The full AEU Dialogue can be found here.
Letter from AEU Board President John McCormick
One would have to look back 150 years to find a time of greater peril for our nation. With the very foundations of our democracy under threat, I frequently hear fellow members say that America has never needed Ethical Humanism more than at this moment. I could not agree more.
As the 19th century drew to a close, Felix Adler encouraged the nascent Ethical Societies to unite in a federation to be called the American Ethical Union. Its mission would be to create, nurture, and inspire ethical humanist communities. So how has the AEU fared in living up to those goals? Let’s just say that the road has been rocky and our gait unsteady at times. Looking forward, I still see obstacles in our path, but I am confident that we are headed in the right direction, more sure-footed and poised to pick up the pace.
To see one outstanding example of what the AEU has been up to lately, I urge our members to check out and bookmark the AEU Resources Site. There you will find a growing trove of useful information that all Societies will find valuable. Under Programs and Speakers learn about the Visiting Leaders Bureau and take note of the videos and podcasts. Under Ethical Education be sure not to miss the Ethics Video Library. Look for the webinars under Ethical Action and Communications. There are also pages for Fundraising and the Concerns Forum. The Presidents Council also has its own restricted page on the Site. Some pages may be sparsely populated at present because this is a work in progress.
So what else does the AEU do for you? There are events like the Skills Summit and the Assembly for starters. Other examples include email communications sent directly to Society members such as Dialogue (which you are now reading), monthly newsletters, Ethical Action Alerts, and Reflections, a journal that debuted April 2017.
As a small organization we work to get the best return from limited resources. Our key revenue streams are Society apportionments, income from restricted funds, and donations from members and friends. These revenues only cover our basic operations and a bit more. With your help we can significantly further our programs and services, all designed to support our Societies and advance the Movement. Think about it—every additional dollar you contribute can go to expanding and improving what we can offer our Societies and fund the projects we would like to see to help us become a stronger force for good in the world. So I encourage you to visit our website, aeu.org, and click on the Support the AEU button to be part of the solution.
Don’t forget that there are other ways to give. Consider volunteering for an AEU task force; contributing materials from your Society to the Resources Site; or developing a webinar to share your knowledge. If you are interested in serving on the Board, make your voice heard. Email email@example.com to let us know how you want to make a difference with the AEU. There’s no better time than now.
This federation, the AEU, belongs to all of us. Moving forward together, I think we can make great things happen. Thanks for taking the time to read this message.
Directions for Ethical Education
Melissa Sinclair, National Director for Ethical Education
AEU Ethical Education is getting requests for thoughts and insights into new, different areas that could lead to interesting discussions. As the National Director, I’m excited about the increasing willingness to change and bring in innovative ideas to make our programs stronger.
One area we are delving into with Ethical Education is what biases we bring to our Societies and classrooms. We were very excited to hear from Sabine Salandy, Director of Ethical Education at Ethical Culture Society of Westchester, at the Skills Summit. Sabine addressed bias in literature and media, and what that means for our teachings in Ethical Culture. Not only did Sabine show teachers how to look for bias, but also how to bring it into the classroom to help our children think about biases when they watch movies or read books for pleasure or school. It fits so well with Ethical Culture as it’s teaching our teachers and children/youth to become better critical thinkers.
Along with sharing lessons on our Ethical Education site (accessible through AEU Resources Site), a few Societies are working collaboratively as part of the Soul Matters group. A few Ethical Societies belong to a consortium of mostly Unitarian Universalist Churches where they do themed talks/education/small group work. Using the shared lessons saves time for all involved and makes it possible to be more creative and united in what we teach. It allows Societies to work outside of a purchased curriculum and tie Platform talks to what is being taught in Sunday School so that the entire gathering of people that day walk away with similar lessons for the day that can lead to thoughtful discussions for the whole family at home.
We are also looking to help Societies which do not have a Sunday School, but who want to build children’s programming. Based on recent workshops and articles about churches struggling to run and maintain Sunday Schools, an idea began forming in my head of how to run a Society without a Sunday School that is still welcoming to families with children. Many of our Societies are finding creative ways to draw families in—summer camps, special programming/workshops for the community, and multi-generational platforms—but it’s the getting enough children and volunteers in the Societies to run a program separate from Platform that has proven exceptionally difficult. One new approach being explored is running Family Platforms. It’s an interesting way to build something from nothing for children and family programming for some Societies or to change the idea of Platform for everyone at other Societies. This approach changes Platform itself once or twice a month, or even every week, to accommodate younger listeners. A Society might keep that approach forever, or might later decide to transition to also having Sunday School classes once they have built critical mass.
Lots of ideas and thoughts are bubbling up on how to be more welcoming to our children and families in Ethical Education—from addressing our biases, working together in new ways, and rethinking our Sunday Morning platforms. Look for more information after the Skills Summit this fall on how to learn what was discussed and what are our next steps.