Religious Education for Children and Youth
September 9, 2018 – May 19, 2019
The Religious Education at Unitarian Universalist Church West taps the talents and time of congregation members to achieve these goals:
- Enable children to develop their own personal religious values rooted in the principles and purposes of Unitarian Universalism.
- Help each child feel a true sense of belonging to our church by building covenanted community and worshipping together.
- Promote religious freedom by exploring the religious traditions of others and thereby examining our own.
- Provide education and opportunities to help young people identify their place in this world through social action and environmental awareness.
Two Services 9:15 am – 10:30 am & 11:00 am – 12:15 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church West offers two worship services and two Religious Education programs on Sunday mornings from the Sunday after Labor Day until the Sunday before Memorial Day. During the summer, we offer worship and children’s programs at 10:00 am.
Beginning Time: 9:15 am or 11:00 am
- Worship for All Ages: On Sundays, children and youth join their families in the Sanctuary for the first portion of the service before leaving for their sessions.
- Group Religious Education: On a few holidays, children in preschool through fifth grade meet in the lower level Gathering Area for a children’s worship and religious education hour. Middle and High School students may attend the worship service in the Sanctuary or assist with the children’s group program.
- Multigenerational Services: On a certain number Sundays per year children, youth and adults enjoy a full, interactive worship service in the Sanctuary. Nursery care is available for infants and toddlers on those Sundays.
Ending Time: 10:30 am or 12:15 pm
Please pick up your children promptly at the session-ending time – but not earlier! Each class group ends with a closing worship circle. Parents/guardians are asked to not enter the group rooms before the sessions are over. If the worship service ends early, enjoy social time in the Community Room. NOTE: Children through second grade need to be picked up in person in the classroom by parents/guardians. Children in third grade and up may be released directly to the Community Room.
Visitors are always welcome at UUCW and in our Religious Education sessions. Please stop at the Visitor’s Table in the church foyer on any Sunday and you will be directed to the appropriate group rooms. For your child’s safety, all visitors to our Religious Education program must fill out a visitor sign-in form. Email addresses are appreciated!
Our educational model is inspired by a combination of Montessori and small group ministry methods. This non-instructional, child-centered model encourages children to wonder, question, and work out their answers creatively in an atmosphere of trust and support that encourages diversity and multiple learning styles.
- Group Facilitators: Two session-leaders work cooperatively in distinct roles, lending consistency to their interrelationship and to the development of the session time.
– The “Storyteller” holds sacred time by forming the circle with the children, presenting the story or lesson through engaged storytelling, asking open-ended “wondering” questions, and closing the circle with a ritual or sharing.
– The “Spacekeeper” holds sacred space by arranging the room setup and materials, greeting the children and taking attendance, assisting with the children’s transitions between activities, and leading the craft, games, and activity choices.
Worship: Each session begins and ends with a regular ritual including a chalice lighting and a reading, prayer, meditation, song, blessing, or sharing.
Sacred Time: The morning has a structure that honors the spirit within each child.
Opening: Children are welcomed individually and form a circle in which they create community through participation in a chalice lighting and ritual.
Engaged Storytelling: Using visual cues and interaction, the lesson is presented through pictures, drama, or “manipulatives” that can be moved around on a backdrop.
“Wondering” Questions: Children respond to the lesson with an open-ended sense of wonder and in asking questions that relate to their faith development.
Response Activities: Using a variety of choices that appeal to different learning styles and multiple intelligences, children take the lesson into their hearts in their own way.
Closing Circle: To end the sacred time together, children share their thoughts and wishes and discoveries, and say goodbye to their lesson leaders.
Three-Year Multi-Age Rotation Model
Multi-age groupings are a creative aspect of the Montessori method that encourages dynamic interaction between children, creates bonded community, and nurtures multiple learning styles and interest-levels.
Curriculum rotations allow for focus in four major areas throughout the years:
- Unitarian Universalist identity and values
- UU Sources including world religions and Judeo-Christian heritage
- Social justice as faithful action
- Creating communities of love and service
Multigenerational (all-ages) opportunities throughout the year include:
- Worshipping together
- Serving others together
- Learning together
- Helping our community together
- Having fun together
Nursery: Infants and toddlers are nurtured by consistent, loving caregivers in a warm, child-friendly environment.
We use email communications regularly to share information about coming events, special projects, class newsletters, and volunteer scheduling. Please check your email regularly.
You do not need to be members of the church to register for the Religious Education program, but all who frequently use the Religious Education program are expected to make a financial contribution to UUCW and to volunteer in some capacity in the program. Online registration is available at https://uucw.org/religious-education-menu/registration.
Ours is a cooperative program. There is no fee for Religious Education at UUCW because in addition to their envelope or pledge donations, each family volunteers in one of two main areas. (First-year visitors are not expected to volunteer. Please enjoy our community and settle in.)
- Teaching: Session leaders work in pairs with a regular co-teacher to facilitate lessons nine or ten Sundays per year based upon a rotating schedule. Session plans, supplies, and administrative support are provided. Deepen your faith as you guide our children.
- Religious Education Council: Supporting the Religious Education program, choose to concentrate in some of these areas:
- goals and visions for religious education
- curriculum review and evaluation
- special events for children and families
- service and justice opportunities for children and families
- teen/youth support
Course Descriptions 2018 – 2019
RAINBOW (both services pre-kindergarten)
Celebrating Me! Celebrate the wondrous qualities of children and the animals, objects, and people around them. We focus on the five senses, children’s abilities, nature, animals, families, and our church home.
PURPLE ROOM (both services kindergarten-grade 2)
Hide & Seek with God: Weekly stories present diverse images of the spirit of love and mystery that some people call God. Through insights from the world religions, feminist studies, science, and human experience, children discover and express their own ideas of ultimate mystery, values, and meaning.
ORANGE ROOM (both services grades 3-5)
Hogwarts UU: In a magical classroom full of potions, charms, care of magical creatures, herbology, and defense against the dark arts, we live into our UU values of wonder, diversity, love, justice, and friendship. A unit on Popcorn Theology explores themes and values important to living our UU faith through clips from popular movies.
BLUE ROOM (first service grades 6-8)
Call to Justice: Explore oppressions in our society while cultivating values that are tools for justice. Stories, role-plays, games, and several service projects during the year bring home the value of faith in action. We also explore gender bias in the media in order to confront negative stereotyping of women and men.
BLUE ROOM (second service grades 6-8)
Neighboring Faiths: Explore the worship practices of our own and other religions. Using videos, internet explorations, stories, and activities, we discover the spirituality and worship practices of other religions, highlighted by exciting visits to the worship services of different faith groups to meet and interact with our neighbors.
RED ROOM – YRUU – Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (second service grades 9-12)
Our high school program provides experiences in community building and fellowship, worship and congregational engagement, social action, UU values, and youth-led sessions exploring the monthly Soul Matters themes and other topics of importance to our youth and their world.
The Rainbow Principles (These are the Unitarian Universalist Association Principles phrased for children)
RED 1. Respect each person as a unique individual.
ORANGE 2. Offer fair and kind treatment to all.
YELLOW 3. Yearn to learn with others at our church.
GREEN 4. Grow by searching freely for what is true.
BLUE 5. Believe in yourself and vote for your values.
INDIGO 6. Insist on peace and freedom for the world.
VIOLET 7. Value the web of life that connects us all.
Seven Sources for Children
The Unitarian Universalist tradition we share draws from many sources:
- Our personal experience of wonder and awe
- People whose lives inspire us to act with justice and compassion
- The ethical and spiritual wisdom of the world’s religions
- Jewish and Christian teachings to love our neighbors as ourselves
- Humanist teachings using the guidance of reason and science
- The harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life
- Our Unitarian Universalist heritage and identity
Global Ends for an Inspiring Church
At UUCW we welcome you into a caring spiritual community where you are free to seek your own truth. Together we grow through uplifting worship, learn from many kinds of wisdom, and work to build a better world. Join us!
Caring Community: We experience warmth, hospitality, welcome and support. Our religious community fosters meaningful and respectful relationships among people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Our welcome reaches beyond the congregation to include people from all walks of life.
Uplifting Worship: We connect with a larger meaning and purpose in our worship services. Our worship life is diverse, joyful, multigenerational, and personal; it involves our hearts, minds, spirits and bodies, and inspires us to reach for our best selves.
Building a Better World: We work actively to eliminate oppression and create a sustainable, just, peaceful and compassionate world in partnership with other organizations and congregations, as well as among ourselves. Our worship, spiritual life and caring community encourage and equip us to do this work. We share the good news of our faith and promote Unitarian Universalism in our wider community.
Growing Spiritually from Many Kinds of Wisdom: We are encouraged to seek our own spiritual truths. Our lives are enriched by learning our Unitarian Universalist faith and practices. We grow by sharing ideas from wisdom both sacred and secular.
Sharing Ministry: We embrace an ethic of service through our shared ministry. We joyfully answer the call to minister to one another and to the world, and we engage in shared leadership of our congregation.
Embracing Responsible Stewardship: We share our time, talents and money generously to care for our church and its staff and facilities and for causes beyond our congregation that help us live our values.