Maria Harris once said “Religious Education is all we do. Unitarian Universalism is all we teach. And the congregation is the curriculum.” That’s true now, more than ever, as the pandemic has changed the landscape of Family Faith Development and Religious Education across the board.

That’s why, here at First Church, we’ve decided to take all programming back to square one – focusing on building trust and integrating our children/youth back into the congregational community. It begins on Sunday mornings…

Sunday Mornings

A cartoon image of a semi-messy play area. There are two bookshelves filled with toys, as well as toys and pillows scattered on the floor next to a dark skinned boy. The text reads "VIP Lounge (First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati). An interactive worship space for Very Inquisitive People."
VIP Lounge

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 and activity back to your seat, or stay and relax on one of the many pillows in the VIP Lounge!

A flier for our Infant - Kindergarten class. It contains doodles of an alarm clock, the sun, and several abstract shapes. It reads "Good Morning. Infant through Kindergarten. Self-Directed Exploratory Learning. Ms. Amber says Let's Play! Register @ https://tinyurl.com/5n7yf45a"
Infants – Kindergarten

Ms. Amber, our paid Infant – Kindergarten classroom lead, 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/or preschooler as they remain engaged in self-directed play – discovering what it means to be loved in a UU community through experiential learning!

1st – 5th Grade

Ms. Kymm, our paid 1st – 5th grade classroom lead, is an expert at building community through play! And, this year, children in 1st through 5th grade are invited to join her to learn what it means to be part of the “Beloved Community” of Unitarian Universalism with Superhero Academy!

A flier for Superhero Academy. The silhouette of superhero stands against a comic book background. In a speech bubble coming from the superhero, it reads "Superhero Academy for 1st - 5th grade." A stylized "WOW!" is situated below the speech bubble.

From their humble beginnings in comic books of the 1930s and 40s, to modern day blockbuster movies, irreverent cartoons, and thrilling amusement park attractions, superheroes have certainly invaded our cultural zeitgeist. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a child today who hasn’t fantasized about being a superhero or developing a superpower all their own. But, behind the colorful spandex, superhuman abilities, and crime fighting antics, there are real lessons to be learned from superheroes about anti-oppression, personal responsibility, and love. That’s where this play-based curriculum comes in – with 3-lesson units covering one superhero / team every month, you can come as much, or as little, as you are able and still learn how to be a “real” superhero!

Swirls of purples and blues frame the words of this flier for our youth group.  It reads "Second Sunday Youth Group. For Junior & Senior High Youth. Facilitated by Mr. Stephen (class may split due to size)."

Mr. Stephen, our paid youth group leader, is big on youth empowerment! This year, youth in 6th through 12th grade are invited to join him the second Sunday of every month for youth-directed activities that build connection, community, and leadership. Activities already being considered: painting a mural on church grounds, coordinating a youth-led worship service, and volunteering at local charities.

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.

Five youth pose for a picture while they pack Thanksgiving bags for Shiloh Food Pantry.
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. This year, that program is UU & Me. You can learn more about this program 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 Family Faith Development’s welcome page.

Beyond Programming

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 once a month 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.

A group of adults, children, and youth, crown around a picnic table for a potluck lunch.
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.

Other Special Events

The Family Faith Development staff, in collaboration with other ministries within the congregation, sponsors several special events through-out the year — this year, we are already looking forward to Meals & Wheels (a celebration in honor of Summer’s unofficial end). Information about these special events can be found on Family Faith Development’s home page throughout the year.

F.F.D. Library

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 this fabulous resources, which includes hundreds of ebooks for children 0 – 13 years of age, including curated reading lists centered on our 7 principles, mental health, and social justice issues, just email Ms. Meredith.  We hope, over the coming months, you will find this to be a helpful resource!