Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tentative Teen Choir Schedule through December

Regular rehearsal times: SUNDAYS 5:45pm-6:45pm
Rehearsals at Holden Street church sanctuary (90 Holden Street)

Please email Co-Director David at david sp an agel @ co mcast . n et (take out all spaces) ahead of time if you know you will be absent for a rehearsal or a performance.
**NOTE: NO rehearsal on Columbus Day weekend (Sunday October 11). Note other "no rehearsal" dates-- related to holidays or performances-- below.

Schedule of Upcoming Performances and special dates:

Saturday October 3, 6:30-7:30pm Holden Street church (come by 6pm to warm up)
MUSIC: “I Am the Seed of Peace” Rebecca Ziegler, director; Becky Spanagel, piano.

Sunday October 25, 9:00am service Holden Street church (come by 8:30am)
MUSIC: “Everyday People” David Spanagel, director; Matt Johnsen, piano, another song from the teal supplement (“Lean on Me”?). ***NOTE time is 9:00am due to the UNICEF carnival.***

Sunday November 8, 10:30 service here at First Unitarian Church
MUSIC: “Everyday People” David Spanagel director; Becky Spanagel, piano
NO rehearsal later that same afternoon/evening

Friday November 13, Holden Street church youth group coffeehouse 7-9pm (get an extra rehearsal in at 5:30pm?)
MUSIC: “Everyday People” (yet again?); or something else?
NO rehearsal on Thanksgiving Weekend (Sunday November 29)

Saturday December 5, Winter solstice celebration at First Unitarian (time?)

Saturday December 12, Boar’s Head festival at Wesley Methodist church, Main Street (will there be another Mummer’s Play this year?)

Sunday December 20, 9:00am Solstice service at Holden Street church (come by 8:30am)

For Children and Youth: Sunday, October 4, 2009

Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade (Spirit Play): We have our first Spirit Play story this week! We begin with our Flaming Chalice story, a story about our Unitarian Universalist covenant. We’ll learn our first three promises now (respect each person as a child of God, offer fair and kind treatment to all, and yearn to learn about ourselves, each other, and the Mystery), and the last four promises later in the year. Parents, don’t forget to take your kids to the bathroom before church so we don’t have too many bathroom breaks to take during class.

The Flaming Chalice Lesson

2nd and 3rd Grade (Holidays and Holy Days): Come discover Ramadan with us, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar! Ramadan is marked by a month of fasting, in obedience to God’s command, as well as by reflection and worship. Some Muslims consider it the most holy time of year. At the end of Ramadan comes Eid ul-Fitr, a festival to break the fast.

4th and 5th Grade (Jesus and the Kingdom of All Equals): Jesus’ times were long ago, and in some ways like our own, in others different. Please join us as we learn about the context of Jesus’ life. We’ll be building our own ancient Palestinian village!

6th Grade (Amazing Grace), 7th-8th Grade (Popcorn Theology), and YRU2 (High School Youth Group): We enthusiastically invite and encourage you this Sunday to attend the worship service with your parents, as we celebrate our designation as a (GLBT) Welcoming Congregation by the Unitarian Universalist Association. Accordingly, we will not have classes for these groups this Sunday.

**Parents of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders don’t forget to attend the OWL orientation on Sunday at 7:00pm. See you there!

**Parents of 9th-12th graders: Please don’t forget the beverage-sale fundraiser at the First Unitarian Church yardsale this Saturday. Make sure your youth is signed up for a shift!

Another Approach to the Coming Holidays

Many of us are familiar with the idea of giving to good causes as an alternative to traditional gift giving during the holidays. Recently, some churches have been exploring the idea of how to unite many people around a single cause that we could "knock out" with just a portion of our country's holiday spending. It is possible that such an effort could make a tremendous difference in the world.

Here are a couple of videos that take this same idea, and the same cause, and speak to it in a couple different ways. Check them out:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Faith Affirming Holiday Gifts for Unitarian Universalist Kids, Teens, and Young Adults

Planning ahead for holiday gifts? You might want to check out:




Wearable Art (all genders)


And for much, much more including but not limited to chalices, wearable art, UU Principles pencils, key rings, a variety of notecards, books, and music, check out http://www.uniuniques.com/.

Homeschooling Resources for Unitarian Universalist (UU) Families

For those of us who are homeschooling:

For ideas of how you can integrate more religious education into your daily homeschool experiences, the Church of the Larger Fellowship (a non-brick-and-mortar church) has a collection of materials on their website for families and small group use: http://clf.uua.org/.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Volunteer Opportunity: Seeking Fearless Directors for December Mummer's Play

Last year's Mummer's Play was the surprise hit of the annual Boar's Head festival held at Wesley Methodist Church in mid-December. Our teens, together with those from the Holden Street UU church youth group, combined to deliver an extraordinary performance of a traditional retelling of St. George and the Dragon, complete with humor, music, and brilliant costumes. Attendees of the Solstice service at First Unitarian may well recall the singing and acting talents of these remarkable members of our community. At the end of the year, when asked what was their best experience as a community, our youth talked most about having participated in the play.

David Blodgett and Libby Westie co-directed last year's Mummer's Play, but as it turns out neither of them is available to direct again this year. Are there any folks out there whose interests and skills could be mobilized to help the combined youth groups put this kind of performance on again this year? The Boar's Head festival date is set for Saturday December 12, and the Mummers are invited to participate again (if they exist).

We need at least one director (two people can collaborate, if that is easier) to handle casting, play adaptation, organize costumes and props, and run weekly rehearsals Sunday late afternoons or early evenings from mid-October until the performance date(s). Some volunteers have already come forward to help with costumes and music, but overall coordinator(s) who know what they are doing in this type of theater are required. Please ask around, and let David Spanagel know ASAP who might be willing and able to lead or co-lead this activity.

Saint George and the Dragon

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fun Trivia

Here's a bit of fun trivia for you. People with last names that begin with which set of letters are least likely to register their children for our year in Religious Education by the registration deadline?

1. A-H
2. I-P
4. Q-Z

Answer: A-H

People with last names that begin with the first letters of the alphabet are three times less likely to have their children registered as we begin our year together!

Perhaps there is some pyschology in play and people with last names at the latter end of the alphabet are used to being last in line and last to be called on for attendance...therefore are more likely to rush to get their kids included. Who knows?!

Whatever your last name, if you have not yet registered your children for our year together in Religious Education, we need your form ASAP! If you have lost it, please pick up a new one on the welcome table downstairs. It is an important legal document for us, and we are sorry but we must require it for any child who has participated more than three times in the year. There is not a tuition fee at this time...therefore, no reason to delay. Please get your forms in!

Monday, September 21, 2009

For Children and Youth: Sunday, September 27th

Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade (Spirit Play): Please note that this year, all classes including preschool begin after the children are dismissed from the sanctuary. This Sunday we will have a review orientation to Spirit Play, and we will have our special “work time” for the first time. As we are not introducing our first “story” until next Sunday, our work time this week will be art and yoga. Our preschool teachers this week will be Suzanne and Laura. Our kindergarten teachers will be Lee and Renee. Our first grade teachers will be Amy and Joonu.

2nd and 3rd Grade (Holidays and Holy Days): It is John Murray Sunday! You might have heard about John Murray before. He's been called "The Father of American Universalism." Come and hear a mysterious story with us! We’ll be joined by teachers Joyce and Gillian.
4th and 5th Grade (Jesus and the Kingdom of All Equals): What is a gospel? Come and find out! We'll act out a story and even make scrolls of our very own as we learn about the collection of books that make up the Bible and especially about the gospels, which we'll be studying this year. Cassie and Cindy will be our teachers.

6th Grade (Amazing Grace): Come act out an ethical dilemma with us this Sunday. We’ll have costumes, and we might even use the stage in Unity Hall. We’ll also read part of Genesis, as promised. What do you know about that story? What do the people around you know about it? See if you can find out before class! Bunny and Jill will teach.

7th-8th Grade (Popcorn Theology): This Sunday we begin our first feature film: “Pay it Forward.” We’ll view this film over a three week period, each week taking some time also for discussion as we explore themes of kindness, generosity, faith, and taking action to affect the world around us. Tim and Jen will be teaching.

BYKOTA (Middle School Youth Group): We have our first BYKOTA meeting this Sunday at 9:00-10:00am in the Diane Mirick room one. We’ll talk about the lego project and also get ready for other fun events this fall!

YRU2 (High School Youth Group): This Saturday is our WAYS Workday with the Worcester Area Mission Society followed by a sleepover at the church. Please be sure to bring your permission slip, and if not already turned in, your $20 on Saturday morning. As we expect varying levels of consciousness Sunday morning after the sleepover, we won’t have a formal youth group. **Parents note that due to youth request, youth will be picked up at church at 5:30pm so they can go home and shower after the workday. Please return the youth to church at 7:00pm.

YRU2 parents, please remember to attend the “mandatory” parent meeting 9:00am-9:45am Sunday after the sleepover.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

High School Youth Choir

Our congregation participates in a high school youth choir jointly with the Holden St. congregation. A message from youth choir director, David Spanagel:

Becky and I want everyone to know that rehearsals for this year's teen choir will begin on Sunday, Sept. 27 in the Holden Street church sanctuary (90 Holden St.). The regular rehearsal time is 5:45-6:45pm.

If you are coming to the Ferry Beach retreat this weekend, you'll get a sneak preview of our first song, "I am a Seed of Peace," which the youth may perform at the Oct. 3 Peace Vigil. All singers and all voice parts welcome (grade 9 and up). Please join us!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Now Forming: 2009-2010 Children and Youth Religious Education Committee

The (Children and Youth) Religious Education Committee for 2009-2010 is now forming.

Please consider joining us for this important ministry. We're a relaxed and supportive bunch.

We generally meet once monthly for an hour and a half, and while there is a little work at times between meetings, it does not tend to take more than one or two additional hours per month.

This committee makes a difference by helping to ensure the best possible religious education experiences and other family ministries for our children, advocating for children and youth in the life of our congregation, and creating fun opportunities for family involvement at church.

For more information, please contact chairperson Cindy Cordova. Or contact Director of Religious Education Sierra-Marie Gerfao at sm gerfao @ first untiarian .com (take out all spaces) or 508-757-2708 ext. 105.

Tying Up Loose Ends

YRU2 WAYS and Overnight RSVP (deadline has passed):
Parents, if your high school youth have not called in, emailed, or replied on Facebook with their RSVP for this event (Sep. 26-27), please have them do so right away. The RSVP deadline was Sunday, and as we are working with the Worcester Area Mission Society, it is critical that we have absolutely accurate numbers to give them as soon as possible. If you need more information about this event, or to RSVP, please contact Sierra-Marie at sm gerfao @ first unitarian .com (take out all spaces) or 508-757-2708 ext. 105.

2009-2010 Registration Forms:
Don’t forget to get us your child’s Religious Education registration form if you have not already. We need these as soon as possible in order to assure the best possible start-of-the-year experience for everyone. And thanks a million to those who have already completed their registration forms!

Calendar For the 2009-2010 Children and Youth Ministries:
This Sunday please pick up a copy of the children and youth programs calendar/prospectus, which will be available at the welcome table downstairs as well as the RE opportunity fair booth. These calendars include information about many significant events throughout the year, and also a description of our major ministries for children and youth.

Parents of 7th-9th Graders: Save This Date

Parents of 7th-9th graders, please plan to join us Sunday, October 4th at 7:00pm for a no-obligation informational meeting about the Our Whole Lives (OWL) values-based sexuality education class.

This class will be taught by Kris Johnson, Paul Kelley, and Kate O'Dell, who have an array of professional experience in the fields of education, health, and sexuality/reproductive issues.

This class will be open to all 7th and 8th graders. We may also open it up to 9th graders depending on enrollment.

While this is a no-obligation meeting, attendance is required for all those parents who do end up registering a child, so please do come so you don't lose the chance to make the choice to opt-in.

A Brief Description of Our Whole Lives (OWL)
Our Whole Lives is a series of sexuality and human development education curricula for six age groups: grades k-1, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, as well as young adults (18-35) and adults.

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 provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality.

OWL curricular values include:
  • Self Worth
  • Sexual Health
  • Responsibility
  • Justice and Inclusivity
Each level of Our Whole Lives offers up-to-date information and honest, age-appropriate answers to all participants' questions. For example, in kindergarten-first grade OWL, the children learn about birth, babies, and bodies, and have an opportunity to do things such as process their experiences with new siblings, to get information about safe touch, and to share stories about their families. All levels of OWL also offer:
  • 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
  • Support for parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children

OWL was written by sexuality and education experts in a joint effort by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. It has been used for ten years in congregations across the United States and Canada.

Our Backwards Party Was a Blast

We had wonderful turnout at fall ingathering last Sunday! We were happy to welcome back old friends and start getting to know some new friends as well.

Approximately 60 children enjoyed a water ceremony to mark the end of the summer. Afterward, we bounced in a bouncy house, played backward musical chairs, ate backward food, went backward through a short obstacle course, dressed up in backward clothing, decoded backward messages, read books backward and forward, and wrote backward.

17 high schoolers ate cookies and played games as they too gathered for homecoming. It was an all-around good day.

Many thanks to our youth advisors and youth leaders for their help with the high school homecoming, as well the many, many volunteers and parents who helped at the party for our younger children. We especially appreciated the countless folks who pitched in last minute as we responded to our particularly large ingathering Sunday turnout.

For Children and Youth: Sunday, September 20th

Maria Montessori and Child
Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade (Spirit Play): Welcome to Spirit Play! Our preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grades are separate classes but all are Spirit Play (Montessori) model classrooms. Parents, please join us for class this Sunday, as we will have a special parent-child orientation to Spirit Play. Please note that this year, all classes including preschool begin after the children are dismissed from the sanctuary.

2nd and 3rd Grade (Holidays and Holy Days): Come ready to play! We’ll play games, get to know one another, and find out why we are going to spend a whole year discovering holidays and holy days from around the world. Hint: it has to do with what we believe as Unitarian Universalists.

4th and 5th Grade (Jesus and the Kingdom of All Equals): We’re going to spend a year learning about Jesus and the biblical times he lived in. Did you know that he had a home and parents, siblings, and friends, just like you?! Let’s get to know each other and find out some other interesting things about Jesus.

6th Grade (Amazing Grace): We have a fantastic year ahead, with several big projects including the creation of a doll-house size “church” and the production of the first ever First Unitarian News broadcast! Let’s start making some plans, working out a covenant for us to share in our time together, and catching up after summer break. We’ll also be introduced to our curriculum for the year, which is called “Amazing Grace.”

7th-8th Grade (Popcorn Theology): Please join us this week for the selection of some of the movies we’ll be watching later this year and the creation of our class covenant. We’ll watch a clip from Back to the Future and play a game too. Our first full movie will begin the following week. We’ll be watching “Pay it Forward.”

YRU2 (High School Youth Group): There will not be YRU2 youth group this Sunday, as this is Ferry Beach weekend for many of us. However, if you are in town, we enthusiastically invite you to attend the worship service!

Note to all Parents: Please consider coming a few minutes early to church this Sunday to make sure your child sees where his or her classroom is in advance of dismissal from the sanctuary.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

YRU2 Families Please Save These Dates

YRU2 is our youth group for high schoolers. Youth in 9th grade on up are eligible to participate. The group meets every Sunday after children and youth are dismissed from worship (approximately 10:45-11:40), and the group has additional events throughout the year as well. Components of YRU2 include:
  • Worship
  • Learning
  • Socializing
  • Social Action/Social Justice-Making/Service
  • Leadership-Building

Events planned to date for the fall are as follows:

Sunday, September 13th
Cookie and Games Sunday during youth group, in celebration of ingathering.

Sunday, September 20th
We hope many of you will be going to Ferry Beach, and in light of this, we will not be having youth group. Youth in town are invited to attend worship.

Saturday, September 26th
We'll participate in a WAYS Workday with the Worcester Area Mission Society followed by a sleepover at the church. More information on WAYS will be available soon at the Worcester Area Mission Society website: http://www.wamsucc.org/. The project is likely to involve painting the home of a person who needs the assistance. It is typically a day long event starting at the church around 8:00am for transportation, with return to the church in time for dinner to kick-off our sleepover.

Sunday, September 27th
"Mandatory" YRU2 Parents Meeting at 9:00-9:45am. We want to start off the year with GREAT communication. When you pick up your youth from the sleepover, please plan to stick around for a 45 minute parent meeting. We'll be sharing information about plans for the group for the year, asking for feedback on good communication methods for keeping in touch with you, and sharing specific needs for your help with behavioral management and youth involvement.

There will be no formal youth group meeting on this Sunday, as we expect that consciousness levels will vary after the sleepover.

Saturday, October 3rd
YRU2 Bakesale at the First Unitarian Yardsale. Youth will be asked to sign up for a shift during the bakesale hours. Proceeds will benefit the Columbus Day Weekend service trip to Maryland as well as general YRU2 funding.

Sunday, October 4th
This is Welcoming Congregation Sunday, a celebration of our congregation's formal commitment to welcoming all people of all genders and affectional orientations. We are inviting youth to attend this worship service.

Friday-Sunday, October 9-11th
This is the Columbus Day Weekend service trip to Maryland. We're sorry, but the RSVP period for this event has closed. Youth who are attending need to have all permission forms and the final payment in by the end of September.

Saturday, October 17th
Possible daytrip to Salem and a conversation with a practicing Wiccan. Please stay tuned for confirmation and details.

Sunday, October 25th
On this day we'll hold our annual fall carnival to benefit UNICEF. The carnival takes place during fellowship hour after worship.

Sunday, November 1st
This will be an intergenerational worship service and gospel mass in honor of All Souls. All children and youth are invited to attend this musical worship, and neither classes nor YRU2 will be held on this date. Please consider bringing with you a photo or momento of a loved one who has passed away. We'll have a time for brief community sharing.