Religious Education and Faith Formation for Children and Youth
The Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson invites all of our children and youth to join together for meaningful worship and growth. We want our children to personally experience our Unitarian Universalist faith and all the wonderful ideals that it embodies. In our Religious Education program, we will share stories and activities that bring our UU faith to life. Most significantly, we will spend time together sharing worship and wonder, love and friendship, kindness and compassion, and enlightenment and growth. Browse the other sections of this website/brochure for more details about how we do this with justice work, youth ministry programming, and multigenerational connection.
On Sunday mornings, we offer a very modified version of the Spirit Play program to meet the unique needs of our children and teens. Through out all of our programming, we will highlight the fundamental UU belief that we are all free to believe our own truths. We will celebrate a coming together that honors the unique individuality we all carry with us. It is with these affirmations that we will think about those challenging “life” questions that people of all religions wonder about – Is there a God? How did the world begin? What happens when we die? Is there any benefit to praying or meditating? How do I know what to believe? How can we make our world a better place?
To do this, each Sunday morning that isn’t dedicated to Multigenerational Worship, we are pleased to be offering an adapted version of the highly regarded Spirit Play. Spirit Play is a unique model of religious education designed to deepen children’s experience in the classroom by creating understandable guidelines, age-appropriate rituals relating to our faith, and ways to participate in a community. Based on elements of the Montessori Method and Jerome Berryman’s “Godly Play”, Spirit Play introduces thoughtful and inspiring stories, encourages independent thinking through wondering questions, gives children activity choices for how to explore the theme more deeply during “work time”, and develops an underlying sense of the spiritual and the mystery of life. This program is especially designed to accommodate the multiple learning styles and preferences that children have.
Recognizing that older children and teens will be a part of our Sunday morning group, we will offer some breakout opportunities during the “work time” for them to go into a separate space to be empowered and challenged to think about how they carry their own Unitarian Universalist values into the world with deeper theological explorations, interactive activities, and inspiring projects.
Our stories and activities this year will introduce and explore the congregation’s “Ministerial Themes” for this year (which are welcoming, anger and forgiveness, death/loss and change, hope, healing and wholeness, gratitude and generosity, love and compassion, science and religion, and creativity) and the Unitarian Universalist Principles (which are respect all people; offer fair and kind treatment; yearn to accept and learn; grow by exploring; believe in our ideas and act on them; insist on freedom, justice and peace; and valuing our Earth. We call these our seven rainbow principles). Included in our stories and activities throughout the year will be some inspiration from of our Unitarian Universalist Sources of (which are wonder and awe, words of great women and men, world religions, Jewish and Christian teachings, science and reason, and earth centered traditions). Wow! Curious how we will create a hybrid of all these important and valuable themes, principles, and sources. Check out our “Sunday Morning Calendar for Children and Youth”. Or ask Roberta Altamari, our Director of Lifelong Learning, for more information.
A child’s experience at UCMH is just one aspect of his or her religious development. While every child will participate in enriching and meaningful programs here, it is at home where the spiritual development of each child will blossom. We encourage parents to support their children in all efforts to bring their religious education experience home with them. Whether it is adding a prayer to your dinner ritual, having honest conversations about your child’s religious questions, or sharing an act of kindness for a neighbor, there are many great ways to bring the UU faith into our homes and daily lives. We would be happy to explore this subject more with you.
What characteristics or qualities do you hope our children and youth have as a result of growing up at UCMH and participating in our ministries? Here’s what the adults & parents on the 2013-14 Children’s Ministry Team consider essential. Each child/teen:
Is a confident person
Is a moral person
Has a strong core of personal integrity
Is a questioning/curious person
Demonstrates moral courage
Is an advocate for social justice
Values learning from others
Is able and confident in relationships with folks of a great variety of ages and backgrounds
Is respectful of others and interacts authentically
Is able to reflect on experiences
Feels confident to try something new
Accepts people regardless of personal identity
Experiences one’s self and others as having inherent worth and dignity
Has experienced a win-win in conflict resolution
Understands the value of interdependence
Has been exposed to a variety of experiences, people, and ideas
Has experienced successful child/adult relationships
Feels free to express one’s self spiritually and artistically
Has experienced being in a safe space
Can create safe space for others
Has experienced a consistent commitment and support from adults
Has been mentored by a trusted adult…
And in return, can be a mentor to another child/teen
Has experienced a covenanted group relationship and realizes its value
Feels supported by the congregation
Honors one’s commitment to the congregation
What do you think? What qualities we should nurture in your children and youth? What experiences are essential? We welcome your participation in our multigenerational ministries!