Saturday, October 1, 5 – 8 pm in the Hewett Centre
Messy Church Potluck is back! This Saturday, October 1st, 5-8pm.
Open to the entire UCV community embracing multigenerational fun and connections over food. Dinner includes a centering worship element, time to check-in with yourself and each other, and leaning into play. Our youth provide childcare attention to the kids with Cardboard Kingdom creations and games.
For Potluck: The Dish That Brings Back Belonging
For potluck this month let’s nourish our souls and our bellies! Think of a food or recipe that takes you back to a memory of deep belonging (our September theme). Maybe it was the secret ingredients your grandma put into her apple pie: orange juice and bourbon. Or it might be the tostones your beloved aunt taught you how to make. Whether it was your dad’s way of doing BBQ or the go to dish you made when your kids were little, there’s likely some beloved “belonging food” you’ve not made lately.
So, this weekend, make it! And don’t just stop there: bring it! And don’t just share the dish but share the story of how it anchors you in some precious piece of belonging in your life, how it connects you to belonging and how sharing it with someone else deepened your sense of belonging with them.
Covid restrictions at UCV and elsewhere are lifting and more and more of us are fully vaccinated, so summertime is a great time to connect with your mystery pal (or coming of age partner). If you need help with contact information, let us know.
There’s a lot of enthusiasm for an early fall Pal meetup at UCV so SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, September 18 from 4 to 5:30 pm. All pals are invited to an autumn “Pal Party”. We’ll harvest, munch, play and walk and run or even dance on the labyrinth. Possibly this will be the first annual fall Pal Party. Unitarian traditions come easily.
With the needed covid adaptations, we went ahead with our Mystery Pal program this year to connect up people from different generations. Indeed we had the largest group ever: Fourteen pairs participated. Most were kids matched with an adult, but we had a couple of younger adults matched with older and two kids under 14 matched together!
Most chose snail mail which came to UCV and then was forwarded. Hence, the usual four-week program became eight to allow for postal forwarding. Other pairs chose to send email through a volunteer.
To offer assistance, we included artist trading card (“ATC”) materials for those who wanted to create art to share–and many did!
If you were a pal or parent of a pal and haven’t yet completed our feedback form, we’d really appreciate it: https://forms.gle/pG2aJoJ4c3yZoaf57You can RSVP for September 18th there as well.
As time went on, our hopes for a big spring reveal party were dashed by covid restrictions, so individual pairs and small groups have been meeting up in parks or at UCV. Here’s a poem and some photos.
Being a mystery pal was as fun as it was exciting,
To exchange letters had me antsy to keep writing.
I loved learning more and more about my mystery friend
I could hardly wait for my fresh letter to send.
I am grateful to have had this opportunity
To engage so intimately with someone in my UCV community.
To feel the paper, read the words sent to me by my pal
Was something so wonderful forever treasure I shall.
I hope others in the future engage in this wonderful treat
For it’s rare to get the chance to learn about others at UCV you meet.
It was exciting to think about and plan what to say and write
Oh my watch my grammar, serendipitous did I spell it right?
I learned letter by letter about my special pal and their likes
That included leaves and stickers, dolphins and hikes.
I can now certainly attest to how great it is to have a mystery pal
It was my first time and certainly a boost to my morale.
I will be back and ready to write, draw, paint and send
What a great way for a lonely day or weary heart to mend.
For this mystery pal exchange is a real treat for the young and young at heart
And made me feel special and that to UCV’s community I really am a part.
Artist to Artist Mystery Pals
We try to match up pals with something in common: Paula is an artist and loved her exchanges with her artist pal.
Here’s what she says:
Who couldn’t use an emergency packet of confetti?
My last package included a great picture of a unicorn with very long legs and a long neck and a little horn, a thin long multi-coloured banner announcing I LOVE PURPLE, a bracelet made of beads and pipe cleaners and (best of all) a custom packet of homemade confetti. On the outside it said I LOVE MAKING THINGS. IN FACT I AM AN ARTIST.
Who couldn’t use an emergency packet of confetti? They are little bundles of joy coming coming through the post and it just makes my day when I receive one 🙂
Their pair had the codename “Wolfgang Gerson” and it accidentally led Paula to exploring the theme of home/buildings and a connection with a student and friend of Wolfgang Gerson’s, the architect of our buildings.
Charlotte and Eva and Mr. and Mrs. Chickadee’s Adventures
I really enjoyed reading the story complete with an illustration of two birds named: Mr. & Mrs. Chickadee who are discussing where to build their nest to start their family made by Eva who is trying to encourage Mr. & Mrs. Chickadee to not peck holes in the house wooden siding for their nest.
It was lots of fun receiving Eva’s letters AND meeting her in person!
Kiersten is currently on a well-deserved break. As she puts it, “I’ve put down every ball I had up in the air.”
So here are some ideas and invitations to be part of our various programs for kids, youth and families. And first a chalice lighting for this month:
May the light of this chalice, spark our imaginations.
May it lead us back to the stories and characters
that romp and roam the corridors of our minds.
In the warmth of this chalice, may we remember again
how thankful we are to have others who love us,
and guide and accompany us, as our own stories unfold.
The Soul Matters theme for January is Imagination — so watch out! or better still, dive in!
If you’d like to receive the package for families, please let Kiersten know.
December saw a flurry of activities in the kids, youth and family programs.
The highlight might have been the Winter Solstice play. The kids tell me the hardest part was the two minutes of sitting silently.
For me, that was also the most moving part.
Kiersten did an amazing job of writing, casting and directing.
As well, though programs on zoom happened regularly coordinated by Olivia, our youth coordinator, volunteers including Mairy and Nan and the Tween ukulele group with Donna Brown.
UCV and our young people are always a fount of imagination. What could possibly happen when we actually focus our attention on that theme for the whole month?
Can you imagine yourself as part of the extensive team who plan, facilitate or support programs for our kids and families?
I’ve taken on a role to assist with communications and especially multigenerational activities and I can tell you it’s very nourishing and Kiersten is a dream to work with. It’s a sincere pleasure to support her and therefore support our families and the broader congregation.
For a list of kids, youth and family programs with contact and date/time, click here.
Back after an amazing 2018 launch: create connections across generations!
The mystery only lasts a little while, but the friendship can be much longer.
Sign-up to be a Pal to someone older or younger than yourself—we would love to have everyone involved and will match any pair from different generations (roughly 20 years apart). To facilitate anonymity, each pair will be identified by a Canadian Civil Rights Activist with a corresponding “mailbox” envelope in the Hewett Centre Hall.
Celebrate May 5th after the service with a Mystery Reveal Party.
We have vibrant children’s programs going on at that are engaging for families and should be continued in one form or another. Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation; Coming of Age; Our Whole Lives; Cosmology explorations; Spirit Play, garden time, etc., as well as peer community building among our children and youth. But what draws the most families in attendance are our special events: the ancestor shrine, pageants, wassail, everybody’s birthday, the services with children directly involved, and ritual celebrations.
The number of children who come to the children’s program on Sunday regularly has increased this year and involves 11 to 12 families, 21 children. However, we serve 50 to 60 children over the course of a year, including visitors; those who attend off and on; and members whose children do not connect with “Sunday School”. For every child who engages with our Sunday morning program, there are two for whom it doesn’t work either for them or their family as a whole. How do we serve these families?
It’s been hard to retain young people into the high school years and beyond in the absence of direct peer friendships. This is partly due to intense scheduling and many demands on teens and parents. I maintain that the absence of teens in our pews demonstrates youth do not feel connected to our services, that they haven’t found a place within adult worship or the larger congregation. Even when youth group is strong, few youths have come to worship at 11 am, even though that time was set specifically with teens in mind back in 2005, and youth group meets after lunch. How do we engage more fully with our youth and young adults?
We engage our young people best by establishing whole congregation worship from an early age. Connie Goodbread, congregational life staff of the Unitarian Universalist Association Southern Region, says, “Unitarian Universalism is all we teach. The congregation is the curriculum.”
Children learn by doing and by observing from a very young age.
If we do not include children fully within our worship services we implicitly teach them that worship in the sanctuary is not for them, at least not past the first 10 or 15 minutes. If their only place of belonging is the Religious Exploration gatherings, how can we expect them to come back after they graduate? What do they have to come back for?”
The biggest challenge to engaging children and adults in faith topics at the same time is the culture shift required to make it happen successfully. It takes work and commitment. There are many examples of UU congregations and other denominations worshipping all together that we can draw from.
Enjoying some aspects of worship more than others is tied to the person, not the age.
There are adults for whom the sermon topic makes their decision on which Sundays to attend, but it is important to acknowledge that we have adult members in our congregation who do not come for the sermon, but are fulfilled each Sunday by other aspects of worship. The sermon is not the be-all and end-all to worship.
Some children love music and singing; others the story or the chalice lighting.
Some children like silent meditation, others are bored by it—this is the same for adults. We teach how to be in the sanctuary together by modeling, by quietly answering children’s questions, and by quietly drawing their attention to the rituals and interpreting what people are saying. We teach them they are valued by accepting their child noises as they learn to be in community.
I see three areas to concentrate on improving:
There are worship design considerations.
Designing worship for multiple intelligences (language, aesthetic, interpersonal, kinesthetic, etc.) helps many people of all ages connect with the aspects of worship that speak to them the most.
We should always strive to make our sermons and whole worship accessible. When we design good worship aimed at engaging a diversity of people—even if they aren’t currently in our pews—we end up with worship for a diversity of ages, abilities, backgrounds, and personalities. We move closer to the beloved community we want to be.
There are physical space issues to address when welcoming whole families to be together in worship.
We want to make it easy and welcoming for both parents and children. This means addressing seating, pews, floor seating, and safe, inviting space for young children to wiggle.
Children will be most engaged when at the front of the sanctuary, right in with the action, where they can see more than the back of our pews and heads; where their need for some movement is accommodated.
There are expectation issues.
Many of us have a personal expectation of comfort free from distraction. This expectation comes from a place of privilege. Why is a child talking more disturbing than an adult’s cough or sneeze? They’re close to the same volume.We must develop an expectation to welcome and support children and parents.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor stated to his synagogue when concerns about child noise were raised: “A sanctuary is not a sanctuary from children. It is a sanctuary we’ve built for our children, and their children after them.” As a parent I personally find managing my toddler’s behavior in worship involves distinct levels of stress depending on whether people around us are frowning or smiling. Imagine which facial expressions put a parent at ease and which encourage them to leave. Smiles build community.
The mystery only lasts a little while, but the friendship can be much longer.
Sign-up to be a Pal to someone older or younger than yourself—we would love to have everyone involved and will match any pair from different generations (roughly 20 years apart). To facilitate anonymity, each pair will be identified by a famous Unitarian with a corresponding “mailbox” envelope in the Hewett Centre Hall.