Welcome to People’s Church Lifespan Religious Education Program!
We are a vibrant community of religious seekers of all ages, learning and growing together on the religious path. Some of our education programs are organized by age groups, and others mix different ages together. Our goal is to offer participants opportunities to learn new things, examine our own lives with honesty, and help and challenge each other to live according to our highest ideals of right relations with each other. In all of our programs, we use the seven Unitarian Universalist principles as a guide and resource.
We encourage each person to take responsibility for their own religious life, and at the same time we are here to support and encourage one another on the journey. We recognize that parents are the primary religious educators for their children and we aim to supplement that with a faith community which can offer additional opportunities for religious growth and learning.
Over the summer, we have children of all ages come together for a story and special activities while adults are participating in the church service.
Our primary curriculum for elementary aged children has often been based on a rotation of foundational topics, which we call the pillars of our program. These are:
- World Religions
- Peace and Social Justice
- Unitarian Universalism
- Our Jewish and Christian Heritage
- The Interdependent Web of Life
This Year’s Curriculum
During the 2018-19 church year, our kindergarten through 12th graders will study Our Jewish and Christian Heritage. We will learn about different Bible stories and Jewish and Christian rituals and history from a Unitarian Universalist perspective.
What this means is that rather than examining the Bible as a literal truth, we recognize that the Bible contains the stories of a people from a specific geographical region and historical time frame. All peoples all around the world told stories of their deities in an effort to make sense of the world and pass down the values and morals of the culture. As with many indigenous tribes, much of the Bible began as oral stories for generations
before they were recorded in writing and of course it was translated repeatedly in many languages. Rather than affirming that the Bible is the literal word of God, we recognize that humans have interpreted and reinterpreted these stories and texts to make sense of the world. Many church and world leaders have interpreted the scriptures to support political and power dynamics throughout history.
- to provide a window into the living process of religion in its most classical forms, and in forms which are close to and affect our own lives;
- to approach this viewing of religion in a way that will encourage understanding instead of judging;
- to provide age-appropriate and therefore interesting ways for our students to learn about these traditions;
- to show that religion is not only relative to our daily lives, but an intrinsic part of them;
- and to show how are where our Unitarian Universalist values are shared with people of other faiths and traditions.
Our 11th-12th grade class included visits to neighboring religious centers.
During the 2018-19 church year, our preschool class will use a Unitarian Universalist curriculum called Windows, where we learn about how to live in the world and how to live and learn together.
Our Whole Lives (OWL)
Our kindergarten-1st graders and 5th-6th graders will also participate in Our Whole Lives classes developed for their specific age groups before church services during the 2018-19 church year.
OWL is a sexuality education program for youth that models and teaches caring, compassion, respect, and justice. It is a holistic program that moves beyond the intellect to address the attitudes, values, and feelings that youth have about themselves and the world.
Unlike many other sexuality curricula currently available, this program is comprehensive and progressive. In an inclusive and developmentally appropriate manner, it addresses sensitive topics that are typically excluded. Although the curriculum was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, this volume is completely secular and free of specific religious doctrine or reference. However, the underlying values of the program reflect the justice-oriented traditions of both denominations.
You can learn more about the Our Whole Lives (OWL) Sexuality Education program here.
7th and 8th graders took part in the Our Whole Lives Middle School sexuality curriculum during the 2017-18 church year. We will offer this program to middle school youth again during the 2019-20 church year.
Coming Of Age
Our 9th and 10th graders followed a Coming of Age curriculum during the 2016-17 church year and will again during the 2019-20 church year. Our religious education includes having our youth participate in this class as they move from middle school to high school.
The goals for this program include:
- Assume responsibility for physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
- Gain self-confidence, recognize own feelings as valid and own opinions as important.
- Expand vision of the world by encountering different views, cultures, and life experiences.
- Understand important roles in church, local, and world communities.
- Develop a personal value system.
- Recognize complete acceptance within church community
The seven Unitarian Universalist Principles are woven throughout our program, in addition to our core values of freedom, reason, acceptance of diversity, loving kindness and compassion. Through modeling living in right relations with ourselves, each other and the earth, we strive to teach by example how to live a moral and ethical life. We offer all ages the chance to gather together and ask life’s big questions and we explore the plethora of possible answers together. We strive to live meaningful lives of depth and substance, honesty and integrity. We live out our deepest values together when we work to eliminate poverty and injustice in Kalamazoo and around the world.
10:15 – Coffee and Welcome
All ages are invited to come together to greet and welcome each other in the foyer. Childcare is available in the nursery starting at 10:00.
10:45 – Sunday Service
- Everyone is encouraged to join together in the Commons for worship. Childcare for babies and toddlers is available in the nursery each week from 10:00-12:30.
- After the first 15 minutes or so, all the children, youth and RE teachers leave to go to their classes.
- After the Sunday service we ask all parents to pick their children up promptly from their RE classes.
- The nursery is open until 12:30 so parents of babies and toddlers can have a chance to socialize after church.