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.
Sunday Morning Programs
About 70 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 Director of Religious Exploration, we have two part-time teachers, two part-time childcare providers, and numerous adult volunteers, some of whom lead specialized programs.
Affirming our multigenerational community, children and adults start the service together in the sanctuary. After a children’s story (two Sundays a month) and the Children’s Covenant, the congregation sings the children to their classrooms. Classroom groupings are childcare and nursery (ages 0-4), grades K-2, grades 3-5, and grades 6-8.
In the childcare and nursery room, paid childcare providers and volunteers provide a safe, supportive environment for children to interact and engage in enrichment activities. Each K-8 class shares joys and sorrows, lights a chalice, and checks in each week. Our RE program is shifting into a theme-based program using monthly themes from Soul Matters.
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 7–9th grade youth have become a very tight cohort. We are trying out a youth gathering outside of Sunday mornings, with the goal of starting 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.