I’m so excited to be filling the role of Religious Exploration Coordinator (REC). I grew up in a family of UUs, I’m a 3rd generation which is rarer on the west coast where I was raised than it is here. I always say I was raised by UUs, as most of my childhood wasn’t spent in church weekly; but the 7 principles were our core.
My grandparents and extended family have always been incredibly active in the church. My husband Lewis , as many of you know, is active duty in the USN (retiring next year yay!) and we have 3 kids, Atticus (11) Remington (9 on Halloween) and Oliver (3) When in Keene, we landed we knew that we wanted to get involved with the church right away, having 3 kids that needed a good steady community. We participated in the outdoor RE gatherings over the winter and into spring and summer. They were so important to us and beneficial to our children.
I really feel we’ve found a home, after so many years of moving from town to town, state to state, and twice across the country with littles in tow. I cannot wait to see how the RE program grows and how as a community and congregation we can come together to provide a safe and exciting place for all of our children to explore their world and learn our principles.
Greetings from RE: February 2024
What a month that was! BIG things happening in RE in 2024, to say we’re up and running would be an understatement. I don’t know if I’ve taken the time to extend the welcome our new kids and families deserve. WELCOME! Welcome welcome welcome.
What a joy it is to be able to serve this congregation. With open minds, open hearts, and hands ready to serve. may we as a congregation see and fulfill the needs of this program as we grow in a time we didn’t anticipate. We are now loading our weeks with offerings.
- The first Sunday of each month the families will be in sanctuary as we share our Joys and Concerns with one another, this will be a multigenerational service each month.
- Deborah has been and will continue to offer a Blocks class each month.
- We will have one lesson provided by Kim and Rich Clark each month, these and blocks will rotate weeks to what makes the most sense each month.
- We will be joining up with KUUC outdoors, as well as having our own outdoor adventures as they come up. It’s really getting exciting over here.
Do you know we have quiet activities offered in the back of the sanctuary? And you don’t have to be a child to enjoy them. Many of our adults bring yarn work, and having something to do with our hands can actually help your brain pay attention! We’ve got coloring, word activities, fidget toys, etc. available to you. Seek me out if you have questions!
February Dates to mark down on your calendar!
- 2/4 – In sanctuary for Joys and Concerns
- 2/11 – Blocks with Deborah
- 2/18 – RE lesson offering for anyone who can make it (this and the following Sunday are Winter Break for the surrounding schools)
- 2/25 – No RE offering
If you’ve got a hankerin’ to get involved, lead a class or would like to donate your time however sparingly, or if you’d like to be involved in our TFAA please reach out to me, we can work together to get you set up!
GREETINGS FROM RE 2024:
We have an RE program that runs each Sunday during the service, with the exception of the first Sunday of each month, where children are encouraged to stay and participate in the adult service. The program generally has between 5 and 15 kids, depending on the week, with a range of ages from 5-12 years old for the most part.
The exact activity varies, but generally once a month there is a wooden block building day (in December they read the story of Hanukkah and then build things like the temple and menorahs). The kids have also made cookies for our Holiday Fair, planted flower bulbs outside on the grounds, and done an apple day where they tasted different apple types and made apple prints with paint.
The kids start off in the service and join in with an opening song, then there is a Time for All Ages where they can go up to the front if they choose while the Reverend reads a book or tells a story. Then the congregation sends them off with a song and they spend the next 45 minutes or so doing the kid activities. Everyone joins back together after services are over (usually around 11 am) for snacks and coffee hour.
Our RE committee is working towards adding more kid programming in 2024. We are in a bit of a rebuilding phase with more children joining us now than there have been in several years, as we’re excited to keep adding to our numbers!
UU History – Exploring Race and Justice
During an August 9, 2021 worship service, our former DRE shared the episode in UU History that is often called “the Empowerment Controversy.” She learned about this period, roughly 1967-1970, during the online Unitarian Universalist History course she had taken that summer. Here is a list of resources she used while preparing this service. When available, links to purchase through In Spirit, the UUA’s bookstore, are provided. Starred works are required texts for the course and are easy to read, informative and highly recommended.
Carpenter, Victor H. Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977). Meadville Lombard Theological School Press, 2003.
Ross, Warren R. The Premise and The Promise: The Story of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Skinner House Books, 2001.
** Peterson, Polly and Gail Forsyth-Vail. Missionaries, Builders, and Pathfinders: Unitarian and Universalist Stories from the Midwest, West, and South, 1830-1930. Unitarian Universalist Association, 2014.
As I mentioned in my reflection, to me an essential take-away about the Empowerment Controversy is that Unitarian Universalists keep trying to improve. Tangible proof is the recently released volume (also available in its entirety online) Widening the Circle of Concern: Report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change. Unitarian Universalist Association, 2020. From the back cover: This report “represents the culmination of the Commission’s work analyzing structural and systemic racism and white supremacy culture within Unitarian Universalism and makes recommendations to advance long-term cultural and institutional change that redeems the essential promise and ideals of Unitarian Universalism.”
Click the link above to go to the home page for BLUU, an organization “committed to: expanding the power and capacity of Black UUs within our faith; providing support, information & resources for Black Unitarian Universalists; justice making and liberation through our faith.” (from BLUU’s home page). Click here to go to the donate page.
Resources for talking about race in your family
This blog post by “strivingshannon” cites a recent survey that only 6% of well-meaning white parents talk to their kids about race “often”. The author lists the top 5 reasons (from her work with parents in Atlanta) why this is so. Among the reasons she listed the one that resonates most with me is “fear of getting it wrong.” Her response to this is “you will.” Which is why we need to keep educating ourselves, growing in our understanding, recommitting to the work, and trying again. I encourage you to read her whole post. Here are some resources from the UUA and BLUU (Black Lives of UU) to help you educate yourself, recommit to the work, and talk to your kids.
Race, Class and other Complexities resource list, from the “Growing Young Justice-Makers” section of the UUA website.
Our Whole Lives
Our Whole Lives (O.W.L.) is the values-based lifespan sexuality education curricula developed jointly by the UUA and UCC (United Church of Christ)*. In recent years KUUC has offered the segment designed for youth in grades 7-9 (or homeschool equivalent) in alternate years and so that means we probably won’t offer that curriculum until 23-24. In the meantime, we will also need to get some new facilitators trained up—which is in itself a two-day commitment.
Participant meetings are traditionally held on Sunday afternoons; the actual schedule is flexible and will be determined with input from the facilitators.
Description from the UUA website: “Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives.” (www.uua.org/re/owl) If you feel called to serve your community by facilitating this program, please contact Rev Michael, or Barbara Bryce (RE Committee chair). If you’d like more information before deciding, please check out the UUA O.W.L. info page.
*while the program was developed by two religious denominations, the curriculum is secular – no doctrine or dogma is included, just honest, factual information and the core values of self-worth, sexual health, responsibility and justice and inclusivity.