CYRE newsletter

UUCPA RE newsletter: November, 2012

November, 2012, news for Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) at UUCPA


1. November calendar
  1a. Senior High and Coming of Age calendar
2. From your Associate Minister of Religious Education
3. OWL comprehensive sexuality education, gr. K-1 and 4-6
4. UUCPA’s new unison benediction
5. Guest at Your Table program
6. High school youth group service trip

1. November calendar

Sun., Nov. 4, 11:00 a.m.: CYRE Committee meeting, info: Shannon Casey
Sun., Nov. 11, 11-12: Parent Journey discussion group
Sun., Nov. 18, Intergenerational Thanksgiving service
Sun., Nov. 25, 10:30 a.m.: 4th Sunday brunch
    11:00 a.m.: Optional teacher workshop

1a. Senior High Youth Group (SHYG) and Coming of Age (CoA) calendar:

Sun., Nov. 4, 6:30 p.m.: CoA
Sun., Nov. 11, 6:30 p.m.: SHYG
Sat., Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m.: CoA
Sun., Nov. 25, 6:30 p.m.: SHYG

2. From your Associate Minister of Religious Education

When I was a child, we often had Thanksgiving dinner with my mother’s twin and her family. Our cousins were all older than my sisters and I, and we looked up to them. Both our families belonged to Unitarian Universalist congregations, and one year at Thanksgiving our eldest cousin said she was going to say grace before dinner, using a grace she had heard in her UU congregation’s youth group. My mother and father and aunt and uncle all liked the idea, and told her to go ahead. She had us all join hands, and then said, “Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub, yay God!” I’m not sure the adults at the table were particularly impressed, but my sisters and I were suitably impressed.

Even if you never say grace at any other time of the year, Thanksgiving is a good time to pause before eating, and give thanks for your food. The challenge for us Unitarian Universalists is coming up with pleasing ways to give thanks that don’t rely on traditional Christian theology. My UU friend Craig Schwalenberg adapted this grace from his Lutheran childhood:

Cherished family, friends, and guests,
Let this food to us be blessed.
Bless those people who made this food.
May it feed our work for good.

Another friend of mine, Emma Mitchell, grew up as a Unitarian Universalist, and says her family used to say this for grace (and children got to choose whether to refer to God as “her” or “him”):

God is great, God is good,
Let us thank (her) (him) for our food.

I wrote the following grace to remind us of the interdependent web of existence, including farmworkers and the wider ecosystem (there’s a tune that goes with this, and it’s online herehere):

Praise workers laboring hard in their fields,
May sun and moon increase their yields,
May the soil be blessed by falling silver rains,
As we offer thanks to Mother Earth again.

Now you have four ways a UU family could say grace at Thanksgiving this year. If you have your own UU-friendly way of saying grace, let me know and I’ll put it up on this Web site (to make it easy, you can use the contact form below).

10/28: Kris Geering sent in the following grace:

For the pagan-friendly folks, I like this grace (there’s a tune you can sing it to, but it’s good as is):

Give thanks to the Mother Goddess,
Give thanks to the Father Sun.
Give thanks to the plants and the flowers in the garden
Where the Father and the Mother are one.

10/28: Amy Zucker-Morgenstern sent in the following grace:

Our family grace is to hold hands and say “Thank you for the food,” in as many languages as are known by people at the table. Common variations include thanks to the farmworkers, truckers, people who invented whatever cuisine it is, Mommy or Mama for cooking, etc.

3. Our Whole Lives Sexuality Class for K-1 and 4-6 Grades: Parent Meeting on December 9, 2012

Our team of teachers is excited to offer the highly acclaimed Our Whole Lives (OWL) curriculum for K-1 and 4-6th graders in Winter Term 2013. The OWL courses are offered periodically for varying age groups from youth to adults, helping participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. The OWL program embodies values including the dignity of the individual, the importance of personal responsibility and safety, and the essential interdependence of all people. The OWL courses for these younger age groups provides age appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. This class has lasting benefits for the kids who attend and promotes communication within families.

If you have a child in kindergarten, 1st, 4th, 5th or 6th grade, we encourage you to attend the PARENT MEETING on SUNDAY, December 9th at 11am. In the meeting, parents will have a chance to review the curriculum and the class calendar, learn about the teaching team, ask questions, and register their child(ren) for the course. In 9 sessions, participants explore age-appropriate topics with added discussion to tie our UU values into what they learn. Care is given to create a safe environment during these classes, where questions can remain anonymous and participants can share ideas and thoughts in confidence.

OWL classes are held from 11am – 12pm on Sunday mornings. Classes begin January 6th and continue through March 10th. It is recommended that children attend the entire series during Winter term. Questions? Contact Dan Harper or Maribea Berry .

4. UUCPA’s new unison benediction

Amy has started using the same closing words each week in the Sunday services. Each week, our services end with everyone saying this unison benediction together:

Go out into the world in peace
Be of good courage
Hold fast to what is good
Return no one evil for evil
Strengthen the faint-hearted
Support the weak
Help the suffering
Rejoice in beauty
Speak love with word and deed
Honor all beings.

Amy got these closing words from Rev. Gary Smith, who recently retired as a minister at the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Concord, Mass. I have friends who raised children in that congregation, and they told me that their children found these words very helpful. Older children and teens especially were able to think of these words as a good, concise moral and ethical guide to life. I have posted this unison benediction in all our classrooms, and will encourage Sunday school classes to end with these words, just as we do in the main service.

5. Guest at Your Table program

Each year at this time, friends and families in our congregation participate in the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) “Guest at Your Table” program, a UU tradition for decades. On Sunday, November 18, you can pick up a Guest at Your Table box, bring it home and place it on your dinner table, and each day you and your children can place a small contribution in the box to help fund UUSC’s work for human rights around the world.

You can download UUSC’s “Stories of Hope” pamphlet from their Web site here. This pamphlet contains four stories about people UUSC has worked with to promote human rights. You can read one of these stories each week for the duration of the Guest at Your Table program. Guest at Your Table is a great combination of social justice and education, perfect for families with kids!

You can drop off your Guest at Your Table contributions on Sunday, December 23, the date of the annual No-Rehearsal Christmas Pageant. Please be sure to convert the coins and small bills from your Guest at Your Table box into a check. Make the check out to UUCPA, with “Guest at Your Table” on the memo line.

(If you won’t be at UUCPA on November 18 and/or December 23, you can pick up or drop off your Guest at Your Table box on another convenient Sunday.)

6. High school youth group service trip

Our Senior High Youth Group (SHYG) is planning a service trip for next summer. Although final details have to be worked out, it looks like SHYG will be working in Belize for a week. If you have a child of high school age who has not gotten information about this trip, please contact Dan Harper for more information.