Way Cool Sunday School/Religious Education Without Walls From Betty Jo Middleton at
Greg Stewart and others developed the Way Cool Sunday School model at the Second Church, Chicago. Writing about this model in Essex Conversations, Stewart says:
…we put lived experience before the dissemination of information, took Sunday School out of the church’s basement and into the city’s streets, eliminated age divisions, used curricula as a resource rather than a recipe, intentionally invited (and transported) non-UU children to Sunday school from area shelter and group homes—yes, we became both missionaries and evangelists—and we confused social action with religious education. We called this approach “Way Cool Sunday School.”21
Stewart noted wryly that he had “got hold of the wrong reading list,” referring to the philosophical books generally recommended by Unitarian Universalist religious educators, and tried to put into practice what he read there. He has since used this model in congregations in Cleveland and Pasadena and other congregations are using it on their own. Margaret Levine Young’s “alternatives” web page describes it this way:
The first Sunday of each month is an all-children worship. The second and and third Sundays have age-based classes. The fourth Sunday of the month is reserved for a social action project. If there is a fifth Sunday, it is reserved for exploring spirituality through the arts. Children younger than six meet separately, because they need a smaller, simpler program.
Some elements of this model have been used in other Unitarian Universalist congregations for special spring programs or “mini-mesters” and in some cases at intervals throughout the year. This plan is related to the concept in secular education of “schools without walls.”