Welcome to our community of growth, visioning, reflection, and spirit building. We invite you to join us in this exciting journey!
Religious Exploration at UCSI begins with discussions of experiences that hold meaning for children and youth: experiences of nature, the mystery of life, family, friends and community; experiences of loneliness, sadness, and times when life does not proceed as we would wish. These are the focal points of exploration in both children’s worship and classroom activities.
As they grow, children and youth in our program gain an understanding of the nature of religion and its relationship to their lives. With their teachers as guides and mentors, they explore our Unitarian and Universalist heritage, its roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the similarities and differences with other religions. We promote responsible self-esteem, respect for others and a positive attitude toward life.
Curriculum and Programming
We introduce children to the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism and to the precepts and practices of a variety of religions through stories and hands-on activities.
Our children begin three of the usual four Sundays in the Sanctuary where they participate in readings and share their joys and concerns after which they are "sung out" to their classrooms. One Sunday a month, they stay with their classes for a young people's worship service.
As our children grow into young adults, we hope to keep them involved through peer bonding, the exploration of issues pertinent to their lives, and Church community service.
We welcome new families in our Religious Exploration classes. We ask the adult responsible to fill out a form providing us with basic information. After four visits, the family will be asked to register their children.
We ask parents to register each child who will be participating in the UCSI exploration program. Our registration fee is $40.00 per child. No family will be excluded if payment is a hardship. Please see the Religious Exploration Coordinator or a member of the Religious Exploration Committee.
RE Registration Form
Click here for a form to register your child for the Religious Exploration program at the UCSI.
Our program counts on the congregation's participation. We ask families to serve as Religious Exploration greeters and chalice lighters, to assist in teaching and childcare, and to facilitate special events and social gatherings.
Nursery (6 months - 2 years)
We provide a nurturing caregiver who is available in the Early Childhood Room every Sunday. Activities include story time, free play, and arts and crafts. Drop off and transition time begins at 10:30 am to give children time to separate comfortably before the upstairs service begins. Please leave diapers, cell phone number and other items necessary to make your child feel comfortable. You are also welcome to stay with your child until he/she transitions to the environment.
Seekers (K-4th Grade)
The children will be diving deep into the 7th UU Principle (in children's language): The understanding that everything and everyone in this world depends on one another for life. The program will nurture a sense of wonder and respect for nature and all its mysteries. Special readings and poems will introduce a part of the web of life (i.e. water, sky, plants, and animals) and activities will explore our connection to it. The sessions will also feature environmental stewardship ideas. Activities will include: a cooperative river mural, cosmic story beads, an earthworm wonderland, and spirit animal masks.
Explorers at the June RE Service, 2012
Our Explorer group (7-13 yrs)
This group will also spend the year discovering our 7th UU principle: The understanding that everything and everyone in this world depends on one another for life. It will engage them through group readings and stories to reflect on their place and responsibility in the web of life. Environmental challenges and possible solutions will be presented through faith in action projects. Activities will include: a circle of life walk, a group air quality experiment, personal timeline wind chimes, and a bio diversity game.
Our Youth Group (14-18 years)
The youth will meet with their advisers at least one Sunday a month. While youth meetings are typically youth driven, the theme of programming overall will encompass leadership activities and community service projects. For example, the youth will be engaged in teaching children in our Seekers group once a month and we hope to deepen our relationship with organizations such as UU-UNO (Unitarian Universalist- United Nations Office). A trip to Boston to discover their Unitarian Universalist roots is planned for early 2013.
UCSI Youth participated inthe New Orleans Renewal Program, Spring 2011. Here they are relaxing in the common dining room in New Orleans with youth from our neighboring Brooklyn congregation, First Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn.
10:30 am Early Childhood Room
open for drop-off and transition.
10:45 am Service begins: Children age 6 and up begin their time at church in the sanctuary sitting with their parents and/or friends.
11:15 am Children and youth go to their classes with guides and advisors.
12:15 pm Religious Exploration ends. Parents of younger children should
come downstairs to pick up their children where they can check in with their
teacher. All children and parents are encouraged to join hospitality hour in the Parish Hall.
On the First Sunday of each month, children gather for chapel and fun activities downstairs and youth have a special activity beginning at 10:45 am. The Early Childhood Room is open for younger children.
Once a month, children stay upstairs in the sanctuary and enjoy the entire service with their families and the adults of this congregation. This provides our younger members with a meaningful opportunity to learn and be a part of Unitarian Universalist liturgy and customs. These services are also an important way for children and adults to connect with each other. Multi-generational services include: Water Ceremony, Winter Solstice, Earth Day and Flower Festival.
"I am so excited about the program that the Religious Exploration Committee, teachers, parents and volunteers have launched and the children and youth have embarked upon here at the Unitarian Church of Staten Island. Through this brochure, I hope you will dig deeper into what it can mean for children and youth to explore the central questions and mysteries surrounding living, learning and laughing together in a spiritual community dedicated to building the beloved community we dream of."