Welcome to Religious Exploration for all ages which aim to connect hearts, heads, and hands While building our Beloved Community.
The core program for children of all ages takes place during the 11 am Sunday Morning service at UCV. We aspire to have our program
- Engage the body, mind, and spirit
- Ground ourselves with a sense of Unitarian identity, community, and values
- Build a sense of warmhearted, extended family where everyone belongs, everyone contributes, and everyone benefits.
- Be a safe environment in which to explore and grow
- Empower our children to be leaders beginning with our own multi-age community
- Develop students’ confidence and ability to create change in large and small ways
- Make story, music, movement and mindfulness a regular part of our lives
- Connect with & celebrate nature & beauty everywhere we find it
- Explore and honour the diversity of perspectives—in faith traditions and cultures
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We are moving to a multi-age model in which babies and toddlers are cared for within our community of young people from the start. We will have trained staff and screened volunteers to make sure that children are both safe and engaged. Children over age 4 are encouraged to take responsibility for their place in community by participating to the best of their ability, helping others as they are able, and taking time apart when needed. Older children are guided towards leadership, and their input is sought when choosing activities for future sessions.
Sunday Program Components
Our program consists of core learning themes punctuated by special events, garden days, and fellowship. The children begin together with ritual and check-in led by the older children, followed by learning theme activities that they may choose by interest and inclination. There are specific learning sessions that are age-specific, such as Our Whole Lives sexuality education, Coming of Age, or Youth Group. We otherwise operate as an integrated community taking multiple learning styles, abilities, and interests into account. This is a new model for us and we are very excited to be developing it.
Fall Learning Themes
Spirit Play is a Unitarian Universalist identity and faith formation program for a multi-age classroom. It is based on the philosophy of Maria Montessori and incorporates elements of freedom, structure and order, reality and nature, beauty, stimulating materials, and the development of a community life through mixed ages. We are working to incorporate these elements into our programming at UCV this year across all ages. The Spirit Play stories are engaging lessons in Unitarian identity, history, world religions, moral tales, and myths. We come together around a central story lesson, followed by wondering questions. The children then have work time during which they choose art, building materials, story boxes, or games that they are drawn to. We conclude with clean-up and a closing circle which may include a feast (snack.)
Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation Reflection Guide
As Unitarian Universalists we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of each person and we recognize that when it comes to the Original People on this land, this principle has not been upheld. A group of Vancouver Unitarians is currently engaged with training as facilitators to guide our children in becoming familiar with the work of reconciliation and how we can go forward upholding our principles. The guide for upper elementary has been completed, and we are honoured to be piloting the guide for our primary students here at UCV this fall. Please contact Kiersten for more information regarding the planned work with our children this fall.
Themes for All Ages
Many people find balance and harmony in life through a mind-body-spirit practice, such as yoga or meditation. These practices build richness into our day, and serve as touchstones in moments of stress. What better time to learn centering than when we’re young? We’ll explore yoga for children, simple blessings, guided visualizations and mindfulness practice.
Festivals and Fellowship
Each faith has its own festivals and observances, and their stories and rituals help us experience and understand many ways of being. Each month we will be taking opportunities to come together in fellowship. To explore the importance and meaning of ceremony, to commune together, to deepen our ability to find meaning, peace, and moments of stillness in our busy lives. We will connect with each other, the larger church community, and with the natural world. We will explore thankfulness, ancestors, labyrinths, solstice and more.
Into the Garden
Throughout the year you’ll find us outside in the children’s garden. We’ll plan, plant, tend, harvest, eat and save seeds from our own vegetables and flowers, with help from experienced garden mentors. We’ll sharpen our observation skills, develop a profound sense of seasons, cycles, and ecosystems, and enjoy the abundance and marvelous design of nature. And we’ll practice meaningful leadership by contributing food and flowers to service initiatives, and by growing a garden that is inviting and educational to all.
Sunday Tea with the DRE
I am initiating a new quarterly post-service gathering in the Fireside Room forum. This will be a chance for parents, children and youth to connect more directly about how life at church is going, family needs and concerns, interests, and idea sharing. It is an informal time to get to know each other more fully. We will provide tea/coffee, snacks, and extended childcare for the younger ones—outside when weather permits.
Messy Church MAKE Dinner
Messy Church has become a beloved tradition over the past two years and it will be continuing. The second Friday of each month from 6pm-9pm (cooking and set-up start at 5pm) we will meet to eat together, play, sing, create, and take-apart together. The child care room is staffed, so parents have an opportunity to relax and connect together while the kids play. Our first fall date is September 8th: Summer Harvest Pizza and Salad.
The Sunday programs are generously funded by our church community, parent donations and volunteer time. Drop-ins are always welcome, but if you like what we’re doing please register with us. Registration helps us get to know you, keep you in the loop and provide a program suited to our registrants. If you choose to support the programs with a donation, or an offer of your time, these are most welcome. Paper registration is available on Sundays, new form link for 2017/18 is coming soon.
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Volunteers are Essential!
The Religious Exploration Program at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver is a cooperative effort. We are moving towards a model supported by paid staff filling the RE Lead Teacher roles, but volunteer support within the program is still a vital ministry. There are many ways to support the faith formation and church lives of our youngest community members. Click the Volunteer Button for a form to indicate your interests, skills, and potential commitment. Move through the sections to find a role that fits your style, mood, and availability.
For New Families and Children
Our children’s Religious Education program classrooms are downstairs in Hewett Centre.
Parents and/or guardians of children under 9 years old, if your child will be joining the program today, please sign your children in with our RE Staff in the playroom (Servetus) on the main floor of Hewett Centre, anytime after 10:45 am on Sundays. They may then join you for the beginning of service and process out after the story for all ages. We ask that the same family member who signed your children in also pick up directly after the church service.
A typical Sunday begins with adults and children gathering in the sanctuary together. After opening words, greeting our neighbours, and an opening hymn, the children are invited up to the front to listen to a story for all ages. Following the story, the children are sung out of the sanctuary and proceed to their sessions, located across the courtyard in the Hewett Centre. Children are always welcome to remain in the service with you.
On your first visit, you may wish to accompany your children to their classrooms and introduce them to their teachers. We do find that a large number of adults in the classroom tends to inhibit participation, and we encourage you to return to the service. If you need to stay in order for you child to engage, please follow the visitor guidelines that the teachers will provide.
After the worship service, please pick up your children in the Hewett Centre, lower level.
We also have occasional intergenerational services where adults and children all attend church together. On these days, there will be no children programs, but child care for those 3 and under will still be available in the playroom.
For More Information
The Director of Religious Education sets the overall direction of the Children and Youth programs, with supervision from the Minister and input from colleagues, parents and the congregation. Providing quality programs takes the work of many hands and we rely on the assistance of parents and other interested adults.
For more information about children and youth programs, please Email Kiersten Moore, Director of Religious Education, or phone her at 604.261.7204 x225
If you are interested in the following paid positions in our Children’s or Youth programs, we would love to talk to you.
- Religious Education Preschool Teacher (ages 3-6) in our Children’s program, click link below for details.
- Childcare Workers (infant-toddler) in our Children’s program, click link below for details.
Our parents speak
“It’s a great pleasure to see our children growing up with a keen sense of social justice and compassion, as well as a natural curiosity about different cultures and religions. The Unitarian Children’s Education program has helped to nurture those values.”
“The church school exposes my children to a wide variety of ideas about, and an understanding of, the breadth of religious experience. They learn a genuine tolerance for other points of view, to find their own path, and how to live an ethical life. They are becoming fine human beings.”