Program teaches sexuality is a gift of God
Written by Faith Adams Johnson
Angry words erupted in the midst of a leadership training event for our adult sexuality program, "Created in God's Image." The participant directed her anger at the church. "I have been a member of chur-ches for more than 50 years. This is the first time anyone has ever told me that my sexuality is a gift of God."
A stillness settled over the group. Other participants began to express their own sorrow in being robbed of such life-giving information.
Since 1983, when General Synod passed a resolution requesting the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries to develop sexuality education programs for all age levels, I have worked with my talented colleague, Gordon J. Svoboda II, and many dedicated UCC people in fulfilling that mandate. By June 2000, the full spectrum of age level programs, including a parents' manual and an advocacy manual, will be available. The children and youth programs, "Our Whole Lives: Sexuality and Our Faith," are a cooperative venture with the Unitarian/Universalists.
Gordon and I have found particular joy in training faithful UCC people in every region to develop local church leadership for all of the programs. One of the strengths of the programs lies in the consultative process used throughout the years of development.
We began with a survey, Ask the Churches about Faith and Sexuality, to which nearly 3,000 UCC members responded. Data from the survey were vital to both programs. Further input was gained through field tests and focus groups.
The most important strength of both programs is the significant faith connection. Those who participate in the programs will know, deep in their hearts, that their sexuality is a gift of God.
In a small church in Virginia, a 92-year-old woman described her experience with "Created in God's Image" with these words: "This program is about real stuff. It is the best learnin' I ever had in church."
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with dedicated UCC people in developing these life-giving programs.
Faith Adams Johnson is Minister for Family Life and Human Sexuality for the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries. She retires June 30, 2000. As I See It is a column to help UCC members become better acquainted with church leaders and their views.