Kindness and Justice for All: RE in 2022-2023

Every year during the summer, my assistant and I compile the binders of RE curriculum that we will be using in the fall. We’ve always had a schedule of rotating topics (Unitarian Universalism, World Religions, Peace and Justice, etc.) that we set up so that by the time a child graduates from the program they will have experienced a variety of different ideas, faiths, religions, and spiritual practices. They will have the basics of UU values, principles, rituals, and songs so they can feel at home in any UU congregation. This is one of our primary RE goals. 

Then…. Covid. Covid which separated us from each other, decimated our youth program, and took away our habit of attending church. Covid, which prevented children from learning how to be together and kept them from forming connections to other people their age. 


So now, we find our goals have become much more granular in the face of all we have lost. Our goal now is simply to build back the program from the ground up and provide a space where children will feel safe, loved, heard, seen, acknowledged, and valued. 


Two things happened that really brought this curriculum path into focus. First, we noticed how during Peace and Nature Camp the kids loved just being together and hanging out anywhere they could with any free minute. Laura, the camp director, stressed about this to the team asking if she should have planned more or longer activities. Teresa, our wise elementary counselor, said “Look at them. They want to be together. They’re building relationships. This is what they need.” She was right. 


Second, we remembered how difficult it had been for the kids to be in RE class, follow the traditional lesson format, and truly benefit from the curriculum. They were struggling just to stay with the group to say nothing of actually participating in a meaningful way. 


So we’ve thrown out our traditional curriculums (not literally – they’re still there for when we are ready for them) and are taking our program down to simple principles: how are we kind in all we do? How do we learn together? How do we build a fair and peaceful world? 


Our curriculum this year is called Justice for All and it starts with several lessons on working together, building a community, and dealing with conflict. It’s our template for how to be in right relations with each other. Once we’ve covered those topics, we’ll delve into taking care of the earth and its animals, and standing up to injustice. 


We want children to feel loved, heard, and valued. But we also want them to be loving, to listen, and to value others. We want them to feel safe but also to be brave in the face of injustice. We want them, as St. Francis of Assissi said, “to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand and to be loved as to love.” 


Of course we can’t do this alone. We’re creating fun and meaningful curriculum: we’d love to have your family join us each week. We’re planning more specialty classes and maker days: we’d love to see people of different generations creating and engaging together. We’ve been apart for so long, but we can rebuild and you can be part of that. We can make our church and RE program a place we all want to be. 


If we can do these things, if we can give children this toolbox of courage, kindness, and resilience, I truly believe that our children can bring light to darkness. 


For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. 

If only we’re brave enough to be it.  ~ Amanda Gorman

Blessed Be, Diane Melvin, Religious Education Director

 

Summer Religious Education: Our UU Principles

Sundays @ 10:45AM

Nursery care available each week

All ages are invited to participate in our summer RE program which is geared for elementary aged kids. We are learning about our UU principles and how we use them to make the world a better place.

Each week, we gather together to enjoy our UU opening rituals, hear a story, and participate in fun games and crafts. We finish with free play time on our playground complete with ninja line and gaga pit. We look forward to engaging in some UU fun!

– July 31: Each Person has a Voice/Vote – story: Little Book of Little Activists. Design stickers and posters; vote on which games to play.

– August 7: We Work for a Fair and Peaceful World – story: Say Something. Peaceful words “cootie catchers”, cards, role playing.

– August 14: We Care for the Earth – story: Dear Earth. Recycled items inventions, nature walk/nature scavenger hunt.

– August 21: We Build the Beloved Community – story: I Have the Right to Be a Child. Windsocks, In Common game, rhythm games.

– August 28: Free from Racism and Oppression – story: Not My Idea. Make comic strips or flags, role playing, cooperative games.

– September 4: Wrap Up! Story: Somewhere Today. UU Principles bead crafts, favorite games from previous weeks.

 

 


 

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