From the Associated Minister of RE – Rev. Dan Harper

  • From your Associate Minister of Religious Education – 2019-2020 Overview July 31, 2019

    With so many great things happening in our children and youth religious education programs this year, I’d like to give you a quick overview of what’s coming up.

    We’ll be offering the Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive sexuality education curriculum for three age levels this year: gr. 4-6 and gr. 7-9 beginning in January 2020, and gr. 10-12 beginning in September. Parents must attend parent orientations before sending their children to OWL classes, so watch this newsletter for dates of parent orientations.

    Navigators, our bias-free scouting program (doesn’t matter if you believe in God or what gender you are), will be starting up again next month. Ed Vail and other parents run this fabulous fun program twice a month on Sundays at 11.

    As always, we keep refining our Sunday school programs. Several curriculums have been revised this year, most notably Neighboring Faith Communities for gr. 6-8, which includes more excellent video resources (including more on non-Western religions), and completely new field trips this year.

    Our popular Coming of Age will be offered again this year.

    M. Scott, who has been researching storybooks that reflect UU values on social justice and religion, will share some of her favorite books each second Sunday during Story Time.

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper

  • Summer Sunday school schedule June 29, 2019

    Summer Sunday school is more like summer camp than Sunday school, with fun activities that often emphasize being part of a cooperative group. All ages from gr. K-8 are invited to join in. Middle schoolers make take on leadership roles by helping the lead teacher. High school students are always welcome to participate as co-teachers with the lead teacher. Summer Sunday school is a great way for kids to meet other kids of all ages, and it helps us towards one of our four major educational goals of building community.

    Here are the planned activities that we’ll do in summer Sunday school:

    June 30: Edie Keating will lead charades and other fun games.

    July 7: Edie Keating will take everyone on a field trip to Mitchell Park (permission forms required, as we will be going off campus).

    July 14: Kids help Edie Keating and other adults make Second Sunday Lunch.

    July 21: Edie Keating, assisted by Dan Harper, will show how to decorate jars to make an attractive container.

    July 28: Paul Kostka, assisted by Dan Harper, will teach kids how to make using paper and masking tape. Then we will launch the rockets using compressed air at Mitchell Park (parents join kids at Mitchell Park for the all church picnic; permission forms required, as we will be going off campus).

    August 4: To be determined.

  • From the Associate Minister of Religious Education – Summer @ UUCPA May 30, 2019

    Local schools let out in late May and early June, and that means our Sunday morning programs shift to our summer schedule.

    During the summer, all ages from gr. K-8 meet together for fun, summer camp type activities. Preschoolers are welcome to attend if they bring a parent along (or preschoolers may choose unstructured play with child care on the playground). Most of the summer Sunday school sessions will be led by Edie Keating and me. Edie and I are still planning out the summer’s activities, but we’re pretty certain that activities will include cooking, trips to Mitchell Park, Jello painting, and more.

    Note that UUCPA has only one service at 10:30 a.m. for the seven weeks from mid-June through the end of July. This year, we’ll go to one service on Sunday, June 16, and we’ll return to two services on Sunday, August 4. During this time, Sunday school takes place at 10:30 a.m.

    See you soon,
    Rev. Dan Harper

  • From the Associate Minister of Religious Education April 30, 2019

    People sometimes forget that a key component of our religious education for children is periodic attendance at intergenerational services. These services give kids an opportunity to learn what happens in a Unitarian Universalist service. At least some part of each intergenerational service is designed to engage children at some level.

    The Flower Communion on May 12 is a service that many children find enjoyable. Everyone brings a flower to the service, and then during the service everyone gets a chance to go to the front of the Main Hall and choose a different flower to take home with them. This uniquely Unitarian Universalist service was developed at the Unitarian church in Prague, Czech Republic, in the 1930s. As always, children who have a hard time sitting still for the whole service can leave at any time to go to child care, and as always there will be coloring pages available to use during the service.

    On May 19, the 8th and 9th graders in the Coming of Age program will present their “credos,” or statements of religious identity. Many parents feel this is an important service for older children and middle schoolers to see — these parents want children to realize that when they get older, they will be the ones leading the Coming of Age service. This is not as child-friendly a service as the Flower Communion, but some young children are interested enough in the big kids to sit through the whole service. (Many parents find this to be one of the most inspiring services of the entire year, and if their children don’t happen to want to stay through the service, there’s always child care on the playground!)

    I hope your family manages to make it to one or both of these services. Intergenerational services can be a bit more work for parents, but they are a real educational opportunity — an opportunity for children to find out what it means to be part of a bigger community than their Sunday school class.

    See you soon,
    Rev. Dan Harper

  • From the Associate Minister for Religious Education – OWL January 12, 2019

    I was pleased to see that 23 children registered for our OWL program for gr. K-2. OWL stands for “Our Whole Lives,” and it’s our standards-based comprehensive sexuality education course, with units for gr. K-2, gr. 4-6, gr. 7-9, gr. 10-12, and adults. 23 children was twice as many children as we were expecting, so the OWL team of volunteers has had to scramble to figure out how to accommodate all these families. But now we’re all ready to go, and the first OWL class will be on Jan. 13.

    You may wonder why we offer OWL when the state of California has mandated standards-based sexuality education state-wide. A state-wide mandate doesn’t mean that every California teen is getting high quality sexuality education. My friend Alex, who works for a San Francisco non-profit that provides high-quality teen sexuality education, tells me that in reality not every school implements the program well. And teens and tweens tell me that they don’t always feel safe talking openly about sexuality in a school setting. So while it is great that California has mandated a basic level of sexuality education, there is still a strong need for our OWL program.

    I think of OWL as one of our congregation’s key social justice programs. We do not charge for OWL, and we welcome families who are not part of the congregation to take part in it. As part of the OWL program, we give out kid-friendly, age-appropriate books to every participant. With the older units of OWL — especially the gr. 7-9 and gr. 10-12 units — we hear from our OWL graduates that their friends turn to them for solid factual information about sexuality, so OWL values and knowledge spread far beyond the families who actually participate in the program.

    I can’t help but point out that the reason we are able to maintain this important social justice program is because our congregation provides generous support for OWL. UUCPA members and friends are volunteer teachers; UUCPA provides rooms and heat and light; UUCPA pays staff who provide supervision and administrative support; and thanks to a bequest left by Sherwood Sullivan, we can give out free books on sexuality education. This is something to think about when the annual UUCPA fundraising appeal begins next month — your contributions help fund life-changing social justice programs like OWL.

    OWL is a perfect example of what we’re here for: to transform ourselves, each other, and the world.

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper