Rites of passage marking the transition from childhood to youth run throughout history and occur in many cultures. Our Unitarian Universalist tradition marks this transition with a program called Coming of Age (COA).
COA asks youth to reflect upon what it means to be a Unitarian Universalists and how their beliefs and values intersect, all while providing a fun and safe environment in which doubt and questioning are encouraged. The youth focus on themselves, their own spiritual journey, and how they will be involved in the greater community. Run for 8th graders as they prepare to leave middle school and enter high school, this program pairs youth with an adult mentor from the congregation to help facilitate their transition as well as craft their own personal faith credo.
The program includes a Parent/Youth Orientation, discussions & retreats, service projects, a trip (hopefully to Boston), and a culminating ceremony of affirmation. Another plus to this program is that it is a wonderful bonding experience for the group and creates a camaraderie amongst them that continues into Youth Group.
It is important to note that this program is conducted at a time other than our Sunday morning religious education program. The time is mutually agreed upon on a yearly basis.*
Mentors are adult members of the congregation who work with the COA participant throughout the program. Their role is to invite conversation, support exploration, and provide the support of an adult outside of the participant’s family. All mentors must adhere to the same standards as other RE teachers and volunteers. A volunteer application, signed Code of Ethics, and background check must all be on file with the Director of Lifespan Religious Education.
A credo, stemming from the latin for ‘I believe,’ is a personal statement of faith. These credos make take the form of a written statement, original work of art, poetry, multi-media display, song, video, meditation, silence, or any other worship element.
Ceremony of Affirmation
The Coming of Age Program ends with a worship service, called a Ceremony of Affirmation, which includes both recognition and celebration. Youth often share their credo with those in attendance. Parents and/or mentors often speak about the youth and their process of transitioning into adolescence.
*It is best if your youth is committed to all of the sessions to fully get meaning from the process.
For more information about COA at UUFCC, please call the church office at (814) 237-7605.