Unique to our denomination is Religious Education Programming for different age groups and generations, what we call, “Unitarian Universalist Lifespan Religious Education.” This way of discerning our own answers to questions that are spiritual or religious, from early childhood to our elder years, has been part of our denomination since 1937, thanks to a brilliant and passionate woman named Sophia Lyon Fahs. Beginning back then, she gave Unitarian Universalism a method, books and articles, curricula and real life experience with teaching and raising children, so that children could approach becoming religious with “a sense of wonder and a questioning mind.” Many of the materials she produced are still in use today. She wrote that, “each child should have his [or her] chance at an original approach to the universe.” The Rev. Fahs believed that little children should not be told doctrine about God and the Bible, for them to memorize and recite by rote, but that we should awaken their sense of awe about all they are experiencing, and help them find answers to their questions, as appropriate for their age and stage of development, and we should share those experiences with them. The Rev. Fahs felt strongly that religious education for children needed to address, in realistic and helpful ways, life issues of loss, grieving, and death. She believed we should not side-step these serious and painful situations when talking with children and youth.
One of the essential parts of Sophia Fahs’ approach to religious education was that children need to be able to see and experience and ask questions about what they are trying to learn. This is why, today, I know of an R.E. class for children that, during Fire Safety Month, had a real fire truck brought in to the church parking lot. They were able to climb all over the truck, ask the fire fighters questions, and they received fire hats, toys, and fire safety information. And this is why, today, a Coming Of Age class, trying to discern their answers to questions of good and evil, includes a trip to a Holocaust museum. One of our programs for middle school children which is now called, “Neighboring Faiths,” was originally created by Sophia Fahs as, “The Church Across the Street.” Those children do research and write questions about religious traditions different from ours, then visit different houses of worship for one of their worship services and talk to their clergyperson. Then they discuss the experience afterward with their teachers and mentors. And one of our curricula for the youngest children is called, “Celebrating Me and My World.” Through it, UU children learn to feel good about themselves, their abilities, their congregation, and the world around them. When I think of the religious teachings in the world that have filled adults and children with shame, hatred, bigotry, and self-loathing, I believe that Unitarian Universalist Religious Education for children and youth really is changing the world for the better. By giving children knowledge and respect for the great religions and philosophies of the world, we, in each gathering of Unitarian Universalists, are contributing to world peace.
At First UU, Religious Education for children and youth consists of curricula based on a pillar system. We seek to assist the development of individuals who think for themselves. Topics include Religions from Around the World, Art in a Religious Context, UU Faith that affirms our Principles and Purposes and much more.
This year, our RE program consists of these groups:
Youth: Ages 5 - 9 years.
Tweens: Ages 10 and Up
(We have childcare for babies through age 4)
In Religious Education, we think we can help you add something to your children's lives. We want to help you give your children a grounding in a wonderful liberal religion. We have 37 Sundays from September to June (if you attend every Sunday) to help our children develop a sense of what religion is all about.
First, we would like our children to be part of an extended community where they feel welcome, are valued for the gifts they bring and the people they are. "Do unto others" is the big rule. This is a community where questioning the mysteries of life is valued. It takes time to develop a sense of belonging.
We want our children to feel part of the Unitarian Universalist tradition. We want your children to know the tenets of the church and be able to articulate what it means to be a UU. Free thinking, questioning, and personal discovery are the order of the day. We want our children to be proud that they are part of this liberal faith. It takes time to develop a sense of pride.
We want our children to know other religious faiths and to celebrate the ideas brought to the world by other cultures and religions. We want them to develop tolerance for ideas and people that are not part of their everyday life. We want them to know that they could use ideas from other faith traditions and blend them into a personal theology. This is a religion that allows for personal growth and diversity. It takes time to understand and appreciate.
We want our children to develop a social responsibility consciousness. We want them to feel they can make a difference in this world. We want them to know that there are people and causes out in the world that cry out for assistance and that they can and should reach out. It takes time to work on social responsibility projects.
We want our children to have a place to think and talk about life's issues-getting along with others, death, peace and war, sexuality, violence of one kind or another let's give them a safe forum in which to explore ideas and to get input. Children need places to think out loud and to gather ideas and feedback. Church should be one of those places. It takes time to talk and to listen.
We want our children to expand their pool of friends to children and adults that are UUs. We want them to link up with people who are humanists and value this faith, who think it is important and has meaning in their lives. We want them to listen to different ideas of spirituality and develop their own ideas and feelings about spirituality. It takes time to connect and develop ideas about spirituality.
So, come. It's only 37 hours--not even a full work week--and we have so much to do! Let's get started on the education that will be a meaningful gift for a lifetime.
UU's believe in the lifelong search for truth and meaning. We have a number of opportunities for adults to gather in small groups or educational class settings to continue learning, sharing and enriching each others lives with their spiritual stories.
Rational Free Thinkers
Adults meet at 9:15 AM in the library on Sunday mornings in order to discuss topics of interest regarding philosophy, current events, and dimensions of faith.