Religious Exploration for Children and Youth

 

UUCT is proud to be the home of a thriving and growing Religious Exploration program for our children and youth. We are a spiritual home to some brilliant future leaders of the universe, and we do not takethat responsibility lightly. Our philosophy for RE at UUCT is faith formation through fellowship and fun.We want our kids to know that church is a safe, nurturing place where they are all encouraged to  explore, learn, and wonder, and where it is ok to stumble at times.

Our program looks a little different these days due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Before, when we were able to gather in person, our Sunday mornings started with congregants of all ages gathered in our sanctuary, which boasts a dedicated children’s area with kid-sized chairs and centering activities. The children’s area is at the front of the sanctuary so our smaller friends can easily see and interact with the service and the larger congregation can see and interact with the kids. The children’s area covenant is below and is also displayed prominently throughout the sanctuary. We firmly believe that all people are welcome in worship – wiggles, giggles, and all.

 

Children’s Area Covenant, Established 2020

The children and youth of UUCT promise to use this space respectfully, with loving hearts, listening ears, and soft voices, and the adults of UUCT promise to remember what it is like to be a child, and be reverent of children’s sacred silliness and holy distraction.

 

After a chalice lighting, some music, and a time for all ages, our kids would exit the sanctuary with their RE guides to play a big game outside before heading into class. Our classes are usually on the same theme of the worship service and typically incorporate hands-on activities. Some especially popular activities have included making stepping stones, baking cookies, and learning about herbs and using them to make a tea blend.

Our youth group for high schoolers would meet twice monthly after the service because most of our high schoolers enjoy participating in worship or RE. We offer nursery care for our youngest explorers, though they are also always welcome to join RE at their caregivers’ discretion.

Since going fully online in March 2020, our program structure has changed, though our philosophy has stayed the same. Presently, we are engaging in faith formation through fellowship and fun in three age- based online offerings. All offerings are presently offered every Sunday except first Sundays, unless otherwise noted.

 

Elementary School

Our elementary school RE offering is a Zoom-based craft session. Families receive pack of craft supplies from the church once per month during a no-contact pickup and on Sunday mornings, kids gather on Zoom for a chalice lighting, check-in, and to craft together. So far we’ve made bead jewelry, chalices for home use, spooky pumpkins for Halloween, and cards to mail to members of our community who are especially isolated due to the pandemic.

Middle School

Our middle school group decided to spend their online time playing Minecraft, so they play together on a private server. Minecraft is a collaborative rather than competitive online video game where players work together to build worlds and complete quests. Feedback from participants and parents regarding the group has been overwhelmingly positive since its inception in October 2020.

High School

Our high school youth group is largely self-directed. Our Sunday sessions allow ample time to check in, play online games, and for youth to solicit advice on anything they’re working through. Since going online, we have also implemented once-monthly online movie nights via Netflix Party.

Outside of our regularly scheduled offerings, we have had a few creative opportunities to connect since being online. This fall, we hosted a sleepover for our stuffed animals at the church and a no-contact trick or treat trail, and we are looking forward to some more no-contact, low-pressure opportunities to connect with our RE families in the coming months.

If you would like to learn more about the RE program at UUCT or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Director of Religious Exploration Helen Rivers Cassara at uuctdre2810@gmail.com.