Children and Youth
The great end in religious instruction is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own.
-William Ellery Channing, 19th Century Unitarian Minister
Welcome to Southwest Unitarian Universalist Church! We are glad to have you and your children join our community of learners and seekers. Religious education has a prominent place in our programming. Unitarian Universalists are inclined to believe that there is no fundamental conflict between faith and knowledge, or religion and the world, or the sacred and the secular, so the whole life of the church can be a forum for religious education.
Our goal is to provide each child with the opportunity to:
- Explore a variety of topics (e.g. world religions, peace and justice, interpersonal relationships, personal theology).
- Relate to others in the church community.
- Grow personally, spiritually, and religiously.
- Have fun!
SouthWest UU Church offers a multi-faceted Religious Education Program, which includes intergenerational worship, education, social justice, outings, group activities, rites of passage and pastoral care. As a religious community, we recognize the importance of creating communities where everyone is safe, especially our children (ages 0 through 11) and youth (ages 12 through 18). In May of 2014, our Board of Trustees adopted the following safety and protection guidelines, set forth in our SWUU Child and Youth Safety Policy.
ADULTS AS RELIGIOUS EDUCATORS
As a parent or other adult family member, you have a substantial impact on the attitudes, values and religious beliefs of the children growing up in your household. In order to help your child get the most out of her or his experiences at SWUU, you can:
Encourage Regular Attendance: In today’s busy world, there are competing interests for our time, even on Sunday mornings. Shared custody, sports teams, and other obligations are a reality. We hope that you and the children in your life will find that regular attendance is a welcome time to share with other UUs as often as possible. The predictable rhythms of our religious explorations allow for the children to feel welcome whenever they attend. However, the more often they spend learning collaboratively with their peers and adult leaders, the greater their shared understanding and comfort in asking discerning questions that will inform their own faith development.
Show an Interest: Ask your child what went on in Sunday school and/or their worship experience that morning. Encourage discussions about topics that seemed especially interesting to them. Participate with your child in church or classroom service projects. Sit near them during intergenerational services and help them follow the Order of Service. Encourage them to sing the hymns and ask for their opinions following the service.
Stay Informed: Our newsletter, The Forum, is our primary means of communication with you. Please read it carefully for important announcements and updates! Why not make a point of sharing The Forum with your children too? We also send weekly email updates that include reminders for events coming up in the next week. Email the church administrator to start receiving those weekly updates. In addition, the national Unitarian Universalist Association’s magazine UU World has a special section devoted to children.
Share Your Beliefs With Your Child: Sunday school is only one hour per week. Parents and caregivers are our children’s primary religious educators, and not only because we give explanations and advice. Every day, we model attitudes toward faith, meaning, and purpose that children will notice and copy.
- Let your child know your beliefs about religion.
- Share your ideas about god, spiritual practices, afterlife, and spirituality.
- Let your child know why you chose Unitarian Universalism at SWUU, and what it means to you.
- Talk about how you act on your beliefs about fairness, respect, caring for the earth, etc.
- Provide your child with opportunities to act on their own beliefs.
Volunteer to Help: Our Religious Explorations program needs your help – you can teach, lead or help with a group activity. We need assistants in the classroom, help with infants and toddlers in the nursery or with family activities. Our devoted volunteers may appreciate some help, so even if you are not sure you want to commit to several weeks of leading lessons, there are many opportunities for your participation. We all have the ability to make a lasting impression. We all have something to share.
We Want Your Feedback! Let us know how we are doing. We welcome your ideas and suggestions. Whether or not you have children in Religious Education classes, your support is vital to the progress and success of our RE Program. Remember, the children in RE today are the congregation members of tomorrow, so stay involved. Let us know what kinds of curricula you would like to see, participate in intergenerational services, and stay connected!
Additional Educational Services
Intergenerational Worship: Children, in all of their wiggles, laughter, and loud whisper voices are welcome in the services at SWUU. The children join us in worship each week for about fifteen minutes as we center and gather together before they move to their activities. Reverend Kristen or another adult will share a story for all ages when the children my come to the front of the sanctuary if they like, so they can engage easier. Throughout the year there will be opportunities for an intergenerational service where the children join us for the whole hour. Childcare is always available for infants through pre-schoolers if they choose not to stay for the whole service.
Youth Group: SWUU has an active youth group that is for children in grade 7 through 12. They have dedicated adult leaders and meet once per month outside of the Sunday morning class time. They spend time hanging out, going to outside activities such as skating, participating in church fundraising with special parties and suppers, exploring opportunities for social justice action, and strengthening their relationships.
Regional Youth Activities: Youth in grades 7 through 12 have the opportunity to participate in denominational activities with other UU youth from our region through the Youth Adult Committee (YAC). SWUU youth and adult sponsors are active in this and often attend weekend conferences and planning meetings. For more regional information, visit Youth Programs in the Central East Region (CERG) on the UUA website.
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