Children’s Religious Education: It Takes a Congregation

Unitarian Universalists have a long history of learning about the many faith traditions practiced by cultures around the world as well as service and witness to people in need regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, country of origin, and each of the many categories listed in non-discrimination statements.

     Educating ourselves about issues related to difference is a necessary component of social justice work. Here at First Church, the CRE program for grades 1-6 includes a pillar that focuses on World Religions offering age appropriate lessons about major religious and philosophical traditions, specifically: Ba’hai, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. In alternate years, this being the year for these two pillars, children in CRE delve into our Judeo-Christian Heritage as well as Unitarian Universalism. Thus, over the course of six years, the kids are exposed twice to each of these three pillars.

     This educational grounding is then developed more fully in a 1-1/2 year program, which is now known as Building Bridges. During the entire 7th grade year and the first half of the 8th grade year, FCB’s young people visit the houses of worship of our neighboring faith communities, such as: several different Christian denominations (e.g. Latter Day Saints, African American Methodist Episcopal, Catholic, Quaker, Orthodox Christian, Unitarian Universalist), a Hindu temple, a Buddhist center, a Jewish synagogue, and an Islamic mosque. On each of their visits they experience directly the people, the sacred space and the liturgy. The kids have the opportunity to ask questions directly of someone in leadership in the faith community.

     A life-span faith development program of this kind is instrumental in overcoming bias and breaking down barriers. Children raised in Unitarian Universalist congregations are way ahead of their peers in classes devoted to educating about religion and culture. UU kids welcome kids from differing backgrounds more readily into their social circles than many of their school classmates.

     This year, parents and caregivers have been receiving “Taking It Home” materials each week. Many have expressed appreciation for this information, which includes links to resources and suggestions for further exploration of the topics being covered in the classes.

     With recent events in Europe, I wanted to provide some specific resources for responding together. Several of them were written in 2001, but are still relevant today. I hope you will find them useful.

CRE Opportunities for All at FCB

  • Would your family like to lead the Chalice Lighting during the worship service one Sunday this year? CRE is coordinating this effort to involve families in this element of the worship service on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. Click on this link to sign-up: com/go/409044ca9ad2aa02-light. You will receive an e-mail reminder.
  • Non-parent teacher-volunteers are needed to assist our Childcare Provider, Denise Azar, in the Nursery at 9 and 11 am each Sunday. You can easily sign-up here: com/go/409044ca9ad2aa02-nursery. You will receive an e-mail reminder.
  • Parent Orientation for 8th Grade OWL is December 6th All families with current 8th graders should have received an e-mail from fcbowl@gmail.com about registering for OWL 8th, which begins in early January, and requires a parent orientation in early December. If you have not received the e-mail please contact Wendy Conroy at the above address. Registration is open now to non-FCB families who are on the waiting list. If there is still space available, we notify our neighboring faith communities.

Special Activities of interest to families in December:

  • Holiday Gift Fair, December 6: CRE table features handcrafted items by FCB kids; proceeds will benefit an organization chosen by the 5th and 6th grade classes.
  • Multigenerational Worship Service on December 20 – celebrating the winter holidays, UU-style. Your participation is encouraged, contact Charlotte (clehmann@uubelmont.org) for ways you can help.

CRE Program Registration and Information:

If you haven’t registered your children for CRE, please do so ASAP using the registration link found on the Children’s Religious Education page of the FCB website (uubelmont.org/childrens-re/) which allows you to register children from birth through 12th grade. All children must be registered for CRE.

Posted in Charlotte