Providing For Religious Education In This Time of Uncertainty

I am thinking of all our families as they navigate the uncertainty of what the school year brings mid-pandemic. Please know that UUCWC is here to help you through this challenging time with support, intention and grace.

Rev. Kim and I have been busy planning UUCWC’s Faith Engagement program for children and youth scheduled to start outside on the grounds of UUCWC (and virtually) on October 3rd.

Before I describe the program, I share this quote from a colleague, CB Beal, who is a religious professional, UUA religious consultant, and who speaks to the tension that informs our decision making this year:

“Now is the time for us to give space and grace to people as they figure out how to self-regulate in seemingly new spaces. Now is the time for us as adults to talk about how things are hard for all of us. We need to teach/re-teach social skills and coping techniques, including to ourselves. We are not ready to jump into big thinking and learning. None of us are. Instead, this is the time for us to focus on community and caring for ourselves and each other.

We may experience a push to get back to “normal” and to do the things we used to do.

We want to suggest that ‘How soon can we get Our Whole Lives going?’ (or any other curricula) is the wrong question. The right questions might include:

How have their relationships been interrupted and injured?

How has our community experienced trauma? How can we heal and reconnect?

How can we build or rebuild a sense of trust, offer young people options to consent to what happens in their classrooms, and care for them?

How can we provide grounded consistency, care, and opportunities for small risks, as we all reorient ourselves within in-person community?

These questions are trauma-sensitive, carefully reflecting on the wholeness of humans and our gentle fragility. We can offer both a container and spaciousness for everyone to heal and grow. We need to make small, meaningful moves.

We all need to learn how to be people in community again. All of us.“  CB Beal

I know that in the secular world not everyone is on this page. But, church cares for the spirit. The literature on the health of our kids (and parents and caregivers) is that we are not back to “normal.” The pandemic interrupted our kids’ connection to UUCWC and to their peers. We need to take the time to reestablish a connected caring community. Thus, we are not jumping right back into our old Faith Engagement program with 7 classes, 35 volunteers, and specific curricula.   Instead, we are returning at a calmer pace, slowly, incrementally and thoughtfully.

Regardless of age, the focus of our children and youth group time together is to embody Unitarian Universalism. We will focus on ritual, covenant, and community including: chalice lighting, check in, community building games and activities in nature, weaving whatever we are doing back to the principles and why as UUs we are doing this.

Here is our Faith Engagement program for the fall of 2021:

Regardless of reopening (always an option):

• For parents, we will continue to meet on the last Monday of the month starting on September 27 with the three session Pathways class.  Connecting parents regularly with each other and with Kim and me was a “win” from our program last year.

• I will lead a thirty minute children’s chapel virtually on Sunday mornings from 9 to 9:30 am twice a month.

IF / WHEN in person:

• Nursery: No paid sitter until babies can be vaccinated. Parents can be in the nursery with their child/children and listen to the service. Parents must be masked, socially distanced, and occupancy will be limited.
• Pre-K to 6th grade:  Depending on our numbers, there will be three groups meeting outside (young, lower elementary and upper elementary) with hired teachers leading and volunteer assistants.

• 7th to 12th grade: Our youth will meet Friday night twice per month around a firepit with snacks.

This is another year where we need to be nimble and meet each other with new assumptions and expectations. I have not seen many of our children in a year and a half. I feel disconnected from the families I have not seen. Please don’t hesitate to email me about anything on your mind. I want to hear it. Also, a great way to stay in community with me and other parents is to consider attending our last Monday of the month Parent meeting. It will help bring or keep Unitarian Universalism in your home-life and remain connected to UUCWC.