CYRE brochure

Children and Youth Religious Education Programs

COVID-19 and distance learning at UUCPA
Sunday morning schedule
Calendar summary for 2020-2021
From the Assoc. Minister of Religious Education
Sunday morning programs for families
Sunday eve. youth programs
Summer Sunday school 2020
Our Whole Lives program
How your child will progress through CYRE at UUCPA
CYRE email newsletter
How to register

Rev. Dan Harper, Associate Minister of Religious Education
Grecia Uribe, Religious Education Assistant
Children and Youth Religious education Committee:
Edie Keating, chair
Greg Becker
Heather Chen
Beth Nord
Emma Grant-Bier, Board liaison
Curriculum Subcommittee:
Greg Becker, chair
Linda Henigin
Nadine Kaplanov

COVID-19 and distance learning at UUCPA

Our programs for children and teens for the 2020-2021 school year will be held online, and/or offered as U.S. Postal service mailings and kits that can be picked up.

In May, 2020, the Board of Trustees of UUCPA voted to hold no in-person programming on our campus without Board approval. The Unitarian Universalist Association, our parent denomination, has recommended no planning for in-person worship services, or programming for children and teens, through May, 2021.

There is a slight possibility of in-person programs for older children in cases where distance learning is impossible, e.g., the OWL program for gr. 7-9. This will only happen if the Board of Trustees determines it is safe and legal to do so.

Sunday morning schedule, September through May

The different grade levels (Red class, Blue class, etc.) will be held at either the 9:30 or 11:45 time slot — watch the weekly email update for exact times.

9:30 – 10:15 online Sunday school
Watch the weekly email update for Zoom login info.

10:30 online worship service
The first part of the online worship service is kid-friendly, and includes a “Story for All Ages” aimed at children and young teens.

11:45 – 12:30 online Sunday school
Watch the weekly email update for Zoom login info.

Calendar summary

Unless otherwise noted, Sunday School classes will be held every Sunday from Sept. 13 to May 23.

Aug. 30 — Water communion intergenerational service
Sept. 6 — No online classes, Labor Day weekend
Sept. 13 — First day of regular online Sunday school
Oct. 11 — No online classes, teacher prep day
Nov. 8 — No online classes, teacher prep day
Nov. 22 — Intergenerational online service, preceded by family chapel
Dec. 6 — Intergenerational online service, preceded by Christmas carol sing-along
Dec. 13 — Intergenerational online service, preceded by family chapel
Dec. 24 — Online candlelight services at 6:30 and 8 p.m.
Dec. 27 — No online classes, winter break
Jan. 17 — No online classes, MLK weekend
Feb. 14 — No online classes, Presidents Day weekend
Mar. 14 — No online classes, teacher prep day
Apr. 4 — Intergenerational online service, preceded by family chapel
May 9 — No online classes, Mothers Day
May 23 — No online classes, Coming of Age online service instead
May 30 — No online classes, Memorial Day weekend
June 6 — Summer Sunday school begins

From the Associate Minister of Religious Education

Welcome to Sunday school programs for children and youth at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto (UUCPA). Religious education for children has been at the heart of UUCPA since the establishment of the congregation in 1947.

In our religious education programs for children and teens, we want to help young people become sensitive, moral, and joyful people, people who have intellectual integrity and spiritual insight. We have no interest in forcing dogmas or beliefs on children; instead, we want children to reach for the highest human values.

At UUCPA, we have four big goals for children and youth:
(1) We want them to have fun and feel they are part of a community;
(2) We want them to gain the basic religious literacy expected in our society;
(3) We want them to learn the skills associated with liberal religion, skills such as public speaking, group singing, basic leadership, how to work together, inward reflection, and so on;
(4) We want to prepare them to become Unitarian Universalist adults, should they choose to become Unitarian Universalists when they are old enough to make their own reasoned decision.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ll be doing distance learning. Online Sunday school classes will be offered for children and young teens. For those who prefer not to do online learning, UUCPA will send monthly packets to all registered families with coloring pages, readings, and activity pages. In addition, each child will receive a book that relates to our religious education curriculum. High school youth will have online meetings of the Senior High Youth Group. The online worship services will have kid-friendly content in the first half of the service.

In the spirit of connecting with the best part of our selves, I hope you will encourage the young people in your life to participate regularly in the online religious community here at UUCPA.

— Rev. Dan Harper
Associate Minister of Religious Education

Sunday Programs for Families

Participating in the first part of online worship services is an important part of religious education. It helps children understand what Unitarian Universalists do as a community. We hope families will encourage their children to participate in the first part of the online worship services, from the opening words and chalice lighting, through either the Story for All Ages video, or through “Caring and Sharing.” The first hymn is typically chosen from a pool of ten kid-friendly songs, and by the end of the year children may know some or all of these songs by heart.

During Sunday school, young people learn from friendly adults and their peers. The curriculum is described elsewhere in this brochure. If you would like to review curriculum materials ahead of time, please contact Dan Harper. And feel free to sit in on any online class.

9:30 Sunday morning, September through April

Red group (3 and 4 year olds) — Story-based curriculum, using We Are Many, We Are One, a curriculum that introduces young children to age-appropriate diversity concepts.


Yellow group (gr. K-1) — A story-based curriculum based on Hide and Seek with God, which uses a feminist approach to religion for primary grades.


Green group (grades 2-3) — A story-based curriculum based on From Long Ago and Many Lands introduces children to stories for various world religions and local religions.


Blue group (grade 4-5) — To be determined.


For middle school (gr. 6-8), there is a choice of two different classes:

Purple group: Ecojustice (grade 6-8) — This is a project-based program that includes projects relating to environmental justice and nature study. There is limited space in this class. To apply, indicate your preference on the registration form.

Purple group: Neighboring Faith Communities (grades 6-8) — This middle school group visits online services of other faith communities, including other UU congregations, culturally diverse Christian communities, and non-Western religions.


Lesson-by-lesson curriculum plan

Due to the demands of creating online programs, a lesson-by-lesson curriculum plan is not available yet.

2020 Summer Sunday school, June through mid-August

Summer Sunday school is less formal, and emphasizes having fun and building community. Each week includes stories and time to socialize, and maybe a project to try.

Sunday evening youth programs

Senior High Youth Group (grades 9-12) or SHYG — Teenagers in high school are welcome to join SHYG for fun and community-building, learning, worship, leadership development, and social action. SHYG meets on Sunday evenings from 7:00-8:00 p.m., from Sept. through May.

Coming of Age (grades 8-9) — In the Coming of Age program, teens explore their own spirituality and learn more about Unitarian Universalism through group meetings, projects, field trips, and meetings with mentors. In 2020-2021, Coming of Age will be offered Sunday evenings, from mid-December through May. For more information, contact Rev. Dan Harper.

Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive sexuality education

NOTE: The Unitarian Universalist Association has informed us that OWL programs may NOT be offered online, due to the nature of the program. We are exploring the possibility of in-person classes for OWL gr. 7-9, should it become safe and legal to offer in-person classes. We are also exploring online alternatives to OWL.

THE INFORMATION BELOW IS HERE FOR REFERENCE, in case we’re able to offer in-person classes.

OWL for grades K-2 and grades 4-6 — In the 10-session Our Whole Lives programs for younger grades, children receive age-appropriate sexuality education, including how to stay safe. For more information about OWL gr. K-1 and gr. 4-6, see our OWL web page.

OWL for grades 7-9 — In the 25-session Our Whole Lives program for grades 7-9, youth learn about relationships, sexual decision making, and other facts and skills related to adolescent sexuality. For more information about OWL gr. 7-9, see our OWL web page.

OWL for grades 10-12 — To meet the needs of busy high school students, this program is scheduled as monthly meetings, Sept.-June. Teen participants report a high satisfaction level with the program, and it is recommended both for graduates of OWL gr. 7-9, and for those who have not taken OWL classes before. For more information about OWL gr. 10-12, see our OWL web page.

How your child will progress through CYRE at UUCPA

To make maximum progress towards our four goals and gain the most benefit, we highly encourage families to have their children stay enrolled through high school. Here’s how young people progress through our programs:

Preschool: Young children make friends, have fun, and learn the rhythms of the congregational year.

Grades K through 5: Children at this age like to learn facts, and we teach them the basics about Western and other religions (building religious literacy). We begin to give them skills in group process (building skills).

Middle school years: In these critical years for religious education, young people learn about religion by visiting other faith communities (building religious literacy) and doing hands-on ecology activities (building skills). They begin to use group process and leadership skills, and they continue to learn interpersonal skills in Sunday school. The OWL program offers an opportunity for deeper learning in interpersonal skills.

Coming of Age: This is the keystone of our religious education programs. Young people reflect deeply on who they are and their own personal religious identity. They use skills in group process, critical thinking, and public presentation to lead an entire worship service in the spring. At the end of this program, they are eligible to become full voting members of the congregation, and they have the skills to decide for themselves whether they are Unitarian Universalists.

High school years: The high school years are an important time for youth to develop skills in participating in democratic process. Leadership opportunities abound, and teens have served on the congregation’s Board of Trustees, the Committee on Ministry, the Finance Committee; they have taught Sunday school, served as worship associates, etc. Basic participation in the life of UUCPA will give young people aged 13-18 the skills they need to participate effectively in democratic institutions. A motivated teenager can gain enough experience at UUCPA to serve on the board of any small to medium sized nonprofit institution.

The Search Institute has shown that regular participation in a religious organization is a developmental asset that enables “young people [aged 12-18] to develop into successful and contributing adults.” The Search Institute has done research to back up their claims, and we have also seen this year after year at UUCPA. Teens affiliated with UUCPA develop healthy relationships across the generations, helping them to stay grounded and more stable.

Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) email newsletter

If your family has a child or youth registered in Sunday school or youth programs, your family will be subscribed to a once-a-month email newsletter. This newsletter will give you notice of upcoming events. Once you register your child, you’ll be subscribed. In addition, we send out an automated weekly update with links to Zoom invitations.

Please add to your email contacts to make sure that the newsletters and updates are not treated as spam.

Our safety policy

To keep children and teens safe, UUCPA has a strong safety policy. Volunteers undergo annual training in safety procedures and child protection procedures. Volunteers also undergo annual criminal background checks. We’ve instituted additional procedures to keep online learning safe, including requiring all participants to complete the CYRE registration form. For the complete safety policy, click here.

How To Register for Sunday School

If you would like your child to participate in online classes, you must fill out a registration form this year. Registering will also ensure that you’ll receive the monthly activity packets via U.S. mail.

There is no registration fee for participating in Sunday School. Generous financial contributions by our friends and members make this possible. Please give as generously as you are able at any time, and especially when you make your pledge to UUCPA this year. You can donate right now to UUCPA here.

(Web page revised July, 2020)