We welcome you and your children to the Religious Exploration (RE) program here at UCSI. Our program is open to everyone, regardless of religious background or present beliefs. We strive to create an atmosphere that respects and values individual differences. We learn from one another and grow together as we share a rich variety of religious and cultural experiences.
The UCSI RE Program and Youth Group hosted Social Action Service Seminar (SASSY) for Youth/Advisors on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Weekend from January 17 to 19, 2014.
Sponsored by the UU District of Metropolitan New York, SASSY drew youth from eighth grade to high school in the NY Metro area. UCSI Youth Group Advisors Mary Hernandez and Vivian Vassar and five local youth group members participated in the weekend events.
Kamila Jacob, UU-United Nations Office Envoy Coordinator, and Emma Kates-Shaw, former Metro NY District Youth Adult Committee Co-chair, led the youth and advisors in workshops and worship on "being change agents” and social action issues. The goal of training UU youth is to develop social justice advocates who will do real work for a better world.
Our own Staten Island Youth Group developed and led the Friday evening worship with a chalice lighting, readings from Martin Luther King, Jr., poetry by Langston Hughes, and shared reflections on what we have to offer the world. Saturday activities included volunteering with City Harvest Mobile Market at Stapleton Houses for those 15 and up and at the Trinity Lutheran Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry for those under 15.
The Saturday night coffeehouse provided a fun forum for sharing talents in song and joke telling. SASSY was an inspirational experience for all and enhanced our relations with important community partners.
The goal of the Religious Exploration Program at UCSI is to provide preschoolers through teens with experiences and relationships that will help them journey through life with integrity, compassion, hope, and wonder. Guided by Unitarian Universalist principles, the program strives to give young people the spiritual and cultural literacy they need in an increasingly interdependent world. We promote values shared by the world’s religions that guide each child on his or her own spiritual path. Thus, we strive to provide a meaningful and fun experience for children and young people as they discover their own answers about what they believe, how to get along with each other as members of a community, how to stay friends when our ideas are not the same, and how we can all make the world a better place. Our RE program celebrates the importance of religious community, both as a support for parents and as an environment in which the spirituality of children can flourish. For more information on the mission of the UCSI RE Program, click here.
Special Welcome to New Families
We invite families just discovering Unitarian Universalism to join us as our guests for several weeks to decide if our Church and Religious Exploration program is right for you. Our Religious Exploration Coordinator will be available to help you fill out a form with basic information about your family and child(ren). Feel free to see the class or allow your child to participate while you attend services to see if it is the right “fit.” After participation in four sessions, you will be asked to register your child(ren). You are welcome to "sit in" on your child's class and to talk with their teachers and Religious Exploration Coordinator at any time.
Our RE program runs with the school year, starting in September and ending in late May. Our classes for children from Kindergarten through 6th grade run on Sunday mornings at the same time as our Sunday services, so that your child can attend their Sunday School class while you are at the service. (See schedules below.) We have a great group of volunteer teachers from the congregation some of whom are parents as well. We make it a policy to always have two co-teachers or a teacher and assistant in all classes. If your child is enrolled in RE, you will receive regular emails about future lesson plans.
New families are invited to meet with the Religious Exploration Coordinator at any time during the year for a tour of our facilities and/or a let’s get-acquainted chat.
Newcomer orientations are offered by the minister several times a year. Our membership committee co-chairs Sarah Dolinar and Maureen Curran will also be happy to speak to you more about our church and answer any questions you may have. You may contact email@example.com for more information.
Several times during the year, 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, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Flower Festival. Our Early Childhood Room is open downstairs starting at 10:30 am for younger children.
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" in the Memorial Garden
Seekers (K-2nd Grade)
In the fall, we will offer this age group an eight-session Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education class which helps parents educate their child about birth, babies, bodies, and families. The program uses songs, stories, activities and at-home projects that promote family dialogue. In the spring, we will offer Age of Reason by Layne Richard-Hammock. This curriculum gives the children an opportunity to explore how our seven UU principles relate to their daily lives. The program is intended to provide young people with a special rite of passage where they are invited to develop a credo statement of their current spiritual beliefs and share them with the congregation during a Sunday service.
Junior high youth waiting for their class to begin.
Explorers (3rd-6th grade)
This group will be discovering The Simpsons (a UU perspective for Personal Spiritual Growth) by Susan Caldwell, Patti Withers and Karen Hager. This is an exciting curriculum that explores how different religions and ethics are portrayed in popular culture while pulling out distinctly UU values like respecting individual differences and the search for truth and meaning in our world. Each class will watch a full episode and explore various themes through discussion, journaling and related activities.
Together, Seekers and Explorers will participate in 16 sessions of the curriculum World Religions by Katie Covey in December through February 2014. Unitarian Universalists list “wisdom from the world’s religions…” as one of the sources of our living tradition. The children will listen to stories from different faiths and participate in related hands-on activities that help them begin a journey of understanding, tolerance and celebration for the diversity of human expressions of faith.
Our Youth Group (7th-12th grade)
Our Youth Group strives to create an open and support environment in which teens can be themselves and connect with a compassionate community. This year, our Teen Youth Group focuses on social action and service learning projects while having FUN and building friendships. The group is open to all teens who want to practice leadership skills while serving others in the communities around them as part of a team effort. It is an interfaith group, and open to teens of all religions. With adult volunteer guidance, the group will meet twice a month on Sunday afternoons to discuss and plan service activities, trips, and projects, including a January District Youth Conference in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. The group will raise funds to go to the Heifer International Overlook Farm in Rutland, MA and participate in their Global Village program. Participants will get a unique first-hand experience to explore the challenges surrounding hunger and poverty around the world.
This year our youth will also meet on selected Friday evenings to engage in the program UU Popcorn Theology for Youth: Exploring Ethics Through Film by Michele Richards. Using popular films, youth will explore how the choices we make affect our lives and the lives of others, how the search for truth and meaning is a matter of perspective, and how our beliefs can help us answer our questions, seek answers, and deal with the trials of life. A list of the planned film showings and dates is available to interested parents and young people.
Participating teens can also register to attend the District Unitarian Universalist Youth Conferences for Middle School or High School. These weekend conferences occur several times a year.
Our children begin most Sundays in the Sanctuary, so they will enter and participate with you for the first 15 minutes of the service. There they will have the opportunity to join in the music, opening readings and rituals, after which they are "sung out" to their individual classrooms with their teachers. One Sunday a month, all children gather together downstairs for a multi-cultural session of readings, reflection, art and other activities.
Our Early Childhood Room is open downstairs starting at 10:30 am for younger children so that they have time to get comfortable in their classroom before parents leave for the service.
Early Childhood Room opens for drop-off and transition.
10:45 am Service begins
Children ages 5 and up begin their time at church in the sanctuary sitting with their parents and/or friends.
Children from Kindergarten through 6th grade go to their classes with their teachers.
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 Fellowship Hall.
We ask parents and guardians to register each child who will be participating in the UCSI
Religious Exploration program and Teen Youth Group. Registration is ongoing throughout the year. 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 Religious Exploration Chair for more information.
Click here for a form to register your child for the Religious Exploration program at the UCSI.
Child Dedication Ceremonies
If you are interested in celebrating and welcoming your child into the world during a Sunday Worship Service, please contact the minister or Religious Exploration Coordinator for more information. re-at-uucsi.org
The RE Program is run under the guidance of our part-time RE Coordinator and volunteer RE Committee which is open to all parents and other members of our church. We generally meet once a month after Sunday service. Parent feedback and participation is most welcome. Our program thrives on family and volunteer involvement. Parents may volunteer to help teach classes, help with fundraising events or other activities of the RE committee.
We welcome any suggestions you might have (from adults and children alike!) about what kind of programs, fun events and other ideas you might like to see happen in RE. You are welcome to send an email with your questions, concerns, and suggestions to our Religious Exploration Coordinator, Kate Howard. All parents are encouraged to attend RE Committee meetings with your ideas and feedback.