Hello First UUers,
This is Amber Scott, Religious Exploration Coordinator here at First UU. Rev. Marian is away on Study Leave and vacation, returning on August 20t
Thank you for sharing your warm words of welcome as I join the staff team! I especially enjoyed meeting some of you at CER Summer Institute, and it has been great to hear what everyone loves and is excited about in the Religious Exploration program. Since I am a new face to many of you, I thought I might give you a bit of my background in today’s Tuesday Talk.
I grew up in UU spaces and places, and have spent most of my adulthood here in Columbus. My family briefly attended a small UU fellowship in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The group was small enough that they rented space from a local school, and there weren’t always enough members to continue meeting. The vast majority of my childhood spiritual practice was spent in the cathedral with no ceiling – outdoors under the big open sky. We lived on a former farm property, and I would disappear into the forests and fields for hours at a time. My younger brother and I invented games and made props out of natural objects. I caught hundreds of frogs, and we helped my dad plant hundreds of pine saplings to reforest fallow farm tracts.
My family moved to Northeast Ohio the summer before I started fifth grade, and after briefly attending the Akron church, we settled in at the Kent congregation. Karen Lapidus was the Director of Religious Education there at the time, and she made the Sunday school classrooms and youth meetings a truly magical place to be. Many of my cousins’ families also made the move from Pennsylvania to Ohio, and we all settled in the town my grandparents picked, Hudson, Ohio. As a part of a large and close Irish Catholic extended family, my brother, Luke, and I grew up with a veritable horde of cousins to play with! Our big family is still very close, something that seems rare these days. When we gather for holidays or Sunday dinner, we are a riot of laughter, games, and voices raised in song. Our long standing tradition of the “fam jam” – an alchemy of instruments and vocal harmony – established singing and music making as a spiritual practice for me.
Youth spaces and events showed me how to embody and live out my UU values, and provided a platform for me to explore spirituality, ethics, and politics with the support of teenaged peers and adult advisors. I was a quiet kid when I became a youth, but taking on peer leadership roles in youth group and at regional youth conferences taught me how to use my voice. In 2004 I graduated from high school and began college at The Ohio State University. The skills and confidence I had gained as a youth continued to serve me as a young adult – I was one of the founding members of the Ohio State campus ministry group, FOCUUS (Fellowship of Campus Unitarian Universalists), and served on the Summer Institute Young Adult Panel before becoming a member of the larger CER SI Planning Committee. As a young adult off at college, Summer Institute and Winter Institute became places for me to reconnect with old friends, and spend time with my brother and my dad, Jim. Having those spiritual touchstones during years of tumultuous class schedules was truly a blessing! Summer Institute and First UU’s Labor Day Retreat are kindred spirits in that they are both fonts of sunny summer magic. If you have never attended, I encourage you to check out the Retreat in September, and set your sights on SI for July next year!
Throughout my life I’ve had opportunities to learn about spiritual practices by observing folks that are grown. In the UU church we talk about Lifespan Faith Development in part because parents and other adults are children’s most important spiritual teachers. Being spiritually grounded and living out our values as grown people is one of the best ways to foster the spirit of our congregation and denomination in our children and youth. As a child I was instilled with natural wonder by my outdoorsy parents, and listened to and supported by my big extended family. As a youth and as a young adult, I got to hear my dad tell stories of spiritual moments he experienced in AA groups and on retreats, and I got to watch my Mom, Sheri, experiment with spiritual practices such as Buddhist meditation to find what works for her.
I studied art education in college, with the intent to teach visual arts in PreK-12 classrooms. I received my BA and licensure after student teaching, but ultimately ended up working in Early Childhood Education. Starting when I was a student, I taught in Early Childhood classrooms for seven years. I also worked for the nonprofit Secular Student Alliance for a time, empowering and supporting college students who run humanist and atheist campus groups. My variety of experiences as a UU kid, youth, and young adult, and my interactions with children, youth, and young adults as a teacher, student teacher, and campus organizer helped me to appreciate the needs and gifts of these age groups. Social dancing and being a member of the SI Planning Committee taught me that folks far older than myself can be my peers (and are just as interested in having fun as I am)! With these things in mind, I am very excited to get to know the members, friends, and families of First UU better, and to discover the interconnections we share.
Have a great week!