Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog


Testimonial for Capital Giving Campaign — “Building the Beloved Community” —

October 14, 2012.

My Testimonial

Delivered by Maxine Cornwell at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento

Imagine 1959:

There are no freeways in Sacramento.  Highway 50 is Folsom Boulevard; I-80 is Highway 40, which makes its way slowly through Roseville, Citrus Heights, Town and Country, North Sacramento, Del Paso Heights and eventually into Sacramento; Highway 99 follows Stockton Boulevard; and I-5 isn’t yet even a dream.

Bob and I are living in Fair Oaks with our 4 ½-year-old son Bobby, and 2-year-old daughter Nancy.  We wanted religious education for our son; after all he would start kindergarten in the fall.  So we began going to the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church.

But soon Bobby’s reports from Sunday School alarmed us:  threats of hell, being damned from birth; descriptions of sin, even original sin—teachings we considered totally inappropriate for a 4-year-old, or perhaps even for a 14-year old.

We started putting the children to bed really early, and staying up late into the night sharing our thoughts about what we wanted from church for them and also for ourselves.

One Wednesday when I was participating at Bobby’s preschool, I mentioned our dilemma to another mother.  She said, “Come with me to my church.”

So the following Sunday, we loaded our children into our 1954 Oldsmobile and followed her family down Fair Oaks Boulevard all the way to the First Unitarian Church on 27th Street.

Bobby came out of RE that morning with a story about Martin and Judy and their wondrous discoveries in their own back yard.

In the coming weeks and months, Bob and I would learn that Martin and Judy was the first in a curriculum series developed by Sofia Lyon Fahs for Unitarian religious education beginning in preschool and ending in the last year of high school.

Here was what we had described to each other:  a program based on the stage of the child’s development that taught wonder, courage, open-mindedness, inclusiveness, and a basic understanding of the Judeo-Christian culture in which he/she would live rather than fear, guilt, and dogma.

This curriculum became the basis for RE in our home and at church for Bobby and Nancy and for the other two children we would have, Launa and Carrie.

Today we want to be a part of ensuring that this kind of RE will be available here in this place for our grandson, Alec Redmond, and for all of the daughters, sons, granddaughters, and grandsons whose parents seek a developmentally appropriate liberal religious education program for their children during the next 50 or more years.

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