Our Religious Education program promotes children’s individual religious exploration in a loving environment in cooperation with adults and youth. Faith is a lifelong learning experience, and at First Parish of Watertown, we help children find out who they are.
Register for 2017-18 Church School
In the process of registering, you will be asked about volunteering your time. If you are new to us, please choose the option that says “I am new or have extenuating circumstances.” We want you to get to know our church services, our ministers, and our church community before diving into volunteering in our classes!
If you have questions, please contact Lauren at email@example.com.
A Typical Sunday
Our church services begin at 10:30am, and every person starts in our sanctuary. The first fifteen minutes of the service includes our weekly announcements, a musical prelude, our opening rituals and chalice lighting, and a time for all ages. Some weeks this is a story by one of our ministers or our director of religious education; other weeks it is a musical offering or the recognition of a rite of passage, and still other weeks we hear about a charitable organization that the church is supporting. Our children and youth remain in the sanctuary for the weekly offertory. Then one of the children takes a lantern lit with flame from our chalice and leads the church school members and teachers down to their classes. Parents are welcome to bring children down to help them get settled.
Downstairs, we have church school classes which comprise cohort groups that move together through the lifespan curriculum. Each class votes on a name each year and establishes its own unique identity.
At 10:55 our classes are generally gathered. Each class has an opening ritual they follow each week, usually including opening words and a chalice lighting (younger groups use electric tea lights!) reflective of our church services. All our classes share their joys and sorrows through a ritual; some do this at the beginning and others at the end of class.
Classes generally center around a story and include questions to help children and youth explore their own ideas and the ideas of their family, culture, and faith more thoroughly. Most classes do an art project, music, or drama activity that connects to the story and discussion. Sometimes there is a choice of different activities, and we have a variety of independent activities that a child can always pick if they do not wish to participate in a group activity or the project does not appeal to them.
Classes end at 11:55 with clean-up and a closing ritual. Our Friendly Orange Tigers and Flaming Unicorn Fox Owls are picked up by parents from their classrooms. Older children are released into the social hall where we have coffee (not for the kids!), conversation, and a snack.
Sunday School Curriculum and Resources
Curriculum for RE Classes for 2017-18
Tapestry of Faith
The UUA’s online lifespan religious education curriculum from which many of our offerings are drawn. All lessons are available on the web free of charge.
Our Whole Lives
The UUA and UCC jointly created this lifespan sexuality education course. Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, Our Whole Lives not only provides facts about anatomy and human development, but also helps participants clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality.
An adaptation of Godly Play from the Montessori Method for Unitarian Universalists, this method of teaching and sharing teaches a story through the use of beautiful props and then allows children to explore the stories through a variety of artistic outlets.
Birth - 4 years: The Friendly Orange Tigers
Our nursery for ages birth to 3. Our current nursery group are mostly toddlers, so on Sundays a youth teacher and an adult teacher help our members light a felt chalice and say our chalice-lighting words; tell a story, sing a song, and do a theme-based art or movement project; and have lots of free play with play dough, bubbles, legos, and other staples of a fun church Sunday.
Ages 5-7 (Grades K-2) The Flaming Unicorn Fox Owls
Ages 8-10 (Grades 3-5) The Flaming Mythical Creatures
Ages 11-13 (Grades 6-8) The Radical Raccoons
Ages 14-18 (9th to 12 Grade): A Confusion of Weasels
As they move through middle school into high school, our youth begin finding deeper meaning in pop culture and through integrating more thoroughly into our church services and functions. We explore World Religions by building connections. These students also participate in our church’s Youth Group.
Youth Advisors at First Parish of Watertown
Our Senior and Junior Youth Groups are run by a collaboration between volunteer and paid advisors. To be a youth advisor, you must be 25 years old, not a parent of a current group member, and if you have a driver’s license, it is extremely helpful. We are currently seeking paid and volunteer advisors for our Senior youth group.
Contact Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to send a resume.
RE Mission and Covenant
Religious Education Committee Mission
- To support each child in the development of his or her faith.
- To create openings for deep spiritual experience.
- To encourage the exploration of moral decision-making.
- To raise awareness of social justice and environmental issues.
- To promote religious literacy by acquainting children with multiple faith traditions.
- To teach the heritage, principles and values of Unitarian Universalism.
- To foster a love of learning.
- To support parents and families in their role as primary religious educators of their children.
- To carry out this mission in ways that are safe, nurturing, engaging, and enjoyable.
Religious Education Committee Covenant
United by a shared mission, we covenant together to:
- Be present
- Create opportunities for everyone to speak and be heard
- Participate with a commitment to all the children and families of the congregation
- Consider and value different points of view
- Be willing to share the workload
- Serve as advocates for our children, families and congregation
- Foster a safe place to share
- Maintain confidentiality about the discussions in this committee
- Support each other and the program
In this spirit, we honor ourselves, our task, and each other as we strive to make real the vision of Unitarian Universalism.
Religious Education Committee
The First Parish of Watertown RE Committee meets on the third Monday of each month at 7pm. Meetings are public unless otherwise stated.
- Rachel Jones, Chair
- Louise Lepera
- Kelly Morton
- Elisabeth Strekalovsky
- Lydia Vagts
- Lauren Strauss, Religious Education Director
UU Principles and Sources
The Seven Principles
Unitarian Universalism is a faith without a creed. This means that Unitarian Universalists are encouraged to question and explore their own truths. Unitarian Universalists hold different beliefs about religious subjects such as God, creation, Jesus, the Bible, death, and prayer and are free to do so. However, Unitarian Universalists are united in their beliefs that all people are inherently worthy and should be treated fairly, that we should work for a peaceful and free world, and that we should respect the Earth and all living beings. These beliefs are consistent with the seven principles that Unitarian Universalist congregations have covenanted to affirm and promote.
Our UU principles are a guide for the stories and activities we plan to share in our RE program. We don’t want our children to memorize and recite these words. We want our children to experience the loving spirit of their messages.
The carefully-wrought language of the UU Principles is sometimes difficult for children (and adults!) to remember or even to fully understand. Congregations often provide revised language to help children access these important concepts at an entry level. Here are a couple that we use with different age groups in our program:
The Six Sources of Unitarian Universalism
The UUA lists six sources that have inspired our history and heritage.
Source 1: Source of Wonder and Mystery
UUA version: Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.
Children’s version: The sense of wonder we all share.
Source 2: Source of Inspiring People
UUA version: Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.
Children’s version: Women and men whose lives remind us to be courageously loving.
Source 3: Source of World Regions
UUA version: Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life.
Children’s version: Ethical and spiritual wisdom of the world’s religions.
Source 4: Source of Judeo-Christian Traditions
UUA version: Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Children’s version: Jewish and Christian teachings which tell us to love all others as we love ourselves.
Source 5: Source of Reason and Science
UUA version: Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
Children’s version: The use of reason and the discoveries of science.
Source 6: Source of Our Sacred Earth
UUA version: Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Children’s version: The harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life.
~ Image Credit for Arch Rainbow Principles: Jay Bibel and Laura Evonne Steinman
The UU Podcast
By the Multicolored Jellyfish