Children and Youth Religious Education

Join us on a lifelong journey to deepen our connections to the sacred.

While our building is closed, our church is open! Our weekly newsletter, the RelEd Times, will continue to come out on Wednesdays, weekly lessons you can do at home will appear on this page, and we’ll share videos of Children’s Chapel and other activities. Check back regularly.

Religious Education Fall 2020

Both of last Saturday’s activities – the hike in Rock Creek Park and the Youth Group gathering – were such a delight! It’s is lovely to get to be together.

Schedule

This Sunday, October 18:

9:30 am. Preschool through 5th Grade.

  • Pre-K. Learn about ourselves with the story, “I Like Myself,” a funny and empowering book about a girl who likes herself no matter what. Session will last ~30 minutes.
  • K-5th. Special guest: Charlotte Scott, as reenacted by All Souls member Marcia Cole. Charlotte Scott was the formerly enslaved woman who commissioned the statue of Lincoln and the formerly enslaved man that sits today in Lincoln Park. It’ll be timely exploration, through the lens of our UU principles. After chapel, group will break into K/1st, 2nd/3rd, and 4th/5th breakout rooms.
  • Click here to log in on Zoom.

10:00 am. Middle School. Join the K-5th at 9:30 am for the guest presenter. We’ll discuss in among ourselves in greater depth the following Sunday. We’ll also have a bike ride later Sunday afternoon. Consult MSRE email list or contact James for more info. Click here to log in on Zoom.

11:00 am. High School Youth Group. Consult Youth Group email list or contact James for details. Click here to log in on Zoom.

Be a Leading Learner

We are recruiting teachers and advisors. Contact us if interested. Much support provided!

Upcoming REvents & OpportUUnities

Weekly Mindfulness. Drop-In sessions led by James for weekly meditation, yoga, and breathing practices to ease anxiety in uncertain times. Two groups with age appropriate offerings:

  • Elementary (K-5th) -4:30 pm on Tuesdays.
  • Middle & High School – 4:30 pm on Wednesdays.

Sunday, October 18, 9:30 am. Special appearance by Charlotte Scott, as reenacted by All Souls member Marcia Cole. Charlotte Scott was the formerly enslaved woman who commissioned the Emancipation Monument, a statue of Lincoln and a formerly enslaved man.

Sunday, November 1. Child Dedication. While we gather for worship virtually, the spirit of the child dedication remains very real. If you would like your child to be part of this ceremony, contact Dolores (dmiller@allsouls.ws) as soon as possible.

Parent Programming. In conjunction with the Adult Spiritual Development program, we will offer a “Parents As Resident Theologians” class, which will help empower adults to impart sound spiritual teaching to the young people in their lives. We are now planning to begin the class early in 2021. Stay tuned for details.

Donate Halloween Costumes. Community members are gathering Halloween costumes to share free of cost with DC families facing hard times. To arrange a drop-off/pickup, for more information, or to sponsor an individual child’s costume request, email donate4dcfamilies@gmail.com.

OWL Conclusions. Thanks to our dedicated volunteer OWL teachers, we are currently arranging to conclude last year’s interrupted sessions. Details for the 7th/8th program have been announced to participants. 4th/5th participants stay tuned for details by early next week. Decisions about new sex education programming are on hold till later this fall. Contact James.

RE Website

A variety of videos and lessons will remain posted on the website for use at your leisure and convenience.

Stay tuned

We have more exciting programs in the pipeline and will announce details on a rolling basis.

Recent Lessons

K-5th September 20, 2020

  • Begin with a check in. You can try using “rose, bud, thorn”. Share 1 thing good that happened this past week (rose), something you’re looking forward to (bud), and something that’s bothering you (thorn).
  • Work on the covenant. What does that mean to them? (an agreement or pact about how we will act and expect others to act when we are together) What would be different about a Covenant for a Zoom meeting and one if we’re in person? Ex: In person we often say, “keep hands to yourself”, “share supplies”…” Take turns when speaking” is something that would apply in both situations. Also, “don’t put others down for their opinions and feelings, including in the chat”. Write down participants’ suggestions. Send to Dolores
  • Explore the Jewish New Year

 The Jewish New Year lasts for 10 days. The first day of the New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. In the Hebrew language, Rosh Hashanah means “beginning of the year”. (show sign in Hebrew) The last day of the Jewish New Year is called Yom Kippur. That means “day for righting wrongs”. (sign)

There is an old story that says on Rosh Hashanah, God opens up a book called the book of life. Everyone’s name is said to be written down in this book. Under each person’s name are listed all the good and not good things that person has done in the past year. God counts up the  good and not good deeds and decides each person’s fate for the next year. On Yom Kippur, the last day of the New Year, God writes down everybody’s fate in the book of life and closes the book.

The old story says that before God closes the book, you have the chance to change your record in the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. You can wipe the record clean. You can start by being truly sorry for the wrong things you’ve done. But being sorry is not enough to change the record. You also have to try to make things right again with the person you have wronged. You must do good deeds. That’s why Yom Kippur is called the “day for righting wrongs”.

This story can be seen as a good reminder that you must look back at the past year and judge your own deeds. To Jews, the new year is the most important holiday of the year because it is a time for righting wrongs. It’s a chance to start all over again.

On the last day of the new year, Yom Kippur, people spend the day praying and thinking. They do not eat or drink all day, so that they can concentrate on their thoughts. Another reason that people don’t eat on Yom Kippur is to remind themselves of the hunger and suffering of other people in the world. They say prayers for others and for the whole world. (Is there a ritual we do that is similar to this? Sending positive energy to others and calling of names in Chapel.)

Many Jewish people wear prayer shawls when they pray. Wearing the special shawl helps get into a certain mood. People of other beliefs wear a stole or a prayer shawl as well when doing a Spiritual Practice. Our ministers often wear one. Some are specifically made by someone’s friends or congregation. Putting on a shawl or stole is a good way to begin a time of focusing and thinking. Like ringing the bell at the start of Chapel.

Follow Up:

  • Are there “wrongs you need to right”? Get some paper, a notebook or journal, and take a minute to right them down to remind yourself. You don’t have to share unless you’d like to.
  • Making our own “Prayer Shawls”. Use a piece of fabric or old pillowcase/sheet that you can cut into a strip about 4-5 ft. long and 6 inches wide. Or use an old scarf that you can decorate. (As an alternative you could cut 2 sheets of paper into thirds lengthwise. Tape them end to end. You might need to cut a “scoop” in the part of the paper that goes around your neck.) Decorate with symbols/pictures/words that are meaningful to you or help you feel calm. (chalice, bird or some other animal, yin yang, peace symbol, book, hands…) share with each other what those symbols mean to you.
  • A story for Yom Kippur.

Once there was a child who loved to tell stories about his friends. Sometimes the stories were true, but often the stories were not true. The neighborhood children did not like their gossiping friend. One day they decided to ask the Rabbi’s advice . The Rabbi heard their complaints, and called the child to his house.

“Why do you make up stories about your friends?”, the Rabbi asked.

“It’s only talk,” replied the child. “I can always take it back.”

“Perhaps you are right,” said the Rabbi, and he began to talk of other things. As the child was ready to leave, the Rabbi asked, “I wonder if you would do something for me.”

 “Of course,” said the child. The Rabbi took a pillow from the couch and handed it to the child.

“Take this pillow to the town square. When you get there, cut it open, and shake out the feathers. Then come back.”

The child was puzzled, but agreed to do what the Rabbi said. He carried the pillow to the town square and cut it open. The breeze scattered the feathers across the sky. The child returned to the rabbi’s house and told him what he had done. The rabbi seemed pleased. He handed the boy a basket and said, “Now please go back to the square, and gather the feathers up again. The child gasped.

“But that’s impossible.”

“You are right ,”said the Rabbi. “So it is not possible to take back all the untrue things you said about others. Be careful with the words you spread. Once spoken and sent on their way, that cannot be gathered again.”

K-5th September 27, 2020

  • Begin with a check in. You can try using “rose, bud, thorn”. Share 1 thing good that happened this past week (rose), something you’re looking forward to (bud), and something that’s bothering you (thorn)
  • Post the Covenant in the chat so everyone can see what was agreed upon. If you haven’t yet gotten around to the Covenant, take some time to work on that.

What does that mean to them? (an agreement or pact about how we will act and expect others to act when we are together) What would be different about a Covenant for a Zoom meeting and one if we’re in person? Ex: In person we often say, “keep hands to yourself”, “share supplies”…” Take turns when speaking” is something that would apply in both situations. Also, “don’t put others down for their opinions and feelings, including in the chat”. Write down participants’ suggestions. Send to Dolores

  • Exploring Unitarian Universalism: Our Roots and Principles”

Unitarian universalism is a really long name. Why? Because it combines the names of two different religions with roots that go back hundreds of years. What do you think those names of those two religions are? Unitarianism and Universalism were both faiths that had many beliefs in common. In 1961 they decided to join together (merge) to become one faith. How many years ago was that? (The younger children won’t know how to figure this out) Do you know who it was who suggested that they merge, and worked to make it happen? It was the youth groups, the teenagers. One of the main things that the Unitarians and Universalists had in common was a commitment to social justice and working for equality. Our eight Unitarian Universalist Principles sum up our beliefs. Today we’re going to talk about 3 of them. The 1st, the 6th and the 8th.

Let’s start with the word, “Principle”. Usually, we hear the word principal as the head of the school. Principal and Principle are two words that sound alike but are spelled differently. Do you know what that’s called? (homonym) UU Principles are guides on how we want to live our lives.

 Let’s start with the first Principle. “Every person is important and valuable.” Is it ever difficult to find what is good about someone? How could you do that?

Our 6th Principle guides us to ”build a fair and peaceful world”. What are ways we could do that?

The 8th Principle was recently added to the other 7. It calls us to use our minds, hands and hearts to work for people to be treated equally no matter their race, religion, gender identity, or who they love. (end all oppressions) Sometimes we live this Principle by going to rallies or protests to speak out against injustice. Have you or your parents ever been to one? Another thing we can do is make signs to put in our yards and windows. What might the signs say? (Equal Justice For All; Be Nice; Only Speak Kindly; Your Life Matters; Black Lives Matter; Equality Now…)

Follow Up:

  • Making “Protest” signs. Get cardboard or paper. You could use a cereal or other type of box. You’ll need markers, crayons or paints

The Jewish Holy Day of Yom Kippur begins at sundown tonight. Last week we learned that Yom Kippur means “day for righting wrongs”. We thought about some wrongs we might need to right. You don’t need to share them, but it’s a good idea to write them down.

                                                A story for Yom Kippur.

Once there was a child who loved to tell stories about his friends. Sometimes the stories were true, but often the stories were not true. The neighborhood children did not like their gossiping friend. One day they decided to ask the Rabbi’s advice. The Rabbi heard their complaints, and called the child to his house.

“Why do you make up stories about your friends?”, the Rabbi asked.

“It’s only talk,” replied the child. “I can always take it back.”

“Perhaps you are right,” said the Rabbi, and he began to talk of other things. As the child was ready to leave, the Rabbi asked, “I wonder if you would do something for me.”

 “Of course,” said the child. The Rabbi took a pillow from the couch and handed it to the child.

“Take this pillow to the town square. When you get there, cut it open, and shake out the feathers. Then come back.”

The child was puzzled, but agreed to do what the Rabbi said. He carried the pillow to the town square and cut it open. The breeze scattered the feathers across the sky. The child returned to the rabbi’s house and told him what he had done. The rabbi seemed pleased. He handed the boy a basket and said, “Now please go back to the square, and gather the feathers up again. The child gasped.

“But that’s impossible.”

“You are right ,”said the Rabbi. “So it is not possible to take back all the untrue things you said about others. Be careful with the words you spread. Once spoken and sent on their way, that cannot be gathered again.”

K-5th October 4, 2020

The  Story For All Ages, “Turtle Tale”, by Frank Asch, will be shown at the end of Chapel.

  • Begin with a check in. You can try using “rose, bud, thorn”. Share 1 thing good that happened this past week (rose), something you’re looking forward to (bud), and something that’s bothering you (thorn)
  • Post the Covenant in the chat so everyone can see what was agreed upon. If you haven’t yet gotten around to the Covenant, take some time to work on that.

What does that mean to them? (an agreement or pact about how we will act and expect others to act when we are together) What would be different about a Covenant for a Zoom meeting and one if we’re in person? Ex: In person we often say, “keep hands to yourself”, “share supplies”. ” Take turns when speaking” is something that would apply in both situations. Also, “don’t put others down for their opinions and feelings, including in the chat”. Send to Dolores

2nd/3rd Covenant:

Use kind words

Respect each other by muting when you are not talking

Give everyone a turn to talk.

Remember the chat is a group conversation and use it appropriately.

Have fun!

 

  • Exploring Both/And (Chose the discussion that works best for your age group)         

 In today’s story, what does “Both/And” or paradox, have to do with Turtle? Do you think it applies? Can     you think of a time in your life when you agreed with both sides of an opinion? Or 2 different, and possibly opposing, ways of doing something?

  • Review last week

Last week we learned that Unitarian Universalism combines the names of two different religions with roots that go back hundreds of years. Unitarianism and Universalism were both faiths that had many beliefs in common. In 1961 they decided to join together (merge) to become one faith. It was the youth groups, the teenagers, that worked to make it happen. One of the main things that the Unitarians and Universalists had in common was a commitment to working for justice.

UU’s have 8 Principles that are guides on how we want to live our lives. Usually, we hear the word principal as the head of the school. Principal and Principle are two words that sound alike but are spelled differently. When I was a kid the principal used to tell us that a school principal is your “pal”.

Today we’re going to explore our 7th Principle, and a way to put it into action.

  • Our 7th Principle states that “We need to take care of the earth, the home we share with all living things”. Today, one species of animals that is in danger of becoming extinct are turtles.
  1. Don’t buy souvenirs or other items made from critically endangered hawksbill shell. The tortoiseshell trade is the biggest threat to hawksbills. When traveling, ask vendors what souvenirs are made of and when in doubt, don’t purchase items in question. See our How To Identify & Avoid Hawksbill Turtleshellguide to learn how to recognize turtleshell and other similar looking materials.
  2. Reduce your carbon footprint! Climate change affects the health of coral reefs which are vital to the hawksbills survival. A warming planet also skews sex ratios in baby turtles, changes the abundance and distribution of prey, increases erosion of nesting beaches, and more. Learn some simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint here.
  3. Choose responsibly caught seafood. Sea turtles are vulnerable to commercial fishing methods like trawling, longlines, and drift gillnets, becoming unwanted catch (also known as “bycatch”) that is discarded like trash. To help make turtle friendly seafood choices check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch which is also available as a handy app for your phone!
  4. Just say NO to plastics! Sea turtles and other ocean life mistake plastic as food and ingest it. An estimated that more than 100 million marine animals die each year as a result of eating or getting entangled in plastic. Avoid using disposable plastic bags, bottles, and “skip the straw.” Check out some easy ways to reduce your use of plastics here.
  5. Leave No Trace. This means practicing good housekeeping when visiting a beach where turtles nest. Remove your trash (and trash left by others) and any obstacles that may become hazards for nesting sea turtles and hatchlings like beach furniture, holes, and sandcastles. Turtles need clean and clear beaches (and oceans!) to increase their chances of survival.
  6. Turtles dig the dark! Sea turtles need dark beaches for nesting and for navigating their way to the ocean. Light from beachfront development can deter females from coming ashore to nest as well as lead newly born hatchling away from the water and towards danger. Learn more about sea turtle beach etiquette here.
  7. Hang onto those balloons! Helium balloons can travel long distances, get caught in electric lines, and hurt animals like birds and sea turtles, which similarly to plastic bags can be mistaken for jellyfish. Learn more about reducing pollution from balloons from the folks at Balloons Blow
  8. Donate to a worthy cause. Billion Baby Turtles is a great way to help on the ground sea turtle conservation efforts in Latin America. For every $1 donated we can save 10 sea turtle hatchlings and we have saved more than 3 million so far! Learn more and donate to save baby turtles here. Another option is to set up a Facebook Fundraiser
  9. Choose sunscreen carefully. Chemicals in some types of sunscreen can damage coral reefs and pollute turtle habitat. Avoid any sunscreen with “oxybenzone” and look for brands labeled as “Reef Friendly” and avoid sprays that can pollute the sand where turtles nest. Check out this article in Vogue about the best ways to avoid sunburn. =
  • Plan a fundraiser to raise money for “Billion Baby Turtles”. We’re going to make postcards to sell to the people at church. For today, you’ll need cardstock, cardboard, or heavy paper. (if you don’t have it, cut up a cereal box, pasta box, shoe box…) Markers, preferably sharpies, or crayons or colored pencils. Scissors and a ruler. Cut a piece of “cardstock” approx. 4”x6”. On one side draw pictures of turtles, or write sayings like, “Save The Turtles”, or “For The Sake of Turtles: Don’t use plastic bags”, or any other ideas you can brainstorm. Make as many as you want.

I haven’t figured out yet how we’re going to distribute the postcards or collect the money, but I’m working on it.

K-5th October 11, 2020

October’s Theme: Paradox                                                              Dolores’ Cell #: 703-309-0511

                                            Exploring Paradox and God

We might show the Story For All Ages, “Turtle Tale”, at the end of Chapel again.

  • Begin with a check in. “Rose, Bud, Thorn” seems to be working. Share 1 thing good that happened this past week (rose), something you’re looking forward to (bud), and something that’s bothering you (thorn)
  • Post the Covenant in the chat so everyone can see what was agreed upon. (I didn’t get one from 4th/5th)

K/1st Covenant:

Be respectful, Listen to people when talking, Try not to yuck someone’s yum, Let us know when you want to move, Let us know when you’ve had enough screen time, Be thoughtful, kind, and honest

2nd/3rd Covenant:

Use kind words, Respect each other by muting when you are not talking, Give everyone a turn to talk., Remember the chat is a group conversation and use it appropriately., Have fun!

  • Exploring Paradox or Both/And (Chose the discussion and activity that works best for your age group)     Paradox: A paradox is by nature, difficult to explain. A paradox is a statement that at first seems to be contradictory or impossible, but may actually be possible or true.

Examples:

  • Don’t go in the water until you have learned how to swim. (How can you learn to swim if you never go in the water?)
  • There is a wizard who can do anything. Can this wizard make a rock so big that the wizard himself cannot move it? (If the wizard can do anything, he can make the rock, and he should also be able to move it. However, the rock is too big to be moved.)
  • This sentence is a lie. (Since the sentence is a lie, does that mean it’s really true?)

Paradox or Not: Read some of the following statements to the group. Ask them which ones they think are a paradox.

  1. I love tomatoes, but I hate tomato sauce!
  2. You must spend money to make money.
  3. One must be cruel to be kind.
  4. You need a car to get a job. You need a loan to get a car. You need a job to get a loan.
  5. When you have replaced every single part of a car, is it still the same car?
  6. Would a bullet that can shatter anything be able to shatter bulletproof glass?
  7. Can you promise not to make any more promises?
  8. Can you follow a command to ignore all rules?
  • Talking About God: People have all different ideas of what God is. Some of them might seem like a paradox. Here are some things children have said:

For me, God is a 5 year old girl. For my cat, God is a cat.                                                                            God is a good feeling.                                                                                                                                     God is anything you want God to be.                                                                                                             God is a big woman who loves us all.                                                                                                             God is a she, and a he.                                                                                                                                        I do not believe in God.I don’t believe in the devil either.                                                                                                                   God is a cloud that stays in the sky.                                                                                                               God is in everyone.                                                                                                                                        God is anything that is mysterious and has remarkable power.

Do you think any of these are a paradox? What do you think God is?

  • Follow Up Activities:
  • Find 2 things that you like, but are very different. (food, toys, books, clothes…) Share why they might be a paradox.
  • Make a “Paradox Plaque” to hang somewhere. Choose one of your favorite paradoxes and write or draw it on paper or cardboard, horizontally or vertically.
  • Make a plaque that says what you think about God.

                      More Paradoxes:

Only you can take responsibility for your happiness. But you can’t do it alone. It’s the great paradox of being human.  

The paradox of simplicity is that making things simpler is hard work.   

If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.

A fear of weakness only strengthens weakness.

General Resources

Choose from the chalice lighting texts below.

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.
Amen.

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.
Amen.

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,

waiting

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,
     hoard bread
     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
                         welcoming you.

None of us alone can save the world.
Together – that is another possibility,
     waiting.

So many things to do and people to see!

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.
Source unknown

  • 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.

Welcome

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

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.

  • General: 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.
  • Background Checks: ASC RE staff will perform background checks on all individuals who regularly work with children or youth at church-related activities.
  • Registration: Parents/guardians must complete RE registration for each child or youth participating in RE. Registration may be done online or using forms available in each classroom.
  • Snacks: ASC will offer snacks at RE classes and events that are relatively healthy and unlikely to be allergens. Parents must notify the ASC RE Director of any special food allergies, so that ASC RE staff can make an effort to provide appropriate snacks.
  • Drop-Off: 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: During service, children or youth must either be in class or with their families in the service.
  • Outside of 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.
  • Pick-Up: 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.
  • Off-Site Activities: Children and youth may not leave the church for RE activities without a signed permission form from a parent or guardian.
  • Emergency Plan: 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.
  • First Aid: 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.
  • Photographs: 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 RE Director, Dolores Miller, at 202-517-1469.

Thank you for participating in the All Souls Church Religious Education Program.

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

Use 0 for kindergarten; nothing for preschool
Use 0 for kindergarten; nothing for preschool
Use 0 for kindergarten; nothing for preschool
Tell us things we should know about your child(ren), such as allergies, special needs, coping strategies, interests, nicknames, etc.
Tell us about your talents and other offerings you might bring to the program.

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.