought provoking story from the UU Growth Strategy Blog. -Ed.

Sexuality Education As a Growth Strategy

Posted in Associational, Spiritual Vitality on March 20th, 2012 by Tandi Rogers – 3 Comments

You may have already heard me explain why I am a Unitarian Universalist evangelical. It’s because when I open the news I lament, “If only <insert public figure here> had taken Our Whole Lives…”  Many of you may chuckle and assume I’m making a cheeky sexual joke.  But take a moment and think about it.  Our Whole Lives (OWL) teaches not just the biology of sexual expression but also power, communication, consensual behavior, abuse, boundaries, differentiation, and accountability to something larger than ourselves.”  What if <insert the public figure who frustrates you the most here> had taken OWL?

OWL is the sexuality curriculum co-written by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.  It is called Our Whole Lives, because this life-long curriculum acknowledges that we are sexual beings in formation our whole lives.  The levels offered reflect that:  kindergarten-first, forth-fifth, seventh-ninth, tenth-twelfth, young adult, and adult. The guiding values are self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, justice and inclusivity.  Classroom teachers are specially prepared by OWL trainers to offer this interactive, dynamic curriculum.  The training alone is often transformational for teachers. It is a program that brings children, youth and adults closer to our faith. It gives participants tools to be more fully and responsibly in the world.

Sometimes I open up an email from a congregation struggling through authority issues or muddled boundaries or a bullying leader, and I think, “If only they offered OWL…”

More and more congregations are opening up their classes to members of other liberal faith traditions in their community and reporting, “we should have done this sooner!”  OWL is one of those gifts in which Unitarian Universalists are uniquely qualified to offer the wider world.  This is a powerful way we can serve our world.  Rather than keeping it all to ourselves, consider advertising classes and inviting others to participate.  Go beyond your congregation’s religious community and share the saving messages in OWL. You may contact your district staff to help strategize how best to do this.

  • A list of teacher/facilitator trainings may be found here.
  • Frequently Asked Questions may be found here.
  • To purchase curriculum visit the UUA Bookstore and search OWL by subject.

Think about what your life might be like if you’d taken OWL as a child, as a youth, as a young adult… It’s not too late to liberate and transform yourself, your congregation, and your wider community.

Tandi Rogers serves as Growth Strategist at the Unitarian Universalist Association and Program Specialist for the Pacific Northwest District.

About the Author

Deborah Neisel-Sanders is the Office Administrator for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. She can be reached at dsanders@uua.org.
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