September ’21 nUUs from Religious Education

“When we return we will find friends” backpack clips project from a recent RE gathering

Hi there, dear Families!

What a moment this is. Many of you have children starting school, likely with a wide range of feelings. The status of the Delta variant and the variety of responses to it certainly complicates all plans and leaves everyone with a whole lot of unwelcome uncertainty.

We are right there with you. And we are also right here FOR you. I want to give very clear details about our plans for church and Religious Education, and I want to hear how you are and what you need and want.

South Church staff, plus the Covid Task Force and other committees, have spent many months collecting questions and thinking about every detail, facet, and consideration for how to come back together in physical spaces in the best ways that we can.

Over the past 18 months, worship has been online, and meetings for religious education, committees, and other groups have happened in a combination of zoom, in person outdoor, and in person indoor settings, based on thoughtful consideration and with guidance from the Task Force. 

We are preparing to begin gathering in person for worship again, starting Sunday September 12th. The current plan is that we will have two weekly Sunday worship services, as we sometimes have done in the past: one at 9:00am, one at 11:00am. Everyone who attends must be masked, without exception. Also, everyone must fill out a waiver and health commitment form before their first time entering the building. This is to be done once and will be kept on file. We will have copies available when you arrive, or you can save time and fill it out in advance from this link:

Worship will also be live streamed and recorded from the sanctuary during the 9:00 service only. For anyone concerned about yourself or your children being seen online, there is an area in the sanctuary that the camera does not ever pick up, and we can help you know where that is. Also, the 11:00 service will not be streamed and will NOT have the camera on at any time.

The first Sunday that we are back, September 12th, will be our traditional Water Ingathering service, which will be an all-ages worship. That means children will stay in the sanctuary with their caregivers. Don’t forget to bring water from your special places to add to our collection that is later used in special ceremonies.

Beginning the following Sunday 9/19 and for a handful of following Sundays, youth and children ages 4 and up will have the option to either stay in the sanctuary with their families, or they can join an all-ages RE time during worship. If the weather allows, we will go outside after the Time For All Ages. If it’s raining, we will go upstairs to the big room outside the balcony. These times will be focused on social-emotional needs; there will be time for getting to know each other and playing together. Masks will be required in these RE spaces, whether we meet indoors or outdoors. Please dress your children for being outdoors! If you are able to help us on one of those Sundays then click the button to sign up!

Children under 4 can stay in the sanctuary with their families. For littles that need a break from worship, the Nursery will be open, complete with freshly sterilized toys. However, for now the nursery will not be staffed. Caregivers must stay in that room with their children while they are using it. To be clear, children are always welcome in the sanctuary, and we do not expect that they will always be quiet. We want to keep church a place where we are all trying our best to be in community together.

As long as our return is able to continue as planned, age-based Religious Education classes similar to how we’ve traditionally met will begin October 17th. We will have classes for Pre-K through 8th grade on Sunday mornings. Most will meet during both worship times, but some will meet during only one worship. You can find the details for your children on pages under the “Program Info” tab.

We need lots of RE volunteers! We have a rich program, and it takes a lot of people to make it wonderful. Whether it’s helping with the all-ages sessions through mid-October, or any of the various age-based classes that will begin in late October. I would LOVE to help you find a role that will fill your spiritual cup to overflowing. You can check out the volunteer page for descriptions, expectations and spiritual rooting HERE, you can sign up for a slot HERE, or you can email me and we can set a time to talk about what would feel good for you:

For families with children in 5th or 7th grade: We will be holding Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality education classes starting in late October. There is already a lot of interest for these classes. Registration preference is given to South Church families, and then remaining spots will be offered to the wider community beginning Oct 1st. PLEASE email before Oct 1 if you would like to sign your child up for OWL:

We want our church space to be as safe as possible for ALL of our people. And we have set it up that way as much as we can. However, I want to make it clear that there is still a certain amount of risk to returning, and you will need to consider this when deciding what’s right for your family. We are so much looking forward to seeing you, and we support any decision you make around whether or not your family is ready to be here in person. If you are not ready to come back in person, then reach out for ways to stay connected, resources to practice UUism at home, or anything else you need.

Here are a few things that may be helpful to know about coming to church:

  • Everyone will be masked inside the building, at all times, and during all Religious Education gatherings.
  • After worship, there will be a social hour with refreshments outside on the portico. Masks will be optional during that time outside. It will be up to parents/caregivers to make that choice individually for their children.
  • Our building does NOT have air filtration.
  • Everyone who comes to church will have to complete a liability waiver and health commitment form by the first day they return to church and for any other church groups they meet with.

Sending you SO MUCH LOVE as you navigate all the things right now. Reach out any time with questions or concerns:

Finally, PLEASE REGISTER YOUR CHILDREN, whether you plan to attend regularly or not. It is tremendously helpful for us to keep track of who our young people are and what we need to know about them.

What you need to know this month… 

Click Linked Items for additional Details:

Click here for 2021-2022 RE Program Information

  • Sunday, September 5th:
    • Worship at 10:00am on YouTube, Sermon offered by Bob Vaccaro
  • Sunday, September 12th:
    • Water Ingathering! Return to worship in person at South Church at 9:00a & 11:00a. All Ages worship
    • 9:00a Worship will stream on Youtube
  • Saturday, September 18th:
  • Sunday, September 19th:
    • Worship in person at South Church at 9:00a & 11:00a, Sermon offered by Rebecca Hennessy
    • All kids & youth can join Religious Education during both services, following the Time For All Ages
    • 9:00a Worship will stream on Youtube
    • Training for Spirit Play volunteers, 12:30p-3:00p at Church
  • Sunday, September 26th:
    • Worship in person at South Church at 9:00a & 11:00a, Sermon offered by Reverend Susan
    • All kids & youth can join Religious Education during both services, following the Time For All Ages
    • 9:00a Worship will stream on Youtube
    • RE Volunteer Training, 12:30p-2:00p at Church
  • Saturday, October 2nd:
    • Families tUUgether! 5:00-7:30p. RSVP required. More details HERE. Email JenDD to register:
  • Sunday, October 3rd:
    • Worship in person at South Church at 9:00a & 11:00a, Sermon offered by Kimberly Cloutier Green
    • All kids & youth can join Religious Education during both services, following the Time For All Ages
    • 9:00a Worship will stream on Youtube
  • Thursday, October 7th:
    • Coming of Age family orientation and opening ceremony 6:30p-8:00p
  • Friday, October 8th:
    • Sparks and Flames social group for grades 5 through 8: Games at church! 7:00-8:30p RSVP:

Families at Home: September’s Theme is “Embracing Possibility

Our UU faith in practice and action:

  • Water Ingathering: On September 12th we will have our annual Water Ingathering tradition! This is when everyone is invited to bring water from various places, whether from halfway around the world, the local lake your family has been visiting for generations, or even your kitchen sink. The water symbolizes our favorite places, our favorite things to do, or how we live our daily lives. These are the things that sustain us and they are all around us. When we all bring our little bottles of water and combine them into our special bowl, we are adding symbols of ourselves and we can imagine that we all help sustain each other’s lives too. The combined water is used throughout the church year when we have baby dedications, when senior youth are bridging, and other special ceremonies and rituals.
    • As a family, decide where you will gather your water. When you fill your container (you don’t need much; even an ounce is good) talk together about what gifts each of you offer our community just by being your selves. And how does our church and the people in it help to sustain or buoy you?
  • Covenanting: Every year when we start new programs, we begin by creating covenants in each group. Covenanting is an important UU tradition. A covenant helps us decide as a whole group how we want to be together. When friction arises, we can revisit the covenant we made together to see where we are not meeting the agreements and then come back into a peaceful place. If there is not an element in the covenant that addresses the problem then we can work together to add something that will help. Your family can create a covenant for the same reasons!
    • Here’s a helpful example from a UU family who created a covenant together:
    • Also from the UUA website: “Try… creating a family covenant. Take some time to explore ways you want to behave with one another. Keep in mind that a covenant does not provide rules (“no hitting”) so much as ways of engagement (“treat each other with respect”). Light a chalice to lift the moment from the ordinary to a place of importance. Brainstorm ideas for your family covenant, and then combine the ideas to write a three- or four-line covenant. Create colorful posters to display the covenant around your home.”

Chalice Lighting for mealtimes this month:

“Welcome Home”

By Rachel Rott

Welcome home…
There is, in this place, the possibility of healing, of repair, of making things right: within ourselves, between us, and with the wider world.

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