Monday, March 29, 2010

Save the Date

May 2nd is a busy day at the church!  Events will include:
  • An informational session on Religious Education at First Unitarian Church 10:30-11:30am.  Invite your friends who are looking for a religious community in which they can raise their children.
  • An installation of our new toy church in the chapel from 11:30-12:00, led by our 6th grade class.  You don't have to have kids to appreciate this church.  It's quite the sight!  We'll install the minister, have a building dedication, and maybe even christen a baby.  We'll also have members of our own church's leadership explaining their roles in our real, live church to the adults and children alike. 
  • A Variety Show produced by our youth group from 12:00-1:30pm.  This will be a fundraiser to benefit earthquake recovery in Haiti. 

Seeking Cubicle Furniture

The Faith Development Office is need of inexpensive/used cubicle furniture (a setup such as this would be ideal)  If you know of an office that is closing or downsizing, or if you have another connection to a source for such furniture, please let Sierra-Marie know at 508-757-2708 x. 105 or smg erf ao @fi rst un ita rian .com (take out all spaces).

Youth Ministries Coordinator Search Team

The Faith Development Office is assembling a search team to recruit and hire a Youth Ministries Coordinator who will serve as part-time support staff for the 7th-12th grade programs.  If you would like to be considered for membership on that search team, please contact Sierra-Marie at 508-757-2708 x.105 or smge rfa o @ fir stun itari (take out all spaces).  We need both adults and youth to serve on this team.  The bulk of this team's work will be complete in late spring/early summer, and all work will be complete by September.

Happy Easter

The following events are intergenerational (all ages):
  • Passover Seder, Saturday at 4:00pm (First Unitarian)
  • Sunrise Worship, Sunday at 6:00am (Bancroft Tower)
  • Easter Breakfast, Sunday begins as early as 6:30am (First Unitarian)
This is a big day, and we hope to see a great number of you.  Consider inviting your friends and their children to any or all of our activities as an introduction to First Unitarian!

In addition to Sunrise Worship, we have worship also at our normal time (10:30am), in our traditional setting (the First Unitarian sanctuary).   After dismissal from worship to "classes," our children will participate in the following.
  • PreKindergarten-1st Grade will meet in their classes as usual.  The Spirit Play story is "Hide and Seek With God."  This is a story about finding God in many places and experiences.  It is a "wonder and awe" source story but also speaks to the theologies of the world's religions. 
  • 2nd-6th Graders will have a chapel worship service to celebrate the holidays of the season.  There will be opportunities also for egg dying or other fun seasonal crafts.
  • 5th-12th Graders are invited to optionally participate in hiding the Easter Eggs for the younger classes.  While hiders will not participate in the egg hunt, they will have small, special Easter baskets hidden for them throughout the building, which they can search for during the egg hunt time.  Those 7th-12th graders who opt not to hide eggs should stay in the sanctuary so they can enjoy the worship.
Happy Easter!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Passing on the Word: Summer Camp on Interfaith Leadership

Summer Camp on Interfaith Leadership

for Youth and Adults

Summer Camp on Interfaith Leadership for Youth and Adults, August 1 - 6, 2010 at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center in Highlands, NC (most to all expenses paid for selected participants).

Part of our larger association's partnership with the Interfaith Youth Core, this event will empower congregational teams of high school youth and adult advisors. Participants will explore religious pluralism, UU theology and history as related to interfaith work, share stories, and return to their congregation prepared to lead local interfaith service events.

Apply at:

View flyer:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

RE Sunday News

This year our "Religious Education Sunday" will take a new experimental format. Our children will be empowered to take significant leadership roles in all aspects of the service from start to finish. This will include ushering, candle lighting, leading readings, participating in aspects of the sermon, singing in a special primary grades "Religious Education Sunday Choir," and even hosting the fellowship hour.

Most of the liturgical roles will be assigned by class, but on April 11th we will begin signup for ushers, choir singers (will sing with choir robes), and hosts and hostesses for fellowship hour (bring a food item or help with setup).

Coming Up: The Easter Egg Hunt

(post updated 3-29-10)
Easter is this Sunday, April 4th.  Our first egg hunt last year was a lot of fun.  Here's what we need for a successful egg hunt this year:
  • We're inviting 6th-8th graders to come in on Good Friday from 10:30-12:00pm to sort and count eggs, as there is no school.  Details have been mailed home.  If you can help, please email Sierra-Marie at s mge rfa o @fi rstun ita rian .com (take out all spaces).  Please use "organizer" as your subject line.
  • We need as many 5th-12th graders as possible to hide eggs during worship on Sunday and to help with the hunt after worship.  Egg hiders don't take part in the egg hunt, but we will have some small Easter baskets hidden throughout the church for egg hiders to find.  If you can help, please email Sierra-Marie at s mge rfa o @fi rstun ita rian .com (take out all spaces).
  • All parents are ultimately responsible for their own children during the hunt, but knowing that we have many parents with multiple children, we need 2 parents per class who are willing to take a lead on the supervision.
Easter will be a busy day, but we look forward to finishing off the morning with another great egg hunt!

Jump! Jump!

Our high school youth group, YRU2, will be heading out to Pump It Up in Shrewsbury on Friday.  We'll meet at Coney Island Hot Dogs for dinner at 6:45pm and will be back at the church around 9:20pm.  The cost is $6 (plus dinner money), and we are happy to provide assistance to anyone unable to swing the cost.  As always, confidentiality will be honored.

Please RSVP by Wednesday in order to reserve your spot in a vehicle.  Your permission form and Pump It Up waiver are in the mail.  Please be sure to bring both with you on Friday.  Also don't forget to wear socks (required by Pump it Up) and jump-appropriate clothing.  See you there!

For Children and Youth: Sunday, March 28th

On this, Palm Sunday, the children will distribute palms to the congregation before going to their classes.

Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grades (Spirit Play): In our Spirit Play classes we will enjoy a story called "Wise People and the Elephant" as a part of our study of the "world religions" source of our faith.  This story comes in many forms (trying searching on Google) and has been attributed to multiple sources, but in our class, we will use a version attributed to the Buddha.  The story illustrates the manner in which we each hold a peice of the truth.  In preschool, Gina and Laura will teach.  In kindergarten, Lee will teach with parent helper Paul or Shari.  In first grade Vivian and Amy will teach.

2nd-3rd Grade (Holidays and Holy Days): This Sunday we will hear the story of Passover as we discover the meaning of the Passover holiday to our Jewish friends.  We'll arrange a Seder plate and maybe even make haroset.  As Unitarian Universalists, we believe in the freedom of all people and celebrate with the Jews this ancient story of freedom.  Joyce and Kim will teach. 

4th-5th Grade (Jesus and the Kingdom of Equals): This week we will ask, "who is my neighbor" as we discuss Samaria from the parable of the Good Samaritan.  See Luke 10: 25-37.  We'll also begin a weaving project to create headbands for Biblical costumes to wear during our "dinner in ancient Palestine" at the end of the year.  Lisa and Henry will teach. 

6th Grade (Amazing Grace): We'll be preparing to unveil the toy church to the congregation on May 2nd.  As a part of our preparation, we'll get to research questions of interest about the church.  For example, why is Gabriel on the weather vane?  We'll also begin preparation of a survey for the congregation to help us find out the spectrum of beliefs in the church and how beliefs evolve for folks.  Bunny and Joanne will teach.

7th-8th Grade (Popcorn Theology): This Sunday please join us for more of our "Gospel According to the Simpsons" series.  We'll be watching "Lisa the Skeptic" and exploring the tensions and marriages between science and faith.  How do we know what is true?  Ken and Tim will teach.

**Please note: This Sunday we have our Our Whole Lives (sex ed.) closing class.  We will have a parent program silmultaneous with the children's program, and the class time will be extended by one hour.  Our final half-hour will be a celebration with both parents and kids together.

9th-12th Grade (YRU2, Youth Group): This Sunday please join us for our small group ministry topic discussion as well as more planning of the coffee house/variety show.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Intergenerational Worship on Sunday, March 21st

This coming Sunday in celebration of our 225th church birthday, we will worship as a congregation of all ages. There will not be children's classes.  Instead, we will go to the sanctuary together and worship through:

  • A "skit"
  • Music
  • Words preached by our religious ancestors at First Unitarian
In consideration of this service, you may want to have a "history week" or "history month" at home.  Consider the major periods that mark the years between 1785 and today.  If you do teaching in your home, with your children you could make and illustrate your own timeline, dress in historical clothing as you read stories form a particular historical period, or create a diorama from a period of interest.  There is a children's book on bookstore shelves currently, called Lady Liberty: A Biography.  Some of our children have been fascinated by the fact that our church is older than the Statue of Liberty.  Stop by the church or come early on Sunday to study together the "church history" wall displayed in the dining room.
When children arrive on Sunday, they should pick up a worship workbook on their way into the sanctuary. There will also be a quiet sensory/kinesthetic object that comes with the workbook.

Finally, it is helpful to speak ahead of time to your children about what a worship service is like. For very young children, it may be helpful to bring a couple small, silent toys or books for them to access as needed. If your child would like to help with ushering or some other aspect of the service, please get in touch with the Faith Development office.

Note: We will have our Our Whole Lives (OWL) sex ed class for 7th and 8th graders at 12:30pm as usual.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Religious Education Teachers

This is the time of year when we begin thinking about next year's Religious Education program.  If you are interested in teaching next year, please get in touch with the Religious Education office at 508-757-2708 ext. 105 or smge rfao @ fir stun itaria (please take out all spaces).  We have openings at all grade levels and many interesting programs for your consideration!  We need a minimum of thirty-six volunteers.

Candidates for our volunteer teaching positions fill out a short application, sign a code of ethics, have a brief discussion with the Director of Religious Education, and receive a CORI background check.  Candidates need to have been participating at the church for at least six months.

Childcare and Alternatives Survey

Parents, if you have not yet had an opportunity to take the survey on childcare and programatic alternatives to childcare for Sunday before and after church, Monday nights, and Thursday nights, please do so at your earliest convienence.  Your feedback will be invaluable to the Lay Leadership Council as it determines the future of its childcare provisions.  Please consider taking the survey whether or not you use childcare at this time or anticipate using it in the future.  We need a broad base of input.

The survey has ten pages, one of which is descriptive text.  It has nine questions and will take, on average, 10-15 minutes.  Thank you for your contributions of time and input!

Thank You For Your Contributions to Carty Cupboard!

Thanks to your generosity, our middle school youth group (BYKOTA) was able to raise $1002.68 for the Carty Cupboard food pantry.  This amount will be matched by another donor to the pantry, making a total difference worth about $2000!  In addition, we had hundreds of non-perishable goods to bring to the pantry, which will also be matched ($1 per canned good, etc.).  What a delight to see so many bags of food at our altar on Sunday.  Our middle schoolers are thrilled that we will be able to help ensure that many families have food in the coming months.

Rock Climbing this Sunday

Middle schoolers, please don't forget to RSVP by Wednesday if you plan to attend Saturday's BYKOTA trip to Central Gym for rock climbing.  The event will take place this coming Sunday, March 14th.  Please gather at the church around 2:30pm for a 2:45 leave time.  Bring your completed First Unitarian permission form and Central Gym waiver form, as well as $3.50 for climbing and some additional money for dinner.  We'll be climbing from 3:00-5:00pm and then will head over to Coney Island Hot Dogs.  We'll be back at the church around 6:00pm. 

For Children and Youth: Sunday, March 14th

PreKindergaten, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade (Spirit Play): This Sunday's lesson is a "heroes and heroines" source lesson.  Our story is called "an infinity of questions" and is about the great astronomer Maria Mitchell.  Among Maria's writings are included these words: "We especially need imagination in science.  It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but is somewhat beauty and poetry."  Maria's story as told to our children will emphasize the value of questioning.  In prek, Kelley and Gina will be our teachers, in kindergarten Renee will teach with parent helper Matt, and in first grade Jen and Vivian will be our teachers.

2nd-3rd Grade (Holidays and Holy Days): This week we will celebrate Saint Patrick's Day (actual date is March 17th).  We'll learn the real story of the patron saint of Ireland, and celebrate a bit of Irish culture as we dance an Irish jig, design an "illuminated initial" for our names, and eat something green.  Colleen and Gillian will be our teachers with parent helper Joanne.

4th-5th Grade (Jesus and the Kingdom of Equals): This Sunday's lesson is about contemplative prayer.  See Luke 6:12 in which Luke suggests that Jesus sought time alone, away from the maddening crowds, to pray.  We will use meditation in our class to make space to hear the divine spark within us.  Lisa will be teaching with parent helper Anita.

6th Grade (Amazing Grace): This Sunday we will be exploring ethical ambiguity in a session called "right and wrong work together."  We will design a "contemporary system of deities" in an attempt to right the world's wrongs, and we will see what dilemmas we come up against.  Scott and Marcia will be teaching.

7th-8th Grade (Popcorn Theology): This week we will watch a Simpson's episode called "Homer the Heretic."  Why do we come to church and what is the value in doing so?  What motivates others to attend the churches they attend?  Has anyone ever tried to convert you to their own faith?  Please join us for discussion!  Jen and Gina will be teaching. 

9th-12th Grade (YRU2/high school youth group): This week we begin our "small group ministry" curriculum.  We also continue planning for the upcoming variety show.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Update on teen choir activities (March - May, 2010)

Notes for Worcester’s joint UU TEEN CHOIR – March 4, 2010

Regular rehearsal times: Every SUNDAY 5:45pm-6:45pm unless otherwise noted, Holden Street church sanctuary.

Please email David ( ahead of time if you know you will be absent for any rehearsal or a performance.

Schedule of Upcoming Performances and special dates:

Sunday March 7 - our rehearsal time shifts to 5:30-6:30pm, to accommodate youth group activity off-site afterwards.

Friday March 19 – 6-8pm dress rehearsal for youth-led services at Holden Street (try to attend for as much as you can, our last chance to polish the Hair medley)

Sunday March 21, 9:00am and 11:00am youth-led services at Holden Street church (arrive by 8:30am)
Song medley from the musical Hair: includes “Hair,” “Good Morning Starshine,” “Aquarius,” and “Let the Sun Shine In”
9:00 service will be directed by David Spanagel, piano Becky Spanagel
11:00 service will be directed by Rebecca Ziegler, piano Matt Johnsen (or Becky?)

Sunday April 11 10:30am service downtown church (arrive by 9:30am)
Song(s): TBD

[Sunday April 18 1:30pm concert in honor of Will Sherwood, music director at the downtown church – individual teen singers welcome to rehearse with the First Unitarian Church choir Thursday evenings as a lead up to this if you want to participate.] There will be no teen choir rehearsal on Sunday April 18 - school vacation week begins.

The YRU2 downtown church youth group may be sponsoring a coffeehouse fund raiser in April, to which we will likely be invited as performers. DATE?

Final teen choir performance of the year will probably occur at the 11am May 9 intergenerational service at Holden Street church (arrive by 10:15am). We might explore a joint choral performance with the adult choir, if suitable music materializes.

Monday, March 1, 2010

For Children and Youth: Sunday, March 1st

PreKindergarten, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade (Spirit Play): This week we have a very special lesson called "A House For God."  What would it look like to build a house for God?  We'll explore the history of people's relationships with God through building blocks and stones.  This lesson is a "wonder" source lesson.  Our preK teachers are Suzy and Kelley.  Kindergarten will be taught by Diane with parent help from Alison Ronn.  1st Grade will be taught by Joonu and Jen.

2nd-3rd Grade (Holidays and Holy Days): This Sunday we will make introductions with the Iranian New Year, No Ruz.  This week's lesson is an opportunity to talk together about casting out quarrels and starting a new year in harmony.  We'll make wishes, eat foods beginning with "S" and do some leaping into the new year!  Joyce and Colleen will teach.  Karen will be our parent helper. 

4th-5th Grade (Jesus and the Kingdom of Equals): There are many different ways to pray.  Some ways are formal, some contemplative, and some casual or even "on-the-go."  Jesus addressed God as "papa" or "daddy" when he talked to him, and prayed in a direct and sometimes humorous way.  This Sunday we will explore Jesus' style of prayer and Jesus' views concerning conspicuous prayers in public.  Cindy will be teaching with parent helper John.  See Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-4.

6th Grade (Amazing Grace): We look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we continue to explore the meaning of spirituality and ask about the possibilities of souls and the realities of conscience. We'll continue to look at religious beliefs around the world and what they have to say about souls. What is the relationship between beliefs about souls and human nature, and beliefs about God or gods? Brandt and Scott will be our teachers. 

7th-8th Grade (Popcorn Theology): We are continuing our "Gospel According to the Simpsons" series of classes.  This week, "Bart sells his soul" because he doesn't believe there is such a thing, and finds unexpected consequences.  We'll be talking about souls, what different people mean when they use the term "soul," different beliefs about souls, and whether belief in "souls" is important as we explore our own individual beliefs.  Jen and Ken are our teachers. 

NOTE: 6th, 7th, and 8th Graders, this is the week of the middle school youth rally.  Information about the rally is at this link.  Those who signed up to participate will meet at the church at 7:45am to ride over to the rally, which begins at 9:00am in Hartford.  The group will arrive back at the church by approximately 5:30pm.  Please also note that this week at 9:00am we have our monthly BYKOTA business meeting.  Then, next Sunday, March 14th, we will be heading over to the rock climbing gym for some climbing.  Permission forms for that activity will arrive in your mailbox this week. 

9th-12th Grade (YRU2/high school youth group): We look forward to coming back together as a group after a small meeting last week while the youth choir sang at the Holden Street church.  Please join us for discussion, decision making about a potential change in date for the spring retreat, and finalization of details relating to the coffee house/variety show.

Don't Forget Your Non-Perishable Food Donations

BYKOTA, our middle school youth group, is having its annual food drive for Carty Cupboard Food Pantry this Sunday.  Please don't forget some non-perishable food to put in the shopping carts that the kids will be pushing up the sanctuary aisles.  However, monetary donations are also very much appreciated, so don't worry if you do forget food.  Our donations on this date will be doubled thanks to a generous donor at Carty Cupboard.