|“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Francis of Assisi|
Director of Religious Exploration Rose Sheehan and Reverend Janet Parsons prepare four special intergenerational services throughout the year. An intergenerational service are designed and led with the intention of engaging the interests of all ages throughout a complete service. This past June’s RE Sunday was an example of what an inter-generational service might look like. The Three Questions. Our next intergenerational service will feature a Flower Communion, and will take place on June 5, 2016.
Children’s Worship Time
On the first Sunday of the month, children begin in the worship service. Following a Time for All Ages, they are ‘sung out’ by the congregation and proceed downstairs to the vestry for Religious Exploration. When the children and youth don’t begin upstairs they will most often begin the morning in a youth chapel service which will include music, chalice lighting, a story and reflections.
Program Content: Story, Reflection, Action, Family Connection
This year our Religious Education program will be embracing a monthly theme based approach. Theme based means there will be one broad focus topic for the month. In a “Time for All Ages” or the youth chapel, we’ll hear about the theme through stories that draw upon our multiple UU sources, discuss then reflect upon the theme through the lens of our UU principle. When our chapel time is done, we’ll engage in pursuits that put our reflections into action.
For example, if Vision were the theme, that month’s stories might include “The Parable of the Mustard Seed” and “The Story of Johnny Appleseed.” Discussion might begin with the observation that plants and trees start from seeds. It could continue by naming ideas which started small and then went on to make a larger impact. Activities could include making and sharing art from different perspectives or playing games to show that there is a better chance of making a basket when you know and can see what you’re aiming at. Families will be given resources to continue the conversation on the way home or over the dinner table.
Ages and Stages
As we begin our program year, we anticipate continuing with the one-room schoolhouse model. This year, however, each participant will be a member of a sub-group. There will still be Nursery Care for children six weeks to three years old. Children aged three to five years will be considered the Preschool and may either be part of the Nursery grouping or join the older groups. The third group will be children in kindergarten through second grade, the fourth group grades three through five and the fifth group grades six through eight.
Supplemental materials and activities for each group will be available. These could include journal writing prompts, learning puzzles, games and challenges designed to address our multitude of developmental stages.
More on the RE Activity Time: Spirit Exploration and the Studio Approach
Spirit Exploration is an activity time that highlights individual choice and independent work. This is a Montessori-inspired feature of the Spirit Play model we utilized last year. In a one-room schoolhouse environment such as ours with a wide age range and high proportion of sibling relationships, the opportunity to be self-directed is a positive and empowering experience for each individual. The options include, reading, drawing, journaling, creating Zen gardens, quiet exploration of natural objects, re-visiting past stories in art or puppets, and more. We will continue to utilize Spirit Exploration a well as a Studio Program.
Many UU RE programs now include specialist-led workshops. Built around multiple intelligence theory, the WORKSHOP OR STUDIO approach is intended to draw broadly upon the unique gifts, talents and interests of the entire congregation and friends. A workshop is typically scheduled to run about 30 minutes.
For example, specialty workshops designed to bring resonance to the current theme could be offered in art, craft, music, group games, yoga, gardening, writing, poetry, drama, nature, service projects, etc., — we’re only bounded by our imaginations and talent pool!
RE-cruitment: Workshop Leaders and Classroom Guides
The RE Committee will be reaching out to our full GUUC membership and friends to encourage participation as workshop leaders. Leaders will be given the freedom to share and be fully present with the attendees and not be additionally tasked with class management. The specialist will always be accompanied by at least one adult RE guide trained in behavior management and emergency procedures. A Workshop Leader may choose to volunteer once or many times throughout the year.
The committee will also be recruiting Classroom Guides. Guides are the adult volunteers that assure we meet the Safe Congregational Guidelines of always having two adults present with youth. Guides also provide important support during the RE experience. Classroom Guides agree to have a CORI check and receive training in Positive Discipline, Emergency Procedures and other related RE program policies. Classroom Guides are not expected to prepare or lead program. The goal is to recruit enough Guides that you need only assist once or so every six weeks.
Registration materials for 2015-2016 will be available on Sunday, September 13. Families are reminded that they are required to fill out enrollment forms each year. There will also be an RE fall calendar available on September 13.
The following forms were used during the 2014-15 Religious Education year. Some may be updated for the 2015-16 year.
We look forward to continuing the Middle School Youth Group which formed last spring. A variety of other program offerings for children, youth and/or parents are on the drawing board, so watch for updates.
Yours in Faith, Rose Sheehan Director, Religious Education