Religious Education > 2012 Newsletters

December 2012

The Christmas Season is a special time for our First Church Religious Education program. Our Christmas Pageant is one of our most loved annual events. This year the pageant will take place on Sunday December 23. 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. All children regardless of experience or acting ability are welcome. Please participate in the pageant if you are able, the photos alone will be worth it years from now!  See schedule for rehearsals below and posted online. Contact myself or Max Burbank to participate.

Our annual Christmas party will take place December 23 after Fellowship. 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 friends. I am sure the kids can’t wait.

Along with other UU churches, First Church is participating in the Guest at Your Table program. Guest at Your Table is an annual tradition in which congregations learn about the people with whom the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is working. By placing the donation box on your table and spending just a few moments each meal sharing the stories of hope that come with the box, you are quietly showing your children that your family cares about others in our world. You are sending the message that this season of parties and gifts has a larger message, love for our brothers and sisters in this world. See the link below to learn more. Pick up your box in the Barnard room.

Let us all give thanks that we at the First Church are blessed with so many wonderful children and friends  to bring us joy and laughter this holiday season. 

November 2012

Religious Education has had a wonderful October. Our new spaces are working out well and we are thrilled with the possibilities the new building offers our program.  Our annual Halloween Family Fun Night was held in Willson Hall and a great time was had by all 90 plus folks in attendance. Thanks to all who helped to make this party so wonderful, Bob S, Valentina B, Natalie J, Alicia D, and Julie A who all played a vital part in making the evening a success. A special thanks to all our families who attended, in costume or without - you make all the fun happen! You rock!

Our first Jack-o-Lantern silent auction was a success. Thanks to those who donated the fabulous pumpkin creations and those who bid on them. We were able to raise funds to support the Middle School students in their upcoming micro loan session plus help fund some other projects!

In November we have some great special events planned. In support of our Justice theme this year, our students in grades 4 through 8 have been learning about indigenous peoples of the Americas. We began with Columbus and the Tiano people and are now investigating the Wampanoag people who are native to the area we now inhabit.  In support of this theme, we have invited Tim Turner of Native Plymouth Tours to come and speak with the students on November 11th during our regular Religious Education time in Willson Hall. Mr. Turner is an interpreter at the Wampanoag Home site at Plimouth Plantation. The presentation is about how Native Americans lived in the 17th century and will include hands on activities with handmade reproductions of Native artifacts and role playing.  Please be sure to have your student here for this special event. Parents and members are invited also.

On November 17 and 18th our OWL students will be having their overnight from Saturday morning though service on Sunday. Good luck to them, their teachers and chaperones!

Our students in grades 2-3, the Explorers, are continuing their investigation of the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism.   First Steps, grades K-1, are learning about being good to each other using the Arthur series of children’s books.

Interested in working with our great Middle school students? In December we will be learning about poverty and opportunity in the third world by exploring the Kiva microloan website. ( ) We are looking for a few folks to assist with this endeavor. Contact Deb DiGiulio for more information. This will be fun and rewarding!

October 2012

October at the First Church promises to be as exciting and busy as ever. We have our tradition for World Communion Sunday, October 7, when our children bake cornbread together in the downstairs kitchen. October 19th is our fabulous Halloween Party. This year we will hold the party in our newly refreshed Willson Hall at 6:30 pm. We will have games and crafts and a few special surprises! This event is open to all our members and friends, so be sure to drop by.

A new event this year will be our Jack-o-Lantern silent auction. The silent auction will take place during Fellowship on October 21. Religious Education will use the funds raised to support some exciting special projects for our students, including a Kiva microloan project for the Middle school students and a worm bin project for the younger classes! So get out your carving tools and your creativity and carve up some spooky fun pumpkins for a good cause!

Our students have been working hard and having fun in their Religious Education groups. The First Steps class is learning about being good to each other through the Arthur children’s series by Marc Brown. The explorers are learning about the Seven UU principles, and the Navigators and Middle school groups are learning about indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Speaking of our Religious Education classes I want to acknowledge the dedication of our Sunday morning teachers. We have a talented group of folks who spend their Sunday mornings in class with our students; Valentina Burbank, Max Burbank, Netrista Khatam, and Theadora Burbank, with Denise Granniss currently working on a Bridging program soon to be unveiled for our graduating seniors.

Teaching Religious education is truly an expression of faith and really quite fun and rewarding. Please speak to any of the above mentioned teachers or to me about joining us on Sunday mornings. A commitment of just a few Sundays is welcome!

Happy October!

September 2012

We are back! Our year away from First Church is over and we have some beautiful new spaces and a bright sanctuary to stretch our wings in. We also have a few fresh ideas to go along with our fresh new look.

Religious Education has an exciting year planned for our students. We have lined up all the old favorites like Halloween Sunday, Family Fun Night and the Christmas Pageant, all of which become special childhood memories for our children and help us bond as a community. We also have thought provoking and engaging Sunday morning experiences planned for our children.

We have two special classes running this year. One is the Our Whole Lives program which begins this September and will finish up in May. The class is for grades 7 to 9 and runs on Sunday evenings. The OWL program will be led by Jesse Jaeger, Trish Newhall, Claire Donaldson and Mike Fritz. For our students who will be seniors in high school this year we are offering a Bridging program, which marks the transition from youth to young adulthood. Denise Granniss will be working with these great students.

For our students in grades 4 through 8 we are shaking things up a bit. For these students we have access to the internet, a couple of laptop computers, flip video cameras and some really great ideas as starting places for projects. Our goal is to get away from the ”story-craft-game” classroom model and move into a more creative student driven experience for these kids on Sunday mornings. We as teachers and adults will be the guides as our students explore many ways of being Unitarian Universalist in the world. We
welcome your ideas and input into this dynamic new classroom structure.

On Saturday September 8th, we invite children and their families to join a work party to get the church ready for Homecoming. Please contact Chris Granniss or Steve Palmer with any questions.

Welcome back!

June 2012

Click here for the June 2012 Summer Reading article.

May 2012

We are moving back! First Church is returning home on May 6th! We still have lots to do and need everyone who can help to stop by on a Saturday and pitch in. We will be prepping and painting, organizing Religious Education’s entire store of books, supplies and furniture. We will be hanging bulletin boards, moving tables and chairs, organizing closets and storage areas. We also will be moving items we have stored at First Universalist back home. This is a big task that needs lots of hands. It will be so exciting setting up our new and refurbished spaces for our children to learn and grow within. I expect the atmosphere during these work events to be barely suppressed joy!

Our big push will be on Saturday May 5, 9:00 am. But there will be much ongoing work one most Saturdays throughout the spring so watch the e- Herald for information. Looking back, what we have accomplished is nothing short of amazing! Combining two very old and different RE programs and congregations for the better part of a year. As complicated as it seemed before we began, in reality, all went surprisingly well. With mutual goodwill and respect differences were overcome, horizons were broadened and friends were made. Ultimately a solid and enduring relationship between two vibrant and historic communities has been built.

On another note, we are planning the remainder of our church school year and I can share a few highlights; we will be back at FUSS to share in their Flower Communion on June 10th. I hope to use this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to FUSS for hosting us this year. Do try to attend with your family.

On June 17th, we will have our traditional RE Sunday where we recognize the children and youth’s accomplishments during the past year. While we are delighted to celebrate this event here at First Church we have respectfully invited our friends at First Universalist to celebrate the day along with us. As you may recall on RE Sunday each child receives a book specifically chosen for them. In an effort to save resources,build community, and yes, maybe save some cash too, we have come with a fun plan to recycle all those wonderful children’s books lying around your house that your own kids may have outgrown. If your family has a well loved book in good condition perhaps you would like to pass it on to another family? Simply place a small notepaper inside
the front cover telling us who the book is from and the approximate age the book is appropriate for. We will place a collection bin at the entrance to the First Church beginning May 6th to collect the recycled books. On RE Sunday another child will get to experience the book your child loved. What a great way to share books and to save the planet too!

We look forward to our future together here in our beloved First Church home!

Happy spring,
Deb DiGiulio, Director of Religious Education

April 2012

Spring is the season of renewal and at First church this year we are experiencing renewal on a grand scale. Our building is transforming before our eyes, walls are being painted, floors tiled, and years of accumulated stuff is being cleared out. In just a few short weeks Religious Education will be back in our much loved old haunts, and lucky enough to also be moving into some exciting brand new spaces.   Our children will carry tales and memories of this grand renovation forward many decades into the future. This is a great moment in the history of our The First Church and we are inspired!

April will be a time of transition for our program. While the exact date of our return to First Church is not known yet, plans are being laid for an organized and meaningful move from First Universalist back to First Church. In Religious Education students and teachers will spend the last few classes before the return preparing students from First Universalist and the First Church for the changes about to take place in their program. Sessions around separating from friends and leaving familiar places as well as an on site look at the First Church changes are planned for all the students.  Please watch for information about these important lessons and activities and be sure to have your child in attendance.

Looking ahead to next year First Church will offer Our Whole Lives for our 7th – 9th grade students. We are thrilled to begin the OWL program here at First Church.  For more information about the OWL program please check out this link:

or contact Jesse Jaeger, Trish Newhall or Deb DiGiulio. Parents of students in this age group are invited to an informational meeting on Sunday, April 29th at 7pm, location tba. Please come and bring your questions.

I welcome spring and look forward to celebrating the return of our beloved community to our renewed building.

MARCH 2012

Thanks to the support of the congregation, Chocolate Sunday 2012 was a wonderful day and a great success. The baking, organizing, and the sale itself went very well and everyone had a fine time. Thanks to our students, members and friends who all came together to make this day fun. Special thanks to Brenda Brianna, Bob Soucy, Kara McGarigal and Liz Nugent. The funds earned will be used to support RE’s chosen social justice project for this year.

As has been our custom at the First Church for the past few years, the students in the Middle School class have chosen a social justice project through a democratic process. After much discussion, a few tough decisions, and a final vote the students have chosen to support a group called the Angkor Well Project and build a well in Siem Reap Angkor, Cambodia. This project will be the focus of our 40 Days of Social Justice Campaign.

Cambodia is one of the poorest nations on earth, and one of the most pressing issues for rural Cambodians is the lack of clean water. Villagers often drink from contaminated water sources. Parents are prevented from working and children from going to school by sickness caused by drinking the dirty water. These illnesses can be fatal, especially for children under 5 years old. The Angkor Well Project has installed over 400 pump wells which supply 6,500 remote Cambodians potable water. These wells vastly improve the health of the villages and provide a higher standard of living for all. Now First Church and First Universalist Society will be able to provide clean safe water to a remote Cambodian village!

In addition to the Cambodian well, the students will be participating in some lessons and projects over the next 40 days about the resource of water and how it affects us locally and as a planet. Students will be sharing what they learn about water with the entire congregation in some way yet to be determined (again, the democratic process will be in play here). Watch for some fun water related events, and be sure to engage your children in a discussion around the topic of water.

While Easter is still one month away, we have begun plans for our special events. On Sunday April1 we will host our annual Egg Dying Egg-stravaganza event after Fellowship. To participate just show up with hard boiled eggs, and be sure there is a parent along too.  On Easter Sunday we will host our annual Easter Egg Hunt. We will need donations of filled plastic eggs and will place a collection bin out by Sunday March 11th.  These events will take place regardless of location so be sure to mark your calendar.


OWL is short for Our Whole Lives, a sexuality education curricula created through a collaborative effort between the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the United Church of Christ (UCC).  OWL has six levels of curricula, from Kindergarten through older adults.  We’ll be launching our OWL program with our young members in grades 7-9. 

OWL is offered in many venues—schools, churches, and community groups.  It’s based on the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education produced by the National Guidelines Task Force, a group of leading health, education, and sexuality professionals assembled by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).  Many churches have run it for decades, and we’re excited to open the opportunity to our community!

In early January, Deb DiGuilio and Trish Newhall participated in a three-day facilitator training for OWL, led by Jesse Jaeger, who has long experience developing curricula and facilitating programs for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).  We learned a great deal about the program and were impressed with the scope and age-appropriateness of the curriculum, and more importantly, by its guiding values: self worth; sexual health; responsibility; justice and inclusivity.  The youth of our church community will benefit tremendously from participating in this comprehensive, humanistic program.

In the coming months, we’ll contact parents to set up an informational meeting and provide an orientation to the program.  We’re in the process of scheduling and planning, and are looking forward to connecting with all those members of the congregation who are interested in OWL.  Trish Newhall and Jesse Jaeger will be co-facilitating the program in collaboration with Deb DiGiulio.  If you have immediate questions, don’t hesitate to contact any of us.

Here is how the Unitarian Universalist Association describes OWL:

Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, Our Whole Lives not only provides facts about anatomy and human development, but also helps participants clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality.


Each level of Our Whole Lives offers:

- Up-to-date information and honest, age-appropriate answers to all participants' questions

- Activities to help participants clarify values and improve decision-making skills

- Effective group-building to create a safe and supportive peer group

- Education about sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment
- Opportunities to critique media messages about gender and sexuality
- Acceptance of diversity
- Encouragement to act for justice
- A well designed, teacher-friendly leaders' guide
- Parent orientation programs that affirm parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children
- Sexuality and Our Faith, an optional religious component for Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ settings.

More information is available at


Our combined Religious Education program enjoyed a very full December. Together we made and sold ornaments and raffled a beautiful dollhouse to raise funds to support our Philippine student through another year of school. We gathered to hear stories about the many different ways our families celebrate during December.  We rehearsed and presented a holiday pageant and hosted a family Christmas Party with a special visit from Santa.  We had the great support of our many volunteers and the dedication of the RE Committee. Running such successful would be impossible without the support of all of you pitching in to help.  Our friends and members truly make this a wonderful community for our children.

The Sunday school played to a full house for this year’s pageant on December 18th. It seems the ability of our actors grows by leaps and bounds every year! This year our Troup was even stronger with the addition of several talented First Universalist children. Under the direction of Max Burbank our kids put on a performance well beyond what one would expect of kids their age. Bravo to our talented kids and to Max and Valentina for a truly memorable Christmas Pageant. Many thanks to Paul Madore for his wonderful accompaniment and his never ending patience!

Once again Santa did not disappoint for our annual Christmas Sunday Family party, arriving right on time during the holiday sing along. Caroling, pizza and goodies were enjoyed by all in the lovely and spacious Bolles Hall. This party is a wonderful family event that just gets better every year.

Our combined Religious Education Program is ready to jump into 2012! We are looking forward to the relative peace and quiet of the winter months. We have a fantastic January session planned with many fun and interesting mini courses for the students to experience. Be sure to check out course offerings in the box on this page and email your child’s choices to Marlyn or myself as soon as possible.

Without the strong and loving support of the First Church and the First Universalist community the exciting events, interesting projects, and Sunday morning classes that Religious Education provides for our children would simply not be possible.  We extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to all of you who are “the wind beneath our wings” during the holidays and every Sunday. Our combined program is large and diverse and we need that love and support more than ever. Thanks for all you do for these great kids!