Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We Covenant Together

While covenant is also important in Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths, the covenant that Unitarian Universalists share is the one we make with one another, not with God. As Unitarian Universalists, we belong to a covenanted community of people and congregations who make commitments to certain agreed-upon values — our seven Unitarian Universalist Principles. In 1960, Unitarians and Universalists discussed, debated and compromised to articulate six Principles which members of both faiths could covenant together to affirm and promote as Unitarian Universalists.
It may help children understand "covenant" if we use the word interchangeably with "agreement" or "promise." In our younger classes, we refer to "promises" instead of "principles".
(adapted from Wonderful Welcome, a Tapestry of Faith program)

Here are photos of the covenants our young people have created for their classes this year. 

For more thoughts on being together in covenanted relationship, click here to read this month's post by Rev. Meg Riley of the Church of the Larger Fellowship.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

If I Were a Founder

Our youth will be visiting other houses of worship, as part of their study of other religions this year. For our next session, youth were asked to imagine they were the founder of a religious group, and to consider the following questions:

If I were helping to found a religious group with others whom I like to be with, I would want us to celebrate or honor . . . .

I would want us to meet . . . .(where?)

When (day of the week, frequency?)

Two things we would do are . . .

Something we would never do is . . .

The most important thing about us would be . . .


Because we are all co-creators of our faith, I invite you to consider these questions as well.  What is special to you about our faith, and what would you do to shape it if you could?

Introducing . . . The Trail Blazers!

Our newest class, a group of 2nd and 3rd graders, voted on a name for themselves last Sunday.  They were looking for a name that fit in with the theme of our other groups--Discovery, Treasure Hunters, and Explorers.  

And here is their new classroom--still awaiting some finishing touches, but mostly ready for the year ahead!  Welcome Trail Blazers!  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Caring for the Environment

Today we enjoyed the sunny weather by going outside to do some projects.  The preschool children drew "truffula" trees from the story The Lorax on the paved area in front of the new office, while the elementary group prepared a flower bed and planted flowers.

 Both groups worked together to decorate clay pots which will become a bird bath--something you can bid on at our church auction.

Many thanks to the children for their work on these projects to help our church and the environment.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Saving Trees

by Saphronia Young
(in honor of Dr. Seuss Summer)
Would you save a life if you could?
Have you ever thought that maybe you should?
Even if you're little, I bet you are strong!
Ivy kills trees, and I think that is wrong.

The ivy was brought here from far far away
and the people who did that weren't thinking that day!
The ivy chokes trees and doesn't care if they die
When I think about that, I almost could cry.

But although you are little I know you are smart
I know you have courage and a loving big heart
I know you will help at least one tree to survive
We can take out the ivy and let that tree thrive.

You could pull the vine away from the tree
Your partner could clip all the ivy you see
Together you can do what alone we cannot
You could save a tall tree and then...adopt!

Walk down the path seeking your tree
Find one that is smothered with English ivy
Pull the vine away from your tree's girth
Clip once at your shoulder, and again by the earth.

Give your tree a six-foot ring around
A survival ring where no ivy is found
Check it each week that you possibly could
Take care of your tree...you know that you should.

You could hug your tree and give it a name
Draw a picture of her and put in a frame
Tell your tree that she's lovely and want her to grow
Let your tree feel cared for - I think she should know.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Empty Bowls and Open Minds

Today's Helping Hands project in the Lighthouse Chapel for children and youth was to make "empty bowls" using various collage materials.  These bowls will be part of an art display and fund raiser at this year's General Assembly of Unitarian Universalists.  The empty bowl project raises funds to help provide food for hungry people.  

Bowls in process.  When dry, the balloons will be popped, and bowl-shaped artwork will remain.

Our Open Minds team prepared a readers' theater piece about some of the roots of Unitarian Universalist beliefs.  We used simple props to present each of these ideas.  Thank you to Gustavo and Owen for helping to tell the story today.  

Props from today's readers' theater.  See below for the story of how these represent different influences in the history of Unitarian Universalism

For a long time, people have asked themselves some important questions about life:

How and why did life begin?

What will happen to me when I die?

How can I know what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is true, and what is false?

Where can I find the answers that will tell me the meaning of life and how to live it?

How can I know what to believe?

One of the legends of the earliest Hebrews concerned a great leader named Moses. In their early days as a people, the Jews looked to the TEN COMMANDMENTS that had been revealed to Moses to tell them how they should live.

In time, the Jewish people wrote down their thoughts about their history and their customs and about how they believed God wanted them to live. Written by hand on a double scroll, THE TORAH is read throughout the year at Jewish services—and for Judiasm, this is the source of religious authority.

In the first century, there lived a good Jew named JESUS of Nazareth who studied the Torah with love and devotion. But Jesus began to question some of the rules in the Torah and to object to them.

After his death, the early Christians looked to the example of Jesus for their answers about the meaning of life and death, right and wrong.  They took as their symbol THE CROSS, to remind themselves his ideas could not be put to death. 

As the centuries passed, and Christianity grew into a major religion, the Pope in Rome became its spiritual authority.   People received God's blessing through the priests, who explained for them the bible and offer God's blessing thorough communion. CUP.

In the sixteenth century, a monk named Martin Luther challenged the authority of the Pope.  He taught that each person should read the BIBLE for himself, and make his own relationship with God.

By the turn of the nineteenth century, Universalism and Unitarianism were alive and well.  These two faiths grew closer and closer in beliefs until the merged as one just over 50 years ago. Our symbol, the FLAMING CHALICE, represents ideals of both Unitarianism and Universalism---faith, hope, love, freedom, reason, and tolerance.

In the1800s Universalist such as Hosea Ballou and Unitarians such as Theodore Parker and Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke out for the rights of the individual believer and against the authority of the church.

They taught that there is truth and wisdom in the Bible, and inspiration to be drawn from the life of Jesus. But there is also truth and wisdom to be found in other GREAT BOOKS and other great lives, from ALL THE RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD.

The whole panorama of NATURE, as well, has lessons for us about the meaning of life. But the answers to the great questions are not to be found in Bibles or birdsongs. Your answer will be found when you look within YOURSELF. As Emerson put it, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”

Theodore Parker said, “The kingdom, the power, and the glory will lie within the human heart.”

What a tremendous affirmation! Don't ever let anyone tell you the Unitarian Universalists don't believe in anything! What do we believe in?

We believe in YOU!

All of you. Each of you.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

End of the Year and Open House

Today our classes had their last sessions of the school year.  We reviewed our learning from the year, and prepared for the open house after the service.  The children and youth were very proud to show off what they have done this year.
Treasure Hunters helping with the bulletin board display

Explorers finishing their bottle cap mural

The preschool class enjoyed extra playground time . . 

. . . and the toddlers enjoyed our brand new play kitchen!

Those who visited the youth room made a web, learning that we are all connected
(notice the aliens made by the youth on the table in the center)

The preschool class shared some of their favorite stories with their parents.

The Explorer's class mural, nearly complete!

Visitors enjoyed seeing the books the Treasure Hunters have read this year . . 

. . . and their very own picture book, created from all the lessons and activities throughout the year..
A big thank you to all of this year's teachers.  It's been a terrific year!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Making the World a More Beautiful Place

Today the Treasure Hunters class read a story which challenged them to make the world a more beautiful place.  What can your family do to bring more beauty to the world?  

Flower stems, or rainbows?
Beauty in flowers and in faces.
Drilling holes in bottle tops so we can make a beautiful mural out of garbage.

Babies doing their part

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Parachute Fun!

We were a small group today, and our plans changed due to the rain.  So our teachers pulled out this parachute and we had a great time!  Thanks to Jan James for donating the parachute--it's sure to get more use throughout the summer.  

This summer's classes for children will draw inspiration from the writings of Dr. Seuss.  Unitarian Universalists draw inspiration from many sources.  What can we learn about our 7 Unitarian Universalist principles from the teachings of Seuss?  Join us this summer as we use stories by Seuss to look at what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Time Travel

The workings of the Time Machine

The Explorers class has been traveling in time this year, meeting people from history and learning about how their lives reflected our Seven Principles.  This past Sunday was their final trip, to meet Henry David Thoreau.
Henry David Thoreau visits the Explorers class

Traveling at warp speed in the time machine!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Spring!

Here's a Wordle made by Family Ministries Team Chair Ellie Peterson, using the most frequently used words in this blog.  I love seeing the words that "pop" from this image, and it highlights things that I hope are most important in our work with children and youth.  Take a look at this image and see what "pops" for you!

It's great to be back after maternity leave.  I hope to begin posting here on a regular basis again.  For now, here's some photos from yesterday's Treasure Hunters class, which explored the history and origins of celebrations of the Spring Equinox.
A Maya legend tells of a snake-like shadow on the first day of spring.  As surely as a snake sheds it skin, spring will transform the earth.

During the festival of Floralia in Rome, children wound garlands of flowers around a marble column in a temple dedicated to Flora, goddess of flowering plants.

The Jewish holiday of Passover began as an ancient spring festival.  The Passover story reminds everyone that joy can follow sorrow, and that winter will always be followed by spring.

When Christians think of spring, they are reminded of the Resurrection of Jesus.  Many Easter customs come from earlier traditions.  Eggs were honored, decorated, dyed, and exchanged by many ancient peoples.  It was the custom in Germany for children to build a nest in a field or garden in which the Easter Hare would lay its colored eggs.

We enjoyed learning these facts and more about spring from today's book:  The Spring Equinox by Ellen Jackson.  Our collages illustrate the different spring festivals we learned about.