1500 Harvard St NW (@16th), Washington DC 20009 202.332.5266 allsouls@allsouls.ws

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.

Read on for an RE adventure, as well as helpful information.

~ Dolores Miller, Director of Children and Youth Religious Education

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.

The 2019-2020 registration form is available below. You must register your child(ren) for all classes, nursery through high school. You’ll find descriptions of the classes below. Ours is a cooperative program, so all parents/guardians must volunteer in some way. There is no waiver on volunteering. 

Classes and Other Offerings

Two professional caregivers provide supervised play for toddlers and babies. Remote hearing devices to listen to the service are available for parents who choose to stay with their children.

This year’s curriculum, “Celebrating Me and My World,” explores Unitarian Universalism. It helps preschoolers grow their sense of trust and caring and develop their self-identity and sense of connectedness with all of life. At the 11:15 am service, the 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old classes combine and follow the “Celebrating Me and My World” curriculum.

“We Are Many, We Are One” offers young children the opportunity to learn about their religious community and tradition, as well as the freedom to discover and express their uniqueness. At 11:15, 4-year-olds are with the 2- and 3-year-olds.

In the Theme-Based Workshop Rotation Model of Religious Education, children explore the monthly theme through a variety of venues. Workshops include UUism and world religions, performing and fine arts, meditation/yoga, social justice, nature, cooking, and games, and sports. Workshops are led by congregants who have a passion or talent in a particular area. Grade-level classes are guided by leading learners (class teachers) who provide spiritual and practical support and consistency in relationships.

Workshop Rotation FAQs

  1. What is Workshop Rotation? Workshop Rotation is a model of eeligious education in which the children experience the monthly theme/story through a variety of learning styles, by “rotating” each week to a different workshop in a different space.
  2. Who leads the workshops? Workshops are led by members of the congregation who have an interest or passion for a particular subject; for example, nature, art, cooking, gardening, creative writing, games, yoga, meditation, science. Leaders usually lead the same workshop each week for one month (hopefully), as children of different ages cycle through.
  3. What ages will be doing Workshop Rotation? Currently Kindergarten through 5th grade will be exploring Workshop Rotation on a weekly basis. High school and middle school students will participate at times and in ways as appropriate.
  4. What is the role of the class teacher? The teachers (or “leading learners,” as I like to call them), act as guides for their class, and provide the consistency necessary for creating the “Beloved Community” with their class. They will also lead the reflections and discussions.
  5. Will the classes have homerooms? In a sense, yes. K/1st will meet in Room 1, 2nd/3rd in Room 2, and 4th/5th in the Spirit Room. There, they will eat a snack, check in, and discuss some of the monthly themes. After about 15-20 minutes, the students will be called to Children’s Chapel, which will take place in the Studio. From there, they will be dismissed to their workshops, WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT BE HELD IN THE SAME ROOM IN WHICH THEY WERE DROPPED OFF. Please make note of posted signage and presentations to find the room from which to pick up your child.
  6. On what will the content of the workshops be based? The “core” of the workshops will be the monthly themes and said theme’s accompanying story. Click through here for more information on theme-based workshop rotation from the UUA.

Students dive deeper into Unitarian Universalism, world religions, and our Judeo-Christian heritage. Using this knowledge, they begin to look critically at the world that they inhabit. There is also an emphasis on deeper engagement on both fronts, with an increase in field trips and site visits as well as a turn inward towards the congregation at large, putting on events for them such as the pancake breakfast, haunted house, and chili lunch.

11:15 Service ONLY. For its high schoolers, All Souls’ offers a unique and empowering religious education opportunity. With support from adult advisors, the youth are challenged to take on responsibility for their own learning experience. They select their own methods and topics for spiritual exploration and are held accountable for cultivating an inclusive community environment rooted in the eight UU Principles. Activities include community service, social action, overnight excursions, student-led classroom discussions, and much more.

The All Souls’ Youth Group meets during the second service throughout the church year. Its activities and performance are monitored by the Youth-Adult Committee (YAC), in consultation with the lay-led Religious Education Committee. The YAC includes appropriate All Souls’ staff (youth ministry coordinator and/or director of religious education) as well as adult advisors, but its business is conducted and led by the youth themselves.

Our bi-annual Coming of Age (CoA) program is designed for youth (9th-12th grade) to explore and solidify their own beliefs, and thus to “come of age” in our UU congregation. This year-long program offers youth a chance to clarify their values, beliefs and spirituality in conversation the traditions of Unitarian Universalism and other world religions, as well as with adult mentors and program leaders. The CoA program culminates twice: first in youth presenting their own belief statements (Credos) to the congregation during Sunday services (typically in late spring); and secondly, on a UU Heritage Trip to historic sites in the Boston area, led by the Senior Minister and Youth Minister. CoA is currently scheduled for the 2019-20 and 2021-22 church years. Contact James Ploeser for more info (jploeser@allsouls.ws).

The UUA/UCC curriculum on sex and relationships will be offered this year to junior high (7th and 8th grade) all year. Sixth grade OWL will be offered in the fall only. In addition, for the first time we will offer OWL for children in 4th and 5th grade early in 2020.

On the 1st Sunday of the month, following the Story for All Ages, children in K-5th will choose from a variety of activities such as gym play, construction, crafts, and reading. Once a month parent volunteers and Middle School students will help facilitate these activities.

Led by dedicated volunteers, middle and high schoolers, and staff each week, Children’s Chapel brings together the K through 5th graders for worship and ritual. It includes a chalice lighting, hymns, meditations, and a story related to the monthly theme. Children’s Chapel is held on the second, third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of the month, unless that Sunday’s sanctuary service is intergenerational.

Integral to a child’s religious education is worshipping with the entire church community. Children ages K and up attend the first 15 minutes of worship in the sanctuary on the first Sunday of the month. Dolores and guests tell a story to the entire congregation that introduces that month’s spiritual theme. There is no Children’s Chapel on that day.

Held in the sanctuary during the regular worship service, this dedication ceremony celebrates the blessing of new life, expresses parents’ hopes for their children, and calls the congregation to lead and nurture a child’s spiritual life. Contact Dolores Miller (dmiller@allsouls.ws) to reserve one of the offered dates for your child’s dedication.

Children and youth take the stage to celebrate that “each child born is one more redeemer,” in our annual partnership with the music program. This year, with expanded roles and opportunities, the pageant is not to be missed!

Held in the cold of February when nights seem incredibly long, come to the warmth of All Souls on a Friday night for games galore. From tabletop games in the Library to cornhole in the Minister’s Corridor, a good time will be had by all!

Asking, “…why is this night different from all other nights?” congregants and friends celebrate Passover, drawing parallels between the Jews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt and current struggles against oppression. Children are especially welcome for conversation, good food, stories, and singing.

This clothing swap of gently used children’s clothing (sized for newborns through teens) is held in the spring. Save your clothing and pass them on to other All Souls families. Leftover clothing is donated to a local charity.

These choirs, for children and youth from 5 to 14, rehearses on Tuesdays from 6:15 to 7:15 pm. Led by Director of Music and Arts Jen Hayman, the children’s choir sings a vast variety of repertoire, including classical, world music, and pop music, and often collaborates with the adult music ensembles at All Souls and other guest musicians. For more information, contact Jen Hayman (jhayman@allsouls.ws).

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.

Danielle Henry, Committee Chair

Julie Vallelunga

Allison Denny

Kirk Freeman

Dana Martin

Merrie Dodson

Kevin Hilgers

Shelley Finlayson

CYRE Safety Policies

No teacher should ever be alone with one child (unless it’s their own child). If you are the first to drop off your child and there is only one teacher, you must stay until another teacher or child arrives.

We perform background checks on all individuals who regularly work with children and youth.

Children in 5th grade and younger must be picked up after class. They will not be dismissed on their own. Please be mindful of this when socializing after the service.

Healthy snacks, including dairy and gluten free options, are offered. Be sure to indicated any allergies on your child’s registration form.

Children and youth may not leave the church for RE activities without a signed permission form from a parent/guardian.

Teachers are trained on the best route to exit in an emergency and on lock-down procedures. Evacuation drills will be performed so that the children are familiar with the routes as well. Limited first aid kits are provided in every classroom and a more comprehensive kit is at the front desk.

During the time that parents entrust their children to the RE Program, children and youth must either be in class or with their families in the service.

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 Dolores.

Registration Form

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.

Are you energized by the idea of bringing many of the spiritual components of the All Souls adult worship experience to our church’s children? Children’s Chapel Team may be the role for you. Each Sunday (except first Sundays, when we have a Story for All Ages in the sanctuary) all K-5th children attend Children’s Chapel in the Studio before proceeding on to that morning’s workshops. Children’s Chapel includes child-friendly worship elements such as chalice lighting, joys and concerns, story, and music. Interested adults are needed both to lead children’s chapel services, as well as to assist through storytelling and/or providing music throughout the church year. Once children’s chapel is finished, volunteers are free to head back upstairs for the remainder of the adult worship service in the sanctuary.

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 staff: Director of Religious Education Dolores Miller and Youth Coordinator and CYRE Assistant James Ploeser. A volunteer CYRE Committee provides additional support. Come, be a part of this vital, enriching ministry. You’ll be glad you did! Contact Dolores or James.

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