Children & Youth
Religious Education for Children & Youth
Sunday morning Religious Education classes provide an opportunity for our young people to come together and learn about themselves and their religious community, practice living the Unitarian Universalist principles of respect for one another and tolerance of differing ideas, to explore religious ideas and grow spiritually, to participate in a caring community, to worship together, and to have fun.
Children and Youth Religious Education at St. John’s involves people of all ages. Through the curricula and church activities we promote:
- tolerance, respect, and acceptance for ourselves and others
- trust, respect, and caring between the generations
- an awareness of the world around us, in particular those issues that affect us deeply, such as caring for our planet and working for peace, justice, and fairness in our community and the world
- individual spiritual growth with many opportunities to explore life’s questions and the answers various faiths have provided
- awareness of Unitarian Universalism, our Jewish and Christian heritage, and many different religious traditions of the world
- reinforcement of basic human values; and
- a place where we grow together in knowledge, spirit and love.
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Our Children’s Religious Lives…
We invite you to read a small book called The Gift of Faith by Jeanne Nieuwejaar to inspire you as you seek ways to enrich your child’s spirituality. The following is an excerpt from the book:
Whether we wish it so or not, our children are religious, spiritual beings. From within their own magical selves they know feelings, intuitions, and impulses. From the people, stories, songs, and media of their environs they hear religious words and messages and see religious symbols and images. From the experiences of their daily living they encounter religious events. They see dry sticks sprout pulsing green leaves. They see the deer killed on the highway. They watch their teacher’s tummy grow round with new life, and bid farewell to their uncle dying of AIDS. From the demands of their living and growing in the world they face situations that require from them a religious decision, response, or interpretation. We cannot choose whether they will be religious, but we can choose how and to what extent we will support, guide, and celebrate this dimension of their nature.
Children are deeply religious beings on every level. Intellectually they think and conceptualize on matters of good and evil, of God and prayer, of life and death. Emotionally they feel deep compassion and empathy, as well as unbounded hope and deep despair. Spiritually they enjoy a sense of awe and wonder that far exceeds our adult possibilities; they have insights of transcendence, even mystical experiences. Behaviorally they live out kindness and cruelty, generosity and selfishness, forgiveness and condemnation. And physically, sensually, they are blessed with extraordinary gifts.
Contact us for many more resources to enrich your own spirituality firstname.lastname@example.org
Children’s RE Hours
Sunday Schedule-early September through mid-June
Most Sundays, all children who are in pre-school through 7th grade join their parents in the sanctuary for the first part of the service. They sing hymns, participate in the chalice lighting and the unison affirmation and listen to a children’s story. The congregation sings to the children as they depart for their religious education classes. Teachers and other adults help direct them from the sanctuary to their appropriate classrooms. Inclusion of the children in the first part of the service recognizes our children as a vital part of our congregation and community. Childcare (birth – age 3) and our YRUU (8th – 12th grade) youth group begin in their meeting spaces at 11 AM.
Classes may vary their agenda or format but most include these elements: leader/facilitator prepares a session using resources selected for the group. Topics introduce children to various aspects of Unitarian Universalism and other religions and their application to our daily lives. Opening rituals, stories, songs, meditation, crafts and related activities are part of the Sunday morning program. Sharing of their experiences helps children realize they have much in common and helps to develop a sense of community and friendship with their peers.
In an effort to offer a broader and more varied learning experience, we provide special programming on the 1st and 2nd Sunday of each month.
First Sunday is a large-group, multi-age experience led by Director of Religious Education Elizabeth Wilson. Stories and activities are typically based on the monthly worship theme. First Sunday’s goals are to foster relationships across all age groups and to encourage mentoring between older and younger kids. On First Sunday’s we normally meet in Krolfifer Hall at 11:15 AM.
Second Sunday is a new program for 2015-2016 for our 1st through 7th grade classes. For Second Sunday, children are allowed to choose from two to three mini-workshops. The workshops are more hands-on and experiental in nature, led by RE teachers and helpers. The topics of each workshop are based on monthly worship themes and other areas of interest. For example: when the worship theme is peace; workshops may include a craft (making a peace pinwheel), a place to meditate, and a discussion area. On Second Sunday the children begin in their regular RE classes at 11:15 for opening rituals and then move to the appropriate workshop spaces.
From mid-June through the first Sunday in September, we offer multi-age summer programming designed for children in pre-K through 4th grades. Older youth are welcome to join in as participants or helpers or they may remain in worship. Children and youth begin in worship and go to summer programming at 11:15 AM. Child-care for birth through age-3 is available at 11 AM throughout the summer.