From the Associated Minister of RE – Rev. Dan Harper

  • From the Associate Minister of Religious Education January 7, 2020

    Our Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive sexuality education seems to keep increasing in popularity, and for the first time ever we were not able to accommodate all the children and teens who wanted to enroll in our OWL classes. (Fortunately, however, we were able to accommodate all the children and teens from UUCPA who wanted to participate.)

    I was unhappy that we had to turn some people away from OWL. Even though California has mandated comprehensive sexuality education in the public schools, our OWL program is still superior, because we can be unabashedly feminist and unabashedly LGBTQ-friendly. Plus, we are able to focus on building relationship skills and communication skills in a way that just isn’t possible in a public school setting. Our wider community needs OWL.

    So why did we have to turn people away from OWL programs this year? It was because we did not expect to offer three age levels of OWL in one year. We had planned to offer OWL for gr. 7-9 and gr. 4-6, but then some of our high school students came to us and asked if we could please also offer OWL for gr. 10-12 this year. Of course, we said yes!

    But that stretched our pool of volunteer teachers to its limit. In the past, when we have had a larger-than-expected demand for OWL in a particular age level, we have been able to offer two sections to accommodate everyone. But this year, by adding another age level, we ran out of teachers.

    Needless to say, I’m starting to look for OWL teachers for next year. If you have relevant professional experience — we especially can use M.D.s, R.N.s, social workers, and teachers — or if you are a parent who is committed to sexuality education, please contact me to apply to become an OWL teacher!

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper

  • From the Associate Minister for Religious Education – Holidays @ UUCPA December 5, 2019

    If you’re going to be around during the holidays, there are some fun things happening at UUCPA that you and your kids might enjoy.

    The No-Rehearsal Christmas Pageant on Sun., Dec. 22, at 9:30 and 11:00, allows kids to participate (if they want to), as we retell the Christmas story from a Unitarian Universalist perspective. Kids will also be invited to come to the front of the Main Hall at the beginning of the service to help lead the congregation in singing “Deck the Hall” and Jingle Bells” (Red, Yellow, and Green classes have been singing these songs during Sunday school). And there will be Fourth Sunday Brunch between the two services. It’s a fun and relaxing thing to do in the holiday season.

    The candlelight service on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at 6:30 and 8:00 p.m., is also fun for children. Everyone gets to light a candle (younger children will want an adult to help them hold their candle), we sing Christmas-y songs, I’ll tell why we Unitarian Universalists light candles on Christmas Eve, we’ll listen to some traditional readings, Amy will give a short talk about Christmas. And there will be hot chocolate and potluck snacks in the kitchen afterward.

    And there are other fun things to do at UUCPA this month — check out all the events in this newsletter!

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper

  • From the Associate Minister of Religious Education – November, 2019 November 7, 2019

    Parents regularly ask if UUCPA has a discussion group for parents of children and teens. For many years, there was such a group, called “Parent Journey.” This group was organized and facilitated by parents, and it faded away a couple of years ago when the parents who organized it moved away.

    The Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) Committee and I would like to revive some kind of parent discussion group because we think there’s a need for a forum where parents can come together and talk about issues of mutual concern. And we’re going to start next month.

    I’d like to invite all parents of children and teens to join me on Sunday, December 8, from 11 to noon, for a parent discussion group. We’ll start the way most of our small groups at UUCPA start, with a “check-in,” that is, with a time to talk about what’s been going on in your life recently. Then I’ll present a topic and we’ll have time for conversation on that topic. Finally, we’ll spend five minutes at the end talking about how the group could be organized on an ongoing basis.

    I’m giving you a month’s notice so you’ll have time to plan join me for this parent group. And I’ll mention three things that might make it more attractive for your family:

    1. There will be child care available on the playground during the parent group.
    2. You can attend Story Time, led by Maricia Scott, with your child from 10:35 to 11:00, just before the parent group meets.
    3. You and your family can go to Second Sunday Lunch, an inexpensive, kid-friendly meal, which is served at about 12:15.

    I hope you can join me for this parent discussion group. If you have an idea for a topic for the first meeting, please let me know. And think about whether you might want to help organize this group (reserving the room, sending out reminders), or facilitate this group (keep the conversation moving during the meetings).

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper

  • From the Associate Minister for Religious Education September 28, 2019

    We have been delighted to welcome a number of new families to UUCPA’s CYRE program. With that in mind, it’s worth mentioning that one of the nice things about UUCPA is that if you’re a parent, and you see another parent with a child or children about the same age as yours, we think it’s just fine to go up and introduce yourself. Unitarian Universalist parents share some strong values, so it’s not like you’re talking to a total stranger. And while it is true that many of us at UUCPA are introverts, one of the reasons most of us show up on Sunday mornings is to be around people who share our values. Our parent community tends to be quite welcoming — so if you see another parent, take a chance and talk with them.

    With the new families that we’ve been seeing this fall, it’s possible that we might see growth on the order of 5% — which, if it happens, is a nice, comfortable rate of growth. It would be a real benefit to see a few more children because it makes it more likely that each child can find a friend or two at Sunday school. After all, our most important goal for Sunday school is “have fun and build community”!

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper

  • From your Associate Minister of Religious Education August 30, 2019

    Usually we don’t have Sunday school on Labor Day weekend, but since I’ll be at UUCPA this Sunday I’ll lead a session like our Summer Sunday School, with a fun activity for all ages. I’m planning to do jello painting (if you’ve never done it, it’s a lot of fun), and we’ll probably sing a song or two related to Labor Day.

    A few words about our CYRE staffers: Grecia Uribe returns from her maternity leave this Sunday — please greet her when you see her and tell her how glad we are to have her back.  And for my part, I am continuing my recovery from a pulmonary embolism a year ago; while my health is fine, I tire easily, which means I can’t work more than 40 hours a week — which in turn means that I may be slow replying to email, etc. (I don’t like talking about my health, but I wanted to let you know why I’m working more slowly than my usual breakneck pace.)

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper