Fahs Research Fellows are educational entrepreneurs in the practice of teaching for religious education. From 2013 to 2017, the Fahs Collaborative sponsored twelve fellows as they conducted research and proposed innovative solutions relevant across the landscape of religious life. Fahs Fellows have included professional religious educators, seminarians, ministers, musicians, and lay people—all of whom are eager to break through the crust of conventional thought and practice. They received a stipend, attended professional conferences, and shared what they learned at conferences and through social media. Though we are not taking new applications at this time, we invite you to explore past fellows’ ideas and resources below.

Youth Ministry Awakenings

Roberta Altamari
It is widely recognized that our high-school-aged youth have unique developmental needs, but how can a congregation build a program where youth get the kind of spiritual nurturance they so desperately need? As a seasoned director of religious education and youth advocate, Roberta Altamari’s programmatic offerings help congregations awaken their understanding of effective youth ministry as they meet the developmental needs of youth.  

UU Tween Spirituality Toolkit

Tracy Beck
While creating a weeknight church event, Tracy Beck decided to create covenant groups for tweens. She sought to support their emerging faith identity with story and ritual, as well as a strong social group. She included a feedback process that centered tweens’ experiences and perspectives in her evaluation of the project. Beck adds to our understanding of this underserved demographic and offers resources to support tweens’ unique needs, for both parents and educators, with her UU Tween Spirituality Toolkit.

Multigenerational Faith Development: “Full Week Faith”

Karen Bellavance-Grace
Karen Bellavance-Grace sparks our creative imagination by re-visioning traditional religious education programs through the lens of faith formation. By harnessing tools that transcend religious education classes, she provides an image of how to invite families into what she calls Full Week Faith. Bellavance-Grace serves on the New England Regional Staff for the Unitarian Universalist Association and is an experienced director of religious education.  

Kinesthetic Faith Formation

Matt Davis
How can we teach theological ideas to our children and youth? How can we help them see the benefits that our Unitarian Universalsit principles offer to their lives? As a theater director and public school teacher, Matt Davis creates and introduces Divine Theater and Dance, a tool for using movement in the service of faith formation. The project includes a website that features templates for leading classes, teaching videos that model how to use the ideas in workshops and classrooms, and music playlists to support all the above.  

Communities of Welcome: Supporting Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Children, Youth, and Families

Melissa James
The needs of trans and/or gender non-conforming children and their families are often seen as separate; this narrative limits our ability to support them. Melissa James developed online and in-person networks to connect families, and articulated gender inclusivity as justice work; a powerful call for Unitarian Universalists.   

Multi-Faith Cross-Cultural Engagement

Kat Liu
Kat Liu called upon the Unitarian Universalist tradition of theological diversity, her wisdom as a scientist, and insights as a Chinese-American Unitarian Universalist to create a multicultural UU liturgical calendar. Her calendar helps us creatively reframe how we think about sacred holidays in our traditions. Liu uses the changing seasons of the year and our ties to ancestors and children as educational/worship material. Liu is a layperson who lives and works in the San Francisco area.

Mosaic Communities: Re-Imagining Religious Communities for Emerging Adults

Kevin Lowry
In his fellowship, Kevin Lowry explored the tender years of young adult spiritual formation. As a college adviser, Lowry creates intentional communities that meet the needs of young people as they find their way in life. His project deftly defined the landscape of these years and offered a specific strategy, what Lowry calls “a Mosaic Community,” as a landing pad for support, connection, and affirmation of young adults’ journeys.  

Innovation in Technology

Phil Lund
As a minister and spiritual director, Phil Lund has spent years developing insights about the use of digital media and web technology in service of faith formation. During his fellowship, Lund piloted a web-based process for discerning matters of spiritual formation, continuing education, collegiality, and spiritual growth. His research outlines the benefits and challenges of web-based spiritual formation.  

Creative Models of Congregation-Based Pilgrimage

David Messner
Pilgrimage is an ancient spiritual practice; it retains transformative power today. In a time defined by alienation and dislocation, a shared journey opens hearts, while creating and deepening connections between travelers and to the wider world. Pilgrimage creates a “thickened context” that supports community-building, and offers new possibilities in collaborative faith development. Rev. David Messner explored all of these principles by creating the Savanna Pilgrimage Project.  

Contemplative Practice and Social Engagement

Jaelynn Pema-la Scott
As an ordained Buddhist minister, Rev. Jaelynn Pema-la Scott introduces “Mutuality Movement” as a Unitarian Universalist meditation training for Millennial activists working for racial justice. Here, she uses her practice to help religious workers spiritually reconcile the murder and harassment of Black and Brown people. 

Living Words: Devotional Practice for Unitarian Universalists

Erica Shadowsong
Erica Shadowsong invites us to explore the benefits of daily devotionals. By calling us back to the wisdom of ancient texts across cultural traditions, she charts a way to navigate through the noise of everyday life. As a religious educator, Shadowsong shows us how to find both intellectual and spiritual anchors that steady us during the ebb and flow of life.  

Rituals for Grieving and Death

Taryn Strauss
As a religious educator and lifelong Unitarian Universalist, Rev. Taryn Strauss has longed for ways to incorporate the wisdom of Unitarian Universalism into the seasons of life. Through her fellowship, she offered ways for UUs to honor the death of a beloved person in our lives, using the six UU sources as a thematic reference. Strauss’s work helps us learn how to mourn our people, celebrate their lives, and work out our own theological questions at the same time. Explore her curricular ideas at uumourningandhealing.wordpress.com.