If your family is thinking of visiting First Parish for the first time, welcome – we’d love to meet you! Please let an usher know you are visiting, and ask for guidance to a member of the ministry staff team. We have Busy Boxes for children during the first part of each worship service – when we gather together in our sanctuary – and we welcome visitors to our religious education classrooms (we will ask parents/guardians to complete a short information form prior to dropping off children for religious education). Our worship services generally end between 11 AM and 11:15 AM, and religious education classes end at 11:30 AM. Following religious education, children and youth are invited to join in snacks and conversation in our Common Room (look for the “kids only” snack table for healthy snacks, including gluten free and nut free options). Interim Director of Religious Education Deborah Weiner will be glad to talk with you about religious education at First Parish, and our RE program brochure contains lots of helpful information about our programs.
Childcare for Infants & Toddlers
(Offered in our Nursery – lower level)
Our Nursery/Play School area, on the church’s lower level, is a welcoming space for infants, toddlers and young preschoolers (through age 4). Visiting parents may stay with children in the nursery and listen to the service via our audio system, or complete a visitor form allowing children to stay with our professional staff while you enjoy the service and some time in Community Hour. Our Nursery is open on Sundays from 9:45-11:30 AM. Our lead child care provider, Samantha Plumley, will be glad to greet you and your child, and is joined by our child care assistants, Skylar Aldrich or Emily Green. Come play with us in room L04!
Participating in Worship and Religious Education Programs
Children in pre-school (age 4.5 – 6) and older start the morning in the Sanctuary at 10:00 AM with their families for the first part of our worship service, including our chalice lighting, hymn, and a Time for all Ages. Children through grade 7 move on to their religious education programs, which occur on the upper and lower levels of the church and run until 11:30 AM: preschool-grade 3 meet in classrooms on the lower level; children in grades 4-7 meet on the upper level. We ask that children in pre-school through third grade be picked up promptly at the end of their scheduled program. Older children are dismissed from classes and workshops and may join their parents in our Common Room or at a pre-determined meeting place. For safety’s sake, children must accompanied in the building by their parents.
All families participating in our church’s religious education program are asked to complete an annual registration form that provides contact, medical and behavioral information that will help us serve your family safely and well. We ask to be kept informed of changes in contact information, allergies, and special needs as they occur. We are thrilled that First Parish has an active Access for All team which supports classroom aides available to work with children with special needs; please let us know if we can be of help! Contact Interim Director of Religious Education Deborah Weiner for more information.
Stewardship*: This is Us
First Parish’s religious education program requires, and is enriched by, the time, talent and effort of the adults here at First Parish in Bedford. This means that EVERYONE here has a role to play in shaping the growth and learning of our children and youth. Our Sunday morning programs can not operate without the active engagement of members of the congregation. This is a cooperative and volunteer program, and we ask your help – as teachers, assistants, chaperones, mentors, advisors, and more. Our Religious Education Committee keeps parents and all those interested in religious education informed of program developments and needs during the year through our religious education email list (firstname.lastname@example.org), through the congregation’s monthly newsletter (The Parishioner), through announcements on our “Parish Biz” list, personally on through updates to our Facebook page and Instagram account. We encourage you to follow us and to engage with us in all the ways that work for you and your family.
Members of the Religious Education Committee are here to respond to your questions and support the participation of your family in religious education. We are: Laurie Groves (chair), Melinda Ballou, Susan Lincoln, Jennifer McClain (Board Liaison), Renae Nichols, Kelly Umstott, and Andrew Van Praagh. You can reach the RE Committee by emailing us: email@example.com
*Our Religious Education program is funded through the congregation’s annual budget. We encourage families and all who are part of this faith community to make an annual gift (pledge) to the congregation in as generous an amount as possible. Please contact Joan Petros, Parish Administrator for more information. Phone: 781-275-7994.
First Parish in Bedford’s religious education program offers children and youth the opportunity to explore, learn and grow together in settings that best meet age and developmental needs, where all ages have the opportunity to explore faith together. In this program, children from preschool through middle school learn about Unitarian Universalist values and beliefs, world religions and the roots of Jewish and Christian faith, moral and ethical decision-making, and values-based communication as well as (for selected grade levels) human sexuality. Contact a member of the Religious Education Committee or Interim DRE Deborah Weiner for a brochure on our programs.
First Parish also offers a Middle School Youth Group (grades 6-8) which meets on Wednesday afternoons, 3:30-5:00 PM, and a Senior High Youth Group (grades 9-12) which meets on Sunday evenings, 5:30-7:30 PM. The congregation will also offer Our Whole Lives, a values-based human sexuality program for middle schoolers in grades 8-9, for the 2019-20 church year, and will offer Our Whole Lives for 4th and 5th graders in the spring, 2020.
First Parish member Maureen Oates, with help from Janet Powers, has created a curriculum for 5th & 6th-graders called Earth Circles which provides timely information about eco-justice issues currently facing our society. This program is available to congregations outside the First Parish Bedford community and to secular groups as well. More information is on the Earth Circles Curriculum page.
First Parish is a vital and growing congregation which serves all ages. We offer family dinners featuring kid-friendly food and entertainment, programs like a winter “Secret Friends” event, a holiday “Wish Tree” to benefit families in need connected to the Lowell Transitional Assistance Program, participation in the Town of Bedford’s Holiday Tree Lighting and Bedford Santa program, and more. We also offer multi-age worship services on select Sundays and welcome the participation of youth and children as worship leaders and participants. If you have ideas for family-friendly programs, please speak to a member of the ministry staff team: Rev. John Gibbons, Rev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken, or Deborah Weiner.
Lift Every Voice and Sing!
First Parish in Bedford has a vibrant music program for children and youth. Our three youth choirs perform on Sunday mornings throughout the year and at select community events. For more information, please see “Music Groups” in the Music section of our website under community life. You may also contact Janet Welby, the Director of our Youth Choirs.