In the Coming of Age program, every youth participant is assigned a mentor to help them write their “credo,” or statement of religious identity.
Some families will have a adult mentor in mind, and they may set up a mentor relationship with that adult after consulting with the Minister of Religious Education.
However, many families will not have an adult in mind, in which case the Coming of Age teachers and the Minister of Religious Education will help them find a compatible adult. The teachers and MRE will suggest the name of an adult to the parent(s) of the youth participant. The parent(s) and youth may wish to set up an informal meeting first — the best way to do this is to arrange to meet on Sunday morning after the service.
Once a mentor is chosen by the family, the mentor and youth can begin to meet. Mentors should never meet one-on-one alone with a legal minor, as this violates the UUCPA safety policy for adults working with legal minors. Most mentors and youth find that a good place to meet is in a public place like a coffee shop, or in a quiet but public corner of the church during social hour after the service.
Mentors and youth should plan to meet once a month, for about an hour each month. Some mentors and youth chose to do some kind of getting-to-know you activity like visiting a museum together (just make sure the mentor does not have to be alone one-on-one in a car with the youth). Other teams dive right in to talking about the young person’s religious identity.
The sole goal of the mentor is to help the youth write their “credo,” or statement of religious identity. Mentors can help the young person by acting as a sounding board, a coach, and a cheerleader.
• Start by looking over the “Sample Coming of Age Credo Statements” packet (click here), so you know what kind of things previous youth have written.
• For a conversation-starter, pose one or more of the “Seven Big Religious Questions” — found at the end of the packet — to the youth. Then act as a sounding board — listen to what the youth says, and ask leading questions to help them think more deeply about their answers.
• It’s often a good idea to start outlining the credo statement in February or March. Act as a coach, to help them through the process of getting their thoughts down on paper. This is not English class at school.
• It’s OK to let them dictate their thoughts to you while you type, to engage in a collaborative process. Just make sure the thoughts are theirs, and the words sound like the way they talk.
• Many youth at this age get bogged down in the process. Or they may feel like their credo is going to be terrible. Or they might just get stuck. That’s when you play the cheerleader role — encourage them!
Mentors are also invited to attend Coming of Age classes (but it’s optional). Contact the teachers if you would ever like to attend. Mentors are particularly helpful during the class sessions devoted to credo-writing. If you would like to attend a class, contact one of the teachers or the Minister of Religious Education to arrange a visit.