Children and Youth Religious Education
Join us on a lifelong journey to deepen our connections to the sacred.
Welcome to the vibrant and enriching program that is religious education for children, youth, and families at All Souls! Our mission, in alignment with that of the church at large, is to build a diverse, spirit-growing, justice-seeking community. We do this through meaningful lesson themes, arts, hands-on and physical activities, and open conversations. In addition to classes, there are many family friendly events, as well as opportunities to enrich our connections with the family of All Souls Church. Welcome, one and all, to our Unitarian Universalist religious community.
For weekly details, subscribe to our newsletter, the RelEd Times, which comes out on Wednesdays with. Contact Lara to sign up.
Vision and Goals
The purpose of the Religious Education Program is to:
- Encourage and support our children’s spiritual and ethical growth;
- Provide an open, safe, and compassionate community;
- Offer young people a place to explore Unitarian Universalism and other faiths; and
- Support a natural development of religious faith based on direct experience.
All children and youth must be registered to attend RE classes and activities. The All Souls Church Unitarian Religious Education program does not charge registration fees. We ask that, when making your pledge or contribution, you please consider the experiences your family has had with the program.
Religious Education programming for our students beginning with nursery care through grade 5.
Middle & High School
Religious Education programming for our students in grades 6-12.
Our Whole Lives
Comprehensive Sexuality Education – We are working to incorporate OWL for all ages! Contact Lara to inquire about future offerings.
Stories for All Ages
This YouTube playlist includes some of our collection of Stories for All Ages!
On the first Sunday of each month, the students of All Souls work with our CYRE Staff to act out a story relevant to that month’s worship theme and in particular, that Sunday’s worship service.
These stories are performed during the worship service, and all students ages K and up join their families in the service to watch!
If your child is interested in acting in one of the stories, reach out to Lara!
Virtual RE Resources
Currently we are only offering in person religious education programming, but we have some virtual resources to share for our congregation!
Resources for talking with children about racism and violence
Preschool Chalice Lighting Words
We light this chalice to celebrate Unitarian Universalism.
This is the Church of the open minds.
This is the Church of the loving heart.
This is the Church of the helping hands.
Children’s Chapel Chalice Lighting Words
Call: We light this chalice for our Unitarian Universalist spirit growing, justice seeking community.
Response: I am a living member of the great family of All Souls.
We Light This Chalice to Affirm, by Charles Howe
We light this chalice to affirm that new light is ever waiting to break through to enlighten our ways,
That new truth is ever waiting to break through to illume our minds,
And that new love is ever waiting to break through to warm our hearts,
May we be open to this light and to the rich possibilities that it brings.
For Every Time We Make a Mistake, by M. Maureen Killoran
Call: For every time we make a mistake and we decide to start again,
Response: We light this chalice.
Call: For every time we are lonely and we let someone be our friend,
Response: We light this chalice.
Call: For every time we are disappointed and we choose to hope,
Response: We light this, our chalice.
We Light This Chalice for the Light of Truth, by Mary Ann Moore
We light this chalice for the light of truth.
We light this chalice for the warmth of love.
We light this chalice for the energy of action.
This Flame Affirms the Light of Truth, by Elizabeth Selle Jones
This flame affirms the light of truth, the warmth of love, and the fire of commitment.
Extinguishing the chalice: We extinguished this flame but not the light of truth comma the warmth of love, or the fire of commitment which adhere symbolizes. These we carry in our hearts until we come together again.
At Times Our Own Light Goes Out, by Albert Schweitzer
At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has caused to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
I Praise the Blue Sky, by Anonymous
I praise the blue Sky.
I praise the sun that is in you.
I praise the bright moon.
I praised the shining stars in you.
The Only Prayer, by Johannes Eckhart
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.
The Earth So Big, by Janet Goode
The earth so big and I’m so small,
I wonder why I’m here at all,
until, at dark, I see the sky
and then I think I know just why.
I’m here to look and think and ask.
To wonder seems to be my task.
That suits me fine; there’s much to see.
I sure am glad on earth to be.
Oh Great Spirit, by Unknown
Oh great spirit,
Earth, sun, sky and sea.
You are inside,
And all around me.
We Lift Our Hearts in Thanks, by Percival Chubb
We lift our hearts in thanks today
For all the gifts of life.
Earth, Who Gives Us This Food, Native American
Earth, who gives us this food,
Sun, who makes it ripe and good:
Dear Earth, dear Sun, by you we live;
To you our loving thanks we give.
God, We Thank You for This Food, by Unknown
God, we thank you for this food,
for rest and home and all things good,
for wind and rain and sun above,
for peace on earth and those we love.
Bedtime Prayer Thoughts, by Barbara Marshman
- Think about the things you are thankful for today.
- Think about something you feel sorry that you did or said today, and any way you can make it right.
- Think about something you hope will happen, and any way you can help it to happen.
- Think about being in a place of beauty or a favorite place where you feel safe and good.
- Think about the people you love and their love for you. See each person’s face in your mind. Give them a goodnight
Thank You, God, for All Life Brings, by Robert and Polly Cooper
Thank you, God, for all life brings,
for health and play an all good things,
and help me use my heart and mind
to make me strong and keep me kind.
I Am Thankful for the Night, by Rebecca J. Weston
I am thankful for the night
and for the pleasant morning light,
for health and strength and loving care
and all that makes the world so fair.
These Are the Days, by William R. Murray
These are the days that have been given to us; let us rejoice and be glad in them.
These are the days of our lives; let us live them well in love and service.
These are the days of mystery and wonder; let us cherish and celebrate them in gratitude together.
These are the days that have been given to us; let us make of them stories worth telling to those who come after us.
We Give Thanks for the Earth, by Gary Kowalski
We give thanks for the earth and its creatures and are grateful from A to Z:
For alligators, apricots, acorns, and apple trees,
For bumblebees, bananas, blueberries, and beagles,
Coconuts, crawdads, corn fields, and coffee,
Daisies, elephants, and flying fish,
For groundhogs, glaciers and grasslands,
Hippos and hazelnuts, icicles and iguanas,
For juniper, jackrabbits, and June bugs,
Kudzu and kangaroos, lightning bugs and licorice,
For mountains and milkweed and mistletoe,
Narwhals and nasturtiums, otters and ocelots,
For pennies and persimmons, and polar bears,
Quahogs and Queen Anne’s Lace,
For raspberries and roses,
Salmon and sassafras, tornadoes and tulipwood,
Urchins and valleys and waterfalls,
For X (the unknown, the mystery of it all!)
In every yak and yam;
We are grateful, good Earth, not least of all,
For zinnias, zucchini, and zebras,
And for the alphabet of wonderful things
that are as simple as ABC.
Your Gifts, by Rebecca Parker
Your gifts–whatever you discover them to be–
can be used to curse or bless the world.
The mind’s power,
the strength of the hands,
the reaches of the heart,
the gift of speaking, listening, imagining, seeing,
any of these can serve to feed the hungry,
bind up wounds,
welcome the stranger,
praise what is sacred,
do the work of justice
or offer love.
Any of these can draw down the prison door,
obscure what is holy,
comply with injustice,
or withhold love.
You must answer this question:
What will you do with your gifts?
Choose to bless the world.
The choice to bless the world
can take you into solitude
to search for the sources
of power and grace;
native wisdom, healing and liberation.
More, the choice will draw you into community,
the endeavor shared,
the heritage passed on,
the companionship of struggle,
the importance of keeping faith,
the life of ritual and praise,
the comfort of human friendship,
the company of earth,
it’s chorus of life
None of us alone can save the world.
Together – that is another possibility,
Adapted from The Church of the Larger Fellowship
You can create your own worship services at home. Sunday morning is the traditional time, but you may find another time that suits your family better. Weekly is the usual interval, but if less often works for you, try that and perhaps move to more frequency. (Readings, reflections, and prayers can be found on this webpage.)
Creating a Setting. You may decide to do one of the following:
- Gather around a table with a chalice, candles, flowers, or special objects.
- Form a half circle of chairs around the fireplace, perhaps adding a special picture on the mantelpiece.
- Spread a bright-colored cloth on the floor, arranging bits of nature or art around your chalice in the center, and sitting around in a circle.
- Gather outdoors in a beautiful spot.
Create a Pattern. Here is the format one family uses for a Sunday morning service in their living room:
- Each member of the family lights a candle
- Opening words: these can be a favorite poem or something appropriate from the newspaper, a magazine, or a book. Or you can repeat the same words each time, such as:
To this quiet place of beauty
we have come from workday things,
pausing for a while and waiting
for the thoughts that quiet brings.
- Recorded music
- Thoughts for the week: each person shares high points and low points of the past week, what they are looking forward in the coming week, and anything they’re worrying about
- Closing words or a song they sing together
They take turns doing the opening words and choosing the music sometimes they go on to do a religious education session.
Another Way to Create a Service Together
- Provide a box or paper bag into which you can drop ideas or themes for services as they occur to you. P.T. Barnum’s birthday, Harvest Moon, Helping Others, Making Our Home Ecologically Responsible, or Black History Month are some ideas to start with.
- After your family worship, but while you are still gathered in your worship space, someone reaches into the box or bag and pulls out a slip of paper with a theme.
- Decide among you who is to be responsible for 1) creating a visual focal point, 2) opening words, 3) a song, 4) a reading, and 5) a closing. Agree to present the service next time you gather.
You might also plan a service around religious questions that members of your family raise. Take some time to gather ideas and materials that focus on the question in different ways. (Use past ASC monthly themes or contact Dolores for suggestions.) Encourage other members of your family to say how they feel about the question or what their responses might be. The point, of course, is not so much to answer the question as to give it the attention and importance that it deserves and to keep these big questions coming.
If your family is interested in a sermon, check out our webpage of past sermons.
Fred Katz talks about drumming as a spiritual practice.
In Rob’s March 22 sermon, he encouraged us to make a journal to write (or draw) about our losses and blessings. Keeping such a journal and looking back on it can be a form of prayer. If you have thoughts or prayers that are special to you or speak to you, write or draw them in there too. See Readings, Reflections, Prayers, and Blessings listed on this webpage, including the meal and bedtime prayers.
Originally recorded to maintain connection during the time of remote-only church, here are some videos that can help you get acquainted with Olivia, our longtime Nursery Attendant.
Are you looking for a deeper, richer connection to a smaller group of our church’s children? Teaching may be the role for you. As part of a teaching team, you will work with a particular age group (preschool, K-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, 6th-8th, or 9th-12th) at the service time you choose (9:30 or 11:15), teaching approximately twice a month for the whole church year. This year-long commitment provides the opportunity to get to know your students, their parents, and your fellow teachers in a meaningful way. Lesson plans, training, and year-long support are provided by the CYRE program to help you make the most of this ministry.
Have you always wanted to teach Sunday school, but can’t commit for an entire church year? Workshop leader may be the role for you. Each month will have activities and lessons focusing on the church’s monthly theme. After children’s chapel time, which all K-5th students attend, each class will go to a different theme-related workshop room for the remainder of the morning. This is where you, the workshop leader, come in. For the entire month, or part thereof (except for first Sundays), you’ll lead a workshop, assisted by the grade-level teachers, in a particular area. A different class will come to your workshop each Sunday, so, by the end of the month, you will have worked with all the different age levels, adjusting your activities as needed to each age group, but leading the same general activity each time. If you have a particular skill or interest you’d like to share, let us know. If not, we’ll help you choose one that will be fun and rewarding.
Do you want to help out in CYRE, but don’t feel ready to step into a teaching or workshop leader role? First Sunday “Choose Your Own Adventure” Facilitator may be the role for you. The first Sunday of every month, children in Kindergarten and above begin the morning in the sanctuary with their parents and stay through the Story for All Ages. After the story, all K-5th children proceed to the lower level for a special first Sunday snack, then free playtime, either active games in the gym, or crafts, books, games, construction, and dramatic play in separate classrooms. This is where you, the Adventure Day Facilitator, come in. Adults are needed to supervise both the snack and the free playtime. No lesson plan to learn and just once a month, this is an ideal role for someone who is looking for a lighter volunteer commitment.
If you have time during the week to come in to the church and help the CYRE staff with various preparatory tasks, there’s plenty to do. Your help “behind the scenes” of the CYRE program would be greatly appreciated.
Our program serves children at All Souls, from the time they’re babies through their senior year of high school. The success of our program rests upon volunteers from our church community. Whether you are a parent or not, we need wide participation from the entire church community to meet our spiritual goals for everyone—children, youth, and adult volunteers. Volunteers are supported by our Acting Director of Religious Education Lara Profitt. A volunteer CYRE Committee provides additional support. Come, be a part of this vital, enriching ministry. You’ll be glad you did!
Religious Education Committee
The Religious Education Committee embodies congregational responsibility for the religious education for children and youth by articulating directions and supporting the professional and volunteer staff in realizing the goals of the program.
Meeting once a month with RE staff, committee members articulate the direction and design of the religious education program by listening to parents and congregants, planning and implementing religious education events, supporting training sessions, and working with other adults in the wider congregation to build a truly intergenerational religious community.
Merrie Dodson, Committee Chair
CYRE Safety Policies
All Souls Church (ASC) and its congregants want all people at the church to be safe. The Religious Education (RE) Safety Policy (Safety Policy) is about the reasonable boundaries, behaviors, and rules ASC and its congregants follow and respect to keep children and youth under the age of 18 safe. We ask that all adults in the church follow these rules with all children and youth in the church during church-related activities. We understand that individual adults may have grown up with different rules, or follow different rules within their own families. We, the Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) Committee, arrive at these rules and behavior expectations after research, consultation with child safety professionals, and prayerful consideration. You can access a full copy of our Safety Policy here.
NOTE: Due to the ongoing public health situation, the information below is subject to change.
No adult should ever be alone with one child or youth, unless they are the parent or legal guardian of that child or youth. An adult mentor who is talking to a child or youth can find a place that provides some privacy, but may not be alone in a room with a child or youth. Examples of safe mentor conversation locations include a corner of Pierce Hall, a corner of the lobby, or in a room with the door open where the conversation can easily be seen by people walking by.
ASC RE staff will perform background checks on all individuals who regularly work with children or youth at church-related activities.
Parents/guardians must complete RE registration for each child or youth participating in RE. Registration is handled online and linked to Realm, the church database system.
ASC is not currently offering snacks during Sunday morning RE classes. Even so, Parents & Guardians should notify RE staff of any food allergies, so they can make an effort to best safeguard the health of all young people.
If a parent/guardian is the first to drop off a child or youth and there is only one teacher in the room, the parent/guardian will stay until another teacher or child or youth arrives.
During service, children or youth must either be in class or with their families in the service.
: In times outside of service and RE classes, children and youth may move through the church with age-appropriate independence. However, children and youth are expected only to enter spaces meant for people to occupy, e.g. children or youth cannot climb into closets, hide backstage, or go by themselves into the bell tower. Consider both the physical safety of the space and the likelihood that children or youth could get hurt out of view by objects or people. Parents/guardians are responsible for supervising children and youth.
Parents/guardians must pick up children in 5th grade and younger promptly after class. Teachers may not dismiss a child in 5th grade or younger on their own, unless the parent/guardian has expressly permitted this in writing. Please be mindful of this when socializing after the service.
Children and youth may not leave the church for RE activities without a signed permission form from a parent or guardian.
ASC will perform evacuation drills so that children, youth, and teachers are familiar with the routes. Parents/guardians will meet children and youth outside in the event of an evacuation.
ASC provides limited first aid kits in every classroom. A more comprehensive kit is at the front desk. Teachers will promptly notify parents/guardians of any serious health issues.
ASC will not publish pictures of children or youth in ASC publications or on social media without express parental/guardian permission, which may be provided at RE registration. Adults, children, and youth at ASC should not post pictures of or identify children or youth on social media without the permission of the child or youth and their parent/guardian.
Serious violations of the Safety Policy should be reported to the Acting RE Director, Lara Profitt, at 202-517-1469.
Expectations for Behavior
In the RE Program, we seek to engage children and youth within an atmosphere of mutual respect and kindness. At the beginning of the church year, all classes create a “Class Covenant,” stating how they will be in community with each other. In order to ensure a safe learning environment for all participants, we expect a method of interacting guided by our covenants. In the event that a child needs help meeting these expectations, the following steps may be taken: verbal correction or sign, removal from the group, conversation with the Religious Educator, consultation with parents, parents asked to take part in class.
In the spirit of community, we ask that our children and youth “be present” in class. This means they do not bring books and toys into the room with them unless it is meant to be used with the lesson. Ideally, all children will be present in mind and spirit, but if your child has a special need to bring a book or toy from home, please speak with Lara.