Coming of Age

Coming of Age program description

The UU Church of Palo Alto (UUCPA) will be offering the popular Coming of Age program in 2017-2018 for youth entering grades 8-9 in the fall.

The goal of our Coming of Age program is to help young people sort out their ethical and religious identity (recognizing that some young people do not feel religious at all), so that they may make rational decisions about the kind of person they want to become.

We have three objectives that help us reach this broad goal:

  • (1) We want participants to have fun, and to bond with a community of young people who share similar moral and spiritual values.
  • (2) We want participants to articulate their own ethical and religious identity, to gain a deeper sense of identity and to present that identity through the arts, spoken word, etc.
  • (3) We want participants to engage in direct action, including social justice projects and the arts, so they can experience living out their religious and ethical values in the world.

We will help young people meet these three objectives through five types of fun activities:

  • (A) Participants will have fifteen regular meetings as a group to get to know each other, have fun, and reflect on religion and ethics. Most of the meetings will be on Sunday morning from 11:00-12:15; a schedule will be avialable at the family meeting. There will also be five optional fun sessions devoted socializing and to making a fun project, life-size plywood self-portraits (this is your chance to learn how to use power tools!). Participants should attend an absolute minimum of 12 of the 14 regular meetings.
  • (B) Participants will participate in a 4-5 hours of social justice work. To make this easy for youth, the Coming of Age program will cook and serve dinner to the Hotel de Zink homeless shelter on Sat., Sept. 9, from 6-10 p.m. Whether serving dinner for Hotel de Zink or other social justice project approved by the ministers, participants must complete a minimum of four hours of social justice work.
  • (C) Participants will meet with an adult mentor of their choice, responsible adults from the congregation who can help them reflect on their identities. We will help families find appropriate adults from whom they can choose a mentor who will be a good match. Participants meet with mentors six times from January through May.
  • (D) Participants will write a “credo statement” setting forth their ethical and religious identity as it stands now. These statements are usually about 500-700 words long. Mentors help youth to write their credos. You can read the Coming of Age credos from 2007 online here. (Additional sample credos will be handed out at the credo-writing sessions.)
  • (E) Participants will lead the services here at UUCPA on Sunday, May 20, 2018 (at both the 9:30 and 11:00 services). They will present their “credo statements” during this service. After the services, participants attend a closing celebration with a potluck lunch; parents and family members, as well as mentors, are encouraged to attend to the closing celebration. Participants must be present at both services, and at the lunch afterwards.

Youth say that the Coming of Age program is both fun and meaningful. The program will help them grow in self-knowledge, it will allow them to spend time with youth and adults who share similar values, and it provides additional strong adult role models at a time in life when that’s what many young people are looking for.

If you have any questions, or would like to sign up for this program, contact Dan Harper.



All group meetings take place at UUCPA, Sun. from 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m., except where noted (in bold). The order of some of the sessions may change, but the dates of class sessions and field trips will remain the same.

August 27, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Youth and parents meet with the minister of religious education to go over the calendar for Coming of Age, and ask any questions about the program.


January through May, self-scheduled
In addition to the group meetings, participants will arrange to meet on their own with their mentors at least six times from January through May. Mentor meetings are an excellent time for youth to work on their “credo” statements, their statements of who they are as religious and/or ethical persons. It is possible for youth to complete their credo statements during mentor meetings, without any additional time commitment. (Note that Coming of Age graduates tell us that the mentor meetings can be the best part of the program, and they may wish to meet more frequently.) Click here for mentor information.



Sat., Sept. 9, 6-10 p.m.
Cook and serve dinner to Hotel de Zink, while this homeless shelter stays at UUCPA.



Plywood sculptures (OPTIONAL SESSIONS)
A. Sun., Oct. 15, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Participants start working on plywood sculptures, or continue working on them. This project usually takes 4-5 hours to complete, and there are five sessions devoted to it. The plywood sculpture project is an optional part of the Coming of Age program.

B. Sun., Nov. 12, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Participants may start working on plywood sculptures, or continue working on them.



Sun., Dec. 17, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Seven big religious questions + talk about mentors + fun activities.


Sun., Dec. 24, No-rehearsal Christmas pageant, no Coming of Age

No Coming of Age on Dec. 31 (holiday)


“Who are you?” — The mirror project
Sun., Jan. 7, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Making mirrors to represent who you are.


Plywood sculptures, pt. C
Sun., Jan. 14 (optional session, MLK weekend), 11 a.m. – 12:15
Participants may start working on plywood sculptures, or continue working on them.


Mirrors completed
Sun., Jan. 21, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Making mirrors to represent who you are (conclusion).

Mirror  no. 2

Above: Completed mirror by Aliana Miller, 2013.


Sun., Jan. 28: Intergenerational chalice service, no Coming of Age


“God talk” checklist
Sun. Feb. 4, 11 a.m. – 12:15
If you don’t believe in God, how do you define the God you don’t believe in? And if you do believe in God, how do you define the God you do believe in? (And if you don’t care, how do you define the God you don’t care about?)


Sun. Feb. 11, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Hear a story by Jean-Paul Sartre, and decide whether you’re an existentialist or not.

The Wall by Jean-Paul Sartre


Plywood sculptures, pt. D
Sun. Feb. 19, President’s Day weekend) no Coming of Age


3 UU poems
Sun. Feb. 25, 11 a.m. – 12:15
So what do Unitarian Universalists believe? Or do they believe anything at all? 3 poems to help answer these questions.


FIELD TRIP to Asian Art Museum, to look at Asian religious art
Sun. March 4, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 or 1:30 p.m.
We’ll look at some Asian representations of the divine, including art by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs, Taoists, etc.
Leave UUCPA at 9:30 a.m., arrive at museum 10:30 a.m. (allowing for parking)
Tour exhibits for approx. 1 hour
Option: stay for lunch at the Asian Art Museum Cafe
Return to UUCPA at 12:30, or at 1:30 if you stay for lunch

Queen Maya's dream

Above: An example of Buddhist art, the birth of Buddha.


The Bible and prayer: an intro to Western religious practice
Sun. Mar. 11, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Unitarian Universalists have their own unique ways of understanding both the Bible and prayer. Even if you’re not interested in the Bible or prayer personally, you need to know what UUs think.


How UUCPA works
Sun., March 18, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Most religions are not democratic, but UUCPA is. This is a chance for you to think about whether you think religion should be democratic or not!




Credo writing
Sun., March 25, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Introduction to writing credos, with time to start writing credos. Mentors are most definitely invited!


Sun., April 1: Easter intergenerational service, no Coming of Age


Plywood sculptures, pt. E
Sun., April 8 (optional session, PAUSD spring break), 11 a.m. – 12:15
Last chance to finish plywood sculptures and/or mirror project at UUCPA. If not done, you can either arrange a time to finish them, or take them home to finish them. (It’s OK if you do not finish them.)


Time to work on credos
Sun., April 15, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Time to work on credos, with opportunities to talk over your credo with Coming of Age teachers, other youth, and/or your mentor. Mentors are most definitely invited!


Attend a regular UUCPA service
Sun., April 22, 11 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Since the youth will soon be leading the service, this is a chance to attend a UUCPA service and see what it’s like. (We always try to schedule a meeting with Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern and/or a worship associate afterwards to talk over how they plan the service.)


Planning the service
Sun., April 29, 11 a.m. – 12:15
Bring a draft of your credo. We will decide what order the credos will be read, plus who does what during the services. Mentors invited.


Sun., May 6, 12:30 – 2 p.m.
We’ll go through the whole service. Do NOT miss this rehearsal, because we will show youth the easy way to look and sound fantastic!


Sun., May 13: Flower communion intergenerational service, Mother’s Day, no Coming of Age


FINAL SESSION: Coming of Age service and lunch
Sun., May 20, 8:50 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Youth lead both services, at 9:30 and 11:00.
Afterwards, potluck lunch from 12:30-1:30. There will be time right after lunch for parents to sit down with their child and tell them how fabulous their child is.



Note: After poor reviews from youth in 2011-12, attendance at Pacific Central District Coming of Age [PCD CoA] overnights is no longer a part of UUCPA’s Coming of Age program. However, youth may participate in the PCD CoA overnights on their own.

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