From the Associated Minister of RE – Rev. Dan Harper

  • From the Associate Minister for Religious Education – Kid-friendly Holiday Events at UUCPA December 17, 2018

    It’s December, so as usual there are a lot of holiday events at UUCPA. This edition of the CYRE newsletter lists most of the kid-friendly holiday events at UUCPA this year.

    I’d like to particularly mention the No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant on Sunday, Dec. 23. This service gives a Unitarian Universalist view of Christmas, with a bit of social justice awareness, a bit of ancient Near Eastern politics, and a bit of poetry. This service is a good antidote to the two extreme versions of Christmas that dominate our society — on the one hand, a completely commercialized Christmas that’s all about conspicuous consumption, and on the other hand a rigid fundamentalist Christian interpretation of Christmas.

    We Unitarian Universalists take a more creative approach — reinterpreting the old story of Christmas with its core message of peace and love, while rejecting that which is unbelievable, hateful, or rigid. That’s the message underlying the No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant. But most importantly, the No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant is fun. Where else will you get to see adults pretending to be sheep, and children who become Magi?

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper

  • From the Associate Minister for Religious Education November 7, 2018

    In last month’s newsletter, I gave one reason why I’d like to see more children and youth in our programs. I pointed out that if we had twice as many kids in our programs, that increases the odds that each child would find a buddy their own age. But this year’s mid-term elections prompted me to offer an even better reason to bring more kids into UUCPA.

    Back in the early 1930s, an American Unitarian theologian named James Luther Adams went to Nazi Germany to study the response of organized religion to Nazism. Adams learned that nonprofit, voluntary organizations like congregations are a key bulwark against the rise of fascism. Democracy depends on the freedom to form groups that try to affect public policy democratically.

    Adams went on to ask himself, “What in your typical behavior as an American citizen have you done that would help to prevent the rise of authoritarian government in your own country? What disciplines of democracy have you habitually undertaken with other people which could serve to affect public policy? More bluntly stated, I asked myself, What precisely is the difference between you and a political idiot?”

    Being part of a congregation like UUCPA is, in fact, just such a habitual discipline of democracy. At UUCPA, we regularly work to affect public policy, in a wide variety of ways. Leasing space over our parking lot to a solar energy company is a way of affecting public policy to use more renewable energy. Hosting two different homeless shelters on our campus for a total of two and a half months a year is a way of affecting public policy to find innovative ways to address homelessness. Many of the weekly sermons, many of the weekly discussions in the Forum, and many of the adult education classes serve to educate us about policy issues. Not many organizations do all this, and welcome children and teens — UUCPA is one of the rare places in our society where kids can build habits of democracy.

    Voting is not enough, says James Luther Adams. What disciplines of democracy have you habitually undertaken with other people which could serve to affect public policy? How can you get your kids to learn those disciplines of democracy from a very young age? One answer is to be part of UUCPA. And the more children who learn these disciplines of democracy, the safer our democracy will be. So whenever you see a new family with children at UUCPA, welcome them!

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper

  • From the Associate Minister for Religious Education October 10, 2018

    UUCPA now has a new Religious Education Assistant. When you come in on Sunday, please introduce yourself to Grecia Uribe Sanchez. Grecia comes to us with a background both in administration, and in day care — a perfect combination for the RE Assistant job! Grecia’s office is Room C, and you will also find her all around the campus on Sunday morning, as she supports teachers, and helps parents and kids.

    Please also welcome the many new families who have become a part of UUCPA this fall. To help us all get to know one another better, the Children and Youth Religious Education Committee will be setting up a place for parents to chat during social hour after the early worship service — keep an eye out for it!

    One last comment about welcoming — I’ve had a number of people remark to me that it feels like there are lots of kids at the first service. I agree, and I’m pleased to see so many kids. AND I’d like to see double the number of children. Why? Because if we had twice as many kids, each child would have a much better chance of finding a buddy or two in their grade. Our program could easily accommodate twice as many kids, with the same number of volunteers and the same level of staffing. So when we see parents and kids that you don’t recognize, let’s all welcome each other so we can grow our family community at UUCPA!

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper

  • From the Associate Minister for Religious Education — Rev. Dan Harper September 9, 2018

    Barb Greve has been with UUCPA since late 2017, first filling in for me while I was on sabbatical, then filling in as the Religious Education Assistant after the previous RE Assistant left to get married. Barb’s last regular work day with UUCPA was September 2. He needs to focus on his full-time job as a hospice chaplain, as well as focus on his major volunteer commitment as Co-Moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the highest volunteer office in Unitarian Universalism.

    However, I don’t expect to say goodbye to Barb. He has helped us enormously as we move more and more of our administrative functions to cloud-based services, and I’m already talking with him about bringing him in on an occasional basis as a religious education consultant.

    You can expect a number of pleasant changes as we move to more cloud-based services. This CYRE newsletter, for instance, will become an attractive HTML newsletter in the next couple of months. You’ll begin to see other email contacts from Realm, our online congregational membership management tool. And over the course of the year, content from the CYRE Web site,, will be moved to the attractive new UUCPA Web site.

    If you have any ideas of how UUCPA can improve its online presence and electronic communication, please let me know!

  • From your Associate Minister of Religious Education August 26, 2018

    It’s going to be another fun year for children and youth programs at UUCPA. Here are some of the highlights:

    We’ll be offering the acclaimed OWL comprehensive sexuality education programs for the following age levels: gr. K-1 and gr. 10-12. Read the announcement about the gr. 10-12 unit here.  Watch the CYRE newsletter in the fall for news about the gr. 4-6 unit.

    We’ll be offering the popular Coming of Age program for teens in gr. 8-9 again this year. There’s an announcement about Coming of Age here.

    Middle schoolers will be able to choose between the Ecojustice class, which involves hands-on projects relating to environmental justice, and the Neighboring Faith Communities class, which involves 5 or so field trips to other faith communities. I recommend that young people take at least a year of each class.  I think Neighboring Faith Communities works better for 7th grade and up, so families might think about Ecojustice class for 6th graders, Neighboring Faith Communities for 7th graders, and a choice in the 8th grade year.

    And for elementary age children, the Curriculum Review Committee is working on finding fun supplements for our various classes. This year, we’ll see the addition of more fun board games that can be played in class, and help supplement the curriculum.

    However you participate, please be sure to register your child or children, using either a paper form which you can pick up on Sunday morning, or the online form here:

    See you soon,
    Dan Harper