Religious Education > 2010 Newsletter Archive

May 2010

Unitarian Universalism is a faith of action. We focus on acting out our values in the world rather than on correctness of belief. Our children, teens and youth have been putting their faith into
action this year with very good results.

Our annual Chocolate Sunday event was a runaway success, with the children earning $734 in a few hours for the UNICEF Haiti Fund. The Middle/High school group held an equally successful silent auction and were able to send $625 to The What If? Foundation in Haiti. Soon some of our young students will host Sundae Sunday and hopefully will once again raise funds-and awareness, of the plight of Haiti's children.

These events, while highly visible and conducted with much fanfare and frivolity, are only the tip of the iceberg. The important work for our students is in learning about the vast need in this world and finding ways to make a difference. Our students research social justice issues, and then decide which they will support. A major part of the project involves raising awareness about the particular cause they are working with among themselves and their peers, and within the congregation. Our young people are learning how to act out their values and make a change for the better in this world.

Our Youth Group and some of our Middle/High School kids will be lucky enough to watch Greg Mortenson receive The Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice. Just looking forward to attending this special event and seeing firsthand a person who has dedicated his life to helping others has inspired the Youth Group to choose the Central Asia Institute, Mortenson's foundation, for inclusion in their upcoming fund raiser.

When you are enjoying that delicious ice cream, or buying a 50/50 raffle ticket, or contemplating donating goods or services to one of our popular Religious Education-sponsored social justice events, know that what you are actually taking part in is much larger than the event at hand. The part you see-the ice cream, the cake, the raffle prizes etc.-is only the visible tip of a very large iceberg. You are not only supporting a worthy social justice cause, you are joining with our children as they gain first-hand experience putting their Unitarian Universalist faith into action.

Thank you all for your continued and always generous support of our students.
April 2010

And You Thought They Were Just Being Cute - Youth Sunday at the First Church

Youth Sunday is one of the major undertakings for Religious Education each year. Planning begins while we are deciding on themes and lesson plans for the year. The schedule for the production itself as well as rehearsals is set in August. Scripts are written right after the Christmas rush. One casting session, three rehearsals and three weeks of class time, as well as a run through on the morning of the production are required to produce the Youth Sunday Service. This is in addition to the countless phone calls, emails and personal conversations to smooth out all the details.

Any one who has run a special service at the First Church or a small production someplace else can begin to imagine what is required. Add to that 40 small children, many different families, and you can see the giant undertaking that is Youth Sunday.

What is the result of all this energy expended on behalf of our students? We present a meaningful service to the congregation that is entertaining, educational, and showcases what the First Church students are studying. More than this, our children are taking ownership of the Meetinghouse and learning first hand about the ritual of worship. They are peeking into the art and flow of an integral part of a Unitarian Universalist community. Creating and conducting the Sunday service fosters for our students a greater connection to, and understanding of, our weekly worship service. The participation of the entire congregation reaffirms that our children are valued members of our First Church Community.

Special thanks to Valentina and Max Burbank, who spent countless volunteer hours on our Youth Sunday production. This service would not be possible without them. And this year Joe Perron completed the Herculean task of drying out Willson Hall in time for our production. Thanks Joe! In addition, many thanks to the parents and especially to our talented students, who always give their best for Youth Sunday!

March 2010

Working Together

"The path to greatness is along with others"

Baltasar Gracion, Spanish Priest

The best part of the First Church is not our building or our theology, or even our historical significance, but each and every individual who is part of this vital community. In February, the Religious Education sponsored two fabulous examples of how our First Church community comes together and shares the joy and wonder of each other; our Family Fun Beach Party and Chocolate Sunday.

Our Beach Party was our best ever Family Fun Night. Music, leis, sunglasses, crafts, limbo competitions, sandcastles and Valentina Burbank's famous games all added up to a great evening for children and adults alike. We had over 70 people participate, and our First Church Youth Group, RE Committee, and many others volunteered to make this event the success it was. The children all really enjoyed the evening! The night was a real blast!

Eight days later, we hosted Chocolate Sunday. Our children and volunteers transformed the Cleveland Room into an elegant boutique of chocolate goodies worthy of a world-class hotel! The fabulous treats, the fact that Valentines Day fell on a Sunday, and the outpouring of support and sympathy for the focus of the fundraiser, Haiti, all came together for a spectacular event. It is still hard for me to believe that we earned over $725 on that one sale! It is amazing what greatness we can achieve when we work together as a community for a common goal.

Our children are preparing for one of our biggest events of the year, Youth Sunday. This year, Youth Sunday will be March 21. Please support your child's commitment to our program by being sure they come to as many rehearsals as possible. Participation in group events like Youth Sunday is the glue that binds this community of young people together as friends.

Our Middle School and Teen classes are working together on a social justice project that will help us all to better understand Third World poverty. They will be taking the initiative to share what they learn with the congregation and raise some funds for a project that serves Third world in March.

Our active and engaged Explorers class has turned out some fabulous art and drama! I hope you all get a chance to view the Ark of the Covenant and other amazing projects coming out of this class. To support the hands-on approach we are engaging in with the students in this class we need at least one adult volunteer per week. Please consider helping if you can.

Our First Steps and our Explorers classes are also creating some great art. We will need to have a special RE Art Show at the end of this year just so everyone can see the great work our kids are doing! Happy Spring,

February 2010

Show Some Love!! (with Chocolate)

Chocolate Sunday is always so much fun here at the First Church in Salem, this year it is even more spectacular for two reasons; one, Chocolate Sunday falls on Valentines Day this year, and two, 100% of funds will go to Haiti relief. So break out the baking pans and whip up something extra special to donate, and then come to service on Valentines Day prepared to purchase delicious treats to take home with you. What better way to celebrate a day dedicated to love than baking and buying sweet treats for each other and at the same time helping those whose need is so great? We will be sending all funds earned off to Haiti within a day or two of our fundraiser to help our Haitian friends as soon as possible.

Our very popular Family Fun Nights continue this Friday February 5th with our very first beach party! So break out the shorts and sunglasses and put on your boldest Hawaiian shirt and enjoy our evening in the Sun! We will have games, crafts and some special summer foods. All are welcome; you do not need to have a child in the program to have all this fun! Friends are always welcome too.

Our Religious Education classes are once again busy with their ongoing studies. First Steps will be learning about Fannie Farmer and Maria Mitchell, both famous UUs. The Explorers have been gardening in the Garden of Eden, recreating their very own Nativities and talking in "Babel". Coming up they will be making coats of many colors and learning about stories of Noah's Ark from various cultures. The Navigators class is so active in their creative pursuit of Biblical knowledge that they are almost always in the larger space of Willson Hall learning, acting and creating! Check out the "Coat of Many Colors" hanging in the Barnard room and look for the Ark of the Covenant, coming soon. The Middle School Group will be looking into social justice projects, and the High School group is running the Haiti relief project for RE.

We will begin casting and rehearsals on February 28th for Youth Sunday, which will take place on Sunday March 21st. Please plan with your child to be here for the rehearsals and to participate in Youth Sunday. Events like this are what help kids feel truly a part of the whole RE experience and foster friendships within our program.

We are looking forward to a busy and love filled month of February.
January 2010

Our fabulously talented First Church RE Players outdid themselves with this year’s Christmas Pageant! Congratulations to all! They are a funny and talented and bunch of kids! Thanks to Max Burbank for the all the work he puts into this event. We truly appreciate him!

Our Christmas party was fun for all. Even Santa had a blast! We have excellent volunteers, friend and parents who care very much about this community and pitch in to make our big events successful. Even snowstorms two years in a row have not stopped our special Christmas Sunday events from going on! Heartfelt thanks to all.

Religious Education at the First Church is ready to jump into 2010! We are looking forward to the relative peace and quiet of the winter months. The children are enjoying looking at the Bible through a Unitarian Universalist perspective. We all have lots of fun in class each week. Look for our 2010 calendar in the mail.

Our growing program depends on volunteers helping out in the classrooms each week. With six separate groups on Sunday mornings and 26 Sundays left in the Church School year, there are many opportunities! If you are a parent of a child in the RE program, we need you to volunteer periodically in our classrooms. Members of the Religious Education Committee will be recruiting and signing up “classroom angels” during Fellowship throughout the winter.

All the important events that make First Church’s holiday traditions special for our children simply would not happen without the strong and loving support we get from the congregation. As the Religious Education program continues to grow, we thank you for your dedication and commitment more than ever. Thanks for all you do for our great kids!

Happy New Year!