Monday, March 28, 2011

A Great Big Thank You!

Thank you to all the folks who made March Family Ministries Month such a great success!


Thanks to Vivian Shortreed and Stacey Hill for hosting the birthday party potluck and to all the many congregants who brought cake as well as potluck dishes for the party!  Thanks to Ken Mandile and Peter Gray for organizing two very fun game days.  Thanks to Carrie West for creating and leading a whole committee of folks to host a "family cooking party" on a Saturday as well as a delicious congregational soup and bread luncheon on Sunday, and thanks to the many people who participated on that committee and did all that work!  Thanks to the Rev. Schade, Carrie West, Joonu Coste, Betsy and Sam Politz, and Janet Davis for presenting spiritual practices at the inspiring Family Spiritual Practices Symposium.  Thanks to Sally Patton, Thomas Armstrong, Bassie Shemtov, and Marc Tumeinski for donating their time to share with our congregation and the larger nation their expertise on creating inclusion for people with disabilities. Thanks to Wendy Innis for teaching some of our teens about such an important subject as financial management.  Thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester for a meaningful service opportunity with their Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry.  Thanks for Ken Mandile, Carrie West, and Jesse Anderson for making a wonderful family movie night happen.  Thanks to James Cordova for teaching an interesting relationship class for couples.  Thanks to our middle school youth group, BYKOTA, and for the youth group parents for putting together a yummy and very filling baked potato bar luncheon, and to all the congregants who brought desserts and loaned crockpots for the event.  Thanks to Seth Popinchalk for making himself available at sun-up to light the pizza oven.  Thanks to Sam and Besty Politz, James Cordova, David Rynick, and Melissa Blacker for teaching families about meditation at the Introduction to Zen workshop, and thanks to Ken Mandile for single-handedly helping children and adults alike make birdhouses together (including donating all materials). 

It was a truly remarkable month and a wonderful display of the many types of Family Ministry opportunities we have here at First Unitarian Church of Worcester.

For Children and Youth: Sunday, April 3 2011

Spirit Play
PreKindergarten, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd Grades Our prekindergarten, kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades will hear a story from the Islamic tradition called "A Stone in the Temple."  In the story, Mohammad finds a way to help several tribes cooperate rather than compete in the completion of a temple they were rebuilding together. 

Stepping Stone Year
3rd-4th Grade
Wondering about death is a universal experience that weaves together the entire history of humanity.  This week we will begin talking about death in our Stepping Stone class.  We will be speaking of this wondering openly in class this week.  Our story will be adapted from the story of Buddha and the Mustard Seed, a story of grief. 

Bibleodeon
5th-6th Grade
What does the world know about Jesus?  We have spent most of this year studying the Jewish Bible, but this Sunday as Easter begins to approach, we will bring into our class the Christian stories of Jesus.  We will consider what is known about Jesus, including what is known about how Jesus looked and the things he did.

Sacred Threads
7th-8th Grade
This Sunday our 7th and 8th graders will be working on their video project.  Please check in with your child about whether she or he had an assignment for the video project, and whether he or she has completed the assignment.  Some students have also volunteered to bring in some equipment for our work, so please speak with your student about what is allowable for him or her to bring in.

YRU2 (High School Youth Group)
9th-12th Grade
Youth group is Sunday from 10AM-12PM.  Please attend this very important youth group meeting in which we finalize plans for Senior High Sunday (which will take place on Sunday, April 10th).  Your participation is important!

**Note: The trip to New York for high schoolers, a joint project of First Unitarian and the Holden Street Church, is happening this weekend!  If your youth is going on this trip, all deposits should have been made by this point.  Please be at 90 Holden Street at 7:15 sharp on Saturday morning. 

Baskets Needed

Do you have any baskets you no longer need?  If so, we are in need of donated baskets for our Spirit Play classes.  We are especially in need of baskets without handles that can fit in a cubby that is 11 inches x 11 inches x 11 inches. 

Thanks in advance for your donations!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Intro to Zen Meditation Workshop For Families

At the heart of Zen meditation practice (zazen) we discover how to wake up to our true lives as human beings.

The discipline of Zen is simple to learn, and takes a lifetime to practice and integrate into daily life and work. In this workshop, we will learn about Zen Buddhism and the basics of Zen meditation.

We will explore the forms of meditation practiced at the Temple, including sitting and walking meditation (kinhin) and chanting. There will also be time for questions and discussion.

This workshop is designed especially for UU parents and will include time to sit with their children as well as time for parents to learn about the Zen-UU connection while the the children engage in a craft and hear a reading of a Zen children’s book in an adjacent room. Our hope is to provide a spiritually meaningful experience for both parents and their children.


The workshop will be taught by David Dayan Rynick Roshi and Melissa Myozen Blacker Roshi, who have been practicing Zen since 1981, and who guide the Worcester Zen Center/Boundless Way Temple. David is a student of and has received Dharma Transmission from Zen Master George Bomun Bowman. Melissa is a Soto Zen priest, and is a student of and has received Dharma Transmission from James Myoun Ford Roshi.

Melissa, David and James Ford are the guiding teachers of Boundless Way Zen, a community of Zen practice centers throughout New England. Melissa and David will be assisted by James Cordova who is the Practice Leader for the Monday night Zen sitting at the First Unitarian Church and a Dharma Teacher in the Boundless Way Zen community.

Monday, March 21, 2011

For Children and Youth: Sunday, March 27th

Spirit Play
PreKindergarten, Kindergarten
Our prekindergarten and kindergarten children will hear the story "A House For God" on Sunday.  This is a "wonder and awe" story dealing with the human history of creating houses of worship.  Using stone and wooden blocks as well as other materials, we will recreate such houses in our story. 

Spirit Play
1st, and 2nd Grades
In the first and second grade, the children will hear the "Wise People and the Elephant" story that was told last week to the younger children.  This Buddhist story engages the religious imagination with the notion that all people may have a piece of the truth. 

Stepping Stone Year
3rd-4th Grade
This week we will get to know the history behind the chalice symbol and the story of the Unitarian and Universalist consolidation into one religious body.  We will study the cooperative elements of this history and consider what it means to "decide to work together." 

Bibleodeon
5th-6th Grade
Get ready to meet a modern day "Jonah" of the biblical story of Jonah and the big fish!  On Sunday, we'll learn Jonah's story and consider him as a "minor biblical prophet" along with several other biblical figures.  And, we'll talk about "belief."

Sacred Threads
7th-8th Grade
This week we will be taking a break in our class schedule to prepare the BYKOTA (middle school youth group) "baked potato bar" lunch for the congregation.  Please use the "contact" tab above to tell us what topping you will be bringing for the potatoes if you have not already done so. 

YRU2 (High School Youth Group)
9th-12th Grade
Youth group is Sunday from 10AM-12PM.  Please attend this very important youth group meeting in which we begin to plan Senior High Sunday (which will take place on Sunday, April 10th).  Your participation is important!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Middle Schoolers Save This Date


Middle schoolers, please plan to help out at the BYKOTA (middle school youth group) baked potato bar on Sunday, March 27th.  We'll serve lunch to the congregation, and the suggested donation will be $5 per person or $10 per family.  Each youth will be asked to bring a topping to contribute, so please watch your email for details.

Change of Date


To enable more youth to participate, the Financial Wellness Class for Teens and Their Parents will now take place on March 20th only (it is no longer a three-part series).

We'll cover basic foundational components of healthy, balanced, values-centered management of money. Parents must attend with their youth because we will also help parents initiate and deepen important discussions with their kids about money (before college comes into the picture!).  Registration for this event is required, and attendance at all three of the sessions is important. Click here to register.

Craigville RSVPs Needed


YRU2 participants, please let us know as soon as possible if you plan to attend the annual Memorial Day Weekend youth group retreat at Craigville May 27th-May 29th.  The Craigville Conference Center requires a contract from us with a participant number, so a firm "yes" or "no" is needed immediately.  To RSVP, simply click the "contact" tab above. 

For Children and Youth: Sunday, March 20, 2011

Please note that Sierra-Marie (Director of Religious Education/Faith Development Ministries) will be away this Sunday, March 20th.  Cindy Cordova, Faith Development Teams Chairperson, will be available in her place. 

Spirit Play
PreKindergarten, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd Grades
Join us on Sunday for stories from the Buddhist tradition.  Our prekindergarten and kindergarten kids will hear a Buddhist story called "The Wise People and the Elephant."  The story illustrates the way in which all people can have a piece of the truth.  Our 1st and 2nd grade students will create a timeline of the Buddha's life and hear the story of his teachings.

Stepping Stone Year
3rd-4th Grade
This week we will continue to consider how we make decisions, through the lens of taking action.  We'll talk about our church's values and some of the things we choose to do as a church community.  We'll hear a story and be challenged to decide how we might act in tricky situations of everyday life. 

Bibleodeon
5th-6th Grade
Please join us on Sunday for an introduction to the most well-known women of the Hebrew bible.  We'll consider the role that each of these women played in the biblical stories, and prepare our own set of "awards" for some of these women. 

Sacred Threads
7th-8th Grade
Due to a change in our schedule last week to accomodate a special guest speaker on Confucianism, this coming Sunday we will do what we had originally planned for this Sunday. Our class will be about the "four noble truths" and "eightfold path."  If time allows, we'll also talk about the history and spread of Buddhism.

YRU2 (High School Youth Group)
9th-12th Grade
Youth group is Sunday from 10AM-12PM.  We'll start chatting about senior high Sunday, but no firm plans will be made until the following week.  There will be discussion, yummy snacks, and perhaps a game! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

For Children and Youth: Sunday, March 13th

Spirit Play
PreKindergarten, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd Grades
Join us on Sunday for stories of wonder.  Wonder is a source of faith, especially for children.  In preKindergarten and Kindergarten, the story will be "Hide and Seek With God" and in 1st and Second Grade, the story will be "A House For God."

Stepping Stone Year
3rd-4th Grade
As we continue to explore the theme of decision-making this week, we will look at the story of The Good Samaritan as a "story of decision making." 

Bibleodeon
5th-6th Grade
This Sunday we will have the second of two lessons on Solomon.  We will consider the concept of obediance as we continue building our model temple. 

Sacred Threads
7th-8th Grade
Our class on Sunday will be about the spread of Buddhism.  As last week we needed extra time to finish our movie, this week we will also consider the "four noble truths" and "eightfold path." 

YRU2 (High School Youth Group)
9th-12th Grade
Youth group will have a movie marathon and sleepover this Friday at 7PM (eat dinner before you come).  Bring movies.  Watch your mail for the permission form this week.  Youth group is Sunday from 10AM-12PM.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March: Family Ministries Month

Family Ministries Month at First Unitarian Church
Strengthening Family Bonds & Deepening Spiritual Practices
March 2011
Sponsored by the Family Faith Development Team 
Inspired by the UU Mama Covenant Groups

Families of all shapes and sizes are invited to participate in a series of Family Ministry activities and programs this March.  Please save the following dates (more dates and details to follow):

Note that on Sunday, February 27th, we'll kickoff the Family Ministry Month with a "winter wonderland" afternoon of play in the snow.  See the link for information.

Sunday, March 6th
  • Birthday Party Luncheon 12:00-1:00PM – We'll kick off the month with a multigenerational "birthday party mix-and-mingle" luncheon after church.  This is a potluck, so please plan to bring a dish.  Folks will sit at the table assigned to their birthday month. 
  • Games after church 12:00-1:45PM – During and after lunch, stick around for board and card games.
Saturday, March 12th
  • Family Cooking Event 1:00-4:00PM – Saturday we'll be cooking soups, and family members of all ages can help out in meaningful ways.  This a chance to spend time with other families of the church, and contribute to the life of the church at the same time.  Soups will be used for a luncheon on Sunday.  Registration for this event is required, and families will be asked to bring some items for the soups if possible. 
Sunday, March 13th
  • Soup and Bread Luncheon 12:00-1:00PM – Soup provided by the previous day’s cooking event will be shared with the congregation. Bread donations are most welcome! Volunteers are needed to help set up before and clean up after this event.  Please use the "contact" tab above to get in touch with the Office of Faith Development Ministries if you can help out or bring bread.
  • Family Spiritual Practices Symposium 12:30-1:45PM – After lunch, come downstairs to the Landers Room for a brief (15 minute) presentation on spiritual practices for families.  After the presentation, parents and children are invited to rotate between the different Church School classrooms where different spiritual practices will be highlighted by members of the congregation who practice them. Each room will have a take-away item.  Topics may include prayers, yoga, mealtime rituals, sabbath, mandalas, rites of passages, meaningful traditions and family rituals. More volunteers are needed for this program. If you or anyone you know in the church has experience with any of these spiritual practices (or additional ones), please contact the Office of Faith Development Ministries using the "contact" tab above.  Event RSVPs are not necessary but appreciated.
  • Financial Wellness Class For Teens and Their Parents, Part 1 12:30-2:00PM – Wendy Innis, a member of our congregation who grew up in this church and is a professional financial planner will be offering a three-session class on financial wellness.  The class will include the spiritual and religious dimensions of our relationship to money.  All youth 7th-12th grade are invited to attend this class with their parents.  Registration for this event is required, and attendance at all three of the sessions is important. 
  • "Faith and Family Day" With the Worcester Sharks 3:00PM – Bring the family to the hockey game at 3PM.  This may be followed by a post-game skate.  Tickets are $11 (child or adult) and must be pre-ordered through the church (seats will be reserved in one section).  We'll be joined by folks from other Worcester faith communities at this event.   
Friday, March 18th
  • Family Movie Night 6:30-8:30PM – Bring the whole family and enjoy movies and popcorn with other families in the church.  We will show the movie using a large screen projector.  Early evening time and movie title to be announced.  We also need volunteers to run this program and provide popcorn.  Please use the "contact" tab above to get in touch with the Office of Faith Development Ministries if you can help.
  • UU Food Pantry Service Project 6:00-8:00PM – There is no better context for children to understand social justice than within the family.  On the 18th, volunteer as a family to help with the Loaves and Fishes food pantry at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester at 90 Holden Street.  Friday night volunteers set up the food pantry (additional volunteers may be accepted to help with Saturday food distribution).  Older children and youth for whom lifting is not a problem are especially well-suited to the task, but younger children can help in small numbers.  Some folks may want to make this a monthly activity.  Use the "contact" tab above to get in touch with the Office of Faith Development Ministries if you'd like to help. 
Sunday, March 20th (note: please bring a bagged lunch on this day)
  • Games After Church 12:00-1:30PM – Stick around during and after coffee hour for board and card games.  No lunch is planned for this day, but if you could help organize a lunch, please use the "contact" tab above to let the Office of Faith Development Ministries know. 
  • Class for Couples 12:30-2:30PMJames C√≥rdova, author of The Marriage Checkup, will offer a class for couples. Details to be announced as soon as possible.
  • Financial Wellness Class For Teens and Their Parents, Part 2 12:30-2:00PM – Wendy Innis, a member of our congregation who grew up in this church and a professional financial planner will be offering a three-session class on financial wellness. The class will include the spiritual and religious dimensions of our relationship to money. All youth 7th-12th grade are invited to attend this class with their parents. Registration for this event is required, and attendance at all three of the sessions is important.
Friday, March 25th
  • Babysitting Night at the Church 5:00-9:00PM – Parents, you are the backbone of your families!  Your self-care is absolutely critical for your children's social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Leave the kids at church for a couple of hours in the evening so they can play games and do crafts while you go out and do what you want to do.  Couples, this is a great opportunity to go out on a date!  Please note that this event is for congregants only and requires registration.
Sunday, March 27th
  • Introductory Zen for Families 9:00-10:00AM – Receive an introduction to Zen Buddhism!  The introduction will be provided to parents and kids together, and then each separately.  More details to follow.
  • Baked Potato Bar 12:00-1:00PM – Our middle school youth will be offering a Baked Potato Bar lunch to congregants for a suggested donation.  Enjoy baked potatoes with a wide variety of topping choices.
  • Building Birdhouses 12:00-1:45PM – With the help of their parents, kids will be invited during and after lunch to build birdhouses.  Wood materials will be provided.  Additional volunteers and tools are necessary for this event, so please use the "contact" tab above to get in touch with the Office of Faith Development Ministries if you can help out.
  • Financial Wellness Class For Teens and Their Parents, Part 3 12:30-2:00PM – Wendy Innis, a member of our congregation who grew up in this church and a professional financial planner will be offering a three-session class on financial wellness. The class will include the spiritual and religious dimensions of our relationship to money. All youth 7th-12th grade are invited to attend this class with their parents. Registration for this event is required, and attendance at all three of the sessions is important.
Possible Event(s) To Be Added
  • Guest Speaker/Author on Parenting – We may be adding an event with a guest speaker or author on a parenting topic.
  • Parenting Teleseminars – We may have a short series of panels with guest speakers on parenting topics and/or with community resources and service providers.  Topics might include parenting children with special needs, parenting teens, or choices in schooling, foster and adoptive parenting, or other items of interest in our community.  Panel discussions can be heard on the internet or by call-in to the teleseminar line.  UPDATE: The first seminar has been confirmed for Tuesday, March 15th at 8:00PM EST. The theme of the first seminar is "From the Disability Paradigm To An Inclusive Society: Creating a World of Welcome for All God's Children."  There will be a panel of speakers including author and educator Thomas Armstrong.   
  • UU Mama and UU Papa Expansion – If there is interest, we will expand the number of UU Mama covenant groups we have and start a UU Papa covenant group.  Use the "contact" tab above to let us know if you are interested.