The Quest to Pass On Our Religious Tradition to The Next Generation

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For parents with strong faith, their deepest desire for their children is that they become people who respect God and serve others, and that they avoid the suffering and confusion that comes from lack of spiritual direction. Passing on their faith to the next generation is the parents’ greatest gift and their most meaningful quest. 

In this volume, authors Rollain Nsemi Muanda and Jennifer P. Tanabe discuss the challenges that parents face, the needs of the next generation that must be satisfied as they grow to adulthood, and the responsibilities that family, religious organization, community, and the next generation themselves share on their spiritual journey.


Desiring to facilitate the quest to pass on our religious tradition to the next generation, the authors Rollain Muanda and Jennifer Tanabe embarked on an ambitious project. Their commitment to the task becomes apparent as they address the landscape–the rapidly changing world and culture in which we live, the identity of the next generation– their needs, their ways of learning, what they’re seeking, the traditions’ core values, stages they pass through (or not) from unawareness to acceptance and commitment as practitioners of the tradition; the roles and responsibilities of parents, teenagers and youth ministers; and the Church’s core values.

Aware of the power of story, the authors begin the book with their own compelling stories.  Dr. Muanda, product of a Christian home and Christian Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa; Dr. Tanabe, with a background of experience in diverse institutions of higher education in Scotland.  Both eventually emerged as committed adherents of a new religious movement, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification aka the Unification Church. Their stories and their research expertise are a testament to the seriousness and optimism of their effort.  I think it can be said that ‘The Quest to Pass on Our Religious Tradition to the Next Generation’ breaks new ground in the fields of religious education and ecumenism. I recommend it to parents, youth leaders, teenagers and high school teachers.

Some “takeaways” for parents include: Teenagers look for parents to teach by example, to respect their opinions, to create an environment that allows them to share in decision making and planning and ultimately in the choice to accept or not accept the religious tradition of their parents. The authors emphasize that love is the fundamental value in the practice of the tradition, and the source in which living for the sake of others—for the larger purpose, is rooted. Good relationships between parents and their teenagers is key to success in passing on our tradition. Takeaways for the youth ministry team include:  Parents, teenagers and youth ministers all need to be represented on the team and their respective roles and responsibilities agreed upon. In considering what to teach, the common ground of universal values in all religions is perhaps more important than emphasizing the differences.  Emphasis on the common ground need not take away from the value of a specific religious tradition.  Adherents of our tradition benefit by understanding the interrelationship among all religions and honoring the uniqueness of each. Together they comprise much of the wisdom of the past.

While I interpret the ‘Our Religious Tradition’ in the book’s title as referring to Unificationism, the well-researched content is broad and relevant to all traditions engaged in realizing a world of love and peace on earth.

~Therese Stewart, Ed. D.

Passing on our religious tradition to the next generation is one of the most challenging experiences religious organizations are facing in today’s world. 

The authors clearly explore the issues and propose extensive solutions based on personal experiences and the reality of the modern world. Balancing universality and particularity in educating a child could be the answer to some of the challenges.

Additionally, parents becoming a role model for their children is crucial in the success of passing the tradition to their children. Despite all the challenges parents might face, truly loving their children remains the ultimate answer to passing values and traditions on to the next generation.

~Dr. Drissa Kone, Assistant professor of conflict studies at Unification Theological Seminary

Families of faith have one key hope when it comes to their children. That hope and desire is to be able to see their children follow in their spiritual footsteps. Passing on one’s faith to the next generation is probably one of the most important gifts that parents can and will give their children. To support families in this part of their parenting journey, Jennifer Tanabe and Rollain Muanda offer some sound advice and well-founded wisdom in their new book, “The Quest to Pass On Our Religious Tradition to the Next Generation.”

As an educator and consultant in the area of faith development and religious education, I am quite familiar with the literature in the area of passing on the faith to the next generations. What makes this resource different is that the authors provide parents and families with a good summary of the key areas and content that will equip them with the basic wisdom that they need as they begin to plan how to pass on their faith to their children. The authors present the normal discussion of both the needs and the characteristics of adolescents but the authors go beyond this discussion and offer two particularly valuable chapters concerning stages or levels that can guide parents and a discussion of ways in which they can share their faith with their children. The authors also add a personal touch with Muanda’s heartfelt look at how his parents shared their faith with him and Tanabe’s personal religiously diverse experiences. These testimonies, together with anecdotes from parents and youth who have also been wrestling with this issue, add a richness to the book that allows the reader to personally reflect on what passing on the faith means to them. The overall message, though, that comes across in the book is one that I have always subscribed to – and that is the need for parents, ultimately, to not only talk about their beliefs but to live and practice their beliefs. At the end of the day, that is what their children will take to heart as they begin their own journey of faith.

~Dr. Kathy Winings, Professor of Religious Education and President of Educare

Never before did young people have access to a virtually unlimited amount of information, ideas, and people. At the same time, visions for a meaningful life and models for spiritual fulfillment have not spread to the same extent. In a world of increasingly fluid identities and post-modern relativism, the skill of parents to positively impact the spiritual maturation of their children determines the survival and flourishing of religious communities and their traditions.

Dr. Muanda and Dr. Tanabe, both Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) alumni, realized that the question of how to bestow a religious tradition to young people in modern times is so profound that it deserves thorough examination. Going beyond narrow denominational viewpoints, the authors take a purpose-oriented educational approach where cultivating one’s conscience and becoming a person of character take precedence over exclusive truth claims or evangelization. In my view, they present sound argumentation for their theses, backing them with a good number of references to the works of Christian authors, theologians, psychologists, and the words of Rev. Moon. Throughout the book, the authors emphasize the point that the values lived by the parents and a loving family culture are the crucial basis for effectively conveying a faith tradition. A second major theme discussed in the book is the problem of balancing the two contrary but complementary positions of particularity and universality in the process of religious upbringing: On the one hand, parents (and religious communities) are interested in conveying their own particular views, values, and principles. On the other hand, an inclusive and tolerant learning approach is necessary if children are to be prepared to engage with other viewpoints and worldviews in a mature and responsible manner. The authors succeed in stimulating reflection on these and related issues.

“The Quest” encourages Unificationist parents to make conscious decisions in the area of religious education and to form a strong network of like-minded families. The book is highly recommended as a helpful resource for parents, Sunday School teachers, community leaders, youth leaders, and educators interested in the healthy spiritual development of young people.

~Jonathan Heinrich, MA, Austria