Religious Education (RE) / Faith Development Overview
Fall through Spring
2017 – 2018 Registration is Open – Click Here

9:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Children’s Program (infant through 4th grade)

Celebrating Me & My World (Infant through 3 year-olds)

Loving care for our youngest UUs provided by adult volunteers and paid staff. Activities help children develop comfort and familiarity with being at church and nurture a sense of ease with one’s place in the human family and larger world. Stories, songs, lighting the chalice as well as snack and free play are all part of the morning.

Spirit Play (4, 5, Kindergarten)

A Montessori-inspired program adapted for use in UU congregations by Dr. Nita Penfold, Spirit Play introduces children to stories that reflect our UU faith and then invites them into “wondering questions” to engage their curious minds. Following the time of reflection after the story, participants choose their own “work” in order to integrate and internalize the day’s message or lesson. The class lights their own chalice, enjoys a “feast” (snack) and shares with one another their joys and sorrows.

Signs of Our UU Faith (1st through 4th grades)

…if religion is ultimately about what we love, then “faith” is not so much about what we think is true (or hope is true, despite lack of evidence), but about being faithful to what we love.—   Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association (2009-2017)

If we think about religion as the practice of being faithful to what we love, we must decide what we love and do our best to live that love faithfully every day. Signs of Our Faith guides children to do their best to live faithful lives every day. It presents fourteen traits or values that most Unitarian Universalist love, including the quest for knowledge, reverence for life, supporting one another on our faith journeys, and public witness. Children examine how their lives do and can exhibit these traits and values, and come to understand that their faith is a living faith whose histories and teachings are fortifications for living faithfully in a complex world.

Goals of the Signs of our Faith program:

  • Identify common traits or characteristics of faithful Unitarian Universalists, including revering life, being welcoming, finding beauty in our uniqueness, and sharing leadership
  • Encourage and guide children to live their UU faith in their everyday lives
  • Explore the nature of rituals—particularly religious rituals—and the role they play in our lives
  • Build leadership skills.

All sessions include guided discussion, reflection, hands-on activities, and self-expression to engage participants with various learning styles.

11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Children’s Program (Infant through 5th grade)

Celebrating Me & My World (Infant through Pre-K)

Loving care for our youngest UUs provided by adult volunteers and paid staff. Activities help children develop comfort and familiarity with being at church and nurture a sense of ease with one’s place in the human family and larger world. Stories, songs, lighting the chalice as well as snack and free play are all part of the morning.

Creating Home (5 Year-Olds, Kindergarten & 1st grade)

This program helps children develop a sense of home that is grounded in faith. The program speaks of home as a place of belonging and explores the roles each of us play in the homes where we live. The program introduces the concept of a “faith home”—your congregation—which shares some characteristics with a family home. Like a family home, a faith home offers its members certain joys, protections, and responsibilities. In these sessions, children explore the deep sense of sacredness, the beauty of hospitality, and the gift of loving relationships that a home can represent. Sessions include stories from Unitarian Universalist and other traditions, hands-on activities to make learning accessible to individuals with various learning styles, and structured opportunities for questioning, reflecting, and self-expression. The program introduces children to Unitarian Universalist heritage, including rituals, songs, and traditions of our faith, and stories about Unitarian Universalists whose words, songs, and deeds have helped to shape the faith home that participants share.

Goals of the Creating Home program:

  • Guide participants to identify the characteristics of a home and the functions a home serves
  • Help participants articulate and affirm the location and the members of their individual family homes
  • Provide opportunities for participants to observe homes in nature and investigate how different kinds of animal homes provide security and sustenance for their inhabitants
  • Build participants’ vocabulary of faith and religious language
  • Draw connections between participants’ family home experiences and the roles, responsibilities, and rewards of belonging to a “faith home”
  • Help develop participants’ sense of belonging in their Creating Home group and in the larger congregation
  • Introduce practices from Unitarian Universalist heritage – such as the spiritual rituals of hospitality, saying grace, lighting a chalice, and sharing stories–and invite participants and their families to consider using these on their own.
  • Provide multiple opportunities for participants to practice artistic self-expression and have fun

All sessions include guided discussion, reflection, hands-on activities, and self-expression to engage participants with various learning styles. Sessions that rely heavily on verbal learning also offer alternate activities geared toward more active learners. Many activities suggest adaptations to address different abilities and learning styles.

Signs of our UU Faith (2nd & 3rd grades)

…if religion is ultimately about what we love, then “faith” is not so much about what we think is true (or hope is true, despite lack of evidence), but about being faithful to what we love.—   Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association (2009-2017)

If we think about religion as the practice of being faithful to what we love, we must decide what we love and do our best to live that love faithfully every day. Signs of Our Faith guides children to do their best to live faithful lives every day. It presents fourteen traits or values that most Unitarian Universalist love, including the quest for knowledge, reverence for life, supporting one another on our faith journeys, and public witness. Children examine how their lives do and can exhibit these traits and values, and come to understand that their faith is a living faith whose histories and teachings are fortifications for living faithfully in a complex world.

Goals of the Signs of our Faith program:

  • Identify common traits or characteristics of faithful Unitarian Universalists, including revering life, being welcoming, finding beauty in our uniqueness, and sharing leadership
  • Encourage and guide children to live their UU faith in their everyday lives
  • Explore the nature of rituals—particularly religious rituals—and the role they play in our lives
  • Build leadership skills

All sessions include guided discussion, reflection, hands-on activities, and self-expression to engage participants with various learning styles.

Toolbox of Faith (4th 5th grades)

The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic who would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. — Confucius

Toolbox of Faith invites fourth and fifth grade participants to reflect on the qualities of our Unitarian Universalist faith, such as integrity, courage, and love, as tools they can use in living their lives and building their own faith. Each of the 16 sessions uses a tool as a metaphor for an important quality of our faith such as reflection (symbolized by a mirror), flexibility (duct tape), and justice (a flashlight).

Goals of the Toolbox of Faith program:

Reflecting on the qualities (tools) of our faith, children and leaders gain insight into what makes our faith important in their lives, and how they can grow in our faith.

Youth Programming (6th-12th Grades)
Our congregation’s youth programming is offered from 11:15-12:30 pm most Sundays.

Neighboring Faiths (6th & 7th grades)

Neighboring Faiths deepens participant’s understandings of the dynamic, fascinating, and varied faith traditions and the religious practices of others in the larger Charlottesville community. The program seeks to broaden participant’s knowledge of humanity and embolden their own spiritual search. Through guest speakers, activities and visits to local faith communities including the synagogue, mosque and other congregations, participants develop a greater understanding and comfort with a variety of faith traditions and cultivate a sense of comfort in engaging with others of differing beliefs.  Youth also deepen their understanding of Unitarian Universalism and are invited to take leadership roles in our congregation’s multigenerational worship services throughout the year such as chalice lighting, ushering, greeting and offering readings or music.

Goals of the Neighboring Faiths program:

  • Increase knowledge of religions practiced around the world and in local communities
  • Understand how religion addresses basic human needs
  • Foster acceptance of the diverse forms that religious expression takes
  • Build awareness of the diversity of followers within different faith traditions; understand that to know someone’s religious identity is not the same as knowing what that person thinks, believes, or practices
  • Support the faith development of participants
  • Empower participants to better appreciate human diversity and connect with others and be able to respectfully discuss important matters with people with whom they disagree
  • Nurture open-mindedness and critical inquiry
Challenge: Coming of Age 8th& 9th grades

The Challenge program is one of our congregation’s rite of passage experiences. In addition to Sunday morning sessions led by skilled youth advisors, each youth is paired with an adult mentor from within the congregation. Youth and their mentors meet monthly and explore the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism in depth. Through hands-on classroom experiences as well as discussion and overnight “lock-ins” at church, youth move through a program designed to help them explore some of life’s big questions such as “What is the meaning of life?”, “Is there a God?”, “Why do bad things happen?”, “What happens after death?” “What does it mean to live my faith as a UU in the wider world?”  By the end of the year, youth will have written a “Statement of Faith” or personal beliefs. As part of the year’s culmination, the class leads the entire congregation in Sunday morning worship.

Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) (10th-12th grades)

Our senior high youth group, YRUU, is a lively weekly gathering of our high school youth. Weekly topics vary but often include an exploration of moral dilemmas and timely topics as well as fun, games and yummy snacks. Under the guidance of trained youth advisors, a safe and nurturing space is created to allow youth to explore topics of interest and build friendships. The group enjoys lock-ins as well as field trips such as apple picking. The group participates in annual service trip to Appalachia in the summer. Newcomers to YRUU are always welcome.

Work with our children and youth

Our program relies on parents and non-parents to help raise the next generation of UUs. Come work in a team with all materials provided where you will have great support from the RE Committee and our staff. We have openings with our elementary-aged children’s classes. For more information, and/or to volunteer, contact Leia Durland-Jones and Elaine Chapman, RE Committee Chair of our congregation’s religious education program.

Leia and Caroline

Leia Durland-Jones and Caroline Heins