RE Guide 09-10

Religious Education Guide 2009-2010

Religious Education Program 2009-10

Eighteenth century Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing wrote, “The great end in religious instruction is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own; Not to make them see with our eyes, but to look inquiringly and steadily with their own; . . .” It is with this ideal that we offer our religious education programs to our children, youth and adults in the hopes that their minds will be stirred to question and their eyes will see their truths and they will come to speak to these truths about their place in the world.

The First Church offers a religious education program for children and youth ages 3 1/2 through high school. Our programs provide a safe, loving community where our young people are encouraged to ask questions and learn about Unitarian Universalism, to discover aspects of world religions, to explore their emerging sense of spirituality, and to have opportunities for service in the larger community.

Our program is based on a cooperative model and is divided into three terms: fall, winter, and spring. In order for this program to work and be effective, we need adult volunteers to be teachers, mentors, and members of our Children’s Religious Education Committee. We ask that parents and adults from the congregations take an active role in creating and providing a meaningful experience for the children. Forms are available to sign up for teaching and for registering your children.

Channing’s statement on religious instruction ends, “Not to impose religion upon them in the form of arbitrary rules, but to awaken the conscience, the moral discernment. In a word the great end is to awaken the soul, to excite and cherish spiritual life.” As adults in our religious community, we need to answer this call and be there for our children, our future. We must make the time and energy to provide a spiritual life for our children. We hope you will make the religious education of the children of the First Church community a priority in your lives and that you will find ways to provide support and be involved in our cooperative program.

What do we do in a Unitarian Universalist Sunday School?

* We teach our young people about their Unitarian Universalist heritage, Christian and Jewish beliefs and practices, and the teachings of other religions of the world.

* We guide our young people in their spiritual development by encouraging and assisting them in exploring their own beliefs, teaching them about the beliefs and practices of other people and religions, and including them in the worship life of the church by developing rituals that speak to their needs.

* We provide a loving community for our young people in which they can feel connection and belonging, gain a sense of personal self-worth, and learn respect for the diversity of the people around them.

* We model taking responsible action in the world and offer our young people training in moral and ethical decision-making and opportunities for service to others.

What do Unitarian Universalists believe?

As Unitarian Universalist we believe and support seven principles. The following are the children’s version of these principles.

* We believe that each and every person is important.

* We believe all people should be treated fairly and kindly.

* We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.

* We believe each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.

* We believe all persons should have a vote about the things that concern them.

* We believe in working for a peaceful, fair, and free world.

Sunday Morning Schedule

On most Sundays our services take place at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m.
Each family must register their child/ren for either the 9:00 or the 11:00 service. There will be eight Sundays during the year when there is only one service. On those Sundays religious education classes meet at 10:30 only. Children’s worship occurs on the first sunday of the month. Grades 1-6 meet in the Library.

Session 1

9:00 – 10:15
Nursery Care with Denise Azar

First Friends: Preschool for ages 3 to 6

Kindergarten class if needed

9:00 – 9:20
Worship in the Sanctuary, ages 1st grade to adult

Children will attend the first 20 minutes of the service before attending their classes.

9:20 – 10:15
Religious Education classes, grades 1 – 6

Seventh and Eighth Grade will meet only at 11.

Session 2

11:00 – 11:15
Nursery Care with Denise Azar

First Friends: Preschool for ages 3 to 6

11:00 – 11:20
Worship in the Sanctuary, grade 1 to adult

Children will attend the first 20 minutes of the service before attending their classes.

11:20 – 12:15
Religious Education classes, grades 1 – 8

Seventh and Eighth Grade will meet only at this service

A Program for Religious Growth and Learning 2009 – 2010


Our youngest children, infants to age 3, will receive tender loving care in an environment that encourages imaginative and cooperative play. Denise Azar and an assistant run the nursery and strive to provide consistent and responsive care.

There may be times when parents will be asked to assist in the nursery on a rotating basis. The Nursery Coordinators will contact you to set up a schedule. Please remember that your young child may need some extra time each Sunday morning to feel secure before you attend the worship service. Your arriving early will ensure his or her sense of safety. We all ask that you pick up your child directly following the worship service.

Preschool and Kindergarten

This group of children, ages 3 to 6, is known as “First Friends” and is our first religious education class for children. In the fall, the children will be introduced to Social Action as it applies to the Unitarian Universalist principles and their application in a fun-filled early childhood format. We will be worshipping and learning as well as singing, dancing and playing.

Young children, especially those new to the class may need extra time to settle into the class at first. Parents are welcome to bring children 10 minutes early, or to stay for part or all of the class if they feel that it will be in the best interest of their children.

A Kindergarten class is held during the 9:00 am service if the number of children fits that need. There is no Kindergarten class during the 11am service.

Our Pillar Program: Grades 1 – 6

Welcome to our program for first through sixth graders. We are using a “Pillar Model” to enhance the religious growth and learning of the children. What this means is that we have six thematic units or Pillars. Each pillar is taught for ten to twelve weeks and will focus on a particular aspect of Unitarian Universalist religious education. The pillars are: Peace and Justice and Social Action, Our Judeo/ Christian Heritage, Putting Our Faith in Action, UU Identity, World Religions and The Web of Life. This program is designed to run on a two-year rotation using three pillars each year. This year our focus will be on Our Judeo-Christian Heritage (Sept- Dec.), Social Action (Jan.-March), and on Earth-centered traditions (March-June).

Each class will use different age appropriate curricula to focus on the theme or pillar. It is our hope to weave the theme throughout the activities and discussions within the larger church community. The RE committee has selected what we feel to be the best of the many curricula published by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and private publishers.

Fall Pillar: Our Judeo/Christian Heritage

The children from preschool to sixth grade will be introduced to stories from the Jewish and Christian scriptures, with a focus on the timeless human issues that inspired these stories. We have chosen stories that apply to develpomental ideas and concepts that are age appropriate for the children.

The preschool group is known as “First Friends.” This term the children will be introduced to age appropriate Bible stories. They will be worshipping and leatning as well as singing, dancing and playing. A Kindergarten class exploring the same topics will meet at the 9 am service only.

The first and second graders will be hearing basic Bible stories from both the Hebrew and Christian text that will acquaint them with Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the Whale, Moses and Miriam, Davis and Goliath, and Jesus and the Disciples.

The third and fourth graders will focus on stories from the Hebrew Bible hearing dtories of Genesis, Cain and Abel, Abraham, Joshua, Jacob and Esau, and Davis and Jonathon.

The fifth and sixth graders will be learning about the biblical stories from the Christian Bible that will introduce them to Jesus and the Gospels, the religion of Jesus’ people, John the Baptist, Jesus and the Disciples, the miracle or Jesus, prayer and meditation, Jesus’ view on wealth and the Good Samaritan.

Winter Pillar: Social Action

AS Unitarian Universalists, we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of each and every person. This pillar explores that principle by involving children in working together to take care of others and our environment. Activities include the Empty Bowls Project, work at the Habitat Sactuary, fundraising for UNICEF and others that may emerge from class discussions. Focusing on cooperation and service, this unit will provide the children with hopeful activities and thoughtful discussions. During the cold days of winter, we will add the warmth of love and care by our actions.

Spring Pillar: Earth-centered Traditions

During the spring term the focus will be on exploring our sixth UU Source: spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature. Children will explore meditation and create rituals to reconnect with nature and the four elements, earth air, fire and water and rejuvenate the star dust of which our bodies are all made.

Grade 7: Neighboring Faiths

As Unitarian Universalists, we believe in the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. With this principle in mind we are providing a year long curriculum that will help the children to begin to explore the many diverse religions within the world. The “Neighboring Faiths” program introduces youth to the faith traditions within the larger community and actively engages them in exploring the ritual practices of other religious groups. Goals of “Neighboring Faiths” are to create experiences where children can participate personally in the faith traditions of others, to allow them to reflect on universal religious experiences, and to encourage them to explore their own values as they relate to the many religious traditions. We hope they will become more aware of the many connections between Unitarian Universalism and other faith traditions and will increase their understanding and appreciation of religious diversity. In their travels and weekly visits, they will begin to build relationships with their peers, the adult leaders, and hopefully with their own congregation and community.

Parental commitment from all parents is a requirement of this class. There will be an organizational meeting in the fall.

Grade 8: Sunday Morning Breakfast Club (Fall)

In this eighth grade year of transition between the Sunday morning RE program and the Coming of Age program we invite the 8th graders to gather at 11am on most Sunday mornings to explore religion through games, pop culture and fun. This class will be led by RE Assistant Allison Palm and Dawn Anderson.

Grade 8: Our Whole Lives (OWL) (Winter and Spring)

The eighth graders will attend a morning RE program during the fall months.
In the winter and spring months they will have the opportunity to participate in Our Whole Lives (OWL) a sexuality education program designed to model and teach caring, compassion, and respect and justice. It aims to help youth affirm and respect themselves as sexual beings and to respect the sexuality of others. It is our hope that the participants will gain knowledge, values, and skills to lead sexually healthy, responsible lives. First Church members Wendy Conroy, Diana Dill and John Kolterman are the trained leaders who will be working with the young people each Sunday. Times to be announced.

Grade 9: Coming of Age

Being mindful of the coming of age traditions in other faiths, such as Catholic confirmation and Jewish bar/bat mitzvahs, we UU’s honor a time of transition for both students and families as our youth enter 9th grade and move into senior high school. Along with energetic adult mentors from our Belmont congregation, this year’s program will begin with a variety of bonding activities this fall. As the youth and mentors get to know themselves and each other better, they will retrace their UU roots and explore their own faith and values. Taking time to listen and learn from each other, they will create language that expresses a personal credo. The COA program meets from September to April on Sunday mornings 11:00am-12:15 (with occasional day events and overnights) and culminates in a ceremony on April 11.

For information contact our Youth Advisor, Julie Franzini, at 617-484-1054 x 204.

Grades 10-12: High School Youth Group

The Youth Group at First Church is a dynamic circle of UU friends and a vital part of our congregation. Youth Group members strive to create an open and supportive environment where teenagers can be themselves and connect with a compassionate community. Largely youth led, but supervised by our advisor, assistant and adult volunteers, we practice leadership skills, play games, engage in social action, explore spirituality and model Unitarian Universalist principles in an inclusive community.

Youth Group engages it members in a mix of large and small group activities, which combine thoughtful discussion and reflection with fun and action! We laugh, talk, search for meaning, and make time for quiet reflection in the midst of our busy and sometimes pressured lives. We also plan and take part in weekend retreats, fundraisers, social events, and a week of service, throughout the year. Youth Group meets Sunday evenings 7-9pm.

For information contact our Youth Advisor, Julie Franzini, at 617-484-1054 x 204

Music Program for Children and Youth

First Church is fortunate to offer an excellent comprehensive music program for children, youth as well as adults under the direction of Alfa Radford, Minister of Music. Choir Rehearsals are held Monday evenings. The Children’s Choirs sing in there Intergenerational Worship Services during the year. They also present a fully staged musical during the fall. This year the Children’s Choirs will perform Godspell! on November 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th.

Religious Education Committee

The Religious Education Committee is responsible for setting goals and making decisions regarding the curriculum and the Religious Education program. They help to plan and implement special programs and social events that take place during the year. Monthly meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00. You do not need to be on the committee to attend meetings. If you are interested in joining the committee please spak with a member or Laurel Whitehouse or Allison Palm.

Donna Ruvolo 617-489-5446
Beth Westlund 617-489-3730
Eleanor Sugarman 617-489-2747
Wendy Conroy 617-932-1949
Patricia Garcia 617-932-1764

Church Staff

David Bryce, Senior Minister 617-484-1054 x202
Laurel Whitehouse, Director of Children’s Religious Education 617-484-1054 x205
Allison Palm, RE Assistant 617-484-1054 x205
Julie Franzini, Youth Advisor 617-484-1054 x204
Alfa Joy Radford, Minister of Music 617-484-1054 x206
Bev Gillette, Adult Education 617-484-1054 x206
Susan Street, Church Administrator 617-484-1054 x201
Luis Carrion, Sexton