Gina Campellone’s Story


I know that I, personally, am feeling absolutely inundated by information coming from virtually every organization and institution imaginable. Everytime I open my email box I can count on finding new messages from the school district, the town, the neighborhood wellness group, my bank, my doctor’s office, the grocery store, area restaurants, and every online company with whom I’ve ever done business. It’s well intentioned, but it’s A LOT. As Director of Religious Education my main goal is to minister to children and families, to help provide them with the support they need in order to thrive spiritually, What that support looks like now is very different than pre- global pandemic. Normally my role is bringing children and families together to learn about our seven principles, explore the sources of our faith, and to establish and strengthen UU identity formation. This is accomplished in community, and relies heavily on content. That is, we use carefully selected curricula, including stories, lessons, games, crafts, and other activities. Most of the time this works.

But this is not “most of the time”. This is, in fact, a very strange, unprecedented time, and I believe the best way for me to support the children and families of our congregation at this time is to not overwhelm them with more “content”. What people need most now is connection, opportunities to be seen and heard, reminders that they are not alone. For this reason, while I am reaching out to families regularly, I am intentionally not overwhelming them with resources or suggesting they attempt to re-create a Religious Education program at home. Right now the value of connection far outweighs that of following a formal curriculum.

My outreach thus far has included:

  • handwritten notes to each child, sent via USPS, with puzzles, UU stickers, and a message of hope

  • a Weekly Wednesday email with a few carefully chosen links to activities and resources

  •  Weekly Saturday email with a suggested song, chalice lighting, or story to use if a family wishes to create their own in house worship service

  • a Wednesday afternoon Zoom Chats for kids in grades 5 & under

  • a Wednesday afternoon Zoom chat for kids in grades 6-8

  • an occasional “challenge activity”, such as go on a scavenger hunt around your house and count all of the UU items or symbols you can find

  • a “Time With Gina” segment during Sunday’s virtual worship services, in which I share a story and offer a reflection

  • and of course ongoing one on one conversations between myself and parents via email or phone, as needed

I’m also spending lots of time in virtual meetings with colleagues, LREDA, and UUA leadership as we all brainstorm ideas, share our knowledge and experiences, and help determine best practice, which these days seems to change almost as quickly as it is established!

Gina Campellone