Religious growth and learning at People’s Church is offered for all ages. No matter where you are on your educational path, our program has much to offer.
Our babies and toddlers are lovingly cared for each Sunday. Our childcare workers provide a safe and fun atmosphere for our youngest children from 10:00 – 12:30 each week throughout the regular church year (mid-September – mid-June) and from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. every Sunday during the summer season (through mid-September). Babies and toddlers are provided with a snack each week such as goldfish crackers or graham crackers with sippy cups of water. Please let us know if your child has any allergies or special needs so we can best accommodate them. There are extra diapers and extra clothes located in the changing room inside the nursery if your child has an accident while at church.
These 3-5 year-olds gather each week for sharing, story, snack and playtime. For the 2015-2016 church year, we will use a curriculum from the Unitarian Universalist Tapestry of Faith program called Chalice Children. Chalice Children delves deep into our Unitarian Universalist faith. It strives not just to teach about our faith, but also to provide experiences around the strength of community, the wonder and awe that transcend everyday understanding, and life issues we all share. Early childhood (the years between ages 2 and 5) is filled with curiosity and wonder. In a group setting, with loving adult guides, young children can engage in spiritual seeking, develop their openness to sharing, and experience the benefit of a supportive community. Their time in Chalice Children can set a pattern for the rest of their lives and bring lasting benefits. We pay special attention to ensuring the material is meaningful and engaging for preschool-aged children. We hope to offer an introduction to our principles, the grounding of a religious community and tradition, along with freedom to discover and express our children’s own uniqueness while celebrating diversity and interdependency.
Our Religious Education program for kindergarten through 5th-grade children consists of classes and activities designed to create a safe and nurturing place for them to learn, grow, blossom and flourish. Children are a vital part of this unique intergenerational community of free thinkers seeking truth and valuing justice and compassion in our daily lives.
During the 2016-2017 church year, The Kindergarten through 1st graders use the following curriculum from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Tapestry of Faith program:
Creating Home: 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.
Our 2nd through 12th graders will use a new social justice curriculum based on the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling called Harry and UU.
Although most parents believe social action is important for children, and most children have a natural desire to make the world better, it can be difficult to find meaningful and relevant social action experiences for younger and tween-age children. Harry and UU is based on the Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling, books that immerse children in the idea that one can work to make the world better.
The curriculum includes many fun wizarding activities, but the main purpose of the curriculum is social action. The class forms a chapter of Dumbledore’s Army and fights against seven Horcruxes during the year . The Horcruxes are real world social action projects.
The curriculum spends about four classes on each Horcrux fight, with three classes devoted mainly to education and small projects, and one class devoted entirely to action. The goal is to produce tangible results on seven real-world problems.
In previous years, our program has consisted of annual rotating curriculum pillars which focused our religious learning. These pillars included World Religions, Unitarian Universalism, Peace and Social Justice, Our Jewish and Christian Heritage and The Interdependent Web of Life.
Our underlying goal for all curricula is to use our UU Principles to explore the UU ideals of freedom, reason and tolerance while encouraging personal exploration and spiritual growth.
Middle School Grades
During the 2016-2017 church year, this age group will also use the Harry and UU curriculum. Older children and youth will be able to participate in fun activities, but can learn more about the social justice issues covered by Harry and UU than younger children.
Every other year, 7th and 8th graders go through the Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality education, which has been recently updated, making it especially relevant to today’s youth. This class will take place again in the 2017-2018 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.
Maintaining the OWL values and assumptions established in the previous edition, the new edition introduces new content, activities, perspectives, language, and resources for today’s young teens. New topics include body image, social media/internet, bullying/bystander responsibilities, and consent education.
Middle schoolers also enjoy sleepovers at church, Unitarian Universalist district youth conferences (CONS), a regional retreat at the Mystic Lake YMCA camp, and participating in our annual church camping trip at Lake Michigan.
Our 9th – 12th grade youth are part of the larger church community. These youth enjoy participating in district youth conferences, sleepovers at church, trips, social outings, and social justice projects.
This year, our 9th-12th graders are using the Harry and UU curriculum as well. High school youth will be able to focus more on and go deeper into discussions about the social justice part of the Harry and UU curriculum than younger age groups.
Approximately every other year, 8th-10th graders goes through our Coming of Age Program. 8th and 9th graders went through this program during the 2014-2015 church year, and next year’s 9th and 10th grade youth will go through the program during the 2017-2018 church year. Our Coming of Age program includes several weekend retreats, adult mentors, and the opportunity to discern and articulate deepest beliefs and values.
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
A youth group called YRUU – Young Religious Unitarian Universalists – is also offered and meets one Sunday afternoon a month for 9th – 12th grade youth. Learn more about YRUU.
People’s Church has a long history of outreach to young adults. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 35 is invited and welcome to participate in our young adult programs. People’s Church is the proud sponsor of the popular KUULS (Kalamazoo UU Liberal Students) CON held annually on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend each January. Since 2003, young people from around the country have gathered together for worship, workshops, fun and fellowship at this conference.
Our Young Adult group meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The gathering of the Young Adult group provides an opportunity to discuss relevant issues, build friendships in community while seeking deeper meaning in life. For more information, contact our Young Adult Coordinator, Mackenzie Hatfield.
We welcome Young Adults to participate in our weekly Sunday Services.
Our Young Adult group has it’s own Facebook page, which is a closed group. Go to our Young Adult Facebook group and request an invitation.
We also have a 2016 Winter/Spring Adult Education and Fellowship Opportunities flyer available at church or in our fall-winter-adult-ed-flyer