First Unitarian Church 2015-16 Religious Education Program

Children and youth in Preschool (3 years) through high join the community for the first part of worship at 11 a.m., hear a story for all ages, and then go to their prospective classes until 12:30.

We provide a safe, clean environment in which to support each child in initiating play activities at the developmental level they manifest. Each week our paid staff provides a loving presence as they engage children in games, stories and crafts with seasonal and holiday themes throughout the year.

In this program, children engage in the process of learning about the origins and meanings of holidays and holy day celebrations. “Holidays are the natural, age-old vehicle of religious socialization. Their festivities tell a story which children absorb with delight, through experiences far more than through words. Decorations, colors, costumes, dances, lights, songs, foods, festivity, gifts, excitement, pageantry, solemnity, ceremony, and ritual…it is of these that tradition is woven, that memories, beliefs, values, fears, hopes and reverence are transmitted. A holiday is not something to talk about; it’s something to DO.”

Through the vehicle of celebrating significant holidays in various cultures and religious traditions, the programs goals are to help children to

• become aware of values that Unitarian Universalists affirm
• learn that celebrating is part of a universal response to life
• honor the diversity and particularity of cultural traditions and the commonality of the human condition
• develop an interest and understanding of the traditions of our world neighbors
• learn some of the heroes and heroines of our liberal tradition
• learn about some of the great religious classics: events, stories, myths, persons
• have opportunities for expressions of social concern

The Questing Year invites participants on four quests tied to the themes of self, church, mystery, and social action:
Inner Quest – Who are you? What are you like? How are you different? What’s your place in the world?
Unitarian Universalist Quest – What does it mean to be a Unitarian Universalist? What’s special about us? How do we live out our principles?
Mystery Quest – How can you understand what you can’t see? Like God? Or the great mystery? Or spirit and spirituality?
Action Quest – How can you make the world a better place?

You the Creator of Justice, is a program designed to:
• lead Unitarian Universalist youth toward an understanding of justice
• involve UU youth in social justice work
• inspire UU youth to further involvement

You the Creator of Justice program offers three different strands for working on justice:
Strand A is the Congregational Strand. It asks youth to assess the social justice work being done by their congregation, then to join an ongoing project or come up with something of their own.
Strand B is the Child/Youth strand. It asks youth to consider and work for child and or youth rights everywhere from their homes and schools and their own community to the world stage.
Strand C is the Action Strand. It challenges youth with active in-house activities like designing justice T-shirts.

In addition to the Sunday morning curriculum youth get together for once a month social activities-First Friday Fun Nights, join with other middle school youth for weekend conferences: Middle School Unitarian Universalist Gatherings MUUGS (Middle School UUs) and a junior high backpack trip in June.

The senior high youth group meets on Sundays from 11:30-12:30. The group offers its members a safe place to share their lives and find support and friendship among open minded and loving peers. The group engages in discussions about issues relevant to youth’s lives and communities. They plan social and service projects throughout the year. And they participate in youth conferences in area Unitarian Universalist churches under the auspices of Northern California Unitarian Universalist Camps and Conferences (NCUUCC) and YRUUP (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists of the Pacific) . The youth group’s empowering philosophy educates youth to be leaders within the group, church community and denomination.

In addition the senior high group organize a summer trip to Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Island chain in Southern California. And every four years participates in our partner church trip to Romania.

7th-9th Grades
Class Begins In January 2016
Curriculum: Our Whole Lives (newly revised)
Sexuality Education

Our Whole Lives is based on the philosophy of comprehensive sexuality education, which helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, comprehensive sexuality education provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but also helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, social, and political aspects of sexuality as well.

The First Unitarian Church of San José and The Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fremont youth will again team up to teach the class. Ongoing Sunday afternoon 3 hour classes will be held at Connections, 39055 Hastings Street, Suite 106, Fremont 94538. All-day Saturday retreats will be held at The First Unitarian Church of San José. Form more information contact The Reverend Geoff Rimositis,

Information meeting on Oct. 18th from 1-2 PM at Connections
Mandatory parents’ orientation, Nov 15 from 3-6 PM at Connections
Class begins January 2016-May 2016

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The spiritual journey of a child through our faith community

Spiritual growth and learning is a life long journey that begins in childhood. A child is already a spiritual being; to be honored and listened to. We can learn much from our children as they can learn much from us. As Emuna Braverman writes: “We can learn a lot from our children if we are receptive. Their perspective is clear and pure, unclouded by “experience” and cynicism. They haven’t learned to be self-conscious and they wear their hearts on their sleeves. We’re touched by their vulnerability and we can learn from their simplicity.” We are spiritual companions with our children. We learn and grow together. This is the nature of our spiritual cooperative.

The children have classes and programs each Sunday and it begins when they are in the nursery and come to feel that this is a place that people care about them and want to get to know them. They make friends and have fun. And their journey continues in preschool where they are introduced to ritual and come to understand that this is their church and religious community. They celebrate holidays and share their emerging thoughts and feelings as we celebrate how each and every one of us is special. They come and sit on the labyrinth in the center of our round sanctuary and each week listen to a story for all ages. And when they get a little older they light the chalice that begins each service. It is a child that leads us into worship each week.

In the elementary years they learn the stories of remarkable people that made a difference in this world and are then given opportunities to do likewise through acts of service and social justice. They learn about the faiths of the world and how we are different and what we share in common. We get out of the classroom and meet people of other faiths and experience their worship life and spiritual practices. We make interfaith friendships and in the process find in the diverse religions we study what might be true for us.

When a child enters into middle school s/he goes on the yearly backpack trip in the summer and learns what it means to be in community where we depend on each other. We experience the deep satisfaction of accomplishing something we thought we couldn’t do. And away from the distractions of the plugged in modern world we get to know each other and experience the beauty and magnificence of nature. There are the youth retreats throughout the year with youth from other churches. There is the human sexuality program where youth learn how to make good choices for their health and happiness. And then as an 8th grader youth spend a special rite of passage year going on retreats and having an adult mentor from the church who helps him/her with the process of their coming of age. And then we have a big celebration at the end. There are also the monthly fun nights going bowling or playing games in the park with friends.

When you get into senior high you are now up in the youth room looking out above our social hall, where youth share their lives, joys and struggles with their peers and youth group advisors. Here is a safe place where youth can be themselves and know that they will be loved for who they are even if the world outside the church seems to be a hard and cruel place.

After church they go out to lunch with friends most Sundays. They spend weekends throughout the year with other Unitarian Universalist youth in conferences where they experience a youth empowerment culture that is organized and led by youth with adults serving in advisory roles. Here they make friends that last a lifetime and it becomes that one place that practices a radical hospitality no matter what color is your hair or what group you’re in or out of at school. There are the summer trips to the Channel Islands and to our partner church in Romania every four years.

Of course there is much more to the spiritual journey of a child through our faith community that happens through the course of a child’s growing years. But as religious educator Maria Harris says: “The church doesn’t have a religious education program. It is the religious education program.” This is what we offer children and their families: a religious community that partners with them through all that life offers.

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