Volunteers Make It Possible

It’s that time of year again! Volunteers are transitioning off, being Thanked and Celebrated. And now we ask ourselves “who will teach next year?”

volunteer in RE

Faith Development Ministries 2019-2020 Volunteer Team Job Descriptions

 

Job Title Size of Team Age Group Working With Time Commitment Requirements
Spirit Play Teacher 4 PreK 1-2 Sundays a month for 3 months Background check

6 months part of congregation

Must be able to sit on floor

Labyrinth Learning Assistant 4-6 1st-5th Grade 1-2 Sundays a month for 3 months Background check

6 months part of congregation

 

Middle School Advisors 6-8 6th-8th grade 1-2 Sundays a month for a year Background check

6 months part of congregation

 

Coming of Age Mentors 6-8 8th-11th grade 1 Sunday a month, 1 weekend retreat in May Background check

6 months part of congregation

Over 25 years old

Teen Faith in Action Leadership Council Advisors 2 13-18 year olds 1 Sunday a month plus supporting other possible projects as needed Background check

6 months part of congregation

Over 25 years old

Youth Soul Matters Facilitators 2 9th-12th grade 1 Sunday a month Background check

6 months part of congregation

Over 25 years old

Youth Group Advisors 2-4 9th-12th grade 1 Sunday a month plus other activities (field trips/CONS/overnights) as needed Background check

6 months part of congregation

Over 25 years old

 

 

Narrative Job Descriptions:

  1. Spirit Play Teacher

Type of activity: in this method, the teachers come in and read a story to the kids, using physical props that are put together in a “story basket”. The method here really is the message, as we strive to create an environment of calm, reflective, loving care for each individual’s exploration of experiential wondering questions. If you can sit on the floor and enjoy young children, this position is for you.

Core Responsibilities:

  • Maintain Safe Congregation, emergency, and supervision procedures in the Spirit Play classroom
  • Tell the core stories of our UU faith using the Montessori method
  • Lead and model Wondering and loving and respectful community

It’s a “Win” if:

  • Children participate in rituals and practices of UUism (Chalice Lighting, etc)
  • Children grow in loving relationship to one another and to the community
  • Children practice justice through kindness and show appreciation for diversity

 

  1. Labyrinth Learning Assistant

This class is taught by a staff teacher, and assistants come to help. Each workshop will begin with a whole group presentation and then there will be four stations the children can choose from: silent reading, arts/crafts/cooking, games/drama/music, and discussion/investigation. If you enjoy active children and any of the learning styles of the stations then this is the right position for you.

Core Responsibilities:

  • Maintain Safe Congregation, emergency, and supervision procedures in the classroom
  • Assist with classroom management and the upholding of the classroom Covenant
  • Assist with crafts and active games and projects
  • Help clean up the space afterward

It’s a “Win” if:

  • Children grow in their understanding of UU ritual and practice, UU belief, UU history, and the 6 UU Sources
  • Children engage in justice through fairness and show appreciation of diversity
  • Children grow in loving relationship to one another and the community and understand and uphold Covenant

 

  1. Middle School Advisors

Most Sundays the group will be using curriculum, which this year is Twilight Zone and will involve watching episodes of the classic show and then discussing the ethical and philosophical questions raised by them. If you like thoughtful discussion, would like to learn and explore along-side middle graders, and have an appreciation for this age group, this is the position for you!

Core Responsibilities:

  • Maintain Safe Congregation, emergency, and supervision procedures with the group
  • Model Covenantal community and provide leadership as needed to help youth maintain Covenant and live our 7 Principles
  • Facilitate youth in forming community and exploring their identity and beliefs
  • Follow the curriculum provided and also respond to the learning moments that arrive in conversation, promoting justice and inclusivity

It’s a “Win” if:

  • Youth form community and see themselves as part of the larger OUUC community
  • Youth practice justice through Equity and value diversity
  • Youth form loving relationships and practice Right Relationship and Covenant with one another, with OUUC, and with the World
  • Youth explore big questions, articulate their own viewpoints and beliefs, and listen to one another’s ideas respectfully

 

  1. Coming of Age Mentors

Coming of Age content is led by the Director of Religious Education, with Mentors providing relational support to youth and modeling the many ways to be an adult of faith and an adult Unitarian Universalist. In past years mentors worked specifically with one youth, but this year will be different with mentors serving as a “pool” and mentoring all the Coming of Age youth.

 

Core Responsibilities:

  • Maintain Safe Congregation, emergency, and supervision procedures with the group, particularly through supporting a safe weekend retreat for the youth
  • Participate in Coming of Age workshops alongside youth
  • Model a mature Unitarian Universalist identity or a mature faith/ethical/philosophical identity and perspective
  • Build supportive and appropriate intergenerational relationships with the youth

It’s a “Win” if:

  • Youth are supported in exploring their beliefs and understandings of the world and themselves
  • Youth are invited into deeper relationship with the congregation, and given knowledge of the meaning and responsibilities of membership in the congregation
  • Youth have positive and supportive relationships with trusted adults who serve as role models for how to live a life of integrity and faith

 

  1. Teen Faith in Action Leadership Council Advisors

This will be a new program for the 2019-2020 church year, with youth ages 13-18 meeting once a month to plan youth-led social justice and service projects. Each month we will invite a guest speaker to present about a different faith in action project or issue, and then youth will discuss and plan their own projects. Advisors will support but not lead the council.

Core Responsibilities:

  • Maintain Safe Congregation, emergency, and supervision procedures with the group
  • Serve as a bridge between the youth and the adults of the congregation
  • Provide advice and ideas when asked, facilitate conversation between youth if needed

It’s a “Win” if:

  • Youth are empowered to act on their faith and their values
  • Positive intergenerational relationships are fostered

 

  1. Youth Soul Matters Facilitator

Youth meet once a month to discuss the Soul Matters theme, in a slightly modified format from the adult gathering. Adult facilitators provide scaffolded and covenantal leadership, facilitating when needed and promoting youth facilitation when possible.

Core Responsibilities:

  • Maintain Safe Congregation, emergency, and supervision procedures with the group,
  • Model a mature Unitarian Universalist identity or a mature faith/ethical/philosophical identity and perspective
  • Support youth in upholding their Covenant and in respectful sharing and listening

It’s a “Win” if:

  • Youth are supported in exploring their beliefs and understandings of the world and themselves
  • Youth built covenantal, respectful, and loving community

 

  1. Youth Group Advisor

Youth Group is the catch-all of all the fun, service, and learning that our High School youth want to engage with. This year youth have chosen to hold a monthly “Fun” meeting at OUUC that will be visitor and drop-in friendly, and they may also schedule additional events when they meet in the Fall for further planning. Advisors get to “hang out” with the youth and support these events as needed.

Core Responsibilities:

  • Maintain Safe Congregation, emergency, and supervision procedures with the group, occasionally by serving as chaperones, carpools, and sponsors as needed
  • Support youth in upholding their Covenant and creating a safe, supportive, and welcoming community
  • Support and advise youth leadership, stepping in to lead and facilitate if needed

 

It’s a “Win” if:

  • Youth have positive and supportive relationships with trusted adults who serve as role models for how to live a life of integrity and faith
  • Youth form a covenanted and loving community, while still remaining open and welcoming and inclusive to newcomers

 

 

Children’s Annual Meeting, 2019

Another great Children’s Annual Meeting happened this year, (just as great as last year). The kids worked as committees to make nominations and then all voted to decide on:

  1. Our End-Of-Year Children’s Service Project. They chose to do a project to support affordable medicine. Starting on April 28th we will work on this project during the Sunday classes for the elementary aged kids. I’ve contacted the Olympia Free Clinic to see how we could help them, and we’ll also be learning about UU connections to medicine (Clara Barton, and others), and more!
  2. The recipient of 50% (modeled after OUUC’s Share the Plate) of this coming year’s Children’s Offering. The children voted to donate next year to helping dogs – we’ll donate to an animal shelter or animal charity. Last year’s recipient chosen was natural disaster relief, and the kids donated over $350 this year …  great job!
  3.  And finally they chose the program we will do for Summer Religious Education. They chose to repeat the Maker Space program.

Great job, kids!

Mystery Pals Party

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Another fun year of the Mystery Pals program has just wrapped up, and I am struck by how much fun this program is in an time where we get less and less “real” mail. The notes and postcards I saw being exchanged in our mailbox system were very nice, but there were also stickers, collage art, some coloring pages, fruit, flowers, little toys, chocolates, and other fun little gifts tucked into the mailboxes. In the depths of winter, what a fun reason to come to church!

There’s always next year to join in the fun, but if you don’t want to wait you could think of sending something through old fashioned post to someone in your life. Who would smile to receive some children’s art in the pile of bills and junk mail? Who would love to get a little care package of candy or a surprise gift? Spread some joy around!

 

A Gratitude Workshop for Families

Here is a workshop we presented a few years ago, which may have some kernels of wisdom or practice for the holiday this week:

Family Gratitude Workshop

 

Gathering (10 Minutes)

Hymn: “We Gather Together”, or a reflection on what that means.

 

A Simple Gratitude Ritual

You’ll need a basket or bowl, and then place a variety of objects within it that might symbolize different sources of abundance and gratitude for your family. Examples: a pencil could symbolize gratitude for an education, a nail could symbolize gratitude for shelter, a leaf could symbolize gratitude for nature. A quick walk around the house should generate many such small objects.

A basket is passed around the circle, and each person chooses one object from within.  Then, while holding that object, think of something that you are grateful for.  Once the basket is empty, it will be passed around again.  Each person places their object back into the basket, saying what they are grateful for.  The final person takes the full basket and says “Our basket is full, “our cup runeth over”, thank you for these gifts we share.”

(This could easily be done at home, around a dinner table.  A small bowl could be used in place of the basket, for a smaller gathering.  Objects can be stones, fruits or nuts, seashells, or anything else that feels meaningful to you.  Something that actually feels good in the hands, giving this a tactile experience for the children, is better.)

 

Gratitude Trees 

Make a gratitude tree in one of many ways:

Adults/older children and youth Reflect and Discuss

Questions for Reflection.  Take a few minutes and think or write about these questions, then get into pairs or groups of three and discuss (for these, it doesn’t really matter if you talk with your own life partner or another, but later it would be good to switch it up).

Think back to your own childhood.  Watch the time.  Reflect for 5 minutes.

  1. What made you happy?
  2. What energized you?
  3. What barrier did you overcome?
  4. What changed you?
  5. What triggered your creativity?
  6. What deepened your spirituality?
  7. What kindness did you experience?
  8. What did others do for you?
  9. What inspired you?
  10. What made you feel good?
  11. What difficulty taught you an important lesson?

 

Discuss your childhood memories with a partner or in a group of three.  Watch the time – share for 10 minutes.

 

Now, read the following sermon excerpt: (5 Minutes)

Parenting As Spiritual Discipline

A Sermon by the Rev. Wayne B. Arnason and Ahmie Yeung, Worship Associate
for the West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, Rocky River Ohio
April 10, 2005

Sermon Part 1: Wayne

In her book, The Heart of a Family, Meg Cox tells a story about the Siegel family of Alexandria, VA. They “had started to eat dinner one night when two year old Rebecca, sitting in her high chair, suddenly got very quiet. Tears rolled down her cheeks, while her confused parents and older sister frantically tried to figure out what was wrong. She didn’t seem sick or in pain. The food on her plate was something she liked. What could be missing? What had they done differently? Suddenly, it came to them. They had forgotten to sing grace.”

So they held hands and sang the grace their family used. As they began to sing it, Rebecca’s crying had escalated into loud sobs, but then subsided quickly as she heard the familiar tune that began their meals. She calmed down and ate her dinner. The family never forgot grace again.

When Ahmie Yeung and I began talking about this sermon idea, we found that the theme raised enough questions for us to fill three sermons: “How do we pass on our beliefs to our children? Do UU parents really want our children to choose what they believe for themselves? What about those of us in our church whose family heritage includes more than one religious path and finally; “How does parenting change us, the parents, as spiritual beings?” We won’t cover all these questions today but you will get at least two themes for the price of one. First, “How does parenting invite and instruct us in the virtues and practices of a formal religious life, especially a Unitarian Universalist religious life, regardless of our personal theology?” and second “What are the personal spiritual lessons of parenting?” It’s been great to talk with Ahmie about these questions from two ends of the parenting spectrum – she as the mother of brand new child and me as the father of a child about to graduate from college.

The story from Meg Cox illustrates well how both of these dimensions of parenting as a spiritual discipline can manifest themselves. Parents who implement a regular grace at meals with their families may do so for many reasons, some of them very personal to the spirituality of the parents. But one of the reasons will often be to create a ritual of moral and spiritual instruction for children. The message grace conveys is that we should be grateful for our food, and the many hands and the larger context of living that has made it possible for us to be able to eat it. Well and good! Little Rebecca wasn’t old enough to understand the moral lesson of grace, however. At age two, she just enjoyed how it felt. It was part of the family ritual whenever they sat down to eat, and so when they didn’t sing the grace, she noticed! And she cried! What did her parents learn from this?

  • That love of ritual is something that is deeply ingrained in us, and a natural way for our youngest human beings to make sense of a confusing world in which there is so much to learn.
  • That there are some events and moments in family life where everyone needs to be included, and if they aren’t they will likely let you know.
  • That the pain and distance created when an important ritual is missed can be assuaged by reconciliation and renewal of the ritual.

 

 

With a different partner than you discussed before, discuss these questions: (10 minutes)

  1. How is parenting a “Spiritual Discipline” for you?
  2. What lessons do you learn from parenting? What challenges you the most?
  3. What gifts do you receive from your children?
  4. What practices or “rituals” do you have in your family? What values are reflected in your rituals?

 

Family Gratitude Trees (10 minutes)

The kids have been making trees (which they’ll take home with them), now we reform into family groups and cut out leaf shapes from paper, write what we are grateful for on each leaf, and tie them on the trees.  One leaf for each thing that someone in your family is grateful for.

(This ritual could be done regularly, or just around the Thanksgiving season.  If you don’t have a wire tree like we just made here, you could use a real tree and tie ribbons to it, make one out of twigs, or make a large paper tree and post it on a wall of your home, and tape/glue paper leaves on to that poster for each of the things you are grateful for.  If you google “Gratitude Trees” and choose “Images” you will find many inspiring pictures.)

 

Closing Words

May We Look With Gratitude Upon This Day

 

 

Family Conversation Game

Family Conversation About Prophetic People Game

 

Materials needed: print out of board and cards, dice, and player tokens (coins or push pins or anything that fits).

Directions:

  1. Print out the “board” and the “cards”, and cut the cards apart
  2. Place the cards face down, and mix them up
  3. Place the player tokens at the start position on the board. Youngest goes first, rolls the dice, and moves that many spaces – arrows count as spaces too.
  4. After each move, the player picks a card, turns it over and reads it (or has help reading it) and then chooses one family member to ask that question of. After they have answered, it is now Their Turn.
  5. Play continues until someone gets to the end of the board, or until you run out of cards or interest.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? If you could have dinner with any five people from history and hear them tell their stories, who would you choose and why?
Who has inspired you? What did they do to inspire you? What were you inspired to do? Has anyone ever told you a “hard truth”? A hard truth means something that was hard to hear, but also true and necessary. How did it feel to hear a hard truth?
Who is your favorite superhero and why? Why do you think we like superheroes so much? Who is your favorite historic hero and why? Do you think our historic heroes have to be perfect to be heroes?
What is your question – you can ask your family member any question you want. What truth do you see that you would like to tell others about? What is your message to the world?
How would you change the world? If you could change anything, what would you change? When you think about the future, what do you hope for? What scares you?
What living real person is your role model? What kind of person do they show you how to be? What qualities do you most admire in the other members of your family? Can the people closest to you show you how to be?

PDF of Board: prophetic people family conversation game

Family Chapel

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The title of a program called “Religious Education” may imply that the primary activity is educational and classroom instruction-based, and that the task is to learn about religion. This is only partially true; while we do learn about religion our primary task is doing religion. We are here to form community, practice being human together, do justice, grow our spirits, sing, worship, and practice.

With this in mind, this year I am introducing a new offering in the form of Family Chapel. Family Chapel will meet once a month (typically the first Sunday of each month) and will be an alternative worship service for families to attend together (although no child will be turned away if they come without their parents – if a parent wishes to attend the adult worship service this is an option for you). Family Chapel will be the whole hour, with:

  • Singing and learning simple hymns that can be sung at home
  • Worshipping together and learning about how and why we do the things in worship that we do
  • spiritual practices such as simple meditations
  • worship stations and opportunities families can use to prompt discussions, try new things, and create something to take home with them

 

This will be a different kind of worship (kid-friendly, hands on) but it will still be a worship, filling the spirits and grounding us for the week ahead. Our first Family Chapel will be on September 16th. Join us at 11:00 in Classroom 4!

Youth Group Plans for 2018-2019

Middle School group 2018

Last Saturday we had a wonderful Middle School Group party at a local park. The Middle School grades have a lot to look forward to this year, with Neighboring Faiths/Building Bridges as their Sunday program, Our Whole Lives for 7th-8th grade on Wednesday evenings, a holiday play being organized by a group of 7th graders, and Middle School CON the last weekend of September. All the important dates are here:

Middle School 2018-2019

And what about High School youth? We have great plans for this group as well!

High School 2018.2019

Chalice Camp Was Great!

 

 

We’ve just completed our annual week long day camp, called “Chalice Camp”. It’s for 5 to 10 year old kids, and it was a great week of fun, games, making new friends, learning new songs, exploring nature, caring for the earth, and promoting peace and kindness.

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Thank you to all the kids, staff, and volunteers for making it so much fun!

Our Green Sanctuary

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On our Earth Day Sunday, we took the kids on a tour of the congregation and pointed out the many ways we are a Green Sanctuary.

The Green Sanctuary Program from the UUA provides a structure and tools to congregations who want to raise their awareness and take action for the environment and climate change. OUUC earned its Green Sanctuary accreditation several years ago, and continues to show a high commitment to being a Green Sanctuary.

Stops on our tour with the kids:

  1. The Green Sanctuary Accreditation letter, posted outside the Minister’s Office
  2. The Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary sign (posted on the fence around our dumpsters, but that’s not the wildlife habitat … the habitat is right behind the dumpsters in the wild woods portion of our property).
  3. At the front of the building, you can see the solar panels on the roof. Anyone interested in the energy report can access it from the church website.
  4. Inside again, we noted the big banner in the Commons proclaiming 2018 the Year of Environmental Justice at OUUC.
  5. A stop in the kitchen to note the recycling and compost sorting station sparked good conversation about trash and home recycling habits.
  6. In the Work Room we noted an old poster about global warming that we’ve had up for decades …. showing the long term commitment to this issue this community has had.
  7. Back in the hallway outside their classroom, the kids checked out the Green Sanctuary Committee’s bulletin board, showing many of the ways this community and this congregation show their care for the Earth.

Next time you are at OUUC, look for some of these signs of our Green Sanctuary yourself!