Children’s Religious Education: It Takes a Congregation, Summer Edition

Summer is half over already and I haven’t gone on vacation yet! Instead, I have attended a Junior/Senior High School Our Whole Lives (OWL) training in Nashua (NH) and a Spirit Play training in Melrose (MA) as well as cataloging into our electronic database all of the resources that occupy the shelves in the CRE Office. Did you know that CRE has parenting resources, including OWL curricula, as well as other curricula for religious education, DVDs and CDs, and a wonderful collection of children’s storybooks? These are available for borrowing. If you are looking for something to aide you in raising caring and compassionate kids, please get in touch with the CRE Office.

At the end of this week, I will be heading up to Maine for my vacation (7/24 – 8/23) where I will preach at my sponsoring congregation, First Universalist Church in Auburn (ME), visit with as many of my friends as are home, and spending a week Downeast where Lisa and I are renting a cabin. Before I head to the mountains and the seashore, I want to bring you up-to-date on what’s happening in CRE.

First, let me remind all families that children need to be registered for CRE, Youth and Music programs (see below for more detailed information on how to register). Half way through the summer and about one-half of FCB CRE families are registered. If you receive a reminder, please respond by following through ASAP! CRE needs this information to plan classroom spaces, schedule teachers and purchase any needed supplies. Then you can “tick” that box off your summer “to do” list.

Second, those adult-volunteers who need to renew their CORI/SORI background checks during the 2015-16 church-year, or go through this for the first time this year, will receive an e-mail in early August from Wendy Coupe, CRE Assistant, as a reminder. This has to be done every three (3) years. A “wet” signature is required on the form (i.e. the form cannot be signed electronically). The link is below.

Third, CRE is making some adjustments to the curricula in 2015-16. This year is “Year 1” of the two-year rotation of four (4) pillars: Unitarian Universalism (fall) and Judeo-Christian Heritage (spring). [2014-15 was “Year 2” with World Religions (fall) and Social Justice (spring).] Here’s a brief review of what each CRE class will be doing in 2015-16:

* Pre-school/Kindergarten classes use the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith “Chalice Children” curriculum from September through March to engage in spiritual seeking, develop their openness to sharing, and experience the benefit of a supportive community while delving into our Unitarian Universalist faith, its promises and sources. The remainder of the year utilizes the Spirit Play model of liberal religious education to explore the universal human questions: Where do we come from? What are we doing here? What happens when we die?

* Grades 1 & 2 classes explore our Unitarian Universalist principles through the stories of Dr. Seuss and then in the spring they learn about our Judeo-Christian Heritage through classic Bible stories – Jewish and Christian teachings are one of our six sources.

* Grades 3 & 4 classes will use the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith “Faithful Journeys” curriculum to experience and learn the language for articulating their Unitarian Universalist faith identity; the spring curriculum is “Superheroes – Bible People” which introduces them to stories of people from the Bible who have acted with courage and wisdom. This curriculum encourages children to use their positive “super powers” to make the world a better place for others.

* Grades 5 & 6 classes will use lessons from the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith “Toolbox of Faith” curriculum that were not previously used at FCB to reflect on the qualities of our Unitarian Universalist faith as tools they can use in living their lives and building their own faith. In the spring, these classes explore Jewish and Christian teachings using a combination of curricula – “Bibleodeon” and “Kingdom of Equals.” Fifth and sixth graders also have the opportunity to take OWL 5/6 starting in March, if they have not already done so.

Please note that the first Sunday of each month is a combined children’s worship for grades 1-6 when there is a time of sharing joys and sadness, the collection of a children’s offering, and a visit from a special guest from our UU history or Bible times.

* Neighboring Faiths Grade 7 will begin use the newly revised version of this classic UUA curriculum: “Building Bridges.” The new curriculum is organized more chronologically and begins with the older faith traditions. Kate Searle is coordinating this NF class for 2015-16 and 2016-17 church-years.

* Neighboring Faiths Grade 8 is finishing its NF curriculum with a combination of lessons from the older and new versions of the curriculum. Donna Ruvolo continues as the coordinator for the 8th grade NF class. Starting in January 8th graders may take OWL 8.

* Together 7th and 8th grade classes have supplemental lessons on theology and ethics through the use of movies on selected Sundays of “Popcorn Theology.”

Register now for 2015-2016 Children’s RE and Youth Programs using the registration link found on the Children’s Religious Education page (uubelmont.org/childrens-re) which allows you to register children from birth through 12th grade. All children must be registered for CRE.

Our children’s religious education program for nursery through grade 8 is a cooperative effort. Once you have been attending at FCB for at least six months, we ask that each family teach Children’s RE for at least eight weeks (you need not teach on consecutive Sundays) during the church year.

If you are unable to teach, we have other opportunities for you to help out the program, such as serving on the Children’s Religious Education Committee, helping with special programs and events, and substituting as needed in the CRE classes (for a total of 16 hours per year per family).

All individuals who work with children in the CRE, youth and music programs at FCB must have a background check. If you are a new volunteer or need to renew your background check (once every three years), you can find links to the “background authorization” form as well as “volunteer driver” form and “teacher code of ethics” form here (uubelmont.org/coriandsori/).

~ Charlotte Lehmann, Acting Director of Children’s Religious Education

Summer office hours (please call or e-mail ahead): Mon/Weds/Thurs 8am-4pm. E-mail: clehmann@uubelmont.org.

Posted in Children's Religious Education, Unitarian