Summer Updates!

Everyone in for summer fun!

Please join us this Sunday, May 19 for the Faith Development Worship Service!
We will have All Ages Worship at 11:15 am this week and it’s all about Faith Development! We’ll hear from parents, teachers, youth, children, and your religious educators, PLUS Rev. Claudia. Talk about an all star lineup! We will also recognize folks who have served with Religious Exploration this year. Additionally, we will recognize our emerging adults who are graduating from high school this spring with a Bridging ceremony. Oh, and one more thing – it’s a Sundae Sunday so we’ll share some ice cream after worship in Sandburg Hall.

About the playground…
You may have noticed that we have had to remove the slides and the wooden decking that supported them from the playground. This is because the wood was really rotten and it was unsafe for it to remain in use. One of the slides remains on the playground for now, because it’s really heavy and we haven’t been able to move it yet. We are looking at this as an opportunity to reimagine our playground and we are going to want your input! Staff will meet soon to discuss plans, so be on the lookout for an invitation to get involved with the planning and execution! Special thanks to John Bates, Mara Sprain, and Adam Griffith for jumping into action to make our playground safer for the time being!

Widening the Lense – Support one of our youth!
For the last 9 weeks, two youths (including our very own Eliza Martin!) have been hard at work with photographer Peter J. Robinson, Jr. and Religious Educator Jil Novienski, using their photographic eye to capture UU values of justice, equity, transformation, pluralism, interdependence and generosity. They’re ready to show their stories their way, so please show your love and support and join us for the exhibition film screening and artist Q&A on Monday, May 20th at 8:00pm (ET) on Zoom. All are welcome to attend. Here’s the zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84214954302

Help us mind the gap in child care!
One of our stellar child care providers, Phoebe, has headed home to Charlotte for the summer and won’t be back until school starts again in August. I am hoping that our community can help us make sure we are covered for the summer. Do you know someone who likes working with kids looking for a part time job this summer? Send them my way! I would love to hire someone to help out, but I am also hoping that you all can step up to help us out over the next few weeks – email lrec@uuasheville.org if you’re up for spending an hour in the company of the fabulous Via and our sweet kiddos!

Speaking of Summer…
We’re exploring banned books this summer! Do you have a passion for reading? Have books made a difference in your life? Come share that joy with others! I am actively recruiting collaborators for the following: Helping out on Sunday mornings with sharing stories and exploring art, or just being an extra set of helping hands. This is a great way to dip your toes into RE if you’re new to us. I am also seeking folks that would be interested in facilitating a youth book club if you prefer to work with older kids. Sign up here and I’ll share the schedule with you to choose your date(s)! https://forms.gle/hHzd4EkfYiHNaz3eA

Don’t forget about camp!
I heard on Sunday that several camps at The Mountain still have openings! Find out more here: https://www.themountainrlc.org/mountaincamp

Ready to sign up to be a Collaborator?
2024-25 Teaching teams are forming now! Find out about all the options and sign up here: https://forms.gle/HyMqqU2Ghg2L5BJ69

Sunday, May 26 All Ages Worship
Join Rev. Audette outside for some bubble fun! Bring a blanket for your fam and enjoy our beautiful campus! Weather permitting, of course!

Finally, a language update!
Maybe you’ve noticed that we’ve started using the word “collaborator” instead of volunteer – there’s a good reason for that! This faith community belongs to YOU. Without you, we simply can’t do all the good things we do here. Staff is here to support and guide, but the real work is done by the congregation. When you serve in our community, you are supporting the congregation that supports you, which is different from volunteering. We continuously update our language to reflect our understanding of this important work – it probably won’t be the last time! We are also going to be shifting from using the term Faith Development to using Faith Formation instead. This will help us define the work of our staff and make sure we are in alignment with our current understanding of what we do here at UU Asheville. Let us know if you have questions about any of this!

In faith, Kim Collins LRE

Our Garden of Community

Spring is a time of new beginnings, but also a time of planning and preparation for the future. While many of us are itching to get out into the garden and the dirt and plant all the things, we must first plan our gardens and prepare the soil. Right now in Religious Exploration, we are planning our garden for next year! We are looking at things like registration and attendance numbers and figuring out how to group grades, which spaces to use for what, what curriculums we’ll use etc. We are talking to our volunteers, parents, and children and youth about what worked this year and what didn’t, just like how gardeners take stock of which plants thrived and which plants didn’t do well in the previous season. 

It’s also time for us to cultivate a new crop of RE leaders and teachers! Religious Exploration at UU Asheville is like a community garden, it only works because a large group of folks tends it together. Every Sunday morning, 15-25 caring and curious adults take time to invest in our children and youth and cultivate learning, relationships, and fun. Last Sunday, our high school youth were serving hot donuts during coffee hour to help encourage congregants to engage with our annual giving drive. Our Pre-K group was doing experiential learning using different senses to explore nature, while our K-3rd groups combined together to hear a story about community and then helped prepare and beautify our campus by spreading mulch and painting rocks for our actual garden. Our 7th-8th, Our Whole Lives class was learning about pregnancy and parenthood while our other middle school group explored Imagination as a quality of a justice maker. Like a community garden, everyone who participates in RE nurtures their soul and reaps the benefits of being with our children and learning and playing alongside them. 
We always need more helpers in our garden of love and community! Working with our children and youth is rewarding, fun, and fulfilling and I promise it will benefit your own spiritual development in the process! We will also equip you with all the tools you’ll need, including fun training. We have all sorts of needs and we have the perfect fit for you, look for us during coffee hour beginning in April and find your place in our garden! If you already know what you want to do or have an exciting idea – email me! I’d love to hear from you!

Winter Family Ministry Update

Family Yoga is Coming!!

Join us on Saturday, February 3rd and Saturday, March 3rd 1-2 pm for family yoga with Donna Hollinshead! People of all ages and abilities are welcome to explore this mindful, spiritual practice. Please bring your own mat or blanket if possible, we will have a limited number of mats available to share.

Do you have a kiddo who is 5 or younger? Are you looking to connect with other little UU’s and their folks?

We have some interest in setting up a monthly play and connect group that would be a mix of planned activities and free play, with the possibility of inviting occasional speakers. We’ve got the space for it, we just need to know if there is interest in something like this. Reply to this email if you want to get involved!

Girl Scout Cookie Season is Here!

A few Girls Scouts will be selling cookies in Sandburg Hall for a number of upcoming Sundays and we want to make sure that all Girl Scouts have an opportunity to be included. If you have a scout who would like to sell cookies, please use this link to sign up for a day and time. If you have any questions please reach out to Monica Youngman (mstich42@gmail.com). Thank you!

The Coming of Age Big Event 

Each year, our Coming of Age group does fundraising for youth trips. You may have already enjoyed some of their hot soup on Soup Sundays! Save the date for Saturday, February 24 5:30-8:30 pm! They’ll serve baked ziti, salad, garlic bread, lemonade and cookies! Other refreshments available for a donation. They will also have fun games for all! Tickets are sliding scale. Adult tickets are $15-$20, children’s tickets are $7-$10, and family tickets are $40-$50. Child care will be available upon request. Reserve your tickets and pay in advance here!

Sign up to be a chalice lighter!

We are always looking for children and youth to light the chalice for Worship on Sunday mornings! There are also opportunities to be a reader in Worship. Let me know if your family wants to sign up by replying to this email.

No Nuts Please!

Friends, we have several kiddos in our program with serious nut allergies. We are asking that you refrain from bringing any food or snacks with nuts in them to church, even if you are not sharing with anyone else. Sometimes just the presence of allergens is enough to trigger an allergy. We are also working on asking the whole congregation to be mindful about labeling foods that we don’t have the original packaging for when sharing food at church. Folks with allergies depend on this to eat safely, and everyone deserves to make informed choices about what they eat. Please help us be more inclusive in this way!

RE Teacher RE-Fresh! Sunday, January 28th 9:30-10:45 am

Join Kim for an RE teacher RE-Fresh! We’ll talk about how things are going, share some tips and tricks, answer questions, and have some planning time. All current and future Religious Exploration volunteers are welcome! Not ready to commit but want to see what it’s all about? Join us! We will be recruiting for next year in a month or so and this is a good way to find out more info! We’ll meet in RE Commons and we’ll provide some light breakfast and coffee. Please RSVP to Kim by Thursday, January 25.

Child Care Helpers Wanted!

We are extremely blessed to have Via and Phoebe doing such a great job in child care, AND we are growing! We recently opened up our new nursery space, but we really need some volunteers to help out on Sunday mornings so we can open up both child care spaces. We are looking for folks who can give about 1 hour per month to helping out in child care on Sunday mornings. We are looking for folks who feel comfortable spending some time on the floor and who can move fairly quickly if needed. Reply to this email if you’d like to sign up – we are working on a new and improved sign up system!

It’s a Mystery…

Mystery Friends is coming…stay tuned for more info and the link to register!

Save the dates for these upcoming events:

Saturday, February 10, 5-7 pm – It’s Family Fun Night! Join us for pizza and games – look for the link to RSVP next week!

Saturday, February 17, 3-6 pm – Melanie DeMore Community Sing & Potluck – see the eNews for more details soon!

December RE and Family Ministry Updates

We’ve got some fun things happening this month that I will tell you about below, but I also want to talk about some “boring” housekeeping things, especially since we have so many new families with us who just may not know some of this stuff.

First, some safety stuff! In addition to providing an outstanding Religious Exploration program, we take safety very seriously! It’s the job of the staff, particularly RE and child care staff, to create and follow guidelines based on best safety practices for working with children and youth. This is for the safety of EVERYONE at UU Asheville. Here are some things you should know:

1. Children and youth visitors – We think it’s great when our children and youth want to share their church experience! Please help us out when bringing visitors whose parents/guardians are not on campus by bringing them down to RE and making sure that teachers and/or RE staff know who their adults are so we know who to contact in case of an emergency.

2. On campus supervision – Parents/guardians/caregivers are responsible for their children and youth whenever on campus, or at an off campus UU Asheville event. Outside of RE classes and activities, children in 5th grade or under should be with their families or another designated adult at all times. Children and youth who are in 6th grade or up have a bit more freedom to move around the campus, but you should still know where they are at all times while on campus. Children in 5th grade and under should be picked up from RE by a parent or other designated adult by 12:30 pm on Sundays. 6th grade and up groups will be dismissed to go find their families by 12:30 pm. This does not mean that kiddos in 6th grade and up have “free reign” on campus – the expectation is that they will be supervised by their folks once they leave class. There should always be adults present on the playground as well, please do not send your kids to the playground without making sure there will be an adult who agrees to supervise them.

3. Safety ratios – The safety ratios that we use in child care are state mandated and determined by the age of the youngest child in child care. This means that we may occasionally not have enough child care providers on hand because the ratio can change. This is one of the reasons that we encourage all parents who use child care to sign up to volunteer in child care several times per year. It means that we may occasionally ask a parent to stay in child care so that we can be in compliance. Our goal is to never have to turn someone away from child care, but I want you all to know the reason why it may happen sometimes. 

1) When any baby younger than one year is present, the total ratio of children under the age of 12 (in both childcare rooms) to adults (over 18) should never exceed 5:1. 

2) If a baby 12-18mos old is the youngest child present, the ratio should not exceed 6:1. 

3) If a toddler 19-23 mos old is the youngest present, the ratio should not exceed 7:1. 

4) If a child 24-36 mos old is the youngest child present, the ratio should not exceed 8:1.

5) At no time, regardless of the age of the youngest child, should the ratio exceed 9:1.

Speaking of volunteering in child care…I’m planning a training! No details yet but I will have more info in the coming weeks. If you want to sign up to volunteer in child care and/or sign up for the training, let me know and we will get you oriented! Now that our nursery is ready to accept babies, we could certainly use some more helping hands and loving hearts.

Please note that both of our child care staff members will be off on Sunday, December 24 and Sunday, December 31. We hope to arrange for volunteers so we can still have child care available on those Sundays, but please know that we may not be able to offer child care if we do not have enough volunteers.

Now for the fun stuff!

DECEMBER VESPERS

Wednesday, December 6th at 6 PM

Our December Vespers evening will be a special celebration. First, a very special guest will be joining us – Santa Claus! Kids of any age can visit with Santa and let him know what you want for the holidays. Our dinner time will include our time for reflection and centering, as well as some meaningful conversation. And after dinner, please join us in decorating UU Asheville for the holiday season! We’ll have hot cocoa and cookies, as well as holiday music and some ornament-making crafts. Bring a friend! The more the merrier as we decorate for the winter holidays at UU Asheville. RSVP Here.

Photos with Santa! – Sunday, December 10th 12:30-2:30 pmEveryone (pets included) is welcome to have a photo taken with Santa! There is a suggested donation of $10 and you will receive the photos. Special thanks to Joe Penno and Tobin Photography for making this possible!

Christmas Eve is on Sunday this year! Join us for all ages Worship with our Ministers at 11 am – all are welcome! Our candlelight service will be at 7 pm, featuring a mini concert from Dr. Les Downs.

We need chalice lighters! Does your family, child, youth want to have a small but significant part in worship? Sign up to be a chalice lighter! Email Kim at lrec@uuasheville.org to sign up!

Mystery Friends is coming and we need YOU! We need at least 2 more adults that can help plan and implement our beloved Mystery Friends program – we want to bring it back, but we need your support! We have one adult already signed up to coordinate so it will be a team effort! Mystery Friends is a fun, safe opportunity for children and youth to make connections and develop relationships with adults in the congregation. This helps to deepen our intergenerational ties to each other and can lead to lifelong friendships! Several of our past pairs have gone on to be mentors/mentees in our Coming of Age program! Email Kim at lrec@uuasheville.org 

Welcome to Fall!

Hello Families!

Welcome to fall at UU Asheville! Here’s a snapshot of what’s happening this month in Religious Exploration:

Sunday, October 15 – All Ages Worship – No RE Classes

Sunday, October 22 – Regular RE Classes 

Sunday, October 29 – All Ages Remembrance Worship – 7th/8th OWL meets but other classes do not. We’d love to see all your costumes!

Sunday, November 5Regular RE Classes

Here is the general RE calendar for the year (please note that 7th/8th OWL has a slightly different schedule) –https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nO2_dG-UNqtNmU3X3PSjbVLTmB7kwpGiZQLCLPUsk0w/edit?usp=sharing

If you’re looking to go deeper at home, check out the ideas from Soulful Home to explore the monthly theme of Heritage:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1N_7XIiNtGh29FoPguP0jMEL9Y6zc9u28/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=108695119908519377783&rtpof=true&sd=true

For more information about ALL the things that are happening here at UU Asheville, make sure to check out the weekly eNews that comes out on Thursdays! We have so much happening both in and beyond our walls!

The Mountain Youth CON weekends are coming! You can find more information about that here: https://www.themountainrlc.org/cons

If you are planning to register/have registered, or have questions, please reach out to Anna Martin at annawardmartin@gmail.com. She very generously coordinates our groups, which makes it easier for everyone involved!

Spring Is Here and We Are Growing!

Hello Families! Happy spring to all of you! As you may have heard, there is a LOT going on at UU Asheville over the next couple of months so I wanted to give you all an update on our Religious Exploration Sunday schedule through the “end” of the year. 

Sunday, April 9 – Easter Sunday – Special Program in RE: We’ll celebrate Spring by learning about Ostara & The Hare with some fun activities!

Sunday, April 16 – Regular RE Classes

Sunday, April 23 – Regular RE Classes – First Sunday of Candidating Week – Come meet our Ministerial Candidate!

Sunday, April 30 – Youth in 6th grade and up are invited to attend Worship for the second Sunday of Candidating Week (congregational vote!), there will be a special program for younger kids in RE Commons.

Sunday, May 7 – Faith Development Sunday! Join us for an all ages service all about Faith Development at UU Asheville. Rev. Claudia, Kim, and Jen will lead this fun service with help from our RE leaders and (hopefully) our children and youth. You’ll also hear about our adult Faith Development!

Sunday, May 14 – Regular RE Classes – Mother’s Day service led by Kim

Sunday, May 21 – Last day of RE and class celebrations! We’ll also have a fun, icy treat (free!) for children and youth after the service.

Sunday, May 28 – RE Play Day – Memorial Day weekend

Sunday, June 4 – First day of summer RE – helpers wanted for summer!

Have you heard this big news? We have a ministerial candidate! We are nearing the end of our process of interim ministry and our Ministerial Search Committee has chosen an excellent candidate that we hope to call as our next settled Minister. Candidating Week will be April 23-30th. Find out more about it here!

Summer Fun! This summer we are asking members of our community to join us to share their passions! Do you have a hobby or skill that you would love to share with our children and youth? Let Kim know about it! We are hoping to learn more about all the wonderful and unique gifts our church community members have to share! We are open to all sorts of things – indoor and outdoor! Want to help out but not sure about leading? We need assistants too! This is a great opportunity to get to know our children and youth in a more relaxed environment. If you want to help out, email Kim at Lrec@uuasheville.org

Pastoral Care Available RE staff (Kim and Jen) are available and willing to help provide pastoral support to children, teens, and families who may be struggling. We know that many families are still recovering from the height of the pandemic and that our children and youth have faced unprecedented challenges over the last few years. We know that mental health challenges for teens especially have skyrocketed. While we are not therapists and cannot offer that kind of support, please know that we are here to listen and to help in any way we can. Our congregation also has a pastoral care team to offer support to anyone in our congregation who is struggling. We can even help with practical things like meal trains and helping find child care and rides. Your UU Asheville community is here for you! We also wanted to share an article from The New York Times that may offer some helpful advice for parents. You can read it here.

Let’s Talk About Love!

Our theme this month is Love! Check out some idea below from Soulful Home to explore the theme with your friends and family.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your very first memory of feeling loved?
  2. Whose love for you do you never question for a moment?
  3. What does your family most love to do together?
  4. What’s something loving you say to yourself regularly? (For example, “I can do this,” or “I made a mistake, but it’s ok.”)
  5. Think of three people you love; what do they all have in common?
  6. How do our pets show love to us? How do we show love to them? What about the wild animals we share space with, like maybe songbirds, insects, squirrels, chipmunks, snakes, mice, etc.?
  7. When’s the last time you said, “I love you,” to someone?
  8. Do you think love existed before people put a name to it, or was love created only once people experienced it and described it?
  9. Can we actually decide whether or not we love another person?
  10. Can you love a part of the earth, maybe the landscape of your home region, or a place that is very special to you? Can the earth love you back?
  11. Many people talk about God’s love, or the nature of the Universe being love. Do you experience a sense of love that is bigger than any of us, and all-encompassing like that?
  12. What does the saying, “love your neighbor,” mean to you?
  13. How does it feel to fall in love, or how do you think it feels?
  14. Do you believe in love at first sight?
  15. How does your family most often show love? How is this alike and different from other families you know?

Return to the Discussion Throughout the Week 

Thoughts develop with time. Find opportunities to bring up particularly compelling questions again during the month, maybe on walks, rides home, when tucking your child into bed, etc. If thoughts grew or changed, notice together how we are all evolving beings, opening ourselves to new truths and understandings as we live our lives and connect with others.

Playing Games with Love

At Play activities and questions are a way to joyfully, playfully, and imaginatively experience the theme.

Option A: Silly Love Fortune Tellers

Folded paper fortune tellers have been popular with school-age children for decades. Refresh your memory on how to fold them here:

How To Make a Paper Fortune Teller – EASY Origami

Then, using the letters I L-O-V-E Y-O-U, write out eight silly actions, or eight fun predictions, so that your fortune teller engages every new person who walks in the room. Here are a few of our examples:

I – Itch your elbow with your toes  

L – Lower your nose to your knee

O – Open your mouth as wide as you can, and say “I Love You”

V – Ventriloquize a sock puppet saying, “I Love You, (your name)”

E – Embrace someone or something in the room with you

Y – Yodel your whole address

O – Offer a compliment

U – Use something in the room as a silly hat for five minutes

Option B: Love Mazes

Print out a copy for each family member and have a race to see who finishes theirs first!

A maze that looks like a heart brain!

A challenge to get from one heart to the other

A love word maze

Create your own unique maze

A Sip of Something New: 

Love Languages, Rethought

In the early 1990s, Christian author Gary Chapman repackaged some common couples therapy concepts into a numbered list that he called “the five love languages.” The book was aimed at heterosexual Christian married couples, but it became popular beyond that intended audience. In the years since, love languages have become part of mainstream culture, and forward-thinking writers have revised and expanded the list of five to be more dynamic and inclusive. 

Here’s Chapman’s list of five love languages:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/click-here-happiness/202009/what-are-the-5-love-languages-definition-and-examples

And here’s a wonderful addition from the neurodivergent community:

And a new list of 18:

https://mammajism.com/18-languages-for-modern-love/

Reflect on these ways that people might show respect, caring, affection, and love to one another. Share with your conversation partner which languages seem most resonant to you, and to which ones you feel resistance.

In the love languages paradigm, each of us has one or two or a few preferred ways to give and receive love, and knowing one’s own preferences, as well as those of one’s loved ones, might create more harmony and deeper connection in relationships. It also gives up options of the many ways to love and be loved in the world!

How will you experience Wonder this month?

Our theme this month is Wonder. What do we mean when we talk about wonder in a UU faith setting? Teresa from Soul Matters said it beautifully in this months theme packet: 

“As Unitarian Universalists, we sometimes talk about being a people of wonder, but it’s worth more of our attention, because as a spiritual value, it brings us much closer to the faith movement we want to be. To wonder, we have to be open-hearted and open-minded. To wonder, we have to question. We have to get beyond our cultural conditioning. We have to disregard the easy explanations and simplistic binaries. We have to remind one another that we do not know all there is to know. This is the work of a people of liberal religion. And lucky are we who share our lives with children and youth, for wonder is much closer to the surface for many of them. “

Here are some suggestions for ways to explore Wonder with your families.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is something you’ve wondered about the person or people you’re with, but never had the occasion to ask? 
  2. What do you wonder about your own birth? 
  3. What do you wonder about your own death?
  4. What sound is most wonderful to you? What feeling on your skin? What taste? What smell?
  5. What do you think happens all around your home in the middle of the night? What creatures come out? What does the air smell like? Who among your neighbors may still be awake? (Take a special night this month to quench this wondering with a late-night, star-watching date to learn what you can learn!)
  6. What is something about winter that you think is wonderful, but your family and friends just do not get at all? Or maybe it’s reversed, and you’re the one who’s mystified by others’ love of winter?
  7. What movie do you first remember as filling you with wonder? Maybe a fantasy movie, a nature documentary, or an incredible biopic?
  8. What do you think is wonderful about being a much older person, like your grandparents or grandfriends?
  1. Wonder sometimes feels like goosebumps, and sometimes brings tears to our eyes, and sometimes makes our thoughts buzz a million miles a minute. What does wonder feel like in your body?
  2. What wonderful things do you want to do or experience when you are older?

Playing Games with Wonder

Option A: I wonder what that is? DIY Pictionary

This popular board game may already be familiar to you, but here are some instructions for playing it without having to purchase anything. All you’ll need are drawing materials, pencils and paper or dry erase markers and small white boards.

We’ve created a wonder-themed Soulful Home word bank below to get you started making your own cards. To add your own words, it might help to think in the Pictionary categories: actions, people, places, and objects.

  • Fly
  • Surprise
  • Stare
  • Create
  • Glow
  • Transform
  • Connect
  • Mountain climbing
  • Dancing
  • Constellation
  • Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
  • The Grand Canyon
  • Unicorn
  • Fossil
  • Lightning bug / Firefly
  • Tidal wave
  • Crystal
  • Mirabel Madrigal (from the movie Encanto)
  • Maui (from the movie Moana)

Option B:  Hide and Seek

When was the last time you played hide and seek in your own space? When children are very young, and their hiding places are adorably obvious, or else given away by constant giggling and peeking, we sometimes walk around saying in an exaggerated manner, “Hmmm, I wonder where my child could be?” We’re recapturing that spirit by playing a few rounds of hide and seek in a familiar space. Maybe that space is our Soulful Home, maybe it’s the church building during an evening gathering, or maybe it’s a neighborhood park. 

Option C: Stringing Things

December is a month of garlands: cranberries, popcorn, twinkly lights, paper chain snowflakes, etc. Surprise a family member by having them come home to a house whose walls and ceilings are adorned with these and other wonderful things. You might include a home zipline across a room with some string or smooth ribbon, a paperclip or candy cane, and a favorite action figure or small toy dressed up for the season. These are the kinds of decorations that are meant to be played with, so have fun!

Moments of Wonder, or Things We Still Can’t Explain

Our Soul Matters Sharing Circle for the month of Wonder includes a 31-day playlist of awe-inspiring short videos. Preview a few that catch your eye, and then choose your favorite. Ask your conversation partner to do the same. Share your choices with one another and tell what it was that really spoke to you. 

I hope that you will join us for our wonder filled Christmas Eve services! The 4 pm service will full of joy and the wonder of what comes next and the 8 pm service will offer opportunities for wonder and reflection with music and candlelight.

How are you changing?

Our congregational theme for the month of November is “Change”. How appropriate for us at this time in our church history! Not only are we in search for a new settled minister, we have really been forced to embrace change as we’ve spent the last few years navigating a waxing and waning pandemic. This has meant that we have had to be ready for plans to change at a moment’s notice and to pivot to plan B (or sometimes plan C etc.) It also means that we have had to spend a lot of time out of our comfort zone and learn to be more flexible with each other. How is change showing up in your family? Explore that question with these family friendly activities from Soulful Home!

Discussion Questions

  1. How have you changed in the past year? What can you do now that you couldn’t before? And what did you used to do that you now don’t? 
  2. What’s your favorite part of the season that you’re in right now? Are you looking forward to the next change of seasons?
  3. What part of growing up do you feel happy about? And what part makes you sad?
  4. What change have you always wanted to make to your own personality? What stops you from trying it?
  5. When was the moment that you went from feeling like a little kid, to feeling like a big kid?
  6. What’s something you notice that has changed around your neighborhood lately?
  7. If you could make one change to your neighborhood, what would it be?
  8. Can holding onto a grudge or deep anger change you? Can you think of one you might be ready to let go of?
  9. Who is the most likely in the family to wear a favorite shirt for as long as possible without changing clothes? And who goes through the most outfits in a day?
  10. How does being a caretaker of animals change you? (This might be a pet, or it might mean simply moving worms off the sidewalk, planting flowers for pollinating insects, etc.)
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Changing Dots into Art

Depending on where you live, early November may be the perfect outdoor weather, finally reliably cooled off from summer’s scorch, or you may have had a few good snows already and now make most of your fun indoors. So this month we have two options for turning dots into art.

One is turning a chalk-dot grid into beautiful, beckoning symmetry, inspired by the Indian folk art form, Rangoli.

And the other is a freeform connect-the-dots using the same grid idea, but with markers or paint sticks on big paper. 

“Change the view.”

While many of us know the value of “walking a mile in another’s shoes” to gain empathy for the other, and thus, more effectively embody love in action, we seldom mention how liberating this practice can be for us, too. So many of our biases are unconscious. Almost all of our first, knee-jerk responses are old scripts that we’ve inherited or thoughtlessly picked up along the way. How we see things at first glance usually tells more about us than about those we’re observing. 

 This month’s mantra aims to shed light on a different side of a situation.

Your child neglects to turn off the lights as they leave rooms in your home, and you snap at them. Internally, you: “Change the view.” What can I do to help them remember to turn off lights, so we save electricity? Or I wonder how much electricity is really wasted by their forgetfulness; maybe not that much. Or, they will be with me, in my care, for so short a time; turning off the lights behind them reminds me that this season of me being needed to guide and help them is fleeting. 

This mantra works best on one’s self. It’s most often going to be unhelpful if offered as advice, though there might be casual, calm conversations that are reflective in tone in which you might share this technique with a family member, as an option. 

Growing and Changing: Sandra Cisneros’ “Eleven”

Sandra Cisneros’ 1991 story, which describes a deeply memorable experience the author had as an elementary school student, became a mainstay in schools across North America throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. However, it has a very different feel when read at home, in the context of one’s family. Use this telling together as an opportunity to talk about the big changes that come with growing up.

Hear the author herself read the story here, and for a text version, here.

Stretching the Story:

  • What is something hard about growing up? What is something terrific about it?
  • If the main character in the story, Rachel, were your friend, and you saw these events happening, how would you feel? What might you say or do, in the moment or afterward?
  • Parents and guardians, tell about a time that you felt your younger self coming up to the surface, as Cisneros did when her teacher forced her to put the sweater on. What did that experience feel like to you at the time? How do you think about it now?

Summer Days and Looking Forward to Fall

Here we are in mid July! The long hot days have me fantasizing about the fall – which means I am also thinking about the launch of our 2022-23 Religious Exploration Program. RE staff is currently busy recruiting volunteers, creating calendars, as well as imagining all the amazing things that we will do this year with our children, youth, and families. The best way to help us plan is to register your children and youth for Religious Exploration as well as signing up for a role in our cooperative program. You can find out more about what we’re offering and sign up via our registration form here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfNl5syRDifDP6N-Pgm2_GRm0YTXjPCvg4cWcIcEKhRKrDoKA/viewform?usp=sf_link

Religious Exploration will kick off on Sunday, September 11. Beginning on that day, we will return to our pre pandemic schedule of everyone beginning together in the Sanctuary for the chalice lighting and story for all ages. Children, youth, and volunteers will leave the Sanctuary to go to their classes together after the story.

We are also meeting on most Sundays this summer for fun (and sometimes dirty!) play and serving our earth and congregation with small service projects. This Sunday, July 24th we will all begin in the Sanctuary to hear a special story from our worship leader, Tobias Van Buren. Children and youth who attend are encouraged to bring a toy or stuffed octopus if they have one. We will head downstairs after the story to have an indoor play day. It is forecasted to be in the 90’s on Sunday, so for everyone’s safety and comfort, we’ll play inside this week.

On Sunday, July 31st we will begin downstairs in RE Commons for a campus litter clean up and a visit to the Little Free Pantry on Charlotte St. to restock it for our neighbors and friends. If you’d like to bring some items to go in the pantry, we are needing the following items: Canned meals / food with pop tops, bottled water, socks, sunscreen, first aid supplies, and dental hygiene items.

As many of you already know, we lost our beloved, recently retired minister, Rev. Mark Ward suddenly on Wednesday, July 13th. While our newer families didn’t have a chance to get to know Mark, we know that some of our children and youth very much remember Mark. We wanted to share some resources for you from our friends at the UU Trauma Response ministry, in addition to the resources already located on our website (https://uuasheville.org/family-ministry/). You can find more resources for children, youth, and adults here: https://www.uutrm.org/resources/

We will celebrate Mark’s life and gifts to the congregation on Friday, July 29th at 3 pm. This past Sunday in RE we created a grief altar for Rev. Mark as well as others that we have lost. We will leave it up for the next few weeks, and any children or youth who would like to contribute is welcome to do so on Sunday mornings. There are small candles, stones, and shells available to be added to the altar.

Renewing Faith

A friend recently asked me if they could list me as their emergency contact for a medical procedure and I said yes, of course. This is not the first time someone has asked this of me. Though I don’t have kids of my own, I have been an emergency contact person at schools for many of my friends’ kids over the years. I’ve even been called to come pick up some of these kids on occasion when their parents had a misunderstanding about who was doing the pick up and were then not reachable for a period of time for whatever reason. When I would arrive, the kids would be relieved to see me and even delighted at this change of routine. And it was always okay, because the parents and the kids both had faith in me. That I would show up. That I would make sure they were safe. Our theme this month is Renewing Faith. Unitarian Universalism offers us opportunities to renew our faith all the time. We do not have a dogma that we encourage people to follow blindly. We are constantly renewing our relationships with each other, with our values, and with our faith. How wonderful it is that we are encouraged to question, to seek out information, and form our own opinions. We are constantly being invited to renew our faith in Unitarian Universalism, as well as our faith communities. We’ve had some really lovely family get-togethers this month, which has renewed my faith in this UU community. Here are some ideas from the Soulful Home packet from this month to encourage you all to explore the theme of Renewing Faith.

Discussion Questions

  1. Who can you really count on in your life, people who you know will be there for you no matter what?
  2. Who in your life makes you feel better about the world?
  3. What evidence do you see that the earth heals itself, given the chance?
  4. When’s the last time you said to yourself, “I can do this!”
  5. What’s something you would not have believed until you saw it for yourself, in person?
  6. What kinds of things help you to feel less discouraged?
  7. When you’re feeling bad about something, what usually makes you feel OK again? (For example, some people might just need a little time, some people need a rest or a reading break, others some cuddle time, etc.)
  8. What’s something you started, or tried, before you had any idea whether or not it would work?
  9. Has a friend ever let you down? What did you do to renew your faith in them? 

Return to the Discussion Throughout the Week 

Thoughts develop with time. Find opportunities to bring up particularly compelling questions again during the month, maybe on walks, rides home, when tucking your child into bed, etc. If thoughts grew or changed, notice together how we are all evolving beings, opening ourselves to new truths and understandings as we live our lives and connect with others. 

Treasure Hunt for Renewing Faith

This month’s treasure hunt is a little family competition. You are all going to be looking for acts of kindness or helping, the kinds of interactions between people in your neighborhood that renew our faith in humanity’s goodness and potential. 

Once a day, for a whole week, you’ll all come together and tell one another about this act of goodness that you observed. For each one, the family member gets a point. At the end of the week, the family member who was able to report the best acts, kind words, or helpful contributions that they observed others make…wins! (Of course, you don’t have to make this a competition. Competition is energizing and fun for some families, others not.)

You might keep track of your observations by each claiming a color, then dropping your color of glass pebbles into a jar or marking colored dots on a wall calendar. In making your search visible in your family all month, you will be able to reflect on all the many reasons you have for renewing your faith in your community’s potential. 

Renewing Faith with Dogs: Pawsitivity and Supporting Black Veterans

The rhetorical question goes, “What did we do to deserve dogs?” The special bond that dogs offer to humans is an endless source of faith that there is goodness and love in the universe. There are many groups providing service dogs to people in need, among them, veterans who are disabled. Pawsitivity is a Minnesota-based organization whose mission includes a special commitment to diversity, and namely, “training service dogs for Black U.S. military veterans.” According to a 2014 study by the Veterans Administration, minority veterans are four times less likely to use veteran health benefits as compared to white veterans, meaning they are not getting the health and wellness services they are entitled to. Service dogs have been proven to improve mental, emotional, and physical health, and could improve the quality of life for Black veterans who want them.
The invitation: Consider donating to this organization, doing a special ask at your congregation for a church-wide contribution, or both. If there is a group in your area that supports Black veterans in other ways, call them and see what kind of support would be most impactful in your community.

Welcome to our new Family-Friendly Sanctuary!

While we have long said that we are welcoming to families with children, our Sanctuary did not reflect that – until now! Our Sanctuary now includes a welcoming space up front for families with young children. There are cozy seating options, child-sized furniture, soft toys, books, and plenty of coloring supplies – featuring a UU kids activity book and 7 Principles coloring cards. We will still have our classic options for all ages, including mandala coloring sheets and colorful pipe cleaners to keep hands busy while we listen to and watch the worship service. Unlike the cushions that we have used in the past, this new area is permanent and will always be there. We will still be offering Religious Explorations groups for children and youth at the same time as our Sunday morning worship service, but all children and youth are always welcome to attend the worship service with their families at any time. We will also continue to strive to offer an all-ages-friendly service at least once per month when we will not offer additional RE classes during the service. 

Why are we doing this now? Our theme this month is Widening the Circle and as we shift to more Family Ministry-oriented programs, we realized that we were leaving kids out of a big piece of our faith–our weekly worship services. We have gone through and are still going through an era of change in our faith and in our congregation. We have adapted in so many ways during the last two years of fear and uncertainty regarding the global pandemic and as we begin to gather together in person again, this is another way that we can adapt and make our worship more accessible for everyone. We know that children need to be included and involved in worship in order to become adults who are involved with worship and seeking out faith communities. 

We’ll be talking to our younger kids in the next few weeks about what makes a sacred space and how we might behave in ways that are appropriate for sacred spaces. As always, parents are expected to supervise their children in the worship space and to move to a different location if their kids are needing to express themselves in louder ways that folks might find disruptive. We are working on installing a new screen in Sandburg Hall so that space can also be utilized by anyone who feels the need to move around and process in their own way during the service. That being said, it is up to all of us to be welcoming to families with young children who may be coming back to church after a period away, and especially to new families who are seeking a faith community. Here are some tips for being welcoming to families and children:

  • Learn and use the names of the children and youth who sit near you in worship. 
  • Help kids near you to navigate the order of service and learn how to find hymns in the hymnals.
  • Invite kids to serve alongside you in worship as greeters, ushers, pew-tidiers, etc.
  • Recognize that some certain conditions or neurodivergences may not present physically and that some kids (or adults!) may make noises or act in ways that seem strange to you, but are perfectly normal for them.

For lots more information on this model of worship, check out this link to Grace Lutheran Church and their “pray-ground” https://graceofav.org/prayground/

Finding Joy Every Day

The theme this month is Opening to Joy. In a time when it seems to be increasingly hard to find moments of joy, how can we do this? I am learning right along with our kids this month, that sometimes you have to look for it, but often it will just sneak up on you. So far this week, the most joyous moment that I’ve had was when we opened the doors to RE Commons on Sunday morning and our littlest UU’s started coming in the door. We made sure to put on name tags, since it had been so long since we’d all been together. We had kids that had missed coming to church, kids that don’t remember coming to church because they were so little when we shut down, and kids that have been with us virtually for a while now, but who were attending in person church for the first time. Though I was prepared with a plan and supplies, I wasn’t prepared for the wave of emotion that brought happy tears to my face when the kids started coming in and getting settled. It was a beautiful reminder of why we do this work and of the community that we hold sacred. – Kim Collins

Need some suggestions for how to find joy this month? Check out these ideas from Soulful Home:

Discussion Questions

  1. Which meal, when you hear you’re having it, brings a huge smile to your face?
  2. Have you seen a pet or neighborhood animal feel joy? What does it look like?
  3. Where do you feel joy in your body?
  4. What’s the best thing about this month?
  5. Who do you know who is always smiling?
  6. Is there ever a time that you don’t want to feel joyful?
  7. What’s your favorite joke?
  8. Have your parents ever told you the story of the joyful day you came into the family?
  9. On a scale of 1 to 10, how joyful do you feel this moment? If joyful isn’t the right word, what is?
  10. Would you rather make someone laugh, or help them find a solution to their problem?

Treasure Hunt for Opening to Joy

Opening is a wonderful metaphor for understanding the northern hemisphere’s longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice. Astrologically speaking, we get as far away from our star as we ever will, and then we turn around and get closer again, opening our whole planet to the year ahead. So, for this month’s treasure hunt, we’ll be on the search for things that open. To increase the challenge level, choose one, confined area of your neighborhood–such as a park, or the block, or even your church grounds–to find these items.

  • Clouds opening to let the sun through
  • An opening in a tree where an animal might be living
  • An open book sitting out on a table
  • An open window somewhere other than your home
  • A sign, ad, or flyer for an open mic night at a local cafe, coffee shop, library, university, etc.
  • A lit-up vacancy sign (or if you don’t live in an area where there might be older motels or hotels, a lit-up open sign)
  • An open gate
  • A sidewalk that has been “opened up” because someone just shoveled off the snow, or because construction was completed
  • A storm drain opening
  • A “We’re Open!” sign

Opening to Black Joy

Black Joy is so many things; this excellent, nine-minute video from The Root called “Black and Jubilant: Unpacking Black Joy from the Revolutionary to the Ordinary,” says that “Black joy is exactly what its intended audience needs it to be.” Understanding Black Joy is a crucial aspect of North American cultural competency, for it is only as people who are free to feel and express the fullness of all aspects of humanity that we will be able to create a just future together.

Watch the video, then discuss together as a family where you see Black Joy in your community. What groups and organizations are making those joyful experiences possible? It may be that your local library held an excellent speaker series featuring Black authors and artists. It may be the church down the street whose creche display includes beautiful (and historically accurate!) Black and brown faces. It may be a Black sorority or fraternity from the local college whose dedicated volunteerism inspires other groups to do the same. Whatever that organization is, find a way to support them, because they are doing good and needed work! 

Holding History

There are a lot of ways to explore our theme this month – consider sharing some of these options with extended family while gathered for the upcoming holiday.

At the Table – Discussion Questions

  1. What’s the story of your birth? Is there something about your own birth that you’ve always wanted to know? (The questions that arise here may or may not be able to be answered; hold the questions in love if they remain a mystery even after being asked.)
  2. How many Thanksgivings back can you remember? **
  3. What’s the history of the home you live in? When was it built? What was the neighborhood like then?
  4. Who in the family is most likely to tell stories about the way things used to be?
  5. Which is your favorite old photo of yourself and/or your family?
  6. If you could go back in time and visit a historical event, which would it be?
  7. If you were to create a time capsule to tell people in the future about what our times were like, what would be the 5 most important things you would include?
  8. What are the favorite parts of the history of your pets? Do you remember first meeting them? What was it like to train them? 

Treasure Hunt for Holding History

This month’s treasure hunt sends us sleuthing around–in our neighborhoods, but also online, and in the memories of friends and neighbors. Don’t feel the need to proceed through this like a list. Rather, pick a few that feel sparkly and exciting to you, and delve into those. The treasures here will be both the process of discovery, and the stories that unfold!

  • What did the street you live on look like 50 or 60 years ago? *
  • Who lived in your home before your family?
  • Which would you guess to be the oldest tree in your neighborhood?
  • Who in your neighborhood lived through the Great Depression?
  • When did your UU group first begin to gather, or when did your congregation join the UUA, or when was your church building built?
  • Who were/are the original peoples of the land that you now call home? How might you acknowledge that?
  • What’s the history of how your town got its name?
  • What’s the history of how your town became a town?
  • What’s the oldest building in your town?
  • How much hotter is your hometown than when you were born? (check here)

November’s Mantra:

Breathing in, breathing out

The air we breathe is the same air our grandparents breathed, the same air that paleolithic people breathed, the same air that the very first trees breathed, the same air that the earth itself breathed when creating our precious atmosphere. Breathing is the first thing we do on the planet, and it will be the last. Breath is what marks our entrance and exit from this existence. 

For this month’s mantra, we turn not to centering words, but instead to an action: draw in, hold, and release the precious breath that connects us to all things that have ever lived, and that ever will. This is our molecular history, the one that makes up every atom of us.

At a quiet time of your choosing, set a five-minute timer on your phone or other device and focus only on the tiny circles of skin around each of your nostrils. Keep your awareness on those two, dime-sized spots, noticing the sensation. Words and phrases will doubtless come up as your mind tries to describe, qualify, and assess the situation. Let those words come and go, but don’t linger on them. Instead, come back to the simple experience of breathing in, breathing out. 

Set aside a regular time each day to practice this. You might keep the time limit at five minutes, or you might try to work up to longer meditations. A mind that is able to hold stillness, for five or 55 minutes is better able to act with clarity and integrity in trying times, a great boon to us as we navigate challenges both personally and collectively.

Relationships, Soup, and Fun!

I love the theme of Cultivating Relationships for this month. It is exactly what we need to be doing and exactly what we are trying to do at UU Asheville right now. We are coming back together in ways that used to be so familiar and can now be a little scary for some of us. Luckily, we have the chance to take it slow, and to work on our relationships with each other. As RE groups are beginning to meet again, both online and in person, we are thinking and talking about our covenants with each other. We are reviewing and renewing, and changing them when needed. After all, covenants can provide structure and meaning to all of our relationships. It is not work that we do one time and then declare that we are done. It is work that we need to be constantly thinking about and working on. I would encourage your family to do some covenanting work together at home, especially if you have kids.

It is also important to take some time to cultivate a better relationship with yourself! Check out this suggestions from this month’s Soulful Home Packet.

Cultivating Better Relationships with Self

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, fully 25% of 13- to 18-year-olds will experience an anxiety disorder. As caregivers, we have only so much control over the environmental and broader cultural stressors they will encounter. But we can influence the ways they do–or don’t–internalize the most damaging of the messages they are receiving. 
Meditation and movement coach Kimberly Campbell guides us toward kinder self-talk in this 12-minute video. Watch it together with some combination of your loved ones, and afterward, talk about what you noticed. Did anything shift inside you, or click into place? Did you find yourself resisting any part of it? Name one phrase or practice that you’ll be carrying forward from this exercise.

There are several opportunities this month to join together in person – especially for those of you who have joined us during the time of the pandemic, we’d love for you to come get to know us better!

Make a plan to attend on of these upcoming Soup fundraiser dates for Coming of Age!

UU Asheville’s Coming of Age youth invite you to join us for a twist on beloved tradition: Soup-er events! Choose from a variety of delicious homemade soups and pre-order using this form (order early for the best selection). Each quart of soup comes with 2 generous pieces of garlic bread AND the joy of supporting the youth of our congregation! Pay for and pick up your order at UU Asheville on Thursday, October 21st, between 5:30 and 6:30pm. Take home to enjoy!
**Orders close on Tuesday, October 19, to allow time for the chefs to prepare.

And save the dates for all of the Soup-er events, including one on October 31 that has on-campus dining option! Come that day to enjoy fellowship with your UU friends (new and old, young and less young), have a delicious meal, and stay for the Halloween parade!
Thursday, October 21Sunday, October 31 – on-site dining or drive thru — you decide what works for you!Saturday, November 6Thursday, November 18

Finally, don’t miss our Remembrance Service on Sunday, October 31st! Come in costume for worship, candle lighting, music, and of course Soup! We’ll have goodies for for everyone, including your furry friends (pets also encouraged to come in costume)!

Focus on Family Ministry

I’m Kim Collins, religious exploration coordinator here at UUCA. You’re going to hear a lot about Family Ministry from me this year. So, what does that mean? What kind of family am I talking about? I’m talking about all families. We are all part of a family. Some of us hold tight to our families of origin, others feel love and comfort with their chosen families. Families need not have children in them. Pets definitely also count as family as my pups will attest. I’m not just talking to those of you with children at home, this is for all of us. Every member of this congregation is part of our family.

One of the most important lessons that we have learned during this time is that we need community. The good news is that we have this community that we’ve all been cultivating for years. I think that our community can be stronger than ever. What would it look like if we were all taking care of each other? Would we be able to help each other before the challenges in our lives became emergencies? Our UU faith is not just something that we do on Sunday mornings, it’s how we are in the world. It’s how we are with each other and it’s reflected in our Mission and our covenant to each other.

I want to remind you that UU’s can’t just believe whatever we want. While we all have our own personal relationship with spirituality, we do all share the same values as outlined in our principles. Those shared values are what make us a community and our covenant is what binds us together as a family. Things will never look the same as they did pre pandemic, but I think they can be better. I think we can do better. Our UU identity is a gift we give to the world. Let’s work together to nurture future and current generations of UU’s. Let’s find the joy in taking care of each other.

Take a Play Break!

This will be the last Family Ministry blog until September. Like the rest of you, this author is ready for a break! As you may have heard, UUCA is taking a break in July. I know that I plan to do some very practical things with my summer break (I’m coming for you, closet!) but I also plan to make sure that I have plenty of time for play. It can look different for all of us, for sure. I hope to get in some swimming, hiking with our pups, gardening, reading, and even some video games. Play can be done in so many ways, and as long as you aren’t harming anyone or anything, there’s no wrong way to do it!

Usually in this blog I give you lots of things to discuss with your family and others and resources for you to explore with and without kids, but since I hope that you’ll all be spending more time playing this month, here are couple of quick ideas to help explore the theme of play:

Check out the 16 different types of Play for inspiration here: https://www.wonderyears.com.sg/preschooler/16-types-of-play-for-children-great-for-development

Treasure Hunt for Play

Our neighborhoods are full of fun things to play with! Below are some “supplies” along with suggestions for how you might play with them. We are certain you will find exactly what you need to play some great games together! Please remember to be careful not to disturb native wildlife habits during your play.

Find rocks…

Who can stack them the tallest?

Build huts and caves out of them 

Make a path to find the hidden treasure

Find sticks…

Play pick-up sticks

Make stick pictures

Tie bundles together with long pieces of grass

Find tall weeds…

Make flower crowns

Pretend to cook (but don’t eat them unless a 

trusted adult tells you they are edible)

Pretend hair salon, using weeds as shampoo

Pretend to be snakes slithering through the grass

Find mud, sand, or other earth…

Make mud pies

Bury each other’s toes or fingers

Uncover earthworms (and gently recover them again!)

Find seeds, berries, or flowers…

Make a flower crown

Make clothes for fir-cone dolls or creatures

Make mandalas

Find your shadows…

Play shadow tag

Make shadow animal impressions

See who can make their shadow the tallest

What Does it Mean to be a Family of Story?

I was having a bit of a hard time mustering up the enthusiasm to write this blog this month. For many of us, it’s almost “the end of the year” and frankly we’re exhausted. To say this year has been challenging for most of us would be something of an understatement. But then I started reading about the monthly theme, looking for some inspiration from the Soulful Home packet. Story. What is a worship service if not a collaborative story? The ministers, religious educators, worship associates, music director, musicians, and other worship participants all work together to tell a story every week. Not to mention our fabulous tech people who actually stitch the story together for our recorded services. We tell stories in religious education all the time. You can find the story of what’s happening at UUCA in the eNews every week. Currently, staff and other church leaders are embarking on writing our annual report, which is our story of this year at UUCA. It turns out that almost everything we do here at UUCA is related to stories and telling them.

Spend some time with your family this month exploring our theme of Story using some of the suggestions below. I know that you’re worn out and it might seem like a difficult task right now, but consider just spending 10 minutes with some of the discussion questions over dinner one night, or listen to The Moth in the car together on the way to or from school. What is your family’s story?

Kim Collins, LREC

Family Dinner Discussion Questions

  1. What’s the first story you remember hearing (could be a family story, a folk tale, a ballad, etc.)?
  2. What happens in your mind when you hear a story? (Examples might be picturing the characters, imagining yourself sitting in the setting and watching what happens, smelling smells and hearing sounds, trying to figure out how the story will end, imagining yourself as one of the characters, etc.)
  3. If your experiences  last month had a title, what would that title be?
  4. How would you describe the story of Unitarian Universalism? A hero story? Detective story? Love story? 
  5. Where do you think stories came from?
  6. Who’s usually the storyteller in your family? Who’s most likely to add embellishments and exaggerations to make the story really memorable?
  7. What makes a really good story?
  8. Whose story are you curious to know?
  9. If you could go back in time and ask a historical figure to tell you stories about their lives, who would you pick?
  10. What are the ways we tell stories without words?
  11. Have you ever been healed by a story?

At the Bedside: The Storytelling Stone, by Joseph Bruchac

The night you decide to tell this story, bring a couple of smooth stones with you to your child’s room. Begin by handing a stone to your child, and asking them about it. What does it feel like? How old do you suppose it is? If a stone had a spirit, what might that spirit have to say? Then, you are ready to begin.

Joseph Bruchac is a storyteller, author, and poet, and a Nulhegan Abenaki citizen. “The Storytelling Stone” is well loved among his many stories and writings, and tells about Grandfather Stone and the formation of the first storyteller, young Crow. 

You can find the full text of the story here, excerpted from Bruchac’s book, Return of the Sun: Native American Tales from the Northeast Woodlands, Crossing Press, 1989. 

For Discussion:

  • Why do you think the people liked the stories so much? What do you like about stories?
  • How did stories change Gah-ka’s life? How did Gah-ka change the stories?
  • What kinds of stories are your favorite to tell? Which are your favorite to hear?

The Moth 

The Moth is a public radio program featuring truly wonderful storytelling, mostly from non-professional storytellers. As a family, you might particularly enjoy “All at Sea” by Tim FitzHigham, or “Great Balls of Sugar” by Lizzie Peabody. 

Activities are curated from Soulful Home packets which are prepared by

Teresa Honey Youngblood

Welcome to the month of Becoming!

When I first realized last week that the theme for April was Becoming, my mind went wild with all the ways that we could make that connection with this particular time we are in. Not only is it April, the month in which we here in the mountains begin to fully emerge from the grip of winter, it’s also this very strange liminal time that we are in where people are being vaccinated and we are all preparing to emerge from this time of pandemic. That doesn’t mean that things are changing rapidly, or that we can immediately go back to our old way of life before the Covid, but that we are all goo right now. Like a butterfly, we have been in the process of dissolving the way that things used to be and looking toward a new way of being. In particular, staff here at UUCA has been working to plan for what our emergence from the pandemic will look like. There is one thing I can tell you, and it’s that things will be different. We are all different now than we were last spring. I invite you to spend this month thinking about how you are becoming and what you might look like after things are back to “normal.” Let us also acknowledge the work we are doing as a congregation to become anti-racist. It’s hard, uncomfortable, necessary work – and will hopefully lead us to become a more welcoming, diverse, and inclusive community.

-Kim Collins, LREC

Here are some ways to explore the theme from this month’s Soulful Home materials.

At the Table Discussion Questions

  1. Whose example helped you know who you want to become, or maybe what kind of person you wanted to be?
  2. When do we stop becoming?
  3. If you stopped growing right at this minute, what would you be happiest to keep exactly as it is? What would you regret not being able to become?
  4. Some people believe that when they die, they become another living thing (reincarnation). What would you most want to become?
  5. Sometimes, change and becoming happen suddenly and in an instant. Is there a big “before” and “after” moment in your life, when you felt like you became someone new? Or were suddenly placed on a new path? (Examples might be getting glasses, moving to a new neighborhood, experiencing a grandparent’s death, or getting a puppy.)
  6. Who has helped you become the best version of yourself?
  7. Sometimes becoming requires us to let go of things. What is one thing you’ve had to let go of to become something new? (For example, in order to become a speaker of a second or third language, we have to let go of fear of sounding silly as we learn. In order to become a trumpet player, we have to let go of a few afternoons of free time each week to practice.)
  8. Last year, we all became families who had gone through Covid together, a unique circumstance in all of human history. How has that experience changed you?

Around the Neighborhood – Treasure Hunt for Becoming

This month, we are acknowledging the part we all play in the becoming of the world around us. We are powerful agents of change! Let’s look together for examples of how we, as a community, are noticing transformation and the becoming happening all around us..

  1. An empty lot or abandoned building becoming something new
  2. A community center, an RV or large truck, a parking lot, or other space that has become a Covid vaccination space
  3. A piece of land becoming a garden
  4. A favorite view changing, because of a tree growing tall or a new building going up, etc.
  5. A piece of nature transforming into something new, like a tree growing leaves or a sprout pushing through the ground.
  6. A puppy or kitten becoming a dog or cat (pets have a tween phase, too!)
  7. A small weather event becoming a big one (depending on where you live, this might be a thunderstorm, snowstorm, drought, and so one)
  8. Someone growing a mustache or a beard
  9. Someone who is pregnant
  10. Someone learning to ride a bike, either by seeing them learn with the help of their parents or by noticing them riding with training wheels

Extra Credit  – A Butterfly’s Becoming, Under Our Care

Butterflies might be the most enduring symbols of transformation and becoming, partly because of how dramatic their change is. For this month’s Extra Mile, we’re going to take on the tried-and-true scientific–and spiritual!–task of raising butterflies.

You may have done this project in the past, or it may have been on your wish list for some time now. Consider this your invitation to try it, or try it again, this month!

This site has a good beginner’s section for butterfly-raisers: http://www.raisingbutterflies.org/getting_started/

There could be no start-up cost at all, if you find butterfly eggs in the wild and use repurposed materials. Or the cost could be $20-30 for a basic kit. 

As you enjoy this process, let different facets of “becoming” emerge. Here are some questions that you might consider over the weeks of your attention:

  1. Are the caterpillar and the butterfly the same “person”? One becomes the other, and yet, they have two different sets of DNA. So, what makes us uniquely us?
  2. Butterflies are becoming threatened by human-induced climate change. What are our hopes for the future of these insects? 
  3. Why do we think of butterflies as beautiful, but caterpillars…meh. What makes something becoming–as in, beautiful and attractive–to us?

Welcome to the month of Commitment

What are your commitments? Last month, we explored Beloved Community together. Beloved Community and commitment are intertwined in many ways. This month, we’ll explore how we use commitments to ourselves, our values, and others to uphold the Beloved Community. Check out the activities below for inspiration for yourself and your family.

Treasure Hunt for Commitment

The UUA joins other groups in observing Climate Justice Month, March 22 (World Water Day) to April 22 (Earth Day), a commitment to approaching climate justice as a matter of faith. UUs acknowledge that the issue of climate justice is best addressed when it acknowledges North America’s legacy of colonization, and looks to the leadership of indigenous peoples who have been protecting the earth and its waters for many, many generations. 

This month’s treasure hunt can be done in a combination of spaces–online, and in-person outside. 

See if you can find or find out:

  1. The names of the native peoples of the land you live on. Do you know anything about those peoples, historically and currently?
  2. A historical marker or heritage site in your area that acknowledges the land’s indigenous population. (The Historical Marker Database might be a place to start, or you could contact your local historical society for pointers.)
  3. Five native plants
  4. Five introduced plants
  5. Your watershed; have you been to the body of water that your land’s runoff drains into?
  6. The landfill closest to you (Not the most exciting field trip, we know, but an important visual to have in mind when we throw things “away.”)
  7. Who is leading environmental protection efforts in your area? Which one seems like the best fit for your family to be involved with?

Commit to the Uncomfortable Conversations Around Race

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has an excellent resource page on the work of talking about race, for both white folx and people of color. Unitarian Universalism calls us to commit to dismantling white supremacy culture, and honoring this commitment takes sustained effort over time.

Invitation: Even if you think you’ve done the deep work and internalized the needed paradigm shifts, check out this website as a family. There is one section in particular, “A Questioning Frame of Mind,” that offers sample scripts for how to interrupt racism in interpersonal conversations, using curiosity and connection. Practice these conversations within the family, and talk about why experiencing the discomfort of confronting racism is worth it.

Committing to Consistency: Lynn Ungar’s “Sustaining the Tree of Life”

In the story, a village is blessed to live around a big, ancient, generous, and mysterious tree. But rather than simply take what the tree offers, the villagers make a commitment to it, and to each other. Every day, one of the villagers takes the role of keeper of the tree. And that’s how the real magic happens:

https://www.uua.org/worship/words/story/sustaining-tree-life

For Discussion:

  • What do you think it would be like to take your turn as keeper of the tree? What have you “kept” and protected this way in your own life?
  • How do you think the merchant’s mind changed after talking with the keeper of the tree? Tell about a time someone else helped you to consider how your words or actions were impacting others.

Bonus: Watch this newer, acoustic version, video that Peter Mayer recorded of his beloved song  “Blue Boat Home” as a reminder that one of our fundamental commitments, as Unitarian Universalists, is to the earth we share.

What is Beloved Community?

Welcome to a month of Beloved Community!

What do you know about the Beloved Community? What do your children know? Come explore with us this month!

At the Table

Use these questions to help lead a discussion with your family!

  1. What keeps you together as a family, when you’re not very happy with one another?
  2. We belong to and depend on many different communities, all of which offer us friendship, love and security. How many different communities do your family members belong to? Have some fun adding them all up!
  3. What do you have in common with your dentist? Your mail carrier? Your school or city bus driver? Your bank teller?
  4. What’s one way you make life easier for someone in your family?
  5. Who in the family seems to like disagreement, and who doesn’t?
  6. What is the secret to getting along?
  7. What’s the difference between an opponent, and an enemy? How do those two words feel different?
  8. Have you ever made friends with someone whom you previously thought of as an enemy? What changed that allowed that to happen
  9. What is something in your life that feels unfair? How do you handle that?
  10. How does conflict feel in your body? 
  11. Have you ever “turned the other cheek,” or “been the bigger person” in a fight or disagreement? How did that feel?
  12. What’s the best advice anyone has given you about getting along with others?

Return to the Discussion Throughout the Week 

Thoughts develop with time. Find opportunities to bring up particularly compelling questions again during the month, maybe on walks, rides home, when tucking your child in to bed, etc. If thoughts grew or changed, notice together how we are all evolving beings, opening ourselves to new truths and understandings as we live our lives and connect with others. 

Beloved Community is…

The Fair Housing Justice Center made a video with many voices sharing what the Beloved Community is, using their own words. Watch this video together as a family. Afterward, talk about which words most resonated with each of you. We’ve pulled a few powerful quotes below that you might use to prompt conversation.

“The Beloved Community is…

…people who make me comfortable, people who make me uncomfortable, people I don’t know, and people I’m very, very familiar with…and we are united by this divine call.”

…the opportunity to be truly free in a society that respects, hears, and understands its citizenry.”

…dignity and protection for all.”

…everyone has a stake in each other’s well being.”

…all of us together in the spirit of justice, in the spirit of love, in the spirit of humanity, in the spirit of oneness working to uplift communities that have been oppressed…”

Invitation: Spend time considering the many perspectives offered. What challenges you? What inspires you? The Fair Housing Justice Center is one organization founded on the principles of the Beloved Community. There are more! To learn more about endeavors inspired by the concept of the Beloved Community, join The King Center’s email list (bottom of the page) so you can plug into this organization’s ongoing educational and outreach work, or support it with a donation.

Extra Credit

Check out these readings and discussion questions about the Poor People’s Campaigns of the past and present: https://www.morningsidecenter.org/teachable-moment/lessons/poor-peoples-campaign-then-now

What can you imagine?

We are a people of imagination!

This January we are exploring the theme of imagination in our religious education groups. We’ll be doing things like imagining a world without COVID19 and imagining what it would have been like in the room where it happened in the Civil Rights movement. What can you imagine with your family this month? Check out these options from Soulful Home and find out!

Exploring Imagination at the Table

Family members who are readers can alternate who reads the questions. Those who are not readers are invited to share their own impromptu questions. Discussion partners might answer as thoughts come to them or take turns in a circle. 

Discussion Questions

  1. When you imagine life 100 years from now, what do you see?
  2. How do you think you are different from what your ancestors imagined you might be?
  3. When you imagine your best  day ever, where do you feel that joy in your body?
  4. Who is better at imagining, kids, parents or grandparents?
  5. What’s one thing you can imagine will be different in life after Covid?
  6. Who is your most imaginative friend?
  7. Do you have to be either imaginative or realistic? How do those two qualities work together in a person?
  8. Do you imagine in words, pictures, sounds, or some combination of all your senses?
  9. Where do you imagine the best? Outdoors? Alone in your room? On walks? In your bed reading? Nighttime?
  10. When is it sensible to limit one’s imagination?
  11. What do you imagine it’s like when we die?
  12. Has something unbelievable ever happened to you, such that afterward you couldn’t tell if it was real or if you imagined it?
  13. Whose imagination would you love to live in for a day?

Return to the Discussion Throughout the Week 

Thoughts develop with time. Find opportunities to bring up particularly compelling questions again during the month, maybe on walks, rides home, when tucking your child in to bed, etc. If thoughts grew or changed, notice together how we are all evolving beings, opening ourselves to new truths and understandings as we live our lives and connect with others.    

A Treasure Hunt for Imagination

This month’s searchables are based on idioms of improbability derived from many languages. They are all expressions that indicate something will never happen, or is hard to imagine, even impossible! (When will people stop chit-chatting about the weather? When pigs fly!

Where will you find these improbable things? We don’t know! But using some creative thinking (imagination’s best friend!) and generous interpretations of your everyday reality, you might have some pretty interesting encounters this month in your neighborhood with…

  • A flying pig (Latin)
  • Glowing salt (Arabic)
  • A crow flying upside down (Malayalam)
  • A snowflake in fire (English)
  • A horse with horns (Afrikaans)
  • A chicken with teeth (French)
  • Wind in a net (Japanese)
  • A blue moon (English)
  • A singing fish (Ukrainian)

Note: Although the expressions above are labeled as coming from different languages, in fact the same idiom might exist in multiple languages, with their origins being unclear. If the idea of language evolution is intriguing to you, watch this TED-Ed video on the origins of English! Sometimes, ideas we imagine to be completely different may actually be close cousins..

A Truthful Thanksgiving

Consider taking some time with your family this year to discuss the roots of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Here are some resources to get you started!

Learn about it and talk about it: Read and share with your family this reflection on the first Thanksgiving from a member of the Wampanoag tribe https://www.uua.org/blueboat/guides/unequal-helpings-%E2%80%93-thanksgiving-history. Watch these videos that explain what it was like then (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ociHVDWxDaY), and how we got to where we are now (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lslqtUMwDxA). Before watching the videos, ask questions like “What have you heard about Thanksgiving?” and “what are some things you’ve learned in school about Thanksgiving?” After watching the videos, follow up with more questions “What did you think of this video? Did you learn anything new? Is this different from what you’ve previously learned about Thanksgiving?”

Honor the indigenous people who originally lived here: If your family lights a chalice as part of your Thanksgiving celebration, consider using this chalice lighting.

Territorial Acknowledgment

By Sean Neil-Barron

We gather together as a community of seekers,

to honour the interdependence of life,

to respect the dignity of all,

and to honour the land we walk humbly upon.

Friends, Let us acknowledge that we walk upon the traditional territories of the Cherokee (or insert name of indigenous peoples whose land you are on), the original nations of this land, who continue to cry out for justice and self determination.

We are blessed with a space and opportunity to strive to live out our common principles:

To bring justice, equity and compassion into our daily lives,

To resist all that threatens the earth and her people,

And to live out our dream of a world community of peace, liberty and justice for all.

Let these thoughts carry us forth as we journey and worship together.

Blessed Be.

You can also incorporate this meditation ritual.

Centering: 

I invite you to move into our meditation position.

Sit comfortably in your chair or on the floor. 

Put your hands on your lap or on your knees.

Sit up nice and tall.

Focus your eyes in front of you.

Find your breath moving in your body by taking in one breath through your nose and then slowly breathing it out through your mouth.

Mindful Moment Script:

Think of a time when you felt wounded, sad and ignored. Indigenous Peoples have had their history twisted and erased. In this song, the children want to be listened to. “I have a big heart filled with hopes and dreams/ But I feel low, for what I’m going to see./ Our people have been through the darkest times/ It seems hard to find the light so we can start to shine…”
Think of times when you wished to be listened to.

N’we Jinan Artists – “COME & LISTEN” // Penticton Indian Band, B.C. 

The work of decolonizing Thanksgiving ties in with all of the other work that we are doing here at UUCA. Learn more about advancing racial justice with your kids from this great article that we used in our Anti Racist parent group recently: http://www.raceconscious.org/2016/06/100-race-conscious-things-to-say-to-your-child-to-advance-racial-justice/

Parents and Caregivers as Sexuality Educators (an OWL adjacent Small Group Experience)

One of the losses we are feeling this year is not being able to offer OWL for children and youth at UUCA. The OWL program administrators at both the UUA and UCC have asked that we not try to adapt the program for an online setting for a variety of reasons. We still want to be able to support parents and caregivers in their roles as the primary sexuality educators in their families, so we are offering this new program from the UUA. While this is not OWL, it is based on the same principles and values. Some of you may remember that we field tested this program for the UUA several years ago. We are delighted that it has been fully released and we are able to offer it this year.

This program invites adults to ask themselves: How can I embody my role as my child’s primary sexuality educator in a way that expresses my UU values and faith?

Of course, children pick up information and attitudes from sources beyond the home: peers, popular culture, social media, other adults. Many Unitarian Universalist children will participate in Our Whole Lives (OWL), the lifespan, holistic, values-based sexuality education program provided by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, and they may also receive sexuality education in school. However, OWL encourages, and this program aims to nurture, parents and caregivers in their role as their children’s primary sexuality educators. Trusted adults carry extraordinary power to influence their children’s attitudes and values around sexuality. Many adults struggle to wield that power with intentionality, grace, and confidence. These sessions invite parents and caregivers to find support, insight, and courage with one another.

While the small group ministry format provides a spiritually grounded space, the program’s approach to sexuality is secular and grounded in science, in tune with the OWL lifespan sexuality education programs on which it is based.

This program will be ten sessions and we will meet bi weekly via Zoom on Tuesday evenings 8:00-9:30 pm, beginning on November 17th.

Sessions and Dates

  1. Hopes and Concerns for Kids’ Sexual Health 11/17
  2. Communication: How Do We Talk about Sex? 12/1
  3. Gender Identity: Exploring Emotions around Gender 12/15
  4. Sexual Orientation: Supporting Self-Discovery 1/12
  5. Relationships: Guiding with Wisdom 1/26
  6. Sexual Health: Be a Trusted Source 2/9
  7. Decision Making: Ready, Set, Let Go! 2/23
  8. Consent: Building Healthy Boundaries 3/9
  9. Social Media: Integrity in a Changing World 3/23
  10. Pornography: It’s Not Sex Ed 4/6

To register, use this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfj2foJd8Tk6kbDfzf8NjxxHIA9-Um5igOGSq0fVdTrm1Wnog/viewform?usp=sf_link

Please register ASAP as we are limiting this opportunity to 12 families. UUCA members will be given priority. For questions or more information, please email Kim at lrec@uuasheville.org.

Wondering what to do about Halloween?

Plan to join us at UUCA on Saturday, October 31st from 4-6 pm for food and fun!

While Halloween will certainly be different this year, we can still dress up and have a good time in a safe way. All are welcome to come enjoy a meal and fellowship on our front porch. Our friends Maria and Esteban will be here with their food truck to serve up some delicious tacos and other items and we’ll have a costume parade! Everyone is encouraged to dress up, make sure you don’t forget your face masks for everyone’s safety. The costume parade will take place at 4:30 pm so be sure to be there by then if you want to participate. We’ll also have some sweet treats on hand.

This is an outside only event and folks are asked to be mindful of social distancing. If it rains, the food truck will still be there and we encourage you to come grab some delicious food to take home to eat. The costume parade will not take place if it is raining. Please remember to bring cash for the food truck, they are not set up to accept credit cards. This event is being sponsored by the RE Council and we thank them for working on safe ways for us to be together!

UUCA-Halloween-flyer-2

There’s a lot going on in Family Ministry!

Religious Education at UUCA has kicked off! We’d love for you to join us!

We are so excited to start this new year, though it looks different than we had imagined when we began planning last year. We have worked hard over the last few months to make a plan that we hope will help nurture the spirituality of our children, youth, and parents. We have simplified things significantly in response to the many complications and challenges that we are all facing. We are looking forward to continuing to foster connections while making time for fun and silliness!

Do I need to register?  YES!  This is how we know you still want to stay connected to UUCA this year and beyond.  We use our registration list to communicate about both current and future offerings, including OWL and Coming of Age (once we can offer those programs again), youth group, parent groups, and home deliveries (a special feature we have planned this year). To register, use this link: Registration

What if my kids don’t plan to participate Sunday mornings very often?  Even though this year will look different, we encourage your family to stay involved for some needed spiritual grounding and social connection.  We would love to see you whenever you can make it.

Will this be like the typical (curricula based) RE classes that we normally have?  
There will be spiritual elements to our virtual gatherings to help foster UU faith development and personal growth.  There will also be an intentional focus on FUN, social and supportive connections, compassion, inspiration and justice – our UUCA core values.

Religious education for children and youth has been divided into 4 groups: PreK-3rd grade, 4th-6th grade, 7th-9th grade, and 10th-12th grade.  Groups will typically meet 2 Sundays/month via Zoom: PreK-3rd & 10th-12th will meet on the first and third Sundays of the month and 4th-6th & 7th-9th will meet on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. Zoom links will be emailed weekly.

In addition to classic (virtual) RE, we will have other opportunities as well, possibly even some occasional small, safer in person gatherings for youth or adults.  We will host Family Fun Nights via Zoom for fellowship and fun.  Look for a special delivery of a “Church in a box”  We also encourage families to “attend” multigenerational services together. 

We also plan to offer more Faith Development for parents and caregivers. First up is an Anti Racist Parenting Zoom with Rev. Claudia. This is a follow up to the book group that met online over the summer. How are things going for you? What do you want to bring forward? We might have something to watch, listen or read…or we might not and just have a chance to check in together. This will take place on October 12 at 8 pm. RSVP to Jen at lreasst@uuasheville.org.

Kim is planning to offer the Parents and Caregivers as Sexuality Educators small group experience beginning in early November. Since we cannot offer Our Whole Lives for children and youth this year, we are offering this program to help equip parents and caregivers to have important conversations with their kids. You can find out more here: https://www.uua.org/families/sexuality-educators To find out more or sign up, email Kim at lrec@uuasheville.org.

It’s Time to Talk to Your Kids About Race

As you can imagine, this has been in a hot topic in our Faith Development meetings the past few weeks. We are working together develop ideas for how to make Religious Education at UUCA even more focused on Justice in the coming year. This is our work and we are dedicated to taking it on, but we need your help! As parents and caregivers, you are your child’s primary religious educator. If you’ve been to an OWL orientation, this probably sounds familiar as I have emphatically told many of you over the years that you are your child’s primary sexuality educator. It’s just as true when we are talking about race, justice, and equity. Your kids are learning explicit and implicit lessons from you every day.

Talking about race with your kids, especially if your family is white, can be very uncomfortable. It is our job as UUs to lean into that discomfort and do the work of justice. Our job as church staff is to give you some tools to get started and to continue the conversation. If you are anything like me, it can be really anxiety inducing to even consider having these conversations with your families. Here are the tools I want to share with you this week.

Feeling anxious? Check out this guide to overcoming anxiety so you can talk to kids about race effectively: https://www.rebekahgienapp.com/anxiety-race/

Wondering if your kids are too young to start the conversation? Check out this podcast from NPR about talking to about race with young children:

https://www.npr.org/2019/04/24/716700866/talking-race-with-young-children

We will also be transitioning our bi-weekly parent check in Zoom group to an Anti Racist Parenting Discussion group. We will meet on Tuesday, June 23rd at 9 pm to discuss this action guide for talking to your children about racial injustice. The link for the Zoom will be in our weekly RE email. Looking for more resources or something more specific? Email me at lrec@uuasheville.org and I will do my best to help you find what you’re looking for.

https://www.embracerace.org/assets/young_kids_racial_injustice.pdf

Resources for Our Current Times

This past Saturday, our RE Family Email included resources for parents that I want to share again with everyone here. Like all of you, I am again heartbroken over the killing of black and brown people by police officers all over America. I have spent lots of time over the last week feeling at a loss for words or action. I have to remind myself frequently that this is my work. My work is to empower you to raise anti-racist, compassionate, and justice oriented children. RE staff will continue to work to bring you more resources. Please know that you can reach out for us if you need further support, we are here to help you.

Talking to kids about riots: https://redtri.com/how-to-educate-your-children-on-riots-protests/ &
https://alysonschafer.com/talk-kids-violence-racism-charlottesville/

Resources for talking to kids about race, identity, and equity:
https://www.tolerance.org/
https://www.prettygooddesign.org/blog/Blog%20Post%20Title%20One-5new4?fbclid=IwAR0AhjBh32dfrtPlKUJwL7xhMBkMS8JulJxWk8CTCfjCvabChhsTs3gljuM
https://www.embracerace.org/

Please also consider what actions you and your families can take now. Donate to a bail out fund or patronize a local black owned business. This is a list of bail out funds, I do not currently have a good link for an Asheville bail out fund (if you know of one, please let me know!): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1X4-YS3vFn5CLL9QtJSU0xqmTh_h8XilXgOqGAjZISBI/edit?usp=sharing and here is a list of black owned businesses in Asheville: https://avltoday.6amcity.com/black-owned-businesses-asheville-nc/.

Community Connections

In this time of social distancing and isolation, how are you connecting with your community? The staff at UUCA has been working hard to find ways for our community to keep connecting. In addition to our recorded weekly worship service, we are offering a Sunday coffee hour drop in Zoom at 12:30 pm. We are hosting a parent check in group every other Tuesday at 9:00 pm. People of all ages are welcome to join our Spirit Play circle on most Sunday mornings at 10:00. Vespers is happening live on Zoom, Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm. The Buddhist Fellowship group is meeting, as well as Peacemakers, and covenant groups. We also have some wonderful volunteers calling to check in on folks in our congregation.

We know that things can be especially difficult right now for children and youth, who are used to spending time with friends at school, church, and other activities. Consider supporting them by setting up times for them to be social with their friends, including other UUCA families. 

For unstructured time to just chat and hangout, Apple’s Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangout, and Skype are all free!

Does your family enjoy playing games? Check out the website Board Game Arena. You can play games with friends and family at a distance.

https://en.boardgamearena.com/join

How about a collaborative art project? We would love to see what you create together!

http://flockdraw.com/

Looking for offline ways to connect? Consider making cards to send to other congregants. Want to know where to send stuff? Ask us and we’ll connect you!

Take Some Time to Relax!

Hello Families!

This week we’d like to share with you some relaxation ideas that your whole family can do together. This is a stressful time for everyone, especially little folks whose routines have been interrupted and who are learning to do school in a whole new way.

One easy way is to use a guided meditation, like this one on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDKyRpW-Yuc

You can also read aloud a guided meditation. This one is recommended in this month’s Soul Matters packet. I like it because it’s about the wisdom of your body. Listening to our bodies and doing what it needs is a key way to stay healthy and mindful. 

Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Let that breathe out slowly and fully. Today we are going to learn something important about our amazing bodies.

As you relax more and more, you can feel your entire body getting warm and comfortable. Your mind feels relaxed; your body feels relaxed. All is well.

As you rest in this peaceful state, let your mind drift as you listen to my words.

Think for a moment about your body. No matter the shape or size, your body is magnificent and beautiful. Your body is composed of individual cells, which work together in harmony to keep you at your very best.

Let’s think about your feet. You might have little crooked toes, you might have perfectly straight ones, yet each and every one is perfect in its own way. Your feet and toes help you move and get to where you want to go. Say a little thank you to your amazing feet that carry you places you want to go.

Now think about your legs – your wonderful, beautiful legs. Some legs are thick and some legs are thin, but what matters is that they are powerful enough to help us move.

It’s very important to keep in mind that you don’t need to look like anyone else. You are already the perfect YOU!

We can love and appreciate our bodies exactly as they are. As we get older, we may notice some people complain about their bodies. They forget that all bodies are special and beautiful in their own way.

How boring it would be if everyone looked exactly alike! We are each so wondrously made, and we should always remember to love each and every part of our powerful, amazing bodies – inside and out.

Consider your strong back and shoulders. They help you lift and move things. They hold you up straight and help you walk tall. It’s important to be thankful for your strong back and shoulders for carrying what you need to carry in life.

Think about your arms and hands now. How wonderful it is to be able to hug the people you love. Thanks to our arms and hands, we can hold the people we care about during happy times and sad times, too. Be thankful to your arms for how strong and beautiful they are, helping you every day.

Finally, think about your beautiful face. There is no other face like yours. People can see your beautiful inner light shining out through your eyes – and even through your smile.

Remember today – and every day – to be very thankful for your marvelous body. It will be with you always, to help you experience life and express yourself in many fantastic ways.

When you’re ready and with another deep breath, open your eyes.

You’ve done a wonderful job relaxing your body and learning to be thankful for it today.

  • Mellisa Dormay

How about a family art project? We know that most kids are getting a lot of screen time now with the addition of online school and a lot of parents needing to work at home as well. There is no shame in this! However, if you are looking for some creative options that kids can either do on their own, or with their families, we have a few suggestions of our most popular choices in our Spirit Play centers. These are good for all ages!

Fuse Beads (Perler Beads)

You will need an iron for these, and it can be a little tricky to finish the projects with the iron, but it just takes a little practice. You use pegboards to make designs using small colored beads. This is one of our most popular options in the Contemplation center. You can look up patterns online, or just let your imagination run wild. We’d love to see some photos of your creations! Consider making a chalice design and sharing it with us. You can find a good starter kit on Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/5500-Beads-Pegboards-Tweezer-Compatible/dp/B076HBM8M9/ref=sr_1_9?crid=244AE6ONWQT5S&dchild=1&keywords=perler+beads+kit&qid=1585154052&sprefix=perler+beads%2Caps%2C446&sr=8-9

You can also find kits with larger beads for smaller fingers on Amazon. You can search Fuse Beads or Perler Beads.

Weaving

Weaving is another project that can be done on one’s own, or collaboratively. We have gotten a lot of use out of our portable weaving looms in the Art center. Kids can take turns adding their own section to the piece and you might end up with a lovely new decoration for your home! Here is a link to the looms that we use in RE:

https://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Wooden-Multi-Craft-Weaving/dp/B00KO6UGXG/ref=sr_1_4?crid=1EEB5J56X56YF&dchild=1&keywords=looms+for+kids&qid=1585154922&sprefix=looms%2Caps%2C157&sr=8-4

Starting this Sunday, you can join us on Sunday mornings live at 10am for a Spirit Play circle and story. Though it is geared towards our younger folks, everyone who might enjoy it is welcome to attend. Check your email for Zoom information to join us. If you didn’t get an email, you can email Jen at lreasst@uuasheville.org or Kim at lrec@uuasheville.org and we can send it to you. 

We will also be hosting a bi-weekly parent check in via Zoom as well, every other week on Tuesday at 7:30 pm. Jen will host this week, Tuesday, March 31st at 7:30 pm. Check your email for the Zoom info and email us if you don’t have it but would like to join in.