First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Chelmsford
2 Westford St, MA, 01824 Office Phone: 978-256-5133
Religious Education Faith Formation Ministry
2014-2015 “OUR UU World”
Religious Education Contact Information
The First Parish UU Religious Education Website-
Director of Religious Education and Youth Programming-
Dolores GHeredia-Wood Email: [email protected]
Religious Education Administrative Assistant-
Jill Hayes: Email: [email protected]
Welcome to a very exciting and fun year at First Parish of Chelmsford!
The Religious Education Program is dedicated to growing community and to cultivating wisdom through exploring spirituality, faith and ethical living that form our UU Identity.
It is the mission of the Religious Education, or Faith Formation, Ministry to cultivate in our youth a sense of worth, confidence and belonging in knowing that they are beloved members of the UU community wherever their ongoing journeys take them in the world. We are committed to the idea that spiritual journeys are ongoing from birth until death. The journey begins here. Together all congregation members, families and youth are the beloved community that is the foundation of the UU Faith Formation of our Unitarian Universalist Identity and will always be part of ourselves whichever paths we choose to travel.
The Religious Education vision is that through our youth’s Unitarian Universalist Faith (Religious) Formation they become empowered and contribute positively and responsibly to OUR UU World.
Our Focus of the Year
The Religious Education Ministry theme for 2014-2015 will be “OUR UU World.”
The mission for RE this year is the further understanding of Our UU Identity through building awareness of our connection to the world. It is through having a sense of belonging and feeling loved that we can teach youth to have empathy and compassion and love for our earth and everything in our world. In order to attain this goal we will be learning about our environment, social justice and exploring diverse multi-cultural worldviews. As part of our UU Faith Formation initiative we invite the entire First Parish Community to be part of our vision of being Unitarian Universalist beyond Sunday mornings by bravely engaging in Ethical and Spiritual Action.
Cooperative Religious Education
The First Parish Unitarian Universalist Religious Education Programs are cooperative endeavors in which all families are expected to participate. We need volunteers in order tohave a successful program. We request that every parent/caregiver assist in some way during the year. Opportunities vary and require different time commitments. Where applicable, training is provided. Please contact Dolores or Jill for more information. We also have a volunteer opportunity site: http://tinyurl.com/RESurvey2014
In order to update our files and make sure we have current contact and safety information for each child, we are requiring all families to reregister for the RE program. Registration forms are available at the RE table during Social Hour and online at our website http://www.uuchelmsford.org/re/. Please contact Jill Hayes at [email protected] for more registration information. Families are welcome to visit the RE table, or contact us to learn more about the program or contact us.
Sunday Morning Information
Religious Education runs each week from 10:45 until noon. We encourage regular attendance in our Sunday morning program. We realize that there are occasions when families are unable to attend, but please attend as consistently as possible. Our children and youth feel greater ease, participate more readily and can build deeper community when they attend regularly. Community Building is one of the foundational stones of our religion and an important part of our Unitarian Universalist Identity.
*Please see the attached calendar for times and starting locations for each age group.
Here is a Sunday morning overview:
Worship from 10:45-11:10ish. This will be in the classroom, children’s chapel or sanctuary.
Workshops and Lessons from 11:10ish-12:00. Look for frequent email updates for more information.
We ask parents/guardians to be courteous and please wait until the class is over and the children are dismissed. Everyone is invited to enjoy Social Hour from 12:00-12:30. Join fellow congregants for coffee, juice, snacks & conversation.
Please note: Allergies are a shared responsibility. We have students with nut and other allergies.
Parents with students with allergies, please make sure students make others aware of their allergies.
Pre-Kindergarten students will meet together each week for “Friendship Finders,” written by Roberta Altamari. This curriculum helps reinforce the idea that church is a safe and fun place to learn. Children will play and learn through ritual, songs, stories, games and activities. In this classroom, there is emphasis on routine to create a familiar place to learn and be together at church. Some lesson themes include the following: I Love Church, Everyone is Special, Families, and Working Together. This program is offered for our 3 – 5 year-olds. We recommend that children begin here if they are 3 years old in September, and toilet trained. Otherwise, they are welcome to visit the nursery.
Primary Grades (Kindergarten – 3rd Grade) Sunday Morning RE-
Our primary grades curriculum reflects the stages of faith development by giving our children and youth a solid grounding in what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. Primary grades through 3rd graders will attend class with familiar teachers in a familiar room each week, where they will learn about Unitarian Universalist values, principles, practices and history. The second and third grade students will be integrating the Religious Education workshop theme into their curriculum.
Workshop Rotations (4th – 8th Grades) –
Each year we explore a different theme through workshop rotation based on our UU principles and sources. Each age group experiences a variety of workshops throughout the year. Workshops explore and engage by including a variety of learning styles and teaching methods. Workshop leaders use drama, crafts, cooking, games, video, service projects, and ritual to engage our children. Our 6, 7 & 8th graders will be part of the Workshop Rotations but continue having their own distinct nuance. For these grades we will be incorporating special events like field trips and in-house social action projects.
Workshop Rotation themes are as follows: please refer to calendar for dates:
Multi-cultural World Views
Caring for Our World
Social Justice and Environmental Action
Honoring Our World
High School Youth-
High School Class – 9th-12th graders participate in a program tailored to their interests and needs as Unitarian Universalist youth. Email updates are sent weekly to youth about upcoming events and high school sessions. Some examples of past and current Senior Youth Group activities include: sending care packages to the Concord Prison; working on wall mural that symbolizes the First Parish youth activities and UU Principles as well as discussions about moral and ethical dilemmas facing UU teens and mission trips such as the New Orleans Trips to help victims of Katrina (NOLA.)
One Room Sunday School Days (ORS) & Intergenerational services are held approximately once a month. Our One Room Sunday School days offer the opportunity to freely explore activities of interest and encourage intergenerational friendships. After worship they can choose from a variety of activity stations that explore a particular theme. Some chapel themes will be a review of each workshop rotation, and some will be project or service oriented. On these Sundays, we will begin in the sanctuary or chapel.
Religious Education Special Events for 2014-2015
Religious Education Special Events throughout the year include-
Halloween Parade and Carnival during church and Haunted Chapel in November
Thanks-giving Feast November
Christmas Pageant in December
Valentine’s Day Ice Cream Social in February
Easter Egg Hunt
Jolene Doubner Park Clean up in April
Field Day on the common during church in May
Youth Programs Offered at First Parish Outside of Sunday Mornings
Coming of Age (COA) Program –
Coming of Age (COA), is the Unitarian Universalist Rite of Passage that marks the transition from childhood to young adult and can be found in all cultural traditions. For example they may include ritual abductions, vision quests, ritual abductions confirmations and bar and bat mitzvahs, all to help youth learn about themselves and prepare for adulthood. Participants explore theology, spirituality and history through discussion, drama, music, writing and art. Youth learn how to define their beliefs and put their faith into action. The program involves; pairing youth with adult mentors; discussions and retreats that emphasize self-awareness and confidence-building; service to the church and community; and a culminating affirmation ceremony. This year COA will meet on alternating Sundays from 1 to 3pm)
This program is offered to 12th graders. The Bridging program offers a place for youth to reflect upon what it has been like to grow up Unitarian Universalist as well as learn about what opportunities are available to them after graduation. They explore campus ministry opportunities and local and national young adult programs. At the end of the year, seniors prepare speeches and take part in the First Parish Bridging ceremony in June which honors their transition from youth to young adults within Unitarian Universalism.
Our Whole Lives (OWL) – Being offered 2015-2016 for 7th through 9th grade
High School Youth Group –
The High School Youth Group meets for Special Events such as overnight to create Haunted Chapel for younger youth. Other occasions have included the Coffee House, General Assembly, or remodeling the UU High School Room. The purpose of the group is for youth to bond, reflect and have fun. The youth are empowered and encouraged to express themselves freely and further develop their UU identities by branching out into other components of the Youth Ministry without any pressures. Our Youth Advisors strive to provide a consistent spiritual sanctuary where our youth can count on us being there for them.
At First Parish, we give milestone gifts to honor the growth and faith development of the young Unitarian Universalists in our congregation. Children in Kindergarten, 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th Grades are honored with a gift that reflects their spiritual development. Sixth graders participate in a mini-retreat. This year’s ceremonies will take place on RE Sunday in June.
Ours is a cooperative Religious Education program and we depend on the work and support of volunteers of all kinds to help keep it going. Please visit the following link and share with us your interest and availability: http://tinyurl.com/RESurvey2014
The RE Administrative Assistant, (REAA) Jill Hayes, helps to coordinate volunteer schedules and send out weekly email reminders. Jill can be found at the RE table during Social Hour.
Safe Child Policy and CORI for RE Volunteers-
In order for our students and congregation to flourish it is important that all of us want to make sure that we offer them the safest environment possible. That is why we are very pleased that the Religious Education Ministry and Standing Committee on April 2013 approved the implementation of the CORI policy for all RE Volunteers starting in 2013-2014. Along with the Safe Child Policy we will be asking that all RE Volunteers fill out the form at the beginning of the year (CORI forms every two years.) If you have not filled out the forms already for this year, they will be available at the RE table during the Social Hour or contact Dolores GHeredia-Wood at [email protected] or call her at 954-588-6836.
Unitarian Universalist Parenting Resources-
There are a variety of resources available for parents and youths in the Religious Education on the hallway on the 2nd floor and will be available in the RE Cart on Sunday during Social Hour. Our lending library contains picture and chapter books on a wide variety of themes, ranging from UU principles and world religions to more difficult topics such as bullying, divorce, death and grieving. There are a number of UU parenting books and articles on display that you are welcome to sign out and take home as well. The Directors of Religious Education and Youth Programing are trained in Pastoral Care. If you have any concerns regarding your youth or need any assistance please know that you can count on her as a resource also.
Religious Education Ministry Council-
The RE Council (REC) collectively collaborates with the Director of Religious Education and Youth Programming (DRE&YP) to coordinate and implement our Religious Education program. The council consists of co-chairs and program liaisons that coordinate specific areas of the Religious Education program at First Parish. It is the Religious Education Ministry’s responsibility to ensure the philosophy, content and implementation of the Religious Education Program in a manner consistent with our Unitarian Universalist Principles, Sources and the Covenant of First Parish UU Church. We look forward and are grateful for the opportunity to serve our wonderful community.
Gratefully, Dolores GHeredia-Wood; [email protected];