Our Whole Lives (OWL) - Holistic Sexuality Education for UCC Congregations

Our Whole Lives (OWL) - Holistic Sexuality Education for UCC Congregations

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The United Church of Christ, in partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Association, offers high quality materials for holistic sexuality education to congregations for use with their youth and young adults, as well as adults, older adults, and even younger children through the Our Whole Lives curriculum materials.

You may wonder how appropriate sexuality education is for children as young as Kindergarten age, but having an exposure to healthy conversations about one’s body and a good sense of respect for bodies of all types is a good way to start young children on their lifelong journey through healthy attitudes and behaviors as they grow up.

For those ages that are ready to understand the sexual workings of their bodies, these holistic materials provide conversation experiences with their peers and trained facilitators to gain a healthy understanding of their bodies and sexuality, as well as acquiring values-based decision-making skills.

For young adults and adults, these materials and conversation experiences help those who are sexually active to “address their attitudes, values, and feelings about themselves, their sexuality, and others’ sexuality.”

For all ages, the OWL curriculum materials model and teach caring, compassion, respect, and justice. In a world of sexually explicit media, this type of focus is critical to those who wish to live their lives and use and respect their bodies in faithful ways as Christians. And what better place to learn about and discuss these issues than in the church, particularly when all of us are consistently exposed to conflicting and often harmful attitudes toward sex and our bodies in social media.

The Our Whole Lives curriculum is a nationally-recognized and prized sexuality education program for both secular and church settings. It is value-based so that the focus is on guiding children, teens, and adults in a respect for the human body alongside a respect for themselves and others. This is the basis for a healthy, safe, and responsible approach to one’s sexuality. For the younger participants, the materials help facilitators to work in partnership with parents, as parents are the primary sexuality educators for their children. In this way, the church can work hand in hand with parents to help them feel comfortable and confident in sharing critical sexuality information with their children and teens in developmentally appropriate ways.

We believe that the church is the best place to offer such a sexuality education program. The church should be the first place for families to turn for support. The church is where our children and youth can acquire the values with which to make healthy decisions and choices for themselves, particularly since they are constantly inundated with conflicting sexual messages from our culture. As well as providing accurate information about sexuality in a safe, non-judgmental environment, the church also provides support for parents for these turbulent times in their children’s and teen’s lives.

For more information about the materials and facilitator trainings, visit our OWL webpage where you may find links to OWL goals and value statements, curriculum material overviews by age group, links to webinar recordings, and more. You may also contact Amy Johnson, the national UCC Minister for Sexuality Education and Justice, Our Whole Lives, Health and Wholeness Advocacy, with your specific questions.

We believe that you owe it to the people in your congregation to provide values-based education around the bodies that God created and called good. We hope that you will consider sending your volunteers to become trained facilitators for your congregation (and perhaps in cooperation with your neighboring congregations as well!) in order to help make this world a more respectful place for all.

Author

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Debbie Gline Allen

Debbie Gline Allen serves as a Minister of Faith Formation on the Conference’s Faith Formation Ministry Team. She also serves as the administrator of the SNEUCC Faith Formation Leadership Program.  Her passion for ministry is with children and family...

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