Declaring Our Independence

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For our summer Religious Education program, the kids in RE selected Create a Country.  Yes, they selected the summer program – this is part of the Children’s Annual Meeting here.  The author of this curriculum, or rather “simulation”, gives a barebones outline for how to do this with a group of middle schoolers.  I wanted to do it with an All Ages (but for practical purposes at our church in the summer that means preschool-6th grade) class, so I’ve adapted it a lot.

Today was the second class, and we wrote a “Declaration of Independence” at each service.  It was so much fun to hear what the kids thought was wrong with the country as it is!

First Service:

We, the children of the UU church, do not want to live in the United States anymore.  These are our least favorite things about the U.S.:

1.  Parents Make Us Eat Vegetables

2.  Unfair Jail Rules and Too Many People in Jail

3. Capital Punishment and Executing People

4.  Racism

5.  Obama Didn’t Answer my Letter and All I got was a Form Reply

6.  Government Doesn’t care About Us Kids

7.  Not Enough Polka Dot Walls

8.  We Don’t Want to Be at War Anymore

And that is why we are declaring independence.

 

Second Service:

We, the people of the UU church, declare that we aren’t active enough and need to be more active.  We sit too much and eat too many hot dogs, and that is not right.  And we pledge to peace and community.  We need to share food, and put less sugar in our food.  We pledge to be less spoiled.  And we want more polka dot walls and pokemon and Hello Kitty.  Small crimes do not deserve the punishment of prison.  We must not have racism because it is a horrible thing that discriminates against equal rights.  Discrimination based on religion is horrible and we should not do it.  Gay and Lesbian people should be equal to straight people.  Lastly, nothing is worth killing and the death penalty should be erased.

 

There was debate on different points, and a few times it was settled by majority vote.  We had volunteers read our Declarations for a video which will be shown in a worship service at the end of the summer, when the new “countries” we create will be the topic of the service.  I’m really enjoying this program so far!

 

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Pride Prep

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Last Sunday our high school youth had fun painting posters and Tshirts for the Pride Parade coming up in our town.  One of our younger tag-alongs added some fun to the proceedings by opening up a “tattoo parlor” and giving everyone tattoos.

The Pride Parade is a fun highlight of the year for the youth.  Why do UU’s like to come out for these events?  I’ll tell you why our group likes it – it’s amazing fun and the kind of event where people “cheer for you for just showing up” (our Minister’s way of describing it).  We don’t do Pride because we hope it will help our church grow.  We don’t do Pride because this is the social action issue du jour.  We do Pride because we believe in it and because we love doing it.

And I think it’s the best kind of ministry for youth to do: it’s fun, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, it is all about Love, and it is all about Identity and Acceptance (issues that resonate so much with the youth I work with!).

Happy Pride Month to Everyone!

Bridging

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Last Sunday we held both the Coming of Age and Bridging rituals in the worship services.  For both rituals, there is an element of me saying good-bye to these kids that I have worked with as a DRE for the last few years.  The Coming of Age youth will still be around for four more years of youth group (or not, as some choose not to attend – but they’ll still be around).

But Bridging is very bittersweet.  Now that I’ve been doing this DRE thing for five years, we are Bridging young people that were in Middle School when I began.  I can’t imagine how strange it will feel once we start Bridging kids that were in elementary school at my beginning!  I miss them all, and I’m proud of them, and excited for them, and sad that things must change …. all at once.

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I know they’ll find their own path.  Sometimes that journey brings them back, for a visit or to stay, and sometimes it doesn’t.  But I hold all of them in my heart, lightly.  May they be blessed.  May the road rise up to meet them,  and may the rain fall gently on their faces.  May they find that which makes them come alive, and then share that with the world.  May they be strong, may they find love, may they be whole.

Blessings on the journey, young ones.