At All Souls, youth in the 9th & 10th grade are encouraged to enter the Coming of Age program. Coming of Age (CoA) is a year-long spiritual journey where our Youth discover and develop their own religious and spiritual identity while fostering their own religious and spiritual growth. Throughout the year we explore Unitarian Universalist History, and the deeds of our ancestors. Through prompts, ancestral quotes, and journaling, our youth explore UU history and different theologies and ways of worship—all while discovering their own value system and belief system and the multiple ways they are interconnected. This age of discovery occurs in a safe and sacred space with other religious pilgrims on the same journey.
The ultimate goal for Coming of Age is for the participants to develop their own individual credos, or statement of belief, which they will proudly present before the congregation in the Coming of Age service. This service is always one of the most anticipated of the year! To help our youth create a good credo it is imperative that we foster the necessary skills to develop their individual beliefs and, more importantly, to live productively and harmoniously in this all-inclusive space.
Unitarian Universalist youth go through this rite of passage in a similar way that their peers may go through a Bar Mitzvah, Bat Mitzvah, or Confirmation. Instead of a creed-based religion where beliefs are prescribed by an external authority, ours is a religion founded on and rooted in individual religious authority.
To further their credo development, each Spring we travel to the Unitarian City, Boston MA. Here, we get to experience how modern Unitarian Universalism, our UU History, and especially US History are all intertwined, including the founding of the United States. For instance, the Declaration of Independence was signed at Arlington Street Church. Just one of the many opportunities to articulate and develop their credos on this special trip.
Our spiritual pilgrimage also took us to Kings Chapel, and Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge. Visiting these historical landmarks together gives us the opportunity to experience these moments together as we continue to develop credos. Sunday, we visited the aforementioned Arlington Street church service, where we took a took tour of their bell tower that looks over Boston Common, and we got a history lesson on their Tiffany-Stained glass windows depicting the life of Jesus. For inspiration, we went to Walden Pond in Concord, MA.
Here, we spent the afternoon in nature where Henry David Thoreau lived in solitude for two years. There is even a replica of this tiny cabin on display. Thoreau wrote some of his most famous works from this very pond. He continues to be an inspiration not only to Unitarian Universalists, but people of all faiths across the globe. Our Youth get the opportunity to hike around Walden Pond and find a sacred space to work on their credo. Over the years, many, many credos have come together at Walden!
We would LOVE for you to join us Sunday, April 2nd for the 10:00 am service at All Souls OR virtually on Zoom/Facebook. These brave souls will share these statements of belief from their hearts to the congregation from the pulpit. Senior Minister Marlin Lavanhar calls Coming of Age Sunday the BEST SUNDAY OF THE YEAR! Join us, won’t you? Visit allsoulschurch.org/worship-services/ for information on how and where to watch.
Corey Smith is the Youth Director at All Souls Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. To learn more about our children’s and youth religious education program, ASK (All Souls Kids), visit allsoulschurch.org/ask.