Maria Harris once said “Religious Education is all we do. Unitarian Universalism is all we teach. And the congregation is the curriculum.” Her words ring true now, more than ever, as the pandemic changed the landscape of Family Faith Development and Religious Education across the board. That’s why, for the past few years, Family Faith Development has done nothing but focus on building community, a foundation for future faith formation. However, as we begin to settle into a new normal, it’s time to start building off that foundation. This year, the focus for elementary children and youth is on current events. Here’s more information on what families can expect starting September 10th…
Every Sunday, infants, children, and youth are invited to attend the service with their parents / guardians. Our VIP Lounge, for “Very Inquisitive People,” is an interactive worship space, set up at the front of the sanctuary, that many infants, children, youth, and even adults frequent. Filled with worship work that can help quiet the mind and body, activities range from finger labyrinths, to color stacking rings, to tangrams – in short, there is something for everyone (even the youngest among us)! Feel free to take an activity back to your seat, or stay and relax on one of the many pillows in the VIP Lounge!
Infant – Preschool
Our Infant – Preschool classroom is open every Sunday there isn’t an All-Ages Service (see below). So, families have a choice between bringing their little one to service, or dropping them off with Ms. Amber. Ms. Amber, one of our paid classroom leaders, is a ray of sunshine, and her room is just bursting with books, blocks, and boundless love! Every Sunday, she will help guide your infant, toddler, and preschooler as they remain engaged in ritual and self-directed play – discovering what it means to be loved in a UU community through experiential learning!
Kindergarten – 4th Grade
Just like our Infant – Preschool classroom, our Kindergarten – 4th Grade class is open every Sunday there is not an All-Ages Service. So, families have a choice between keeping their children in service (all elementary children start Sunday in the service), or bringing them to Ms. Kymm after the Time for All Ages (a moment in worship which occurs roughly 15 minutes after the start of service – children are sung out of the sanctuary). Ms. Kymm is another one of our paid classroom leaders. Her kindness and compassion make her classroom a warm and welcoming place to learn and explore. This year, your child will learn about the new UU values proposed by the Unitarian Universalist Association (learn more at Article II Study Commission), compare them to the UU Principles, and decide amongst themselves if the Article II revision should be adopted.
Jr. High (5th – 7th) and Sr. High (8th – 12th) Youth
We are working towards hiring a new youth advisor to work with both our Jr. High and Sr. High youth (on alternate weeks). In the meantime, the Jr. High and Sr. High youth groups will meet together, along with volunteer Doug Plummer for “White Christian Nationalism, The Bible, and You.” Doug will answer any questions the youth may have with an anti-oppressive reading of the Bible.
Beyond Sunday Mornings
Youth Group Outings
About three times a year, the youth group plans an outing. Some outings are purely for fun, and some contain an element of service. This past November, 12 youth volunteered their time and energy to pack Thanksgiving Day boxes at Shiloh Food Pantry for underserved residents of Avondale. Parents and guardians should check their emails for future outings.
Youth / Adult Programming
The transition from being a youth in the congregation to being an adult in the congregation can be a jarring one. That’s why F.F.D. will often partner with Adult Faith Development (A.F.D.) to offer a program where youth and adults are invited to participate as equals. You can learn more about upcoming programs by visiting Adult Learning This Month.
Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education
Our Whole Lives, or OWL, is a comprehensive, lifespan, sexuality education program developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association (U.U.A.) and the United Church of Christ (U.C.C.). Here, at First Church, we offer K-1st Grade OWL, 4th – 6th Grade OWL, and 7th – 9th Grade OWL on a rotating basis (one/year). To learn more about OWL, please visit the U.U.A.’s website. Information on upcoming OWL offerings can be found on the page Children & Youth This Sunday.
As we know that not all of our families have the time or energy to engage consistently on Sunday morning and beyond, we offer adjunct events and resources throughout the year. Here is an overview of some of those offerings…
All-Ages / Intergenerational Services
While people of all ages are welcome to attend worship at any time, most of our worships are geared towards adults. However, at least three times a year the worship team collaborates to bring you a worship designed specifically for people all-ages. We call these all-age or intergenerational services.
Rites of Passages Events / Ceremonies
At least once a year, we take some time out of our worship calendar to celebrate the accomplishments of our children and youth. More information can be found in future communications.
Other Special Ceremonies
To honor other significant life events, and the commitment of our volunteers, we hold special ceremonies of recognition and celebration throughout the year. One such offering is our child dedications. Email our Director of Lifespan Faith Development for more information.
Other Special Events
The Family Faith Development staff, in collaboration with other ministries within the congregation, sponsors several special events through-out the year. Information about these special events can be found throughout the year on the page Children & Youth This Sunday.
We are lucky to have both a physical and virtual library. F.F.D.’s physical library can be accessed every Sunday morning. It is located on the second floor landing. The virtual library is powered by Epic!. To gain access to this fabulous resources, which includes hundreds of ebooks for children 0 – 13 years of age, including curated reading lists centered on our UU principles, mental health, and social justice issues, just email our Director of Lifespan Faith Development. We hope, over the coming months, you will find this to be a helpful resource!