Come, come, whoever you are!
First Parish in Bedford’s religious education program offers children the opportunity to explore, learn and grow together in settings that best meet their age and developmental needs and in settings where children and youth of all ages have the opportunity to explore together. Our religious education year runs from September through June, and is divided into two terms: fall (September through January) and spring (February through June).
Sunday Morning Religious Education Programs
Finding Our Place at First Parish
The faith journey for Unitarian Universalist children begins in preschool. In 2019-20, our children get to know what some of the core values of our faith are: belief in the worth and dignity of each person, why we are all connected, and more. Through a much-admired curriculum called “Chalice Children” our children get to know our church – its building and its values – and connect to their teachers, our ministers and friends in the congregation. Children learn about our flaming chalice (the symbol of Unitarian Universalism) and engage in experiences that help each of them find their own special place at First Parish while also celebrating some of the valued holidays and traditions that we share as UUs.
A Montessori-Based Exploration of UU Values and Beliefs for Young Children
Kindergarten – Grade 1: One of the most valued curricula to be developed for use by UU communities is “Spirit Play,” an adaptation of Jerome Berryman’s “Godly Play” that combines story, imagination, free play, and discovery to help guide young children as they learn about their beliefs and values. Welcomed into their class by the DoorKeeper, children gather to hear a story that connects to UU values and principles. Using stories that come from children’s literature and other faith traditions, the Storyteller offers children a tale that they can act out or explore during class. Children also celebrate what it’s like to come to church, and share a Feast with each other, with additional time for play guided by their own imagination and interests. This class meets in room L05.
Engaging in a Pilgrimage of UU Faith
Grades 2 and 3: How does Unitarian Universalism translate values into life choices and everyday actions? In each session, children will hear about historic or contemporary examples of Unitarian Universalist faith in action. Stories about real people model how participants can activate their own personal agency – their capacity to act faithfully as Unitarian Universalists – in their own lives, and children have regular opportunities to share and affirm their own stories of faithful action. This class meets in Room L02.
HARRY AND UU
Dumbledore’s Army Turns Evil Toward Good
Grades 4 and 5: “Harry and UU” is based on the Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling, books that immerse children in the idea that one can work to make the world better.
The curriculum includes many fun wizarding activities, but the main purpose of the curriculum is social action. The class forms a chapter of Dumbledore’s Army and fights against seven Horcruxes during the year. The Horcruxes are real world social action projects. The curriculum spends about four classes on each Horcrux fight, with three classes devoted mainly to education and small projects, and one class devoted entirely to action. The goal is to produce tangible results on seven real-world problems. Spells and potions are included! This class meets in Room 202.
In the spring, this class will engage in a nine-week “Our Whole Lives” curriculum focused on older elementary school youth. Providing the faith-based values, communication skills and information on human sexuality that OWL is known for, this program will require parental permission and has an attendance requirement.
RIDDLE AND MYSTERY
Finding Answers to Life’s “Big Questions”
Grades 6 and 7: The artist Paul Gauguin created a famous triptych asking big questions: ‘Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?’ The next ten questions were also big ones, including ‘Does God exist?’ and ‘What happens when you die?’, and these questions could be found on almost anyone’s list of basic life inquiries. These questions, as well as other, were ‘riddles and mysteries,’ and through their exploration of them, participants in this class develop their own answers to them – as they go deeper into UU faith. This class meets in Room 203.
OUR WHOLE LIVES for Grades 8 and 9
Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. For these reasons and more, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives (OWL), a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in our congregation. This program, jointly developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, is offered to 8th and 9th graders. First Parish welcomes participants for this class from outside our congregation. Parental briefings, permissions, and a modest participation fee are required. Please contact Deborah Weiner, Interim Director of Religious Education, for more information. This class has an attendance requirement. This class meets in Room 204.
Exploring what makes a family through photojournalism
Grades 9 and 10: What is a family? What does a family do? Who defines family? Combining social time for connection, a light brunch, and discussion, this program provides avenues for in-depth exploration of the diversity, commonality, and meaning of families. Designed for flexible use by senior high school youth, the program combines a photo-documentary project with sessions that engage participants in deconstructing and reconstructing the notion of family. Come to enjoy bagels, connections, and discover the meaning of “family”. This group meets in L01 (the REsource Library).