Does UUCA still have children and families? YES! Are they being served in our virtual church world? YES! UUCA’s core values of Connection, Inspiration, Compassion, and Justice still drive our programming and yes, although not our preferred in-person weekly church gatherings, we are enjoying our time learning and growing together in Religious Education this year! Take a little tour with us as we share some highlights of this year’s RE program in this strange COVID landscape.
Spirit Play serves PreKindergarten-3rd grade families this year. It is a joy to gather to feed our spirits as we share our rituals, joys and sorrows, and move, create art, and hear stories that ground us in our liberal religion – all via Zoom! We have explored grief, gratitude, mindfulness, emotions, and identity through our monthly congregational themes and have incorporated a racial justice lens more intentionally this year. We have imagined a better world together – using Legos! In Spirit Play, we are growing compassionate, thoughtful, equity minded UUs — and they inspire us! Bonus this year: because many parents are “in the room where it (RE) happens,” the whole family is growing their UU faith together!
4th-6th Grade Group began the year by deciding how to be together, discussing and creating a covenant just as we would any year. That’s where the similarities to a “normal” RE year ended. Instead of using a traditional curriculum, we forged a new path by using the Soul Matters themes and materials to apply a UU lens to a variety of topics. We have done a lot of learning together, using videos, readings, poems and discussion to explore topics like the true story of thanksgiving celebrations in America and lesser known activists of the Civil Rights Movement. We also enjoy the time together being silly and laughing and playing games like “Would you rather?” We also had a successful in person, safe gathering in the fall where we enjoyed boxed lunches and played Pandemic Pictionary together outside on the grounds of UUCA.
Jr Youth Group is where our 7th-9th grade youth gather 1-2 times a month on Zoom to create sacred space together. Much like the younger 4th-6th grade group, we examine social justice issues and the monthly theme, we also make sure that we have time for checking in, venting about pandemic life, and learning new mindfulness strategies like deep listening and meditation. We also take time to discuss big issues, like the election in the fall and our relationships with friends and family. We recently spent a session imagining what life will be like when the pandemic is over and had a good time taking a little break from reality. Several members of the group met up for a socially distanced hike in the fall, and we plan more of that when the weather is better in the spring.
YRUU – our Young Religious Unitarian Universalists 10th-12th graders have been connecting both through “Masked Meet-ups” (when deemed safe enough to gather outdoors, socially distant, with masks) and virtual hangouts via Zoom. Living out UUCA’s core values, our teens joined Asheville Greenworks for a litter clean-up this Fall; made care packages for our UUCA college students; had discussions and activities about identity, the elections, stress; and they have baked, hiked, played, competed in a friendly “UU Olympics,” and more! Always a chalice. Always a check-in. Currently some of our teens are planning a worship service. We hope you tune in to the YRUU-led worship February 28!
Some comments from a few of youth:
- “…The connections and friendships we have made in YRUU are perhaps more valuable than ever before….We’ve had zooms meetings where we’ve learned more about each other and have further kindled friendships through discussion, reflection, and of course, games. But we’ve also had the opportunity to be together in person through safe and socially distanced meet ups such as movies, hikes, Olympic Games, and community clean ups.” – Nick
- “This year…YRUU has been a great way to connect with my UUCA peers. The corona virus has seriously impacted the way we go about our days and church has given me a sense of normalcy. I’m so grateful to have gotten to this opportunity to see people and make memories in person, not just online. We’ve been able to do things such as going a hike, have a bonfire, and watch a movie. It’s been a super fun experience!” – May
- UU in a Box: faith development at home! Our religious education program includes some home deliveries this year to nurture the spirits of our children and youth. We provide enriching activities and materials to support families to live their UU values throughout the week (not just on Sunday)!
- Whole Church Halloween celebration: masked and distant costume parade and our friends Maria and Esteban’s taco truck!
- Family Ministry blog on our website is updated at least monthly with ideas for exploring our monthly themes at home as a family. These are also shared on Facebook.
- Weekly emails to parents include online events and learning opportunities, as well as links to some of the resources that we are using in RE and beyond.
- Time for All Ages every Sunday as well as regular multigenerational online Sunday services designed for the whole family to enjoy together.
- Parent groups
- The anti-racism parenting group began as a summer book study on race-conscious parenting, has continued with monthly conversations, and soon will be forming covenant group(s) to continue the collective work of raising and growing alongside the next generation of brave, compassionate, and racially just UUs.
- OWL parent group: a covenant style group that uses the Parents and Caregivers as Sexuality Educators program from the UUA to lean into the commitment to provide children and youth with comprehensive sexual education. Parents get the chance to learn new skills and information around talking about sex with their families with the benefit of talking it out with other parents.
We are grateful for the volunteers who directly support our RE families this year. Thanks especially to our leaders: Laurel Cadwallader Stolte, Jennifer Oversmith, Iris Hardin, Brett Johnson, Langdon Martin, Kimberly Mason, Anna Martin, Kay Aler Maida, Wendy Fletcher, Gina Phairas, and Jon Miles. And to the RE Council: April DeLac, Margaret McAllister, Jennifer Gorman, Kay Aler Maida and Amy Moore.
Kim Collins, RE Coordinator
Jen Johnson, RE Coordinator