Children’s Religious Education: It Takes a Congregation

During First Church in Belmont’s annual Water Communion, the congregation reads and hears together the Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA), the FCB Vision, Mission and Behavioral Covenant. Many of our sister congregations similarly reaffirm their sense of community during their Ingathering Sunday at the start of the church-year. Likewise, FCB’s coming-of-age (COA) group, youth group (YG) and children’s religious education (CRE) classes start off the year with the creation of group or class covenants.

        What is a covenant? A covenant is a statement of how the group will be with and behave toward one another, as well as what is promised or vowed to one another and the community as a whole.

        Ours is a covenantal free church. The founding document for our style of church governance is the Cambridge Platform written in 1648. The Puritans who wrote it, did so to lay out explicitly how they would govern themselves as congregations, free of the imposition of rules from across the Atlantic Ocean by the Church of England, as well as how they would act towards other congregations. Our congregations are both autonomous and connected. We are self-governing; this is called congregational polity. And we are an association of congregations. Here’s a fun video about the Cambridge Platform: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoBJv3cMy10 (copy and paste if link doesn’t work).

        Why do we covenant in our classrooms, as boards of trustees, committees and staff teams, and as a whole congregation? We covenant because it connects us to our religious forebears and to the descendants of our faith. We covenant because it binds our individual priorities to the shared purpose of the congregation. We covenant as a way to embody or act out our faith. When we are aligned through our covenant, all of the other stuff we do together falls in line as well.

        Last week, along with Rev. Bryce, Lillian Anderson (Adult Programs), Julie Ennis (Youth Programs) and I attended a New England Region UUA workshop entitled, “Building and Sustaining Covenantal Staff Teams” held in our Parish Hall and attended by staff teams from ten congregations from around New England, from Maine, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Each team began the work of building their staff covenant. All of the teams gave witness to each others work.

        Convenant is about radical interdependence. We belong to each other. We show up for each other. These are promises well worth keeping.

        What a great way to start our worshipping, learning and working together each year!

Special Activities for Families in October:

  • Our first UU Visitor on 10/4/15: This fall term’s pillar is Unitarian Universalism. There will be UU visitors on the first Sunday of each month during our regular “Community Sunday” for grades 1-6. Community Sundays are CRE’s children’s chapel service and include the sharing of joys and sorrows as well as a monthly children’s offering. Later in the year, the children will suggest possible recipients for the offering and then vote to determine which organization will receive it.
  • Also, 10/4/15 – Coffee-hour in the Lower Hall (& periodically throughout the year). Coffee-hour will be held downstairs to bring our fellowship in contact with the CRE Wing.
  • Fellowship Family-Friendly Fall Hike on 10/10/15: The Fellowship Committee has planned an easy hike suitable for families at a nearby location. For more information, contact: duckworth@gmail.com.
  • Pre-Halloween Party on 10/24/15 from 6-8 pm: The Youth Group and CRE are teaming up for some spooky fun and games in the Parish Hall. Try on and try out your Halloween costume, enjoy games and a walk down the haunted hallway. More information in October.

Volunteers are needed in CRE

  • Volunteers are needed to act as our UU visitors (Clara Barton, Charles Follen, and Fannie Barrier Williams) and Bible People visitors (Moses and Miriam), if you are interested please contact the CRE Office.
  • CRE Committee members are needed. The committee meets on the 2nd Weds of each month from 7-8:30 pm. Interested? Contact the CRE Office.
  • Non-parent teacher-volunteers are always welcome; please let CRE Office know that you are interested in working with FCB children.
  • Register now for 2015-2016 Children’s RE and Youth Programs using the registration link found at org/childrens-re/ which allows you to register children from birth through 12thgrade. 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 org/coriandsori/.

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

Office hours: Tues 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and by arrangement. 617-484-1054, ext. 205 and clehmann@uubelmont.org.

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