The Gifts We Give and Receive

Abundance was our church theme last month.  We talk about our congregational themes with our Religious Education (RE) kids, too.  Take a listen to what they said about what our church has an abundance of:  chalices, fun, love, stories, kind people… kind people, indeed!  I have been inspired this year to witness an abundance of wonderful gifts shared within our 2017-18 “under construction” Religious Education program. 

We began the year strong with fully recruited teaching teams for our classes.  Then, as Coming of Age mentors were needed or other jobs arose (like needing a rock star handywoman and organizational guru), people flexed and adjusted their commitments as we hoped they would to share their talents to meet the needs of our program and participants.  As the year has progressed, our volunteer leaders have worked together and supported one another and their students beautifully.  Our fabulous RE Council has been providing leadership as well, and is adapting to the evolving vision and work of the church.

A new kind of “call and response” emerged:  when one member of the team had a need and called for help, other members always responded with compassion.  And they have stepped forward with heart and thoughtfulness for parents or kids needing additional care, too.  It has happened time and time again.  We are living out our new mission: Our open and welcoming congregation connects hearts, challenges minds and nurtures spirits, while serving and transforming our community and the world and our core values of connection, inspiration, compassion, and justice.  The support from one to another is a gift within our community.

And we see these gifts in our children and youth also.  At 9:15, we have programming for all ages (kindergarten through adult – you are welcome to join us!), and that allows a special opportunity for multiage interaction and learning.  During one of our stories recently, we had some participants sharing “who they are” in the story of Supriya’s Bowl.  From young to old, there were thoughtful responses and patient listening to what others had to say.  (We have some really cool 6th graders who were attentive to hearing a 5 year-old’s rationale for how the rice bowl got filled, and who shared their own thoughts with us, too.)  When making our blessing bags, the big kids help the little kids with packaging goods and making notes or drawings for our neighbors in need.  The Coming of Age youth volunteered at the church work day outside recently, raking leaves, moving stumps and rocks, etc. to beautify and winterize our campus; our Sunday worship chime ringers and chalice lighters are children and youth; when the multigenerational choir sings, our children and youth are giving to the church.  You’ll soon see the pageant with (hopefully) a good amount of kid participation.  All of those are special gifts to our community.

We are hearing from families that the kids are bringing their parents to church because they want to be here!  And why not?

  • Star Wars or Harry Potter yoga for all ages at 9:15
  • YRUU revitalization for 10th-12th graders
  • Neighboring Faiths curriculum, expanding horizons of 7th-8th graders
  • And so much more… every class has awesome stuff happening!
  • Plus, youth CONference attendance continues to grow

All of that takes volunteers – people who are sharing their time and talent – with UUCA.  Presence is one of the greatest gifts a person can give or receive.  We in RE have received many gifts this year, and we are grateful to all of you in the RE roles and in the many other ways our church is served by all of you.  You are a gift.

And on that note, another important gift we can give and receive is affirmation.  We have created a new bulletin board in Sandburg Hall to share that gift in our community.  Like a little free library, we invite you to take or to leave a gift of affirmation.  This is open to anyone:  member, friend, regular or first-time visitors, youth, adult, or children.  See more at the big GIFT bulletin board near the main office.

Jen Johnson, RE Staff

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