Faith Development for Children and Youth at TJMC UU

We welcome you and your family to our congregation and are excited to have you join us in our faith development explorations.

In addition to “regular” Sunday religious education classes for children and youth, we have sessions focusing on racial justice, meal packet creation for the Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum and annual holiday celebrations. You don’t want to miss any of these special activities!

There are also special events designed to be especially welcoming to families throughout the year. Come and make connections and let us create community together. This is a time to live our values aloud and not alone!

Please register for RE today so that we can be sure to include your family in the information loop. And, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to be in touch.

10:15 AM- Children’s Program (infant through 5th grade)

Celebrating Me & My World (Infant through 3 year-olds) Lower Hall Room 1
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 year-olds, 5 year-olds) Mural Room, upstairs main building
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. Each week, the class lights their own chalice, enjoys a “feast” (snack) and shares with one another their joys and sorrows.

Love Surrounds Us (Kindergarten -1st grade) Blue Room, upstairs main building
Love Surrounds Us concentrates on the communities that are most recognizable to kindergartners and first graders—their Beloved Communities of family/home, school, neighborhood. Participants engage in activities that emphasize the love they feel in community.

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 UU Principles in the context of Beloved 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.

Faithful Journeys (2nd & 3rd grades) upstairs, Summit House
Because ours is a creedless faith, defining what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist can be challenging. Our adults and youth often welcome such a challenge — indeed, a questioning spirit is part of our faith. Yet, our children need to learn who Unitarian Universalists are, what we believe, and how we live in faith. Faithful Journeys equips them with language and experiences to answer these questions and help them develop a strong Unitarian Universalist identity.

Participants embark on a pilgrimage of faith, exploring how Unitarian Universalism translates into life choices and everyday actions. In each session, they hear historic or contemporary examples of Unitarian Universalist faith in action. Stories about real people model how participants can activate their own personal agency — their capacity to act faithfully as Unitarian Universalists — in their own lives, and children have regular opportunities to share and affirm their own stories of faithful action. Through sessions structured around the Unitarian Universalist Principles, Faithful Journeys demonstrates that our Principles are not a dogma, but a credo that individuals can affirm with many kinds of action. Over the course of the program, children discover a unity of faith in the many different ways Unitarian Universalists, including themselves, can act on our beliefs.

All sessions include hands-on activities as well as guided discussion, reflection, and self-expression to engage participants with various learning styles. Each session of this program includes rituals: sharing opening words, a chalice-lighting, centering in silence before hearing a story, sharing joys and sorrows and singing. Most young children love ritual, and these spiritual activities form an important element of the program.

Friendship, Inc. (3rd, 4th & 5th grade with an emphasis on including children who need more movement and/or one-on-one support.)
This class is especially designed to welcome kids who need a more active learning environment or small learning group in order to thrive. The focus each week is connecting with others in the classroom community, exploring a main theme or element from the curriculum and having fun at church!  When the weather cooperates, we spend part our time together outside and moving our bodies! The name for this class was chosen by the participants in the class. That speaks for itself!


Harry and UU (4th & 5th grades) Lower Hall Kitchen
Although most parents believe social action is important for children, and most children have a natural desire to make the world better, it can be difficult to find meaningful and relevant social action experiences for tween-age children. Harry and UU is based on the Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling, books that immerse children in the idea that one can work to make the world better. The curriculum includes many fun wizarding activities, but the main purpose of the curriculum is social action. The class forms a chapter of Dumbledore’s Army and fights against seven Horcruxes during the year. The Horcruxes are real world social action projects. The curriculum spends about four classes on each Horcrux fight, with three classes devoted mainly to education and small projects, and one class devoted entirely to action. The goal is to produce tangible results on seven real-world problems.



10:15 AM- Youth Program (6th – 12th grade)

Neighboring Faiths (6th & 7th Grades) Lower Hall Room 2
As Unitarian Universalists, we believe it is important to build relationships with others across cultures, ethnicities and religious traditions. Our Neighboring Faith class helps middle school youth learn about our own faith tradition while visiting the houses of worship of other faiths in our community. What are the commonalities? How are our faiths different? Through guest speakers and visits to other faith communities, we will increase our comfort with meeting the “other” and also strengthen our cultural literacy. We will also have fun, eat yummy food and make time to get to know one another better.

Challenge: Coming of Age (8th & 9th grades) Summit Room 2
Our Coming of Age program offers participants a unique opportunity to explore their own understanding of some of life’s biggest questions: Why are we here? What happens when we die? Why do bad things happen? How do I know what is the next right thing to do? Through activities, conversations, field trips and more, youth and their advisors move through a program carefully designed to help our youth journey towards young adulthood with a greater understanding of themselves and their beliefs.

Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) 9th-12th grades Summit Room 1
Our senior high youth group, YRUU, is a lively weekly gathering of our high school youth. Sunday morning sessions 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. Activities vary from week to week and focus on learning, service, worship, community-building and leadership development. The group enjoys lock-ins (overnights at church) 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.

Supporting our children and youth Our program relies on volunteers, both parents and non-parents, to help raise the next generation of UUs. All volunteers work in teams with materials provided. You have great support from the RE Committee and our church staff. For more information, and/or to volunteer, contact Leia Durland-Jones, Director of Faith Development or Elaine Chapman, RE Committee Chair of our congregation’s religious education program.