Sunday Classes

Welcome to Lifespan Faith Development at the UU Congregation of Asheville

Our lifespan religious education programs seek to develop Unitarian Universalist faith identity, and to support all ages in spiritual growth, religious exploration, and meaningful work in the world. We seek to sustain strong families and create multigenerational relationships that value all. We use stories, the act of creation, spirited conversation, contemplation, meaningful work, and covenant to grow in faith together. Worship, community building, and social action are integral parts of this experience and are scheduled along with regular classes.

  • Our lifespan religious education classes are offered for people of all ages at 9:15am. Nursery-12th grade classes are offered at 11:15am.
  • All children and adults who attend classes on Sunday mornings must be registered
  • If you and your family visit on Sundays, you’ll be asked to complete a Visitor’s Form downstairs, where the Religious Education Classes for nursery-5th grade are located. After your third visit we ask that you complete a registration form for your child(ren).

2016-17  Religious Education Classes (Nursery through 12th Grade PLUS Adults) begins September 11, 2016

UUCA Philosophy of Faith Development
From Joy Berry, Director of Lifespan Religious Education

I believe every human being, from a very young age, has a capacity and need to ask big questions and seek their way in a complex world. Religious education programs create a sacred space where children and youth explore these questions surrounded by a beloved community of  peers, teachers, and mentors. Guided by our seven principles, Unitarian Universalist faith development is a process that goes on throughout the lifespan.

At UUCA, the spiritual imperatives of our principles are taught against a backdrop of our UU heritage. This heritage derives from a rich religious tradition that has its roots in Judeo-Christian theology, but also draws on the philosophies of great women and men, the teachings of many other world religions, the large body of truth that has resulted from scientific inquiry, and the direct human experience of wonder and awe. Throughout, in classes, special programs, and worship, we lay the foundation for lifelong Unitarian Universalist identity.

Nursery (9:15 & 11:15)

Nursery care, for children from birth to around two years old, is focused on what faith theorist James Fowler call the Primal stage: babies and toddlers need to have their emotional needs met first, in the beginning of life. This lays the foundation for trust in the world, and in our church community as a comfortable place. To that end, we staff both nursery and PreK with paid caregivers, a choice that reflects our belief that consistency and stability in childcare is key to our goal: helping little ones have a positive experience at church while supporting parents with high quality care as they worship and engage in their own faith development. Please note that we do use a pager system; if a baby is unhappy for an extended period, we will let you know and ask that you come down to assist us in understanding and meeting your child’s needs. 

PreK: Chalice Children (9:15 & 11:15)

Chalice Children delves deep into our Unitarian Universalist faith. It strives not just to teach about our faith but also to provide experiences around the strength of community, the wonder and awe that transcend everyday understanding, and life issues we all share. Early childhood (the years between ages 2 and 5) is filled with curiosity and wonder. In a group setting, with loving adult guides, young children can engage in spiritual seeking, develop their openness to sharing, and experience the benefit of a supportive community. Their time in Chalice Children can set a pattern for the rest of their lives and bring lasting benefits. We staff both nursery and PreK with paid caregivers, a choice that reflects our belief that consistency and stability in childcare is key to our goal: helping little ones have a positive experience at church while supporting parents with high quality care as they worship and engage in their own faith development.

K-3: Spirit Play (K-5th at 9:15, K-3rd at 11:15)

Humans learn best through stories told well. This exciting program presents core “sacred stories” of our own and others’ faiths, and then supports children in their own internal processing of those tales through wondering questions and their choice of activity centers including: Drama/Music/Movement, Contemplation, and our new Art & MakerSpace and Nature Classrooms. Spirit Play creates a spiritual community of children while supporting multiple learning styles and challenges and helps children make meaning of their lives through the container of Unitarian Universalism.

4th/5th: District 45 (11:15)

Love Connects Us–This 16-session curriculum uses a rainbow wall hanging as its unifying construct. The theme is a celebration of important ways Unitarian Universalists live our faith in covenanted community and an imagination of how our current actions may become the legacy of love that future UUs will remember. Moved by love and gathered in spirit, we embrace our responsibility toward one another and the world at large. We encourage one another’s search for truth and meaning. We strive to be active in peace-making and other efforts to improve our world.

4th/5th: Our Whole Lives (OWL)

This class will only be offered if recruitment for leaders is successful. Registration will be opened at that time. Please let us know if you are interested in training to be an OWL facilitator or leading this class.

This eight-session program begins in the Spring Semester, when “Love Connects Us” ends. It helps fourth and fifth graders learn about and discuss the physical and emotional changes of puberty. Participants read It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie H. Harris, and examine topics such as values and sexuality, communication and decision-making. Each session includes a HomeLink—a homework activity for parents and children to complete together.

The Middle Years: Pop Culture Theology

6th and 7th graders are somewhere between childhood and adolescence, and the religious education needs for this in-between age are unique. At UUCA, 6th and 7th graders have a primary (16-lesson) curriculum developed by the UUA and a supplementary curriculum that is based in Pop Culture Theology.

Faith stage theorist James Fowler described the time around and just after turning 12 as a period when the child’s faith development turns from something TAUGHT to something BOUGHT. It is essential to see youth as stakeholders who must buy-in to their own process of faith formation at this age. One of the best ways to invite middle schoolers into their own faith development is by engaging them to do so in a medium they are already comfortable and confident with. For many, pop culture is their social currency, particularly as they begin to separate from their parents and see themselves as social actors in the world beyond home and family. TV shows, music, and movies become a curriculum that tells them who they are and especially who they should aspire to become, whether we like it or not.

Our approach uses carefully crafted and curated lesson plans to provide a lens through which middle schoolers can more readily take part in conversations around ethics, values, and faith. We believe youth will gain a deeper understanding of Unitarian Universalism as a living faith that is relevant to questions about how we should live in the here and now.

This year we will use The Simpsons and the FX series 30 Days, produced by Morgan Spurlock, to explore these issues. See specific class descriptions below.

6th: Riddle and Mystery/The Gospel According to the Simpsons (11:15)

In this year, youth will be supported as they begin to ask big questions.  What is religion? How does it help us make meaning of life? Is there a God? What happens when we die? This class invites exploration and engagement on the topic of faith and helps kids begin the lifelong journey of asking questions only they can answer. The theological underpinning is our UU belief that “revelation is not sealed”–we can seek and find answers to big questions.  A supplemental curriculum of “The Gospel According To the Simpsons” keeps the class fun and engaging, recognizing that pop culture is important to kids this age, especially if it can reflect their growing faith identity. Each of the Simpsons sessions includes a viewing of an episode, followed by discussion of a relevant topic, such as prayer, faith, morality, God, pluralism, the institutional church, and the Bible.

7th: Amazing Grace/30 Days (11:15)

This curriculum helps youth begin to grapple with ethics, morality, and to act on their new understanding. How do UUs see right and wrong?  What is our take on virtue and sin? This class builds on the big questions explored in 6th grade by exploring and understanding the question of free will, the Golden Rule, guilt, punishment, and forgiveness. The theological underpinning is uniquely Universalist. A supplemental curriculum of Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days keeps the class engaging and culturally relevant, recognizing that pop culture like this reality TV show is a compelling way to keep kids interested, especially when used to reflect on on their growing faith identity. Each of the 30 Days sessions includes a viewing of an episode, followed by discussion of the UU values found (or missing) in the show’s participants, who are asked to live for a month in situations and with people that ask them to stretch their understanding of the world and grow their compassion.

8th/9th: Building Bridges (11:15)

This world religions program (the updated and renamed Neighboring Faiths curriculum) deepens youths’ understanding of the dynamic, fascinating, and varied world in which they live. It seeks to broaden their knowledge of humanity and embolden their spiritual search. This curriculum explores the history and development of different faith traditions around the world through a religious journey close to home. Participants plan their own program by choosing which religious groups to learn about, visit, and relate to their own growing Unitarian Universalism. They compare and contrast ideas about God, symbols, sources of authority, prophets and leaders, holy days, beliefs and practices, and social service. Students will visit the sacred spaces of the neighboring faiths in our community and welcome practitioners of other faiths into our own classroom. Building Bridges encourages tolerance by fostering first-hand experience and dialogue with different religious communities, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and earth-based spirituality.

10th-12th: YRUU - Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (11:15)

We know our teens won’t be with us forever. College and adult life are just around the corner for our 10th-12th graders. How can we equip them to claim a strong UU identity, and the tools of our faith, on their journey out into the larger world outside the walls of Sunday School and church? Imagine that instead of a traditional class, on any given Sunday, YRUU youth can be found worshipping (and helping to lead worship) with the congregation, planning social action projects, taking on leadership roles at UUCA and beyond, cooking food for a fundraiser to get them to General Assembly in Ohio this Summer, and exploring their faith in a supportive, active and fun environment.

New Multigenerational Class!

Wisdom from Hebrew Scriptures – Multigenerational Class 9:15am, Spring semester
2nd graders through adults are invited to participate. Class limit:15

Stories provide humans with the perfect way to share history, mythology, and spiritual meaning. Join us as we learn more about 8 essential stories from the Hebrew Scriptures.  Parents, children, young adults, and elders learning together and sharing what these stories mean to them? Sounds like faith community! Join us on Sunday mornings at 9:15 in the NEWLY RENOVATED Multigen classroom. See full description below.

Wisdom from Hebrew Scriptures
This multigenerational class is open to 2nd graders and up (with or without their parents), youth, young adults, and older adults.
This program offers multigenerational workshops based on eight stories from the Hebrew scriptures. Some of these stories are well-known and others less so. Some have been told to children in Sunday school classes and Hebrew school for generations; others will be unknown even to some adults. Some of those narratives fit well with contemporary Unitarian Universalist values and others are more challenging in both the theology and the values expressed. All of these stories offer wisdom that can help people of all ages growth in spiritual depth and understanding. 3-4 teachers needed.

Our Religious Education Program is Cooperative!

Please note: Each family must

  1. sign up on google doc to join a teaching or vision team  OR
  2. choose one of the drop-down volunteer options (for non-teaching volunteer work) found in the registration process.

Our RE program requires all families to volunteer for specific roles, making good on our promise that this is a cooperative program. We ask each parent or family to volunteer by joining a teaching team of an upper grade (4th-12th) class or leading in Spirit Play eight times during in the year. These teams work together, build camaraderie, and ensure stability in the program. Spirit Play centers are a good, easier way to get comfortable with leading in RE. In many cases, activities are planned for you. 4th-9th grade classes are for those ready to engage a little more deeply with the ministry of faith development.  We also have places for those who would like to collaborate on vision teams for particular parts of our RE program, and for those who would like to volunteer outside the classroom.

Please visit this google doc and sign up to join a team in RE. Training provided!