Child Spiritual Development
For All Children and Youth, 2017-18
The Mission of our Children’s Spiritual Development (CSD) program is to:
- Provide developmentally appropriate education that supports the lifelong process of learning to cultivate goodness, compassion, empathy, and love for oneself and others.
- Offer safe and caring spaces for introspective work, connecting to Nature, and building right-relationships in community across generations.
- Put into practice hands on, experiential education for children, teachers and parents that cultivates respect, stewardship, service, mindfulness, responsibility, justice, and the search for truth and beauty.
- To welcome young people into the UU community, help them find their way into becoming active members, and provide them opportunities to learn the rich history and guiding principles of UU.
We believe if the mission of CSD is fulfilled it will contribute greatly to fulfilling our overarching mission at USG of: Building beloved community with service, compassion and empowerment.
All Sunday morning classes meet at 10:30am during regular church service. Youth Group, and OWL (Our Whole Lives) for the high school youth meets from 6-8pm on Sunday night.
On a typical Sunday morning, everyone (except children in the nursery) will attend the beginning of the church service. After the first 15 minutes, children, youth and teachers are excused to their classes. The classes and curricula are listed below.
There are several intergenerational services throughout the year where everyone, including children and youth, stay for the duration of the service. Please visit: This Week in Sunday School for details about an upcoming Sunday (generally updated on Thursdays.)
Classes and Curricula
PreK – Kindergarten (3-5 years old): Our Houses, Our Homes
Our Houses, Our Homes uses home as a metaphor to explore aspects of life around us, our families, things we love, community, birth, life and death. By exploring being at home in church, we hope children will experience the spirituality of family and a larger understanding of community. The curriculum is broken into units, each one encompassing a theme. We also encourage an “open classroom” concept through “creation stations” and other available play areas, so children can make choices. Parents provide essential support by assisting in the classroom throughout the year.
1st – 2nd Grade (6-7 years old): Free to Believe
Free to Believe is an experiential program designed to nurture the emotional, social, and spiritual life of children. The first two-thirds of the program uses the Unitarian Universalist principles as starting points for exploring values, beliefs, and what it means to be Unitarian Universalist. These are explored through hands-on-activities, stories, games, songs, and discussions. The last third of the program examines some “big questions” – such as questions about life and death, spirit and God, and the beginnings of world and life – through the perspective of our Unitarian Universalist sources.
3rd – 5th Grade (8-10 years old): Sing to the Power
Sing to the Power uses a metaphor of the four elements – earth, air, fire and water – as a framework to explore different forms of power and the ways we can exercise our power in the world. For example, the first unit “earth” looks at the kinds of power associated with it: connection, roots, growth and place. This program also has a Faith in Action component where students will choose social justice projects to work on throughout the course of the year. Sing to the Power affirms our Unitarian Universalist heritage of confronting “powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love” in a developmentally appropriate way using lessons, games, discussions and experiential activities.
6th – 8th Grade (11-13 years old): Building Bridges
Building Bridges is a world religions program to deepen youth’s understanding of the dynamic, fascinating, and varied world in which they live. It seeks to broaden their knowledge of humanity and embolden their spiritual search. Building Bridges is a series of workshops that attempts to lovingly and reverently examine some of the closest kept treasures of the human heart. This exploration nurtures participants’ positive outlook toward other faiths and the people who follow them. This program provides youth a unique opportunity to engage the world’s diversity of faiths in a safe, affirming atmosphere that is grounded in Unitarian Universalist faith. During the course of the year we will visit churches, temples, mosques as well as other sacred religious sites and places that draw inspiration toward the transcendent. Parent’s participation as drivers and chaperones to these sites is key to making this program a success.
9th – 12th Grade (14-18 years old)
Youth Group and High School (10th-12th grade) Our Whole Lives (OWL)
Youth Group is a co-ed Sunday evening program that offers high school youth a safe and welcoming space for social interaction and spiritual development. It is a place where youth deepen relationships with one another, build community and establish life-long friendships. Youth Group is primarily youth-led, as they design and facilitate most activities. The program balances service learning, social action, youth-led worship, inquiry into important issues and good old fashioned fun.
Our Whole Lives (OWL) is a sexuality education program for 10th-12th grade youth. Unlike many other sexuality curricula currently available, this program is comprehensive and progressive. In an inclusive and developmentally appropriate manner, it addresses sensitive topics that other programs usually exclude. The underlying values of this program follow the justice-oriented tradition of Unitarian Universalism, although the text is completely secular and free of specific religious doctrine or reference. High school OWL is a sexuality education program that models and teaches caring, compassion, respect and justice. It is holistic, moving beyond intellect to address attitudes, values, and feelings that youth have about themselves and the world.
Both Youth Group and OWL meet on Sunday evening from 6-8pm. These programs complement each other, thus they the meeting times for each group alternate from week-to-week. Youth can decide to participate in one, or both, programs. Please see our CSD Calendar for exact meeting dates.
Registration and Fees:
Annual Registration for CSD is required. If your child is an existing student in CSD, the Director of Spiritual Development (DSD) will contact you about registration. If your child is new to the program, please follow this link to register online.
There is no registration fee for USG members. Non-members registration fees are as follows: $25 for one child, $45 for two children, $60 for three or more children. To make payment online, click here.
Contact Jason Bender, Director of Spiritual Development
for more information about the program.