From the Associated Minister of RE – Rev. Dan Harper

  • From your Associate Minister of Religious Education May 10, 2017

    The Board of Trustees has authorized a sabbatical for me from October, 2017, through February, 2018. The Children and Youth Education (CYRE) Committee, the Adult Religious Education (ARE) Committee, and the Committee on Ministry were all consulted before this sabbatical was authorized. The months of October through February were specifically chosen so that there will be minimal disruption to the various programs I support.

    In about a month, the Board will appoint a Sabbatical Committee. The members of the Sabbatical Committee will be available to answer any questions you might have about the sabbatical, and one member of the committee will be a young person so that children and teens will also have someone who can answer any questions they might have.

    The Board expects to hire a part-time staff person to provide program support for the five months of the sabbatical. The job description for this staff person is still being worked out, but I expect that that staff person would be present on Sunday mornings and evenings to supervise programs and support volunteers. Hong Bui, the Religious Education Assistant, will continue with her same duties through the sabbatical.

    Amy Morgenstern, our senior minister, will supervise the part-time staff person, and support the program as needed while I’m on sabbatical. Of course Amy will continue to be available for pastoral care and counseling.

    I’ll have more information about the sabbatical for you next month.

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper

  • Why You Should Bring Kids to the Intergenerational Easter service April 1, 2017

    As a parent, you may want to know why you should bring your children to the annual Easter intergenerational service. Here are three reasons:

    1.  It’s a key part of our religious education program. This is our chance to tell children our interpretation of Easter and of Jesus, a rational interpretation that is sadly missing in the wider society.
    2. Kids like the Easter coloring pages, and older kids like Silent Sermon Bingo (Silent Sermon Bingo is a quiet game children can play during the sermon). These pleasurable activities help them learn that worship services can be enjoyable, another key part of their religious education.
    3. Younger children may not be able to sit through the entire service with their parents, but as usual our professional child care workers will be on duty.
  • From your Associate Minister of Religious Education 4/1/2017 April 1, 2017

    We have had to cancel the ecology camps for gr. 2-5 and gr. 6-8, scheduled for mid-June. These camps have been run by Mike Abraham and me, and we thought we were on track to hold them this year. But then we had some key staff who were unable to return, and on top of that both Mike and I lost our fathers in the past year, leaving us less time and energy to devote to the camps (note that much of my work for the camps is done on a volunteer basis).

    Canceling the camps is unfortunate for two main reasons. First of all, some of our returning campers were very disappointed — it turns out that some of our campers felt this was the best camp they went to all last summer, and canceling the camps caused a certain amount of tears and even anger. Mike and I can only apologize, and say that we too are sad that we had to cancel these camps.

    The other reason canceling these camps was unfortunate is that they were financially successful. Even though the camps were small (about a dozen children or teens each week), even though we were able to give scholarships to anyone who needed one, these camps actually generated a surplus. This is important as we explore how we can come up with innovative funding to continue to generate innovative educational programming.

    Fortunately, we will still be able to offer Nature Camp June 12-16, 2017, for children completing Young Fives, TK, or gr. K-1 in 2017. Kris Geering is director of this half day camp, and she has wonderful plans in place for young campers.

    And Mike and I hope to bring back the gr. 2-5 and gr. 6-8 camps next summer (if the campers forgive us for canceling this year). If you’d like to help us make that happen, either by providing logistics support or by serving on staff, please let me know!

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper

  • CYRE Spring Project: Ecology Experiments March 19, 2017

    The CYRE Committee is introducing a new Spring Project for gr. K-5

    – Ecology Experiments! From March 26 through May 7, we’ll be offering fun ecology-centered activities for elementary aged kids. Projects may include ecology-oriented crafts, quilting, games, cooking, etc. There will be fun ecology-oriented skits and environmental songs to sing. Kids like coming to the Spring Project, whatever the theme, because they get to choose the fun activities they prefer, and they get to be with other kids of different ages.

    Want to help lead an activity in Ecology Experiments? It’s fun and easy. You prepare one project, and lead the same project each week for 4-5 weeks (depending on your availability). We have the following projects already prepared for you to use:

    – a variety of ecology crafts for kids

    – organic baking and/or cooking

    – making a terrarium

    – playing ecology board games (Wildcraft, Eco- Fluxx, Skunk Bingo, Dragonfly, etc.)

    – making mini-biospheres (but you’ll have to find a source for amphi- pods)

    Please contact Dan Harper <danharper@uucpa.org> if you’d like to help!

  • Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) March News — Rev. Dan Harper March 19, 2017

    Even though it’s only March, we’re already deep into planning for next school year. A few things to look out for in 2017-2018:

    • Due to high demand, we plan to offer at least two units of OWL sexuality education: the gr. 7-9 unit, and the gr. 4-6 unit.
    • We will be offering Coming of Age again, from Jan.–May, 2018.
    • We expect to offer the same grade levels in Sunday school again next year: preK, K-1, 2-3, 4-5, and middle school.

    That’s what we’re planning for next year. Then there’s our wish list, things we hope to do. Heading my wish list: being able to offer two levels of the Navigators scouting program, both the junior and senior levels — and that could happen if we can develop some strong adult leadership to assist Ed Vail, the current Navigators leader.

    What’s on YOUR wish list for our children and youth programs? What would YOU like to see happen at UUCPA?

    — See you soon, Dan Harper