Hello, warm greetings to you, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem. It brings me great Joy to introduce myself to you as your new Director of Lifetime Religious Exploration. This position is a dream come true for me, and I am both humbled and grateful to be presented with the opportunity to serve your congregation in this role. Thanks be!
My name is Lyllian Walker, but please call me Lily. I am a Professional Religious Educator with advanced degrees in Religious Studies and Education. I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Texas in Austin with a concentration in South Asian Studies. I then went on to live and work at both Tassajara Zen Center in Carmel Valley, CA, and Tara Mandala Buddhist Retreat Center in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. After devoting time to learning from the angle of a practical application of my religious studies coursework through work-study programs in both Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, I spent time earning my Master’s Degree in Education using teaching Religious Studies as my focus for the program.
During my college years, while I was earning my undergraduate degree in Austin, Texas, I met with the fortunate opportunity of being hired as the Bookkeeper at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin. I worked there for five years. I was Bookkeeper, Sunday Sexton, RE Assistant, YRUU Leader, and Sunday School Teacher. The relationships I made during my time at FUUCA were deeply loving and genuine. I was just beginning my life as an adult, and the elder generation of congregants had much wisdom to help me learn how to meet the world with a true heart, helpful hands and inclusively inspired integrity.
FUUCA not only provided me a practical trade with which I have been able to financially support myself and my family all of these years — Bookkeeping — they also stood as my Rock and the foundation upon which my career goals have been built. The Seven Principals of the Unitarian Universalist Covenant as embodied by this congregation imprinted my world-view and taught me, by living-example, how to be in Right Relationship with the World as a Professional in the field of Religious Studies.
The image I have shared with you here is from my going away party. One of my two best friends at the church, Stan, the Facilities Chair, is seated next to me. My other best friend, Nancy G, the Membership Chair, took the picture. In this moment I was leaving the nest of First UU Austin to attend a Summer Work-Study program at Tassajara Zen Center.
I was a fledgling then, but today, I arrive on your doorstep with a more mature wing-span. I bring to you many gifts and talents cultivated over the course of my career related to Religious Education. You will find me philosophically adventurous, resourcefully curious, and poetically wonder-filled. I am also a lifelong learner devoted to artful, compassionate, and heart- centered teaching practices aimed to nurture learners in mind, body and spirit while being mindful of, and attending to, Sacred Soul Purpose. I am currently living in Silverton, Oregon, and homeschooling the apple of my eye — my 14 year old son, Elijah Rowan.
Elijah is a singer songwriter, a little bit feral, and very artistically minded. He participates in the Advanced Track Level 2 band at Youth Music Project, and has been in attendance there for the past few years with thanks to their 501(c)3 Non-Profit Scholarship program. He has also attended Village Home Salem, and we hope to bridge our participation in these organizations into fruitful collaborative opportunities with the YRUU Youth Programming at UU Congregation of Salem.
In my first few days here at UUCS I’ve encountered an outpouring of welcoming support, vitality and enthusiasm. It has been a great pleasure to begin to meeting the various leaders of the church, and learning about the helpful structures that are already in place. With the help of the Communications Team, and the LRE Team we are putting together our first RE project — Sewing Safety Masks in response to the novel corona virus. I see this project as an opportunity for members participate in an activity that will be helpful to each individual family, the congregation at large and the wider community. Stay tuned for more information on this project in the coming days.
With Hope, Devotion and Joy!