This year UCAN launched Spiritual Formation, which is not a school of religion or religious practices and beliefs. Instead, the purpose of spiritual formation at UCAN is to create a stronger, more compassionate and more nurturing environment that stimulates transformation, leadership, growth and stamina. Our end goal is a positive youth development experience that leads to an awareness of identity, purpose, self-respect, satisfaction, self-care and service to others.
UCAN's founding is rooted in spirituality. In 1869, UCAN was founded by concerned St. Pauls of United Church of Christ (UCC) members in order to provide a home for orphaned children of Civil War soldiers. As a denomination, UCC and its predecessors have a long and proud history of advocating for social justice, including advocating for the abolition of slavery and being the first to ordain African-Americans, women, and openly gay persons as clergy. Today, UCAN is an active member of the Council of Health & Human Service Ministries of UCC, boasts four Diakonal Ministers on our Senior Leadership Team (Tom Vanden Berk, Zack Schrantz, Barbara West Stone and Claude Robinson). Further, Reverend Jeffrey Carlson of St. Pauls UCC is a member of our Governing Board.
Through the work of this office, UCAN is developing a multi-pronged curriculum for the organization incorporating UCAN's UCC history, various spiritual practices, spiritual direction, and information and methods on accomplishing spiritual formation with our youth. We are also working to strengthen our denominational ties with the UCC across the Chicagoland area. Finally, we have established an employee Spiritual Formation affinity group, providing interested staff with support and the voice to influence agency goals and objectives.