Religious Exploration Curriculum Information
Summer 2019 RE Runs from June 16, 2019 – September 8, 2019
RE 2019-20 Runs from September 15, 2019 - June 14, 2020
Summer 2020 RE Runs from June 21, 2020 – September 13, 2020
Chalice Chapels: 6 years-12 years of age
Chalice Chapels are worship services for children ages 6-12, held instead of Religious Exploration classes on Sundays during the week of a public-school holiday or national holiday. These classes will consist of interactive, engaging art activities, games, singing and engaging in different spiritual practices. The dates for these chalice chapels will be: September 22, 2019; October 20, 2019; November 10, and 24, 2019; December 1, 2019; January 19 2020; February 16, and 23, 2020; March 15, 2020; April 12, and 19, 2020; and May 24, 2020.
The Nursery: Six Weeks to Five Years
Our paid caregivers warmly welcome infants and toddlers to our nursery. The nursery accepts children ages 6 weeks to 5 years. Children of all ages are also welcome in the service at all times. There is a quiet room in the loft of the Sanctuary for those families who want privacy. The nursery is open from 10:15 to 12:15 on Sunday mornings. On Sundays when there is a multigenerational service offered (children and youth remain in these services to worship together with adults), children up to age 5 can attend the nursery.
Kindergarten – Third Grade “Spirit Play”
Spirit Play is the Montessori approach to Religious Education. Adapted for Unitarian Universalism by Dr. Nita Penfold, Spirit Play focuses on a child's natural spirituality and wonder about the world to help the child engage in religious life. The creators of Spirit Play see the purpose of religious education to be helping children live into their own answers to the existential questions such as “where did we come from?” “where are we going?” and “what are we doing here?”
In each session children will hear a story and then experience a time for art expression relating to that story or another story that was heard earlier in the year. The stories have a Unitarian Universalist focus and seek to build a UU identity through lessons pertaining to our religious symbol the Flaming Chalice, our Seven Principles (called Promises in this program), and our Six Sources.
Children are welcomed into our K-3 Spirit Play classroom by a Door Keeper, who readies them for the lesson. The Story Teller leads the day's lesson and helps the children engage in the wondering questions about the story. Both the Door Keeper and the Story Teller assist the children during their independent expression time.
4th-6th Grade – “The Questing Year”
This curriculum engages children in four different quests connected through the central themes and purposes of faith development and social action. It is both challenging and fun, offering learnings that will foster both understanding and growth. It is an activity-based curriculum created by the Shelter Rock UU Congregation and adapted by DRE Rev. Cynthia Westby.
The Year’s Four Quests will be interwoven throughout the year. They are:
UU Quest – Exploring Unitarian Universalism; outstanding UU people; UU principles; thinking about how UUs help their world; and explaining it all to an alien.
Action Quest – Working for a social action effort of the teachers and student’s choosing. Understanding UU social justice efforts; and conceiving and helping with a social action project.
Inner Quest – Discovering self as one of many and a contributor to the whole; being one with the group and the class; discovering our differences and similarities; developing personal spiritual practices.
Mystery Quest – Spiritual and ritual explorations; discovering beliefs; developing personal rituals; experimenting with spiritual practices; distinguishing spirituality, religion and faith; and faith-based action.
Middle School Our Whole Lives (OWL) (7th-8th Grades)
This year-long class will be held on Sundays, during service, from 10:30 am to Noon. Children must be registered to participate by September 16, 2019. A required parent orientation takes place on September 22, 2019.
OWL, or Our Whole Lives, is a sexuality education program offered in Unitarian Universalist churches all over the country. It is a powerful program that helps our children and youth develop a healthy understanding of themselves as sexual beings. The title "Our Whole Lives" was chosen in the belief that sexuality is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and values about identity and relationships, intimacy and health. We offer OWL as a social justice initiative -- to foster a long‐term process of behavior change, undergirded by values related to respect, relationship, and responsibility.
Westside’s OWL teachers are trained OWL teachers. The materials, books, and training are expensive and our RE program covers these expenses through fees paid by participants. We request a $300 fee for this class.
The dates of this class are: October 6, 14, 20, 27; November 3, 17; December 8, 15; January 5, 12, 26; February 2, 9; March 1, 8, 22, 29; April 5, 26; May 3, 17, 31; June 7.
Coming of Age: Ninth Graders
In our Coming of Age (COA) class youth spend a year seeking, questioning, learning, wondering, and beginning to discern what they want to set their heart to, by listening to themselves, friends, teachers and mentors. An adult mentor helps the youth explore an aspect of life they want to learn more about – for instance if a youth is very interested in artistic expression their mentor would be someone able to help them explore that over the course of the year. This class begins in September and after October the class is closed to newcomers to allow the group to bond and develop a trust as they explore what matters to them.
In COA we encourage and support youth to shape their personal credos. They come to claim what sustains them, what they have faith in, what ultimate meaning to which they will commit their lives. They take what they have learned from their parents, from RE, and their lives to this point, and begin to reflect on their own beliefs and articulate them. They get to discuss with adults and peers "to what do they align their hearts?" and to know why they are here and share out loud with others these reasons. They become comfortable talking about what is important and why, while being open to other’s ideas and beliefs.
Accompanied on this journey of spiritual formation and spiritual self-awareness by our COA teachers, youth also gain the joy of having other adults in their lives who care about them, and with whom they can talk about the important issues of their lives. They grow and mature as relationships with their peers and teachers build.
In COA the youth begin to ask themselves what is meaningful, what are their values and beliefs, and by year’s end they formulate the first draft of their UU credo from the answers they have uncovered and share it in a dinner for families, teachers and friends.
High School: Ninth through Twelfth Grades
At Westside, high school youth are active in congregational life in many ways, including their Youth Group activities, acting as youth Chaplains, participating in committees and music groups, participating in worship, and working or volunteering in our RE program.
Youth may participate in retreats, weekend conferences, and leadership development opportunities throughout the year. To participate in off-site events, youth must be registered in full and have special permission forms completed at the time of the event and be active in Religious Exploration activities so that the Director of Religious Exploration and the Lead Youth Advisor know who they are and can recommend them to the UUA Youth Con advisors and staff as required by the UUA for youth participation in UUA Cons and other district activities.
Youth Group: Ninth through Twelfth Grades
Discussion and experience are central to Youth Group as we explore our values and beliefs. Our program emphasizes learning, social action, worship, leadership, and community building. Each session includes opportunities for discussion, self-expression, and development of personal faith statements and spiritual practices. We also unpack our Seven Principles and learn how this covenant applies to our own lives.
This group meets in the Youth Group Room from 10:30-Noon on most Sunday mornings.