By Joanne Dingus,
Director of Religious Education
On Tuesday, April 17th, the Children’s Religious Education Committee hosted a Spaghetti Supper for kids, parents, teachers, and anyone who has in interest in the program. The event was very well attended. We began the evening with a simple dinner of spaghetti, salad, bread and ice cream. This gave folks a chance to socialize and relax after a day of school or work.
After supper, we moved into the sanctuary where we had an interactive chalice lighting with people sharing examples of gratitude. Rev. Millard shared a nice note of thanks from our president, Jim Sanderson, and then Andrew and I thanked the teachers and others for their support of the program and UUFP community.
We moved on to play two lively group games, “All My Friends and Neighbors” and “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Cheerleader,” before singing, “This Little Light of Mine.”
My goals for the evening were to talk about how the RE Program was meeting the needs of our families, to find out what needed to change, to share what’s currently happening and to talk about things that may happen in the future.
My overall sense from the group was that things are going pretty well but that we could do more. Some of the comments were: We would like more events like tonight, more youth group (maybe twice a month), more plays, more parties, more multi-generational activities (perhaps bringing back the annual picnics from past years), more small groups (writers group, typing group) more Soup Socials (year-round), more non-food focused events (this would especially help kids with dietary or allergy concerns), more service projects (visit to an animal shelter), "A Blessing of the Animals" service, and last but not least, more rainbows!
I reviewed the events we currently have scheduled. Game Night (a combined Membership and RE effort) will now be offered year-round on the first Saturday of the month. With the success of the first Pancakes and Pajamas event, we have decided to try it again on the last Sunday of each month. It was suggested that we add a pajama fashion show and waffles (not just pancakes) to the event. Our current Youth Group meets on the 4th Tuesday of each month. We discussed adding additional age group events on a rotating basis. So, we might do a middle school event one month, an elementary school event the next month and then a multigenerational activity the following month. I am in contact with RE leaders in Norfolk and Williamsburg about doing combined activities for high school youth, including a CON (a weekend long event designed by and for youth) in the fall. We are also looking into new ways to support parents. Look for information on a "Parents Afternoon Out" program and "Being a UU Parent" classes in upcoming newsletters.
I went through the various camp activities coming up for summer, including our own Time Travel Camp and Sci-Fi Camp (ref. flyer insert); SUUSI, the Southeast Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute; The Mountain Camps; and the UUSC, Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice, trips.
I encouraged families to start scheduling play dates with each other. This was something that really helped connect my own family to the Fellowship when my kids were little. Practically every week after church, my kids either went home with other kids or invited other kids home to our house. It gave the parents a chance to connect at pick up time, too.
I asked people to think about possible, what I’d like to call, “Living Our Faith Field Trips.” Whether we travel near or far, field trips could be a great way to build community in a meaningful way. What if we organized groups to go to museums or memorials based on Social Justice, Peace, or the environment? Think of the discussions we would have on the ride home. Or what if we planned visits to nursing homes to play games with residents? Or what if we planned multigenerational nature hikes or clean-up days? If you would like to help organize something like this, please contact the RE Committee.
I brought up the fact that there are UU religion badges for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts so if any of our scouts are interested in working through the process to obtain the badges please let me know and we can make this happen.
I’m working on a summer program based on "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy." If you would like to help this summer as a volunteer guide, please let me know. That said, we will be looking for teachers to help in the fall as well. We work in teaching teams so there is flexibility for you to teach as much as you want. We are also looking for more members for the RE Committee as well. Being on the committee is a great way to get involved with shaping our program.
Thanks to everyone who came to our RE Spaghetti Supper. I appreciate all the wonderful ideas and look forward to incorporating them into the program. Thanks also to the clean-up crew who pitched right in! For those who weren’t able to make the dinner, I hope this gives you an update of what’s going on in RE and inspires you to contribute your ideas as well.
See you in the RE!