One year our youth group decided that as part of their church community service, they would each take turns greeting on Sunday morning. It was refreshing to see new and especially younger faces.
One person, however, took exception. Michaela. She put her hands on her hips and said, “How come they get to do that? No one asked me. How come I don’t get to greet?” Not waiting for someone to invite her, Michaela appointed herself the official child-greeter.
I find most Unitarian Universalist congregations have a Michaela, too. Our Michaela was 6 at the time. Just a little peanut of a girl. Very articulate. Very opinionated. With a wild streak of initiative.
She taught me that it’s never to early to develop our leaders. She turned out to be one of the best greeters we ever had. She knew all the members, especially the children. If someone was new, she’s spot them right away, and often ignoring the parents would grab them by the hand, “Hi, I’m Michaela. This is your first time, so I’ll show you around. You’re in third grade? Oh, good. You’re in Ms. Christine’s class and they’re telling Bible Stories. I’ll show you where to go when they sing us out. Come sit by me. Where do you go to school? Uh-hm. Do you prefer dogs or cats? Up here we sit on the chairs. We can’t stand on them with our shoes. Bob just bought them and they’re new. But once you go downstairs we can lay on the floor. Do you prefer cookies or crackers? We have both here. I’ll show you.”
Rather than say, “oh that’s so cute…” our wise Director of Religious Education helped our Membership Chair work with Michaela as a committee member. We are all spiritual peers of varying chronological, experiential, and development stages on our journies, right? The Membership Chair regularly met with Michaela after services to get the scoop on the new families. Michaela worked with the DRE to make sure families got the registration forms and knew where to turn them in. I learned a lot from Michaela’s example.
Religious Education is community-owned and multi-layered. Leadership development is important Religious Education.