Religious Education for Children

Many parents and guardians want to provide their children with a spiritual community in which they can connect to and has meaning.  Our hope for the Religious Education program is to create a sense of community.   We want children to feel welcome, safe and supported while providing an opportunity for spiritual growth and awareness of the world around us.  We want them to explore the many beliefs and values in our society.  A sense of community comes from active and open participation in the program and will lead to an understanding and identification with Universalist Unitarians.  We hope to broaden perspectives and help children eventually gain a clearer picture of who they are and what they believe.

 

We provide several opportunities for worship in the RE program.  We are working toward embracing the children in our worship community through intentional intergenerational services as well as offer opportunities to worship as an RE community.  Most Sundays everyone begins worship service in the sanctuary, has an opportunity to participate in the opening, Candles of Community and the Time for All Ages.  The Time for All Ages generally carries the message of the service to the children in a language they can understand.  We do this through children’s books, stories, etc.  Afterward, the children are sung out to the classrooms.  (See also Sundays with our Children.)

Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church

A Blueprint of Sunday Morning

 

After leaving the sanctuary, children join their teachers in the religious education classrooms.  Woven through the content will be an increasing focus on UU Identity, both locally and as being part of a larger UU entity.  In class they experience:

 

Lighting the Chalice with a demeanor of ceremony and words that are related to the day’s lesson and frames their time together in a positive and focused way. The children take turns lighting the chalice.

 

Sharing Time is comparable to “Joys and Sorrows” in the adult worship.  This small group practice contributes to developing a sense of community and bonding among the class members in a uniquely meaningful way. In providing a ritual venue to share both joys and sorrows in a small group setting, we affirm and model our first principle: the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

 

‘Sharing Our Abundance’ as a Spiritual Discipline.  Providing young UUs with an ethic of giving and giving back is an RE Committee program goal and a specific focus for all RE Classes and Children’s worship gatherings. 

 

Offering Collection on a weekly basis provides the children an opportunity to give of themselves for the benefit of others, a fundamental UU value. The children’s collective offerings sponsor a child in need, through the Children’s International Program.

 

Lessons and Activities are analogous to the core of the adult services, including the Sermon or Reflection. Like our adult services, this area offers a wide range of subject matter, approaches, activities, songs, prayers and overall experiences.   Thoughtful preparation provides the teachers an opportunity to broaden their own knowledge and share their gifts through the practice of hands-on theology with our children.

 

Intentional Closing serves as a transition from the circle created during the gathering in sharing, back into the larger world. Using the same traditional words of benediction used in the adult service provides continuity and familiarity with this liturgical element.

To Help Your Child Benefit the Most From Their Church Experience, Consider…

 

· There are about 35 Sundays in the RE year, not including summer.  This translates to 5 full days of school.  Therefore, it’s important to be as consistent as possible in attendance.  Familiarity is basic to a sense of belonging and ownership.  A child’s comfort level and relationship to the community can be compromised as the group building process progresses without his or her consistent presence.

· The importance of your volunteer time in their classes.  Your presence demonstrates that you feel R.E. is worthwhile, perhaps the most lasting and valuable message your children could receive.

· Providing continuity by incorporating some of our ritual forms into your home life.  Meal times and bed times are often ritual in nature.  A chalice or sharing candle, grace or reflection or even a song could be helpful ways to foster a sense of spirituality and build a bridge between Sundays.

· Talking with your child(ren) about their Sunday experience.  The “RE-frigerator Page” available in your child’s class, provides topic and focus information which can serve as helpful conversation openers.

· Helping your child to remember to bring an offering each Sunday to meet our monthly commitment to Dominic Balingbing, a boy from the Philippines. Through the Children’s International Program, the children support Dominic with their weekly offerings.

· Registration is required for every child, every year. There are registration forms in each classroom for new children.  Returning children have forms that need to be checked and updated.

Feedback

 

The Children’s Religious Education program is currently coordinated by a part-time, professional Director of Religious Education and implemented by a 6 member Religious Education Committee. This leadership team is made up of members of the congregation who make every effort to be responsive to the needs, wishes and dreams of the children and adults in our congregation. The committee establishes the vision, goals, and policies of the RE program.  We are ALWAYS open and encourage feedback. We believe hearing from the parents and children facilitates a strong program.  (Learn more about the Children’s Religious Education Committee by visiting our Community section.)

To give feedback or to make suggestions about the Children's Religious Education Program, please use our online survey .

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The Great end in religious education is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own; Not to impose religion on them in the form of arbitrary rule, but to awaken the conscience, the moral discernment...To excite and cherish spiritual life...So that they may discern for themselves what is everlastingly right and good.

~William Ellery Channing