Religious Education/Faith Development Overview
September 18, 2016 – May 21, 2017

Registration is open for Religious Education. You can register online here.

Leia and Caroline

Leia Durland-Jones and Caroline Heins

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.

Love Will Guide Us (1st through 4th grades)

Inside each raindrop swims the sun.
Inside each flower breathes the moon.
Inside me dwell ten million stars,
One for each of my ancestors:
The elk, the raven, the mouse, the man,
The flower, the coyote, the lion, the fish.
Ten million different stars am I,
But only one spirit, connecting all. — Nancy Wood, “Ten Million Stars,” used with permission 

As Unitarian Universalists, we are intentional in turning to a diversity of sources as we seek to discover truth and make meaning in our lives. Drawing on the wisdom of the ages as expressed in many different traditions and cultures, along with our own direct experiences, we engage theological questions about the origins of life, the meaning of death, and what it means to be human.

In this program, participants learn to seek guidance in life through the lens of our Unitarian Universalist Sources, with an emphasis on love. Together we ask: questions such as, “Where did we come from?” “What is our relationship to the Earth and other creatures?” “How can we respond with love, even in bad situations?” “What happens when you die?” Sessions apply wisdom from our Sources to help participants answer these questions. Participants will learn that asking questions is valued in Unitarian Universalism, even as they begin to shape their own answers.

All sessions highlight love as a central aspect of Unitarian Universalism. Using the night sky and the North Star as metaphors, participants are “guided to love.” As they explore the night sky, participants learn to recognize and name the Unitarian Universalist Sources, as expressed in children’s language:

  • The sense of wonder we all share.
  • The women and men of long ago and today whose lives remind us to be kind and fair.
  • The ethical and spiritual wisdom of the world’s religions.
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which tell us to love all others as we love ourselves.
  • The use of reason and the discoveries of science.
  • The harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life.
  • Our seventh Source: Examples of faithful belief and action from our Unitarian and Universalist heritage.

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 6th 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.

Love Surrounds Us (5 Year-Olds, Kindergarten & 1st grade)

It is not a matter of thinking a great deal but of loving a great deal, so do whatever arouses you most to love. — St. Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle (1575)

At the core of our Unitarian Universalist community are our seven Principles. The Principles encompass all the ingredients of a good and faith-filled life based on equality, freedom, peace, acceptance, truth, care, and love. This program explores all the Principles in the context of Beloved Community. We emphasize the Beloved Communities of family/home, school, neighborhood. Participants engage in activities that emphasize the love they feel in community. Principles are introduced with opening activities and story. The processing through wonder questions is extremely important to allow children to see the Principles at work in the world. Rather than listing the ways love surrounds us when we are treated equally, participants engage in ways to identify equality by the love shown in community. By the end of the church school year, children who attend consistently will be able to articulate all seven Principles. Sessions based on the Principles allow children to articulate their faith in the world. Participants come knowing they are Unitarian Universalists, and leave knowing why, as the Principles help answer the question “Why do I belong?” 

Love Will Guide Us (2nd, 3rd & 4th grades)

Inside each raindrop swims the sun.
Inside each flower breathes the moon.
Inside me dwell ten million stars,
One for each of my ancestors:
The elk, the raven, the mouse, the man,
The flower, the coyote, the lion, the fish.
Ten million different stars am I,
But only one spirit, connecting all. — Nancy Wood, “Ten Million Stars,” used with permission

As Unitarian Universalists, we are intentional in turning to a diversity of sources as we seek to discover truth and make meaning in our lives. Drawing on the wisdom of the ages as expressed in many different traditions and cultures, along with our own direct experiences, we engage theological questions about the origins of life, the meaning of death, and what it means to be human.

In this program, participants learn to seek guidance in life through the lens of our Unitarian Universalist Sources, with an emphasis on love. Together we ask: questions such as, “Where did we come from?” “What is our relationship to the Earth and other creatures?” “How can we respond with love, even in bad situations?” “What happens when you die?” Sessions apply wisdom from our Sources to help participants answer these questions. Participants will learn that asking questions is valued in Unitarian Universalism, even as they begin to shape their own answers.

All sessions highlight love as a central aspect of Unitarian Universalism. Using the night sky and the North Star as metaphors, participants are “guided to love.” As they explore the night sky, participants learn to recognize and name the Unitarian Universalist Sources, as expressed in children’s language:

  • The sense of wonder we all share.
  • The women and men of long ago and today whose lives remind us to be kind and fair.
  • The ethical and spiritual wisdom of the world’s religions.
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which tell us to love all others as we love ourselves.
  • The use of reason and the discoveries of science.
  • The harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life.
  • Our seventh Source: Examples of faithful belief and action from our Unitarian and Universalist heritage.

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.

Riddle and Mystery (5th & 6th grades)

I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.  — Harry Emerson Fosdick

The purpose of Riddle and Mystery is to assist participants in their own search for understanding. Each of the sessions introduces and processes a Big Question. The first three echo Paul Gauguin’s famous triptych: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? The next ten, including Does God exist? and What happens when you die?, could be found on almost anyone’s list of basic life inquiries. The final three are increasingly Unitarian Universalist: Can we ever solve life’s mystery? How can I know what to believe? What does Unitarian Universalism mean to me? Humanity’s list of big questions is not finite, of course, but Riddle and Mystery’s list is. Many sources were consulted to determine the questions most relevant to the faith formation of this age group. Each week, the group will create a video as part of their class activities. The goal is to nurture faith development by providing a rich philosophical base and age-appropriate activities to help participants develop the ideas and skills they will need as they move into adolescence and beyond.

Youth Programming (7th-12th grades)

Our congregation’s youth programming for 9th through 12th grades is offered during the second service only (11:15-12:30.)  Programming for 7th & 8th grade is offered Sunday afternoons from 4-6 pm.

Our Whole Lives (7th & 8th Grades)

Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. For these reasons and more, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives (OWL), a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education program. Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. With a holistic approach, Our Whole Lives provides accurate, developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics, including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality.  Parents/guardians of participants must attend two mandatory orientation sessions for their youth to be eligible to participate in the Our Whole Lives program.

Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) 9th-12th Grade

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. 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.

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