Friday, December 18, 2009
IMPORTANTLY this is a third Sunday offering and the money you give at this service will go towards Schenectady's Free Health Clinic.
Please come, enjoy the pageant, the community, and give generously.
Religious education classes resume Sunday January 10, 2010!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Children at the Well is a not- for- profit program that brings together youth from different religious traditions who work with professional storytellers to tell stories out of their religious traditions.
Every year the youth gather at a different place of worship to tell the stories they have practiced. This year is our year to host! It is a wonderful and powerful opportunity to deepen our understanding of diverse religious traditions including our own, support youth, and hear terrific stories!
Our own Alex Whisenhunt will tell a story Sunday. This is an event friendly to all ages. Please consider taking time during this often busy holiday season to enjoy a diverse religious community and celebrate the power of stories.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
We'll start in the preK/K room for Children's Chapel and stay there for the program. We'll use 1/2 the dining room as well.
We did this last year and it was a lot of fun! For children's chapel I'll tell the story, "An Advent Wreath Named Patience." Children will have the opportunity to make an advent wreath and a gift.
They can also choose to read, snack and engage in any of the spiritual practices they have been learning about in their classes.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
In it, Church writes that, “religion is our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die...Knowing we must die, we question what life means. The answers we arrive at may not be religious answers, but the questions death forces us to ask are, at heart, religious questions: Where did I come from? Who am I? Where am I going? What is life's purpose? What does all this signify?"
I write and ponder all this not just as a human being grappling with these mysteries but as a religious educator wondering, how do we hold this up to our children? What do we say? What do we offer at First Unitarian Society Schenectady?
Read on for some whys.....
Halloween is a holidays with deep roots. There have been celebrations around this time of year for thousands of years.
For a number of years I have thought about and anguished over exactly how it is we celebrate this time.
I believe Halloween is about death and how we view death. As a religious educator I have spent a lot of time pondering how we present death to children.
Children are not immune from death. Last year children in our religious education program experienced the death of a classmate. My own children have experienced the death of a close grandparent.
How do we think about this ourselves and how do we share this with our children?
After my dad died I realized how ill-equiped I was to deal with the continuing reality of his death. Since I spent a number of years in Tucson, I embraced the holiday, “Days of the Dead” Days of the Dead has roots in Aztec culture and Christianity. There are skeletons, but they are smiling and doing things they enjoyed when they were alive. Days of the Dead recognizes death and celebrates the life of those who went before, ancestors, friends, pets.
Unitarian Universalism has not only principles to follow but sources to draw from. One of those sources is earth-centered traditions.
This fall I have spent time studying goddess religions, paganism, wiccan. What struck me was this, “Death doesn't kill.” Our portrayal of death around this time of year is often as something that will seek us out and kill us. It takes death out of the natural cycle of life and puts it into a realm of good and evil. Life is good, death is evil. But, in reality, we kill each other, we die from disease, old age, accidents.
If we were really to see death as part of the cycle of life we need to see it as natural. It doesn't mean we don't grieve when someone we care about dies. Whatever we believe about what happens after death, there is grief and sadness.
So what I have come to is to look to earth-centered traditions and to present the concept of the Wheel of Life. Our preK children through third graders learned in Spirit Play about the wheel of life and an ancient Celtic celebration called Samhain (pronounce sow-wen).
This Sunday we will continue this with our All Hallow's Eve Party including our fourth through seventh graders.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Children's Chapel lasts about 20 minutes and is a service just for our youngest that introduces them to the themes, practices and rituals of Unitarian Universalist worship.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Our Religious Education classes are in full swing now.
We have a fabulous and hardworking Religious Education Council who have been collecting registration forms, meeting visitors and answering questions about our religious education programming.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
What follows is a description of our classes for next year!
This is a long post. This information will be available, soon, on our web site. It will also be available this summer in printed form as a brochure along with other information about our religious education program.
for preK -Kindergarten (4&5 year olds)
and Grades 1-3 (6-9 year olds)
Sept 2009 - May 2010
Spirit Play is a child-centered story-based approach that encourages children as they explore and make meaning of some of life's big questions. Questions like, where did we come from? Why are we here? Each child is encouraged to explore at their own pace and follow their own interests in expressing ideas and stories they hear in class.
Spirit Play classrooms are set up very intentionally. After gathering together to hear a story related to our UU principles, celebrations or holidays, children choose their own works. They can use the story baskets, create art, and/or work with sacred symbols and practices such as labyrinths, mandalas, yoga. If they choose, a child can spend time looking at or reading books that also relate to some of the topics that have been introduced. These materials and others will be introduced in the class and left for the children to use as long as they are interested in them. They can choose to work alone or with others. They gather together again at the end of class to share a snack, a “feast.”
Spirit Play- The Great Story
for grades 4 and 5 (9 – 11 year olds)
Sept. 2009 - January 2010
The Great Story (also known as the Universe Story, Epic of Evolution, or Evolutionary Epic) is about the wonder of evolution. It is humanity's common creation story. It is the 14 billion year science-based sacred story of cosmic genesis, from the formation of the galaxies and the origin of Earth life, to the development of self-reflective consciousness and human technology, to the emergence of comprehensive compassion and tools to assist humanity in being a blessing the larger body of life.
This program uses the Spirit Play model as a way of telling the history of everyone and everything that honors and embraces all religious traditions and creation stories. It is the sacred narrative of an evolving Universe of emergent complexity and breathtaking creativity and cooperation — a story that offers each of us the opportunity to find meaning and purpose in our lives and our time in history.
Toolbox of Faith
for grades 4 and 5
February 2010 – May 2010
The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic who would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. — Confucius
Toolbox of Faith invites fourth- and fifth- grade participants to reflect on the qualities of our Unitarian Universalist faith, such as integrity, courage, and love, as tools they can use in living their lives and building their own faith. Each of the 16 sessions uses a tool as a metaphor for an important quality of our faith such as reflection (symbolized by a mirror), flexibility (duct tape), and justice (a flashlight).
The goal of the program is that by reflecting on the qualities (tools) of our faith, children and leaders gain insight into what makes our faith important in their lives, and how they can grow in our faith.
Leaders are an important component of the Toolbox of Faith program. Leaders are not recruited to "indoctrinate" children, but rather to share the journey as seekers with the children. Leaders are not in the role of experts handing down information but are co-explorers and "beloved adults." Children value adults who are interested in their opinions and lives. They will reward those who work with them with trust, sharing, and affection.
Amazing Grace: exploring right and wrong
for grades 6 and 7 (11 – 13 year olds)
It is by no means necessary that I should live, but it is by all means necessary that I should act rightly.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Amazing Grace uses stories, activities, discussion, and more to help youth address such questions as: Why do bad things happen? What is the role of God, gods, and goddesses? Who am I? Is evil or goodness within us? Is it something we choose? What are my own ideas? How can I follow my own ideas and not somebody else's? Is "you decide for yourself" really the ultimate UU answer to these questions?
Amazing Grace offers sixth and seventh graders old wisdom in fresh form, and new understanding in active, challenging exercises. It invites them toward an adolescence enriched by self-knowledge and a deepening ethical sense. It is meant to be fun and engaging for youth and leaders alike. However, its enjoyment is always purposeful, and its messages are always meaningful.
The goals of this programs include:
Exploring right and wrong
Understanding such religious concepts as virtue, sin, salvation, heaven, hell, and redemption
Understanding such quotidian concepts as ethics, morality, curiosity, personality, character, integrity, guilt, and forgiveness
Internalizing the Golden Rule
Appreciating Unitarian Universalist approaches to faith, morality, and social justice
Expressing and living faith through action
for grades 6 and 7
February 2010 – May 2010
Neighboring Faiths introduces our youth to the faith traditions and practices of other religious groups in our community. The youth learn about other faith traditions and practices and then visit local religious services of these traditions.
Coming of Age
for grades 8 and 9 (13 - 15 year olds)
The purpose of the Coming of Age program is to offer 8th and 9th graders a modern Rite of Passage that is welcoming, affirming, dynamic and connects across the generations of our FUSS community.
There are four components to this coming of age program: mentored learning that acknowledges and engages multiple learning styles; practical testing such as values clarification and physical challenges; ritual for both group and individual; and celebration.
Some of the highlights of the Coming Of Age program at FUSS include:
Boston heritage trip
selecting and working with a mentor
community service project
an end of the year celebration/party for the youth and their friends
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
So that we will know how many children to expect, please email Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org as to whether or not you will need nursery care on the 26th.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
And I'm not bragging or anything, but it's supposed to be around 80 degrees during the days we are there.
But seriously, we will be working hard on various rebuilding projects Monday - Friday. There's a blog you can follow our progress on. It's http://fussnola.livejournal.com
Happy Passover/ Easter/Spring Break
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Dear FUSS Nursery Parents,
As most of you know, on April 26 we will be part of a combined worship service with the other three Capital District UU congregations. The service will be held at the Saratoga Hilton at 10:30 AM. This will be a multigenerational service. However, as with all multigenerational services, nursery care will still be available.
Nursery care will be at the Saratoga Unitarian Universalist Church (a five minute walk from the Saratoga Hilton) and will be available for children from all 4 congregations. They will use their regular nursery space, as well as the large RE classroom. Nancy plans on being there as a regular caregiver from our congregation. Someone from the Saratoga congregation will serve as a contact person (with a vibrating cell phone! ) at the service in case we need to reach a parent for any reason.
So that we will know how many children to expect, please email me at email@example.com as to whether or not you will need nursery care on the 26th.
Thanks for your help. Please respond as soon as possible.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
We are remaking the former 1/2 classroom into a library/meeting room.
Last Sunday, March 22, adults and children at the worship service made suggestions for what should go on the panel we are contributing to the April 26 combined UU worship service.
First, second and seventh graders painted under the supervision of artist Marie Hatton. We now have a beautiful panel to contribute!
We'll have it on display Sunday. See if you can find all the different elements that were suggested. There will be a list there.
Our panel is one of four. Come to our Building Bridges multigenerational service in Saratoga April 26 and see all four pieces come together!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy is sponsoring an Iraqi Children's Art Project March 23, 28-29. It is called, "How Will They Know Us? Creating a culture of peace." They are looking for American children between the ages of 8 - 18 to help create two murals with children from Iraq.
They will be led by artists who will help them design and create the murals. We have some FUSS youth participating. It would be wonderful if we had more. They are looking for 16 American children and youth.
Friday, March 13, 2009
One of the storytellers is our very own Alex Whisenhunt, an eighth grader who has grown up at FUSS.
We will also have wonderful music and songs to sing together!
Thursday, March 5, 2009
On Friday, March 6, help celebrate the arrival of Mustafa, Salam, and Walid at the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady with a pot luck party. Please bring a dish, dessert, or beverage to share. We will start at 6:30 pm in the dining hall. The kitchen will be available for heating food. (We need a few experienced FUSS volunteers to help with clean up afterwards.)
We will all get a chance to introduce ourselves to Mustafa, Salam, and Walid and introduce ourselves to each other. Members of the Shia Mosque are attending, as well as FUSS volunteers, and Iraqi community members. Please come if you can.. All are welcome. If you have any questions, please contact Bob Alft at 765-4386.
A large community of FUSS members have been very involved in preparations for the arrival of three men who are refugees from Iraq. It has been an interfaith partnership at work in Schenectady.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
This past Sunday's Children's Chapel was on Stewardship. If you have a child in preK - 5th grade who was there, ask them about my "stewardship bag."
We talked about how a steward is a caregiver and a helper and a person who shares. We talked about different ways we are caretakers of the earth, ourselves, each other, our church.
After our service the children made cards that we will have children and adults sign over the next two weeks and send to those in our community who are in need of our thoughts and prayers. This is how we are stewards in a caring community and practice social action with each other.
Stewardship takes place at the intersection of spirituality and ethics. We both celebrate life and accept the responsibility to love and care for the gifts of life ... As stewards we are called to invest our gifts of time, talent and treasure in our family, in our community and in our congregation and faith to which we belong.
It's a big calling. Being a Unitarian Universalist is not an easy path. It is path that demands much of us. But its rewards are great.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Thanks to all of you who have been stewards of our building!
Marie Hatton painted this beautiful mural in the Waters House foyer! Last Saturday Kim Schnell, Scott Horgen, Roz Dahl and Pete Gernert-Dott spent the afternoon painting a second floor classroom that currently serves as our seventh grade O.W.L. room.
Kim will be there again this Sunday working on a second coat in the classroom. Your help would be much appreciated!
There's still room to join the class Articulating Your UU Faith: Sundays March 1, 8, 15, and 22 from 6:30 - 8:30pm in the Fireplace room.
Many of us share the struggle to describe Unitarian Universalism adequately and find it difficult to answer explicit questions about UU history. This course will provide you the opportunity to think and discuss ways to express our faith to the rest of the world. It will also give you an opportunity for meaningful connection with fellow UU's.
The class will be led by Rev Priscilla Richter and Melissa MacKinnon, Director of Religious Education. Childcare will be available during the class. Please call or e-mail Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Our sixth grade is participating in a curriculum that is new to us. It is called, The Questing Year. It is being led by Betsy Bitner, Gary Feinland, Michele Hackett, and Mark Vermilyea. The curriculum is designed to lead participants on four interconnected quests that will help them develop their own answers to some of life’s biggest questions. The four quests are:
Action Quest: This central quest invites the youth to live their principles and realize their faith through individual action and a class social action project of their own choice and design.
The class has decided to work on a social action project to support Homeword Bound. They are making signs and will have a table set out in the Great Hall during the month of March with more information.
Inner Quest: Participants explore their own natures and their relationships to others, with request reference to spiritual, denominational and social action questions and issues.
UU Quest: By considering local and denominational principles and programs and through studying the lives of outstanding UU's, participants consider what Unitarian Universalism can and might mean to their own lives and actions
Mystery Quest: This spiritual component helps group members come to individual understandings of the first causes and controlling forces that help shape them, their universe, their lives and their actions.
FUSS RE teacher and Social Action Council member Bob Alft will be joined by Taif Jany and together they will lead a discussion on life as a refugee.
Two years ago Taif, his brother and mother escaped from Iraq to Syria after his father was kidnapped and presumed killed. Thanks in part to generous donations from FUSS, Union College and the Iraqi Student Project, Taif is attending Union College for the next four years. Taif will talk about his life in Iraq, his experiences in Syria living as a refugee, and the importance of seeking peace in world torn apart by violence and war.
Begins after "the child in us" portion of the service.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Elementary- aged children in grades preK - 5 will have an opportunity during class time Sunday to make a valentine. Just after the service Kris Gernert Dott and I will distribute the valentines to adults in the congregation.
The children will look for their valentine and, we hope, make a new friend at FUSS. Everyone is invited to the dining room for make your own sundaes and we encourage children and their families to sit with their valentines.
Our senior youth will set up, scoop ice cream and clean up. There will be vegan ice cream available for anyone desiring it or requiring a gluten-free alternative.
There is NO CHARGE for the ice cream. Senior youth will gladly accept donations for their work. Any money they receive will be split between the Iraqi refugees our congregation is supporting and their planned social action trip to New Orleans.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Kim Schnell will lead a team of painters Sunday afternoon, Feb. 22nd from 1PM - 4 PM. The room to be painted is currently our 7th grade OWL room. It's very blue with lots of peeling paint.
We need your help! Please contact Kim: email@example.com or myself: firstname.lastname@example.org if you are able to work for any amount of time.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
These youth conferences provide an opportunity for UU youth in our St Lawrence District to meet, worship, learn and socialize together. Our youth plan the workshops, meals and other programs and get adult volunteers to help.
This year's con includes a coffee house, a ballroom dance workshop led by Frank and Angela Calabria, an Our Whole Lives class for senior youth led by trained facilitators Randy Jennings and Jackie Citriniti, yoga with yours truly (me!). The youth are planning an interactive Candyland game. They'll plan and lead worship services together. They will have the opportunity to hear Union College student Taif Jany speak on his experiences living in Baghdad during the Iraq war and talk with him about it. Taif is one of only 15 students from Iraq allowed into the United States to attend college.
Our youth-led Cons are a great example of youth empowerment and creating opportunities for youth leadership. Cons connect our UU youth with other like-minded UU youth in an environment that is safe and well supervised. The importance and power of those connections can not be underestimated.
Our congregations collected over 200 hats, mitten, gloves and scarves on our mitten tree this year! I took the remaining items to Sojourn House and Bethesda House Tuesday. With the expected colder temperatures they were very, very grateful for the items.
It really struck me when I spoke with Susan, the director at Sojourn House, and heard the gratitude in her voice. They were really worried because mitten and gloves are something that they need regularly and often do not have. And, children tend to lose such things...When I talked with Susan in December she told me about a time when she gave a resident the socks off her feet to wear.
What we do matters so much. Thank- you.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Additionally: 7th grade OWL meets 9 - 12 noon.
OWL 5th grade parent orientation from 10:30 - 12 noon.
8th grade COA meets in the morning. This is a change because the evening trip has been postponed.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Our first Children's Chapel of the New Year was on labyrinths! Grades preK - 5th learned about meditation in motion with with a walking labyrinth. Spirit Play teacher Judy Clough brought in her large, canvas walking labyrinth for all the children to try. The children walked the labyrinth in small groups and almost every child chose to participate.
During this time the children also experimented with labyrinths in others ways. There were lots of finger labyrinths to try. Children could build their own labyrinth with blocks or beans. There were labyrinths to color.
As a spiritual practice, labyrinths are a tremendous tool for reflection and focus. They are used by children and adults all over the world. If you are interested in learning more, you can check out this site for a start.
Finger labyrinths and labyrinths to color will continue to be part of spiritual practices available every week in our Spirit Play classrooms.
Friday, January 2, 2009
We have a new and beautiful website! I am working with RE Council member Lisa Chistenson to get everything up to date.
There is no Wintersession this year. Classes will begin Sunday and run through June 14. This is a brief synopsis outlining our current religious education program for children and youth.
PreK/K Spirit Play. This Sunday they will start in their classroom where we will begin Children's Chapel. They will learn about and walk a large floor labyrinth that their teacher, Judy Clough, will bring and have out. We will also have new finger labyrinths for them to try and labyrinths they can color and take home. Using labyrinths is a spiritual practice we introduce in all the Spirit Play classes.
For January the class will here the story of our flaming chalice. The story introduces an important symbol of our faith and the agreements we make with each other to be in community together. The stories they hear in class over the coming months will focus on our seven promises or Principles.
They will also hear about Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year beginning January 25.
1st & 2nd grade Spirit Play - This Sunday they will start in the preK/K classroom for Children's Chapel. See above description of Labyrinth Walk.
The class will hear the story of the flaming chalice and focus on our seven principles, or promises, over the coming months.
They will hear about Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year beginning January 25.
3rd and 4th grade Spirit Play- This Sunday the class starts in the preK/K classroom for Children's Chapel. See above description of Labyrinth Walk.
The class will hear stories from our UU Sources. They will explore some of the wisdom traditions, beginning with a Parable of Jesus. They will celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year and hear about Taoism in January as well.
In the upcoming months they will explore Buddhism, humanism, earth-centered traditions and the work and words of prophetic women and men..
They do this in the context of Spirit Play class which brings them together for a story and then allows them to explore the story they just heard, or a different one, on their own or in groups.
5th grade O.W.L.- The 5th grade will start this week in Children's Chapel at the preK/K room. They will learn about and walk the labyrinth. Then they will go to their classroom and meet their teachers for Our Whole Lives, the new curriculum they are beginning the following week.
If you have a child in 5th grade and have not heard from me about this class please contact me at 377-0002 or email@example.com. This class requires parental consent and an orientation.
6th grade The Questing Year- They will begin in their classroom and continue on their Questing Year journey with their teachers.
7th grade O.W.L.- Our Whole Lives class does not meet this week.
8th grade Neighboring Faiths- Meets in their classroom for a celebration! In January, as part of their Neighboring Faiths curriculum, the group will visit a Hindu Temple, discuss politics and religion on January 18 and make plans to visit a Baptist Church.
9th - 12th- meet in the senior youth lounge. They are busy planning for their youth con that they will host at FUSS January 16 -18. Look for signs as you enter the main building for ways to help. I know they are still looking for folks to bring food for meals.