Supporting sexuality education in the wider community

There’s been a small controversy in Mountain View High School (where some of our UUCPA teens go to school, or will soon go to school) about a special section in the school newspaper on sex and relationships. Some parents objected to the articles written by the student journalists, but Superintendent Barry Groves and other school officials backed up the student journalists. Kudos to Groves — teens need good information about human sexuality, in whatever form they are most comfortable getting it.

I wrote a letter supporting the student journalists’ efforts to report on this topic, which you can read here. (I’ll also include the text of my letter after the jump, if you want to read it on this site).

If you’re a resident of Mountain View, Los Altos, or Los Altos Hills, you may want to write a letter of support to Superintendent Barry Groves for his support of the rights of student journalists to report on this topic.

— Rev. Dan Harper

Continue reading “Supporting sexuality education in the wider community”

Evaluation session with kids

On Sunday, June 3, we did our annual evaluation session with children here at UUCPA. 14 children participated, representing all classes in grades K-8. First we brainstormed a list of everything the children could remember doing at church during the past year, and then the children voted on their favorite activities. I’ve included a lesson plan at the very end of this post, and a more complete description of the process is available here. The complete brainstormed list appears after this executive summary.

The children remembered a variety of kinds of church activities, ranging from Sunday services and Sunday school, to after-service activities and evening events. For regular Sunday services, the children remembered singing hymns. They also remembered two intergenerational services, Flower Communion and Water Communion, and one older child remembered being asked to speak in a Sunday service.

For Sunday school, the children in the grade 2-3 class remembered the most specific activities; this may well have been because there were more children from this class than from any other class. Many children remembered the giant Jenga game that the middle school class played after Sunday services; this game originated as a Sunday school activity. Quite a few children remembered activities from the Peace Experiment program, which is not surprising since that program just ended.

This year, the Children and Youth Religious Education Committee worked on improving the after-service activities, and this appeared to pay off in terms of what the children remembered. The children remembered (and said they liked) the second Sunday lunches and the fourth Sunday brunches, the ice cream social, the Maypole dance, and the Easter egg hunt. As in past years, the children remembered and liked drinking hot chocolate after the service, though this was not as popular as in previous years, perhaps because there is now more for children to do after the service.

More detailed information follows…. Continue reading “Evaluation session with kids”

Two new children join our class, and we play games

Earlier this week, Amy, our parish minister, said she wanted to talk with me about the worship service. “We’re going to have some dancers, and I’d like the children to see them,” Amy said, “but we’re also welcoming newcomers, too.” “Why can’t the children stay in for both?” I said. I thought it would be good for them to see the newest members of the church sign the membership book and be recognized, and I also thought they’d like to see the dancers. We both knew that the children would be getting religious education whether they were in Sunday school or in the worship service, and I assured Amy that those of us who were teaching wouldn’t mind — if we needed more time we’d run late, or some teachers might just as soon have a little less time to fill.

As it happened, the worship service started late to begin with, at about seven minutes past eleven. I always like to sit in the very back during worship services so I can observe how the children respond. The prelude, “Calm As The Night (Still Wie Die Nacht)” by composer Carl Bohm, played on cello and piano, lived up to its name: it was calming. Worship associate Wynne Furth opening the service with a very short poem “written a thousand years ago by Ono no Komachi, and translated by Jane Hirschfield who lives near here.” When she lit the flaming chalice, Wynne said she remembered the very first time she lit a match; she had waited after her parents said she was ready, until she herself felt she was ready to light a match. I thought what she said was short, matter-of-fact, and charming, and I wondered how the children perceived it.

When the new members were welcomed, I noticed that one boy in the very back row was busy coloring and one girl in the second to last row did not seem to be paying attention. This was not surprising: these were younger children, so most of what they could see was the back of the chair in front of them. I often think how much of what children see in church is the back of the chair in front of them. (a) Fortunately, the dancers made a point of extending their dance down the length of the center aisle; the boy who was coloring looked up as the dancers got closer to him, and once he looked up he didn’t go back to his coloring. Continue reading “Two new children join our class, and we play games”