Religious Exploration for Children & Youth
UUFCO’s growing Religious Exploration program offers children and youth a foundation based on the principles of Unitarian Universalism and a supportive community in which spiritual awareness, tolerance, acceptance, and personal growth are nurtured. We challenge our children to think about their world, their beliefs, and how to live harmoniously with all living things and the earth.
Welcome Letter for Families, September 2019
Dear UUFCO Families,
We hope you are doing well and that your summer has been full of fun activities. It is always wonderful to see children and youth walk in our doors after several months of sunny growth to be a few inches taller.
This is a banner year at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon. Most noticeably, we will begin the search process for our next settled Director of Religious Exploration; we hope to call a director in May. Information and updates will be included in the newsletter and ACE. Rev. Scott, the RE Team, and I hope you take every opportunity to be informed and involved.
Please take a few minutes to register your children now using the registration form at the right. This will help us determine the class grade distribution and ensure enough supplies for each lesson as we head into the fall.
We want to offer two one-hour classes for parents of K-1 children about Sexuality Education. More information will come in September. I also hope to hold meetings with the parents and teachers from each classroom in September and October.
Programming for children and youth continues to be excellent, with an outstanding teaching staff in place. That said there are a few new opportunities available for volunteers:
Nursery Want to play with toddlers and hold babies? 2 more volunteers needed to fill in for illness and days off.
Pre-K to Grade 1 “Creating Home” cirriculum This program helps children develop a sense of home that is grounded in faith. Together with your group you will ask questions about the purpose of having a home and the functions a home serves, for us as humans and for other animals. The program speaks of home as a place of belonging and explores the roles each of us play in the homes where we live. The program introduces the concept of a "faith home"—your congregation—which shares some characteristics with a family home. Like a family home, a faith home offers its members certain joys, protections, and responsibilities. 3 more assistant volunteers needed to fill in for illness and days off.
Grades 2-5 “Holidays and Holy Days” cirriculum Holidays are the natural, age-old vehicle of religious socialization. Their festivities tell a story which children absorb with delight, through experiences far more than through words. Decorations, colors, costumes, dances, lights, songs, foods, festivity, gifts, excitement, pageantry, solemnity, ceremony, and ritual-it is of these that tradition is woven, that memories, beliefs, values, fears, hopes, and reverence are transmitted. A holiday is not something to talk about... it's something to DO. As our understanding and sensitivities about cultural appropriation have changed, the author has tried to rewrite lessons to be sensitive to these concerns. 3 more assistant volunteers needed to fill in for illness and days off.
Youth Programming “Coming of Age” cirriculum This is an intensive curriculum for middle school youth. The teachers and I will need your support for all of the activities that are scheduled for this year. I will explain it all at the Orientation Meeting later this fall.
This class will need adult mentors (25+) who are members or friends of UUFCO. The program calls for adult mentors who are committed to building a relationship with youth. These adults are not serving as friends, teachers, parents, advisors or coaches. Mentors are adults whose “sole concern is the development of character in a youth. Acting on behalf of the community, the mentor’s responsibility is to guide the [youth] on an inner journey of self-discovery…” (Coming of Age: Handbook for Congregations). I will be looking for adults to serve as mentors beginning in October. If you or someone you know want to serve in this way, please contact me.
We are also offering OWL (Our Whole Lives), sexuality education curriculum for 9-12 graders this fall. It is the first time we have offered this, and we are eager to have as many high school youth as possible attend this. Again, there will be an orientation for parents later in the fall.
I look forward to meeting each one of you and seeing your children again soon.
Dana Regan, CRE
Interim Director of Religious Exploration
Sunday Morning Programs
About 30 children are enrolled in our Sunday morning children’s RE program, with an average participation of 20 children each Sunday. In addition to our three-quarter time Interim Director of Religious Exploration, and childcare and teaching staff, we have many committed volunteers from the congregation, all with back ground checks and following our “two adults in the room at all times” rule.
We are an affirming multi-generational community. Read about a typical Sunday morning.
There are many opportunities to teach and learn in our Sunday School classrooms. Teachers are paired with a co-teacher and given framing and support from the Director of RE and other team members. The goal is to have 4 adults for each team so everyone has time in the classroom and out of the classroom. Contact the Interim Director of Religious Exploration for more information and to sign up.
Our Whole Lives (OWL) is a lifespan comprehensive sexuality education curriculum developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association. (Read more on UUA site.) It is offered every other year to rotating age groups and is open to children from the wider Central Oregon community, if space allows. OWL honors and recognizes the diversity of all participants with respect to biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and disability status. Activities and language in the curriculum have been carefully chosen to be as inclusive as possible.
A youth program is currently in development. Youth bonding is the basis for a healthy program, and our 6-8th grade youth have become a very tight cohort. We offer social gatherings as well as social justice opportunities through our youth program. Next year, we will start a Coming of Age program that will foster deeper connections with our older age groups.
Special Programs and Activities
Our children and youth reach beyond Sunday morning experiences and into the community by serving meals at a local homeless shelter, creating backpacks with school supplies and food kits for children in need, and participating in the Guest at Our Table program. RE program sleepovers, family art nights, and preparation for our annual Christmas pageant provide opportunities for bonding, creativity, and family fun.