Welcome to Religious Exploration for all ages which aims to connect hearts, heads, and hands while building our Beloved Community.
The core program for children ages 4-12 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 and celebrate nature & beauty everywhere we find it
- Explore and honour the diversity of perspectives—in faith traditions and cultures
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Sunday Program Components
Our program consists of core learning themes punctuated by special events, garden days, and fellowship. On days that our age specific class does not meet, the children begin together with ritual and check-in, followed by learning theme activity or celebration of the month. We take monthly opportunities to integrate community taking multiple learning styles, abilities, and interests into account.
Screened “Toddler Watch” volunteers and childcare staff care for children under age 4 on Sunday mornings after the Story for All Ages.
Fall Learning Groups
Passport to Spirituality (ages 4-9/grades K-4)
Our elementary age classroom will be exploring the world and different religions. The children are going to imagine they are all travelling the world. At each country they visit, they will receive a passport sticker, learn about a different religion, how it relates to the month’s theme, and engage in a spiritual practice utilized by that religion. The focus is to both learn a bit about religions around the world and see how they can be utilized to gain wisdom and develop our own spirituality.
Crossing Paths (ages 10-12/grades 5-7)
Our Intermediate age youth engage in a more in-depth exploration of five religions throughout the year, beginning with our own Unitarian faith. Crossing Paths is a direct Soul Matters curriculum that takes the approach of religious pluralism. Instead of claiming that one religion is best or that all religions are basically the same, pluralism understands religions as separate systems of belief dealing with distinct human challenges. Rather than the “One Mountain, Many Paths” metaphor we will use “Many Mountains; Many Paths” to explore a few beautiful mountaintops in the range of metro-Vancouver. We playfully weave this metaphor of mountaineering through the structure and flow of our Sunday meetings. We will embark on 4 “Summit Day” field trips to a neighbouring church, synagogue, mosque, or meeting place.
Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation
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. The Vancouver Unitarians meet on unceded ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Musqueam Nation. We work to understand this truth and its implications. We also strive to be good neighbours and do what we can to make amend the wrongs of the past.
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 plan, plant, tend, harvest, eat and save seeds from our own vegetables and flowers, with help from experienced garden mentors. We sharpen our observation skills, develop a profound sense of seasons, cycles, and ecosystems, and enjoy the abundance and marvellous design of nature. And we practice meaningful leadership by contributing food and flowers to service initiatives, and by growing a garden that is inviting and educational to all.
The Sunday programs are generously funded by our congregation, 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.
Volunteers are Essential!
The Religious Exploration Program is a cooperative effort. We have paid staff filling the 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
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 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 worship 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 your 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.
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 Exploration 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 Exploration, or phone her at 604.261.7204 x225
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 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.”