Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Partners in Ministry – we need you!
Nurture your own faith development by guiding our children and youth.  In the 2012-2013 faith development year (August-May), we will focus our classes at all levels on our six UU sources: 

   Direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder

Words and deeds of prophetic women and men

Wisdom from the world's religions

Jewish and Christian teachings

Humanist teachings and the results of science

Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions

Will you consider teaching 2 Sundays/month as part of a team? 
·         Our younger classes (PreK-2nd grade) will be continuing Spirit Play, a Montessori-based method which encourages wondering through stories and individual expression.
·         3rd and 4th grade classes will be exploring the sources through an adaptation of Holidays and Holy Days, learning about and celebrating holidays of many traditions.
·         5th-6th will continue their Jewish and Christian focus with Jesus and his Kingdom of Equals.
·         7th-8th will study world religions through Building Bridges, a brand-new UUA program.
·         9th-12th YRU2 will explore the sources through their youth group led by Youth Ministries Coordinator Lesa McWalters. 

·         Adult programs will be offered throughout the year.

If you are willing to serve this church, to partner in our faith development ministries, sign up in the Bancroft Room today! Or contact Jessica Gray, or             508.757.2708 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            508.757.2708      end_of_the_skype_highlighting        x105.  

Spirit Play Mini-Training, June 9

Calling all Spirit Play teachers and potential teachers!

We offer Spirit Play at 5 different levels at First Unitarian Church of Worcester, and to support this offering we would like to give our Spirit Play teachers an excellent training opportunity with Nita Penfold, co-creator of the Spirit Play model.  We are inviting teachers and staff from other local UU churches to join us.  You can find out more about Spirit Play in general at

This is not the full training (which is an entire day) - It is intended for teachers and staff from churches who are already using Spirit Play. The training will be from 1-5 pm on June 9 at First Unitarian Church of Worcester (90 Main St.).

The cost per person is $25 (for those attending from outside First Unitarian). If a church pays for 4 people to attend, a 5th may attend for free.

We only have space for 20 participants, but we will have to cancel if we have less than 10.

Deadline to register is June 1.

Click Here to Register 

Questions?  Contact Jessica Gray, Director of Faith Development Ministries at First U -

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This Sunday (4/22) in Faith Development

Spirit Play

This Sunday's story is "An Infinity of Questions" about one of our UU heroines Maria Mitchell. Due to a lack of teachers (because it is the end of school break), we are going to combine the Yellow and Orange classes into one just for this day.

RED: Carrie (S) and Audrey (D)
ORANGE & YELLOW: Shari (S), Gina and Hope (D)
GREEN: Amy (S) and Kattia (D)

In keeping with the sources exploration, our 3rd grade advanced class will learn about a lot of UU heroes and heroines.

BLUE: Gina (S) and Laura (D)

4th-5th Grade Bibleodeon: "Jesus the Teacher" with Marilyn and Colleen.

6th-7th grade Compass Points: "Two Paths" with Christy and Mary.

8th grade Coming of Age: "Understanding Social Action" with Fran and Ellen.

Also, this Sunday we will begin signing up teachers for the 2012-2013 Sunday School year. I would like all parents to consider how you can contribute to this cooperative program. We need everyone involved to make the program work. If you're currently teaching, please let me know if you want to continue and with which age group. If you are not teaching now but think you might, talk to me about what it involves. If you cannot make the longer commitment to teaching, how can you get involved behind-the-scenes? We need everyone!

Monday, April 9, 2012

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

“Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games”

-Peeta Mellark

Certain stories can be described as “mythic” rather than “fiction.” When a story delves into great themes, asks big questions, and captures the minds and imaginations of our youth, often the story is worth serious consideration. I call this type of story “modern myth.” Instead of sharing our sacred stories around campfires, we often share our stories through paperbacks, Kindles or Nooks, and then through film and television screens. These are the stories that contribute to the mindset of a generation.

In worship on April 29, our senior high school youth will share their thoughts on their current “modern myth,” The Hunger Games. In this trilogy of books, author Suzanne Collins presents a dystopian future where power and resources in society are drastically out of balance. The future North America is now called “Panem,” named from the Roman term “panem et circenses,bread and circuses. The Roman concept was that a population can be controlled if they have food and entertainment, including the bloody gladiatorial contests. This concept is turned on its head in The Hunger Games, though, as most of the people in Panem have no bread, and the entertainment is provided by the deaths of their children. In order to prevent rebellion and uprising, the Capitol requires each of 12 districts to offer a “tribute,” two children between the ages of 12-18, who will fight to the death in a controlled survivalist environment. The children are chosen for the game through a lottery. All children must be entered in the lottery, though families with less resources usually have their names entered more times in exchange for food and supplies. The heroine, Katniss Everdeen, lives in the poorest district. When her twelve-year old sister is chosen for the games, Katniss volunteers instead.

The Hunger Games brings up many issues related to Unitarian Universalism. Our second principle is “Justice, Equity, and Compassion in human relations,” and the sixth is “The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.” In Panem the world community has no peace, liberty, or justice, but individual characters strive for justice, equity and compassion as they may. Some of the moments of compassion in the face of extreme injustice brought tears to my eyes.

I read the first two books of the trilogy last week and am looking forward to the conclusion in the third. The books are well-written and very readable. The recently released film has topped the box office for the past three weeks in a row. I enjoyed seeing the film, but I think the narrative was definitely improved by having read the book. I am excited to hear what our youth will share on April 29. I look forward to hearing their thoughts, their impressions, and their stories.

I hope you will join us, and I also hope that you will take the time to read the first book or at least watch the movie (though again, I recommend you read the book first). Given the nature of the story, the book does have some graphic depictions of violence. It’s not appropriate for young children. The film is rated PG-13, and the violence is not gratuitous. Our youth worship will be offered for adults, youth, and older children, while the younger will be attending classes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Worcester Animal Rescue League: Easter and Beyond

Faith Development Activities for Easter

Would you like to meet some of the animals we are helping? We have booked 2 times to take small groups to visit the Worcester Animal Rescue League for Monday, April 16th at 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM. We can always book more, and they can even be back-to-back. This is the first Monday of Spring Break.

There is a limit of 12 people per tour. If people prefer different times, they have these parameters: weekdays between 10-1, then 2-4. They close for the day at 4, and are not open on weekends.

Contact Amy Borg ( or Jessica Gray ( if you want to participate. Please let us know which time you would like to join and how many children and adults.

More Background: In January, our third grade class was asked to choose a social action protest to share as part of our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day worship service. They chose to protest cruelty to animals, and their mock protest was well-received by the congregation.

Well now we want to make their protest effort into a real opportunity to express our faith in action. Worcester Animal Rescue League was founded in 1912 by a group of women determined to save overworked and abused farm horses. Today, WARL is one of the largest no-kill, limited intake animal shelters in the region, accepting pets only when there is enough shelter space to do so. WARL prides itself on not establishing a time limit for healthy and adoptable animals, and the staff and volunteers work constantly with foster homes, rescue groups, and other shelters nationwide to place animals in the best possible circumstance.

On Easter Sunday, instead of regular classes, children will share a special Children’s Chapel in Unity Hall. This will include stories and activities for all ages. Youth are welcome to help or to stay in worship. Youth will have an opportunity to hide eggs for the egg hunt during this time. The chapel, “What Shall We Do to Celebrate?” will honor springtime religious traditions from several of our UU sources

All children are then encouraged to participate in our first ever “money-egg hunt” during fellowship hour. Parents, please join your children in Unity Hall immediately after worship for the egg hunt.

The plastic eggs are filled with monetary donations for Worcester Animal Rescue League (WARL). Thank you to all in the congregation who donated eggs.

If you forgot your Easter basket, we have egg cartons you can use. We will release the children by age level (youngest first), but children can hunt for eggs in any area around the church. Each child should find a limit of a dozen eggs. Parents, please supervise your children during the hunt!

After the hunt, all participants should return to Unity Hall to count their donations. All participants will receive a prize, and those with the highest amount of donations will receive a bigger prize. But it’s not the amount of eggs that counts… who knows what amount of money will be in each egg you find?