Children's Religious Exploration (also known as "Sunday School")
The last CRE Session for the 2016/2017 year will be May 28. A volunteer based childcare program will be in place for the months of June and July.
It is the goal of Harrisonburg Unitarian Universalists to offer a Children’s Religious Exploration (CRE) program that acknowledges the unique spiritual path of our youngest members. We strive to create a welcoming environment in which children of all ages can learn, grow, and explore. The CRE staff is dedicated to the physical, mental, and emotional safety of all children who move through our program.
This year, we will work within and around the "Spirit Play" curriculum. During our time together, we will help children articulate their beliefs while exploring the tenets that Unitarian Universalists hold dear. Each month we will investigate themes that will help us better understand our roots as Unitarian Universalists, while also causing us to dig deep within ourselves in order to apply these themes to our daily lives. As we move through our sessions together, children will participate in developmentally appropriate activities that encourage both community interaction as well as private reflection. We will work closely with the congregation so that the children continue to learn and grow within their spiritual communities. To this end, the children will participate in Sunday services to share their creations and thoughts with our elders.
The bell in the historic Dale Enterprise Schoolhouse tower is rung by one of our children at 10:30 a.m. calling us into sacred space for our Sunday morning service. Children are present in the early part of our service, which includes ‘A Story for all Ages’. This may be musical, theatrical, a story told by an adult, or a creative offering made by the children themselves.
Following congregational Joys and Concerns in our service we “sing out the children” ushering them out of the sanctuary into the Religious Exploration building, where they participate in an interactive lesson. Two adults are always present in each age group, in accordance with Safe Congregations procedures.
Parents are always welcome to join us for the Children’s Religious Exploration (CRE) lesson, but most parents remain in the service, which generally concludes at 11:30 a.m. Following the closing song, parents are asked to go to the CRE building to sign out their children. The entire family may join congregants for socializing during coffee hour immediately following the service, and to share in a pot luck on the first Sunday of each month.
The Religious Exploration Staff and volunteers in our congregation attempt to provide a “sacred space” for our children, akin to the space of worship that adults experience in the service. Religious Education is a place to explore together, to ask questions, to work, to serve, and to play. In order to provide a welcoming, safe environment for all children, a behavioral plan is in place. Please review this plan with your child so that he or she understands the expectations at HUU.
If a child disrupts the group during a planned activity or discussion, a leader will attempt to pull that child back into appropriate engagement in the activity. The child will be invited to participate and to rejoin the group.
If the child continues to disrupt the group, he or she will be invited to take a few moments to sit outside of the circle and refocus his or her attention. He or she may also choose to “walk the labyrinth” as a means of regaining calm. If the child disrupts the group a third time, a leader will retrieve the child’s guardian from the service.
The child may rejoin the group at any point during these steps, if he or she feels ready to engage appropriately in the lesson.
If a child at any time risks endangering him/herself or others, the leaders may choose to involve the child’s guardian immediately.
We welcome children of all abilities at HUU. If you feel that this behavioral plan will inhibit your child’s ability to participate in the Religious Education program at HUU, please contact the Director of Children's Religious Exploration to discuss your child’s needs. Thank you!
- Alice the Chalice Coloring Pages - Unitarian Universalist Kids across America are coloring in our Alice the Chalice coloring pages during Sunday services and in their classes/group meetings. You may print them out and use them in your UU church!
- Love Will Guide Us By Rev. Alice Anacheka-Nasemann and Cathy Cartwright In this program, participants learn to seek guidance in life through the lens of our Unitarian Universalist Sources, with an emphasis on love. Together we ask questions such as, "Where did we come from?" "What is our relationship to the Earth and other creatures?" "How can we respond with love, even in bad situations?" "What happens when you die?" Sessions apply wisdom from our Sources to help participants answer these questions. Participants will learn that asking questions is valued in Unitarian Universalism, even as they begin to shape their own answers.
- World of Wonder Alice Anacheka-Nasemann, Pat Kahn, and Julie Simon This program delves deep into our Unitarian Universalist seventh Principle. It instills respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part, and appreciation of its beauty, excitement, and mystery. It is founded on the premise that direct experience in nature is essential to children's physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development.
Faith at Home
We hope that the parents and grandparents in our community will join the children in their discovery of items and actions in our homes that remind us of our faith - its principles, its sources, and its traditions. To encourage this exploration, download this Scavenger Hunt and see how many connections your family can find. Encourage the children to share these connections with us in children's RE. If your family finds the scavenger hunt particularly challenging, and you would like your home to better reflect your values and faith, I recommend the article "What does a Unitarian Universalist Home Look Like?" and the handout "Favorite UU Table Graces"
Director Children's Religious Exploration, Kathryn Staub
Kathryn, a native of Kent, Ohio, graduated Ohio University in 2010 with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education. During her first four years as a teacher, Kathryn has taught band, choir, guitar, piano, music appreciation, and general music to a wide range of ages. In the future, she hopes to begin working towards a Master’s Degree in Curriculum Design and Instruction. Having moved from the Cleveland area to rural West Virginia, she has spent much time getting used to small town living. She loves to be outside exploring the beautiful scenery and experiencing nature with her daughter. Kathryn is also an avid reader and crafter. Her recent pursuits include processing/spinning wool and creating music within her community.
Children's Religious Exploration Assistant Teacher- Alison Oelke McCaul
Alison is a puppeteer, artist, animal lover, and a lover of stories and games. She has been making props and puppets for 'Stringling Marionette Company' - a performing troupe founded by her mother in the 80's - since she was 6, and performing since the age of 11. She continues to make props and puppets, write, and perform when she is called.
Originally from Baltimore MD, Alison moved to Staunton in 2005 to attend Mary Baldwin College where she earned her B.A. in Sociology/Social Work, and interned at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Waynesboro, Staunton, and Augusta County. Alison has worked with children in daycare, summer camps, and after school programs.
- Director Children's Religious Exploration, Kathryn Staub Virtual Office Hours: Sunday-Wednesday 6:00pm -8:00pm
- Children's Religious Exploration Assistant Teacher- Alison Oelke McCaul
- Children's Support Committee