Why do we have a Religious Exploration program or Lifelong Learning for our Children & Youth?

We build loving religious communities by giving children and youth opportunities to discover and affirm truths about themselves in relationship with peers and caring adults. Children and youth need a sense of belonging to a religious home and thrive when they participate in community celebrations with people of all ages.  As children grow older it is important for them to explore their own beliefs.

In classes and in community we live and teach the values upon which Unitarian Universalism is based. Our youth grow into themselves with confidence and with an intellectual curiosity that stays with them well into adulthood. Through education we invite children and adults to bring their separate gifts, stories, ideas, and questions to the whole, experiencing the power of love that transforms a group of like- minded seekers into a community, and helps us to connect, not only with one another, but with all of humanity. We are inviting people to not just individually seek truth, justice, and harmony; we are inviting people to seek those things in a community that understands and tries to act in accordance with our seven Principles.

Registration:  There is no fee for the program, but a responsible adult must complete a registration form for each child. Because community is an important component, we ask that the parent or guardian of enrolled children participate in the UUSMV community.  Registration for each year begins in early September and continues throughout the program year which runs from September through June.  Please download the registration form. UU Explorers Registration form 16 17

At this time, we do not have a nursery program. Infants and children are welcome in the service and a space with quiet toys is provided in the chapel.

Our Programs: Our programs run from September through June.  During the summer, families and children gather for community and fun on specified dates.  Contact us at uusmvre@gmail.com if you are interested.

Our children and youth engage in religious exploration through three programs:  Curriculum based sessions on two Sundays per month; Children’s Chapel on one Sunday, and Universal Justice Projects on one Sunday per month.

Curriculum based sessions:

UU Explorers 1 (for children in grades K-3): The children engage in activities that emphasize the love they feel in community. The UU principles are introduced with activities and story. Wonder questions are used to allow children to see the principles at work in the world.

UU Explorers 2 (for youth in grades 4-6): Working together as a covenanting community, the children continue to explore the UU principles and service in light of UU beliefs.  They explore their own beliefs as they share stories drawn from UU heritage and from wisdom of other religions. The children assist in leading as well as participating.

Compass Points (for youth in grades 7-9): Our youth engage in discernment questions of: Who one is as a religious individual; Who one is as part of a faith community; and Who one is as a religious person in the wider world. They continue learning the stories and wisdom of the faith tradition. At some point, they also participate in a comprehensive, UU values-based, sexuality education program, Our Whole Lives (OWL) and the Coming of Age program. In every aspect of the program, the process of faith discernment takes priority.

Senior High (for grades 9-12): This is a stage of personally chosen faith. The youth engage in theological reflection. They think about living religiously and acting on religious beliefs and feelings. They explore and reflect on how to talk about and live their faith.

Faith development occurs not only in the Senior Youth Group, but also through Sunday worship, personal spiritual practice involvement with the wider congregation, the wider Unitarian Universalist Association (through district and national activities), and the wider world (through social justice projects).

Children’s Chapel

On one Sunday of each month, children and youth have a Children’s Chapel.  Each chapel has a theme (often the same theme of the adult service) that is explored with ritual, story, song, movement and action.  These Sundays give our children the opportunity to explore the spiritual matters of their lives and the UU service rituals (chalice lighting, candles of joys & concerns, UU source readings, singing).  They have opportunities for leading and participating.

Universal Justice Projects

On one Sunday of each month, the children and youth engage in a universal justice project in keeping with our mission of community action and universal justice.  They may make Valentine cards for the elderly, biscuits for the animal shelter, or do a beach clean-up.  The Universal Justice Projects are multi-age and provide opportunities for children and youth to participate at their developmental level.

If you would like to learn more about the Children & Youth Religious Exploration programs, contact us at uusmvre@gmail.com