Religious Education > 2011 Newsletter Archive


This Holiday season we give our children and youth a precious and unusual gift. We give them a place in a larger Unitarian Universalist community; a community that has forged the bonds of friendship and caring by working side by side despite diverse beliefs. Our children are witnessing and participating as our two congregations accept and affirm each other. Students are experiencing first hand spiritual growth in their parents, teachers and within themselves. The kind of growth that only comes from rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work of actually living this wonderful faith we share. As we share our beloved holiday traditions with our First Universalist friends, take a moment to look around at all the faces in our entire
combined congregation; these people, this faith, this Unitarian Universalist community, is the true gift we offer our children this holiday season.

Our Christmas Pageant is one of our most loved annual events. The pageant will take place during the regular service on December 18th. While it can sometimes be a challenge to have your children at rehearsals or get them to practice their lines, the joy of participation is well worth the time it will take. You and your children will have the gift of taking part in something fun and meaningful together. It is also a great way to counter some of the commercialism children face this time of year.

Our annual Christmas party will take place December 18th after coffee hour in Bolles Hall. We will have a very special visitor from the North Pole and each child will get a small trinket. We will have pizza and goodies and sing Christmas carols together. This is a great holiday tradition for our members and we are so pleased to have the opportunity to share our special party with our good friends from FUSS. All children and adults are invited.

We have many other events during this exciting month, so roll up your sleeves and join us! We will be making ornaments and raffling off a dollhouse to raise funds for our Philippine student, we have a Parents Night Off on December 9, and we will continue with our pageant rehearsals. Please see the schedule for all of the holiday events this December. Let us all give thanks that the First Church and the First Universalist Society are blessed with so many wonderful children ( and adults!) who bring us love and laughter this holiday season.


We have just completed our second month of our joint Religious Education program with the First Universalist Church. The children and families are making friends, working together and learning about different ways of being a Unitarian Universalists Some of the topics from the past month in our RE classes were, in no particular order; learning about sustainability in our world, how the universe was made, the Seven Principles, what are we afraid of, and, all people are important. Please feel free to ask about what our children are exploring in their classrooms
and how it pertains to Unitarian Universalism.

Our combined Spaghetti Dinner/Halloween Party was wonderful. Good food, lots of fun and some great fellowship all came together for a fabulous event. Thanks to all the folks who rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to make this evening possible, without you these events would not happen.

November brings a fresh burst of activity for our program. Religious Education will host a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast on Nov 6th to thank our teachers for their excellent service.

Our pageant casting begins a bit earlier this year. Max Burbank will be meeting with those families and children interested in being part of our traditional holiday pageant on Sunday, November 13th after coffee hour. For more pageant information please see the pageant schedule box on Page 2.

On Sunday November 20th the children of the Religious Education program are invited to bake cornbread together for the congregation to use in our Thanksgiving communion. Parents and volunteers are welcome to take part in this event.

Two years ago FUSS began sponsoring a Unitarian Universalist student in the Philippines through the UU Partnership Church Council of the Philippines. Romel Alagos is currently 12 years old and entering seventh grade. FUSS has committed to provide books, school fees, and uniforms for Romel for six years of his education. To help raise funds for Romel’s education a doll house has been donated by Julie Anderson’s mom, Linda. The furniture for
the dollhouse will be donated by individuals or families within the two congregations. The dollhouse will be raffled off December 18th. Tickets will be available starting November 12th. We hope everyone in our community takes advantage of this opportunity to help fund Romel’s education. Please come by the RE hallway outside the Anna Hill room to view this wonderful dollhouse.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Deb DiGiulio, RE Director OCTOBER 2011

Our first month of sharing Religious Education classes with our friends at First Universalist Society has been a great success. Our students are adjusting very well, making new friends, exploring a new building and have had the opportunity to experience a water communion and an intergenerational service. We are happy to see our families returning and blessed to be on the receiving end of the warm and loving hospitality of our sister church. Our Family Mixer event on September 9th was well attended and First Church folks got to tour the building, greet old friends and meet new friends from FUSS.

To accommodate the combined populations of the two Religious Education programs, we are offering 6 classes based on age/grade. We have a High School group, which meets every other week, a middle school group, the Navigators class of 4th and 5th grade students, the Explorers class of 2nd and 3rd grade students, First Steps for grades K-1 and the 3 to 4 year old class. Childcare is provided for children under age 3 in the nursery. Attendance has been very good and the students are all working well together.

While we are guests of The First Universalist Society we will still be enjoying most of our much loved RE special events. Our Halloween Family Fun Night will take place on October 21st at 6:00 pm here at FUSS. You can anticipate all the usual fun, crafts, games and special surprises we normally expect from this wonderful event, with a few new additions borrowed from the Halloween traditions of our hosts! Be sure to include our upcoming seasonal events on your family calendar for the next few months. Saturday, November
12th, FUSS/FCS will host our first ever variety show. Prepare your special act and watch for details soon; December 9th, parents’ night out (no kidding!); and December 18th is our Christmas Pageant and party. Casting will begin early this year for the Pageant so be prepared. Warm gratitude and thanks to all our kids and families from both congregations who are coming to church every Sunday, meeting new people and embracing change. Without you all, even the best planned and executed program would be meaningless. You are the reason for our Religious Education program. You are our success.


I hope you have all enjoyed your summer and are recharged and ready to take on an exciting year of religious education at the First Church. While our building is undergoing renovations, our religious education program will join with the RE program of the First Universalist Society of Salem (FUSS). This shared RE program provides many rare and wonderful opportunities for the children from both congregations. Students will experience how different groups of Unitarian Universalist worship and express their faith together. Students will explore religious education while building relationships with new UU children and youth, and they will enjoy the talents and caring of a larger group of UU adults. All this while having fun too! So be ready to explore, expand, meet new people and recharge your UU faith as we worship with our UU neighbors at the First Universalist Society of Salem.

Sharing a program with our sister UU church will of course bring changes. The children will be in new classrooms, but they get to explore and know a great old building. The First Universalist Society has some great party spaces and a beautiful light filled hall with a great stage. (Of interest to our theatrically inclined youth perhaps?) We will expand our classroom offerings by adding a class for 3 and 4 year olds. All other classes will continue as before with the children’s familiar teachers and childcare personnel as well the addition of some great volunteer teachers from both churches.

At First Universalist our congregation will get to explore firsthand what a completely intergenerational service looks and feels like. The Homecoming Sunday service, called Rally Sunday at FUSS, will be intergenerational. Several other intergenerational services are scheduled throughout the season. This is a great way to “try on” new ways of worshipping together.

While we can expect many things to be different while we are the guests of our friends at First Universalist, some things will stay the same; our commitment to offering an inclusive, safe and loving space for students to grow and explore their faith, build friendships, and be part of a caring community. So be sure to come to church on Sunday September 11th and as many Sundays as your family is able. You are the heart and soul of our community.

To begin our shared journey of and friendship and faith exploration the joint Religious Education Committees from First church and FUSS have planned a Familyl Mixer on Friday, September 9th at 6:00pm. Please come and meet our FUSS hosts, see the beautiful building and visit your child’s classroom and teacher. We will have pizza, games and other fun. (Even for teens!)

MAY 2011

One quick word about this year’s Youth Sunday theme: Living Our UU Faith. Without you, the members of this congregation, giving so much of your time and serviceto support and sustain the spiritual, physical, and fiscal health of The First Church, our children would not have the opportunity to experience the rich programming we are able to provide them throughout the year. You are role models of how to live our UU faith. Truly, you are the wind beneath our wings.

Our annual Youth Sunday was a success! Thanks to our talented children, and to our teachers, Denise Granniss, Netrista Khatam, Theadora Burbank, and Alina Usmanova. Special thanks to Valentina Burbank who
wrote and directed the production, and to Max Burbank for his valuable assistance. Thanks also to Seth Mascolo and Alicia Diozzi.

We have a busy and exciting month coming up. On May 15 the Religious Education classes will be visiting
Green Meadows Farm in Hamilton, MA as part of our humane farming social justice theme. Green Meadows is
an organic farm and our students will have a hands on tour where they will learn about renewable farm practices, feed the chickens and see the lambs. We might even get to know some pigs! An informational sheet and permission slip are can be found at the church website (

Get ready to SING! On Friday, May 20, 6–9:30 pm we will host our first ever Sound of Music Singalong! This
event is for all ages of music lovers. Children should come in their PJ’s and bring a sleeping bag and a pillow
to get comfortable. This is a no-one-will-shush-you movie event! Parents should plan on attending with their children. Guests are welcome.

On Sunday, May 22, RE will host Sundae Sunday. We will have tasty ice cream sundaes and other treats for
sale during Fellowship to benefit the Humane Society’s Fund for Humane Farming. When you participate in an RE fundraising event, 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.