Enter, Rejoice, and Come In

Dear Friends,

The 2019-2020 Religious Education year has come to a close, and whew—what a year it’s been! I wish to express my gratitude and appreciation to everyone who played a role in making our RE program a success. I am proud of the excellent learning opportunities we offered throughout the months of September through March, when we were still able to be together in person. During that time our children and youth learned about world religions, traditions and rituals, spiritual practices, sacred places, kindness and compassion to self and others, astronomy, ecology, and conservation. They had opportunities to practice community service and work for social justice. They baked cookies, prepared lasagnas, met a wildlife rehabilitator, fed and cuddled rabbits, made hand sanitizer, shared joys and concerns, and so much more. When the coronavirus pandemic was declared three months ago, meeting in person was no longer an option, and the RE program as we knew it came to an abrupt halt. But it didn’t take long for a new kind of program to emerge. Yes, virtual RE looks and feels a whole lot different than an in person program. But together, as a community, we’re making it work! Children’s chapel has morphed into “Time with Gina,” a component of our weekly virtual worship services in which I share a story and a reflection. Through the magic of Zoom, I am able to see so many children and parents watching the service together, and although it’s not the same as being in one room, I find it a powerful and moving experience. Weekly Wednesday afternoon Zoom Chats with the children have also worked well to help keep the kids connected to me and to one another. I look forward to their kind, silly, loveable energy each week, and I’m certain I get just as much out of that time together as they do.

During the months of July and August we will offer a modified RE program, which the RE Committee designed based on families’ responses to the summer survey sent out in May. The survey results indicate that most families are looking forward to a break from screen time this summer but would be interested in a few nature-focused RE activities that they can do on their own time as a family. With that in mind, Heather Alexson and I have created four nature-based lessons and projects, which will be packaged as “RE To-Go Kits.” Families who choose to participate will be asked to sign up so that we know how many kits to create. We’ll have all the kits ready in advance and will notify families when they can swing by UUS:E to pick them up. (All four kits will be available at once, so that only one trip to UUS:E is necessary.) Each kit will include a summary of the activity, instructions, and all the required materials. Families can opt to do the activities whenever they would like, but our suggestion is to take pictures of (or save) your finished products so that everyone can share during four scheduled Zoom calls on the following Sundays at 11:15 AM: July 12, July 19, August 9, and August 16. Virtual worship services will continue at 10 AM all summer long, and most will include a “Time with Gina,” except for a few weeks when I take vacation. I encourage families to continue to attend those services together.

Details and signup information for summer RE will be sent directly to families. In fact, it may have already been sent by the time this newsletter reaches your inbox. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

Be well & be loved,

Gina

Gina Campellone, Director of Religious Education