Spotlight on Staff: Mia Noren

by Cheri Plavnick, Radical Generosity Committee

Mia Noren began her career at First Unitarian in 2012 as RE administrative assistant. In 2015 she became Director of Religious Education. The program was sparsely attended when she began as Director, and she was instrumental in building it up until there were classrooms full of children and volunteers each Sunday. The pandemic set the program back, and now she is working hard alongside volunteers and other staff to bring families back.

Mia says her job is to “direct all the parts involved in providing engaging UU religious education for children, youth and families and in creating multigenerational community”. She explains “this includes curriculum selection with a long overview so that our children’s education about Unitarian Universalism is well-rounded and that our young people gain resilience and know they have a place within our faith.

Mia loves hearing kids use covenant in their interactions and when parents tell her their kids look forward to church. Her goals for children and youth are that RE be educational but not feel like school, and for volunteers is that they can show up to build community with young people, and not spend their time in preparation work.

Mia explains that young people who have relationships with at least four non-related adults within church are more likely to remain active UUs throughout their lives. Bringing adults into volunteering in RE is vital, and her greatest challenge.

Mia has a B.A. in Fine Arts. Before First U, she worked in banking. She says the staff and volunteers at First U are the best team she has worked with. Mia earned an advanced credential through the UU Liberal Religious Educators Association and has mentored other Directors of Religious Education. She loves being in nature, whether in a national forest or her own vegetable garden.

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