UUCPA children and youth programs

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1947 — In April, congregation begins holding Sunday evening meetings

1948 — Congregation moves meeting time to Sunday mornings
1948 — In the spring, “Mrs. Cleaveland provided child care for the very young in her yard and different mothers took turns as sitters.”
1948 — In the fall, first Sunday school classes held jointly with the Friends (Quakers). “There are three Friends and three Unitarians, all mothers of the children, who take turns [as teachers] for a month at a time. The children range in age from two and a half to ten and are divided into three groups for instruction.”

1949 — Religious education (RE) enrollment is 25 children

1950 — Services are held at the Palo Alto Community Center
1950 — RE enrollment is 40
1950/51 — John Durr is Superintendent of Religious Education; he volunteers while in his last year of theological school

1951/52 — Robert Harrison runs the Sunday school as a volunteer

1952 — Due to growth there are two sessions of Sunday school
1952/53 — Evelyn Borthwick is volunteer Supervisor of Church School; Marion Conley is Superintendent of the 11:00 a.m. church school
1952 — RE enrollment is 150

1953/54 — Religious Education Committee is in charge of the Sunday school
1953 — RE enrollment is 180

1954/55 — Religious Education Committee is in charge of the Sunday school
1954 — RE enrollment is 215

1955/56 — Eve Wilder volunteers as Superintendent of Religious Education
1955 — RE enrollment is 310

1956/57 — Religious Education Committee is in charge of the Sunday school
1956 — RE enrollment is 400+, with waiting lists for gr. 6 and under
1956 — 7th, 8th, and 9th grade classes meet in five nearby homes

1957/58 — Marion Murphy is part-time paid Superintendent of Religious Education
1957 — RE enrollment is 530
1957 — Rae Bell begins serving as children’s choir director

1958 — C. Sargent Hearn becomes the first full-time paid religious educator, assisted by his wife Virginia
1958 — RE enrollment is 461
1958 — First Sunday services are held in new building

1959 — Florence Sund becomes the Director of Religious Education; from 1955-1959 she was DRE in Rockford, Ill.
1959 — RE enrollment is 500+
1959 — A spin-off group from PAUC becomes the Unitarian Fellowship of Redwood City


1960 — RE enrollment is 561
1960 — “Attendance has dropped off a bit, partially because of the Redwood City Fellowship exodus”; 25 PAUC members plus a number of PAUC children transferred to Redwood City
1960 — The Student Council, elected from the Sunday school, disburses $1,100 [$9,750 in 2020 dollars] collected from the Sunday school collection, including funding for the patio installation

1961 — RE enrollment is 600

1962 — RE enrollment peaks at over 600
1962 — There are three Sunday sessions to accommodate the Sunday school — the 8:45 early morning forum, and the regular 10:00 and 11:30 services — plus a Wednesday evening session with a family service
1962 — Sunnyvale UU Fellowship is spun off from PAUC

1963 — This year and next, some children transfer to the Sunnyvale Fellowship, relieving some pressure on PAUC’s Sunday school
1963 — Due to lack of classroom space, 5 classes are held in nearby homes
1963 — For the second straight year, PAUC membership “is at a standstill”
1963 — Programs for children and teens include 3 sessions of Sunday school, midweek family service, Junior Unitarian Youth (gr. 7-9), Liberal Religious Youth (gr. 10-12), children’s choir, youth choir; committees and staff include DRE, Youth Director, Religious Education Committee, Youth Activities Committee, and Student Council

1964 — Ernee Chester becomes Youth Choir Director
1964 — Continued growth of Sunnyvale and Redwood City UU Fellowships means no waiting list to get into PAUC’s Sunday school
1964 — Liberal Religious Youth stage “Our Town,” give $50 of the proceeds [$425 in 2020 dollars] to oppose California Proposition 14, which would legalize racial discrimination in housing

1965/66 — PAUC member Meredith Whitaker is “acting DRE”
1965 — In addition to fun activities, Junior Unitarian Youth (gr. 7-9) have discussions on “Death and the Hereafter” and “Does Unitarianism Promote High Moral Standards?”
1965 — Nationwide, Unitarian Universalism stops growing and begins declining around about 1965

1966 — RE enrollment is 480
1966 — Junior Unitarian Youth (gr. 7-9) sell UNICEF cards, raising $1,000 [$8,900 in 2020 dollars] for UNICEF
1966 — Clarice Gault hired as new Director of Religious Education, indicates she will stay no more than 3 years

1967 — RE enrollment is 575
1967 — Former DRE Meredith Whitaker is chair of RE Committee
1967 — RE committee and the DRE see “a need for in our church educational programing”
1967 — An experimental Thursday night mid-week service provides innovative programming for children

1968 — RE enrollment is 409
1968 — Liberal Religious Youth or LRY (gr. 10-12) stage Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit”
1968 — “LRY membership has soared” up to 80 people on the mailing list, up to 35 attending meetings

1969 — RE enrollment is 260
1969 — Due to falling adult attendance and religious education enrollment, congregation goes down to two services per Sunday
1969 — Clarice Gault resigns, indicates she sees problems withe PAUC
1969 — Virginia Stephens and Ellen Thacher become co-DREs

Sunday school class c. 1968


1970 — PAUC hosts an alternative high school, called “Lothlorien High School”
1970 — Congregation votes to form a nonprofit corporation to run Lothlorien; in the mean time, Lothlorien is run by PAUC
1970 — Ron Garrison, a Stanford student, hired as “Youth Minister”
1970 — Rae Bell resigns as children’s choir director, after 13 years
1970 — Room 8 is a ceramics room, with potter’s wheels
1970 — Program is “based on a freer, experience-centered situation” which children and teachers like, but parents want more”content”

1971 — Congregation establishes Ellen Thacher Children’s Center, a day care center for ages 2.9 to 7 years, named after the recently deceased Ellen Thacher; 1/4 of the children receive financial assistance
1971 — Congregation hires Rev. Dr. Ron Hargis as minister of religious education, on a two-year contract basis
1971 — Two types of Sunday school programs are offered, “one experience-oriented, one subject-oriented”
1971? — Nonprofit corporation to run Lothlorien is formed

1972 — Playground built for Thacher Center, with help from PAUC members, Lothlorien students, and Thacher parents
1972 — Dan Lion resigns; Ron Hargis becomes sole minister until Rev. Sidney Peterman arrives in the fall as interim minister
1972 — Ron Garrison resigns after congregation declines to make his position full time, with youth and community education responsiblities
1972 — RE enrollment is 250

1973 — The RE Committee brings in Til Evans of the Starr King School for the Ministry to lead an all-day workshop
1973 — PAUC offers About Your Sexuality course (precursor to the current Our Whole Lives comprehensive sexuality education course for gr. 7-9)
1973 — A grant from Samuel Untermeyer makes it possible for 6th and 7th graders to talk with astronaut Edgar Mitchell

1974 — “Baby Bust” means fewer children, and RE enrollment continues to drop
1974 — A grant from Samuel Untermeyer makes it possible for 6th and 7th graders to participate in an art project for an afternoon with innovative artist Ruth Asawa
1974 — “Nursery leader Cindy Cray noted that the decline in the birth rate has certainly affected the number of children in the nursery”

1975 — Ernee Chester, Youth Choir Director, resigns
1975 — Sargent Hearn, former DRE, is serving on the Religious Education Committee

1976 — A Junior High class is reactivated this year
1976 — Monthly intergenerational potlucks are held

1977 — Ron Hargis resigns at the end of the year
1977 — RE enrollment drops to about 50
1977 — Children are in the Main Hall service several times this year
1977 — June Yennie-Donmoyer and Bob Donmoyer become co-DREs in September

1978 — Religious education enrollment rises to 100
1978 — LRY (the youth group) has 30 members
1978 — First annual “mini-vacation” at Bass Lake
1978 — Monthly “All Church Community Activities” include a square dance, a picnic, and a dinner with Mexican cuisine

1979 — PAUC again offers a preschool class in Sunday school
1979 — Mary Brau becomes DRE
1979 — RE enrollment is 92, with 70 in Sunday school, and 12 in LRY (Liberal Religious Youth, the youth group)
1979 — For the hour before Sunday school, children may go to the Clay Room, the Reading Room, or the Games and Crafts Room

Sunday school class, 1978


1980 — DRE Mary Brau adds “executive officer” of the entire church to her duties
1980 — Nationwide, after a decade and a half of decline, Unitarian Universalism begins to grow at about 1% per year
1980 — RE enrollment drops to 75

1981 — An intergenerational breakfast is held on Easter Sunday

1982 — Sandy Price, an experienced DRE from Oak Park, Ill., becomes DRE for one school year while temporarily living in the area
1982 — Clay room activities at 10:00 a.m. (before Sunday school and the service) continue to be popular
1982 — Junior Choir is revived, sings once a month when children are in the first part of the service

1983 — Mary Katherine Haynes becomes DRE
1983 — Small but active youth group with paid part-time youth advisor

1984 — Intergenerational activities include two family potluck breakfasts, “Trick or Treat for UNICEF,” and Christmas carol party

1985 — Donna Bookbinder is temporary DRE
1985 — Jean Blackburn Conner becomes DRE in November
1985 — No program for teens this year

1986 — RE enrollment is 54
1986 — Child care is available year-round on Sundays; one paid staffer assisted by teen and parent volunteers

1987 — Educational goals developed in a fall retreat: increase involvement of kids in church, religious literacy, plant the seed of lifelong UUs
1987 — Easter breakfast and egg hunt

1988 — RE enrollment is 80
1988 — Edith Parker becomes Director of Religious Education
1988 — RE Committee seeks ways to encourage more participation by high school aged teens

1989 — Senior High teens host an all-church supper and some after-church lunches
1989 — RE brochure lists the Halloween Parade

Halloween party, 1986


1990 — RE enrollment is 125
1990 — Children continue to attend the first part of the worship service once a month before leaving for their classes
1990 — Both the senior high group and the junior high group are active

1991 — RE enrollment is 90
1991 — Main Hall is often 80-90% full on Sunday mornings; Ken Collier first proposes double sessions

1992 — Three paid child care workers provide care each Sunday
1992 — Intergenerational activities include a Seder Summer Solstice sunrise celebration, and a Winter Solstice celebration

1993 — Enrollment is 120, classrooms are crowded
1993 — After a hiatus, a Junior Choir starts up again
1993 — DRE Edith Parker serves as resource person for the new UU congregation forming in Fremont

1994 — The Religious Education Committee for children and youth, and the Adult Religious Education Committee merge to form a Lifespan Religious Education Committe

1995 — RE enrollment is 140, with growth in youngest ages, infants through preschoolers: the peak of the Millennial generation
1995 — UUCPA provides financial and moral support to the new UU congregation in Fremont, with no apparent effect on RE enrollment

1996 — Intergenerational events include folk singer Jim Stevens, 4:30 p.m. Christmas Eve service, Easter egg hunt for gr. preK-2
1996 — RE enrollment is 147

1997 — RE enrollment drops to 125
1997 — Congregation sees enough growth in adult membership to consider adding a second minister
1997 — New safety policy requires two adults in each classroom, though implementation was difficult at first

1998 — Edith Parker completes ministerial training, under UUA rules is not allowed to continue serving as inister at UUCPA, and so resigns
1998 — UUCPA hires Rev. Til Evans as interim minister of religious education, to serve with Ken Collier
1998 — Ellen Thacher Preschool is now part of Palo Alto Community Child Care
1998 — Intergenerational events include a games program in September
1998 — Til Evans reports that the lack of dependable and consistent space for religious education programs is the greatest lack facing the program

1999 — RE enrollment is 135
1999 — Behavioral problems in classrooms lead to the development of a behavioral covenant
1999 — Inspired by Til Evans, the Lifespan RE Committee marshals support in the congregation for adding a second permanent minister

Senior high youth on a ski trip, 1997


2000 — In January, UUCPA adds a second worship service on Sunday morning
2000 — Rev. Darcey Laine is called as minister of religious education; Rev. Ken Collier announces his resignation a few months later
2000 — RE enrollment is 64

2001 — Sunday school begins to include regular social justice projects
2001 — Rev. Darcey Laine spends significant time “supporting the parish ministry transition”

2002 — Capital campaign includes renovation of classrooms

2003 — Board of Trustees implements a child protection policy

2004 — The Senior High Youth Group and Rev. Darcey Laine, along with youth from the Redwood City UU Fellowship, install the first labyrinth at UUCPA

2005 — Time of children’s classes is changed from 11:00 to 9:30 a.m.
2005 — With Rev. Amy Zucker settled in as the new parish minister, Rev. Darcey Laine is able to re-focus her attention on children and youth

2006 — Family Chapel Services are held, led by volunteers

2007 — Darcey Laine resigns, as her family wants to relocate to upstate New York
2007 — Rev. Eva Ceskava becomes interim minister of religious education

2008 —

2009 — Congregation hires Rev. Dan Harper as assistant minister of religious education
2009 — Joe Chee, doctoral candidate in educational technology, starts CYRE blog for teacher engagement and training
2009 — Children and Youth Religious Education Committee moves key documents to the cloud
2009 — Nationwide, Unitarian Universalism begins small annual decline that continues to the present


2010 — With the help of church consultant Alice Mann, UUCPA sets goal of “adding the next 50 people” as measured by average annual attendance
2010 — Second Sunday Lunch begins, children and teens welcomed from the beginning
2010 — Joe Chee produces Sunday school teacher podcasts
2010 — Youth group makes a service trip to New Orleans

2011 — New fenced-in play area installed in front of Thacher School’s playground
2011 — Coming of Age class cooks, serves, and eats dinner with Hotel de Zink for the first time

2012 — UUCPA’s “OWL” comprehensive sexuality education program welcomes non-UU families, as a community outreach program
2012 — Navigators program is organized at UUCPA, a scouting program welcoming all genders and LGBTQIA+ persons
2012 — UUCPA begins publishing Sunday school curriculums online

2013 — Children are invited to participate in planning the new front garden

Children helping to plan the front garden, 2013 (faces blurred to preserve privacy)

2014 — Religious education enrollment peaks at 135 (highest since 1999)
2014 — Sunday school “Ecojustice class” installs first rain barrel at UUCPA

2015 — First year of Ecojustice Camp day camp
2015 — Youth group makes a service trip to Belize, under the direction of Anne Frahn

2016 — RE enrollment is 116
2016 — Membership and Growth Committee reports that UUCPA is halfway to the goal of adding 50 people, as measured by average annual attendance

2017 — RE enrollment is 105

2018 — RE enrollment is 105
2018 — Congregation considers removing the word “Church” from its name, with strong support from high school students who become members so they can vote on this issue
2018 — Mr. Barb Greve becomes religious educator while Dan Harper is on sabbatical; Greve is also volunteering as co-moderator of the UUA

2019 — About 30% of enrolled children and youth are non-white


2020 — COVID cause state-wide shutdown, on March 15 youth group and all classes move online
2020 — In September, two small in-person classes begin (Ecojustice class and OWL gr. 7-9), outdoors, masked, and physically distanced
2020 — In late November, another lockdown closes in-person classes

2021 — In February, the two in-person classes are able to resume once again
2021 — In June, three-week COVID-safe Ecojustice Camp welcomes 16 campers, makes $12,000 for the congregation
2021 — In September, in-person classes resume for preschool and up, with online options available