Children and Youth Overview
Welcome to Sunday school programs for children and youth at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto (UUCPA). Religious education for children has been at the heart of UUCPA since the establishment of the congregation in 1948.
In our religious education programs for children and teens, we want to help young people become sensitive, moral, and joyful people, people who have intellectual integrity and spiritual insight. We have no interest in forcing dogmas or beliefs on children; instead, we want children to reach for the highest human values.
At UUCPA, we have four big goals for children and youth: learn about them here.
Because we believe in learning by doing, all children and youth attend the first fifteen minutes of the Sunday morning services, and attend half a dozen intergenerational services in the course of the year. When they attend services, young people learn our religious tradition through participating and doing: they sing and hear liberal religious music, they learn how to be in community with adults, they learn that sitting quietly is a form of spiritual practice. We want young people to learn that a Unitarian Universalist service is a time when you can reconnect with the best part of your self.
In the spirit of connecting with the best part of our selves, I hope you will encourage the young people in your life to participate regularly in the religious community here at UUCPA.
— Rev. Dan Harper
Associate Minister of Religious Education
Sunday morning schedule
Calendar summary for 2018-2019
From the Assoc. Minister of Religious Education
Sunday morning programs for families
9:30 Sunday, Sept.-April
Summer Sunday school 2019
Sunday Youth programs
Our Whole Lives (OWL) program
How your child will progress through CYRE at UUCPA
CYRE email newsletter
How to register
Our Sunday school teachers
Religious Education Staff and Leadership
How To Register for Sunday School
Please fill out and sign a new registration form each year. If you bring your children three or more times during a Sunday school year (August to June), we ask you to fill out a registration form to help us plan the program.
The form is online here.
Thanks to all those who give strong financial support through their annual pledges, we have no registration fee for the Sunday school. We can continue this tradition of strong voluntary financial support — please give as generously as you are able when you make your pledge to UUCPA this year.
Sunday morning schedule, mid-August through April
9:00 – 12:30
Child care available.
Infants and toddlers in Room 7/8. Children who are 3 and up and toilet trained in Room 2/3.
9:30 Worship Service
9:30 – 9:45: All ages attend service in Main Hall
9:45 – 10:30: Sunday school programs for pre-K through grade 8. If they wish, children may remain in worship service with parents/guardians.
10:30: Parents/guardians may pick up younger children (grade 1 and under) in their classrooms, or children may be released to the supervised play area. Older children (grade 2 and up) dismissed from their classrooms to
10:30+: “Rainbow Chasers”
Fourth Sunday brunch, 10:30 a.m. — On fourth Sundays, a simple brunch is offered (e.g., waffles with fruit) for a nominal cost — an opportunity for families to socialize with each other.
11:00 Worship Service
During the 2nd service, childcare is available. Infants and toddlers in Room 7/8. Children who are 3+ and toilet trained in Room 2/3.
The UUCPA Navigators group meets 1st and 3rd Sundays at 11 am at UUCPA
mid-September to June, generally accepting kids 7+. Click here to learn more.
After the 2nd Service
Second Sunday lunch, 12:15 p.m. — On
Summary Calendar 2018-2019
Aug. 12 — Water communion intergenerational service
Aug. 19 — First day of regular Sunday school
Sept. 2 — Labor day weekend, child care only
Nov. 4 — DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME ENDS
Nov. 18 — Thanksgiving intergenerational service
Dec. 23 — No-rehearsal Christmas pageant, intergenerational
Dec. 24 — Candlelight services at 6:30 and 8 p.m.
Dec. 30 — Winter break, child care only
Jan. 27 — Intergenerational service
Mar. 10 — DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME BEGINS
Mar. 31 — Spring project begins
Apr. 21 — Easter intergenerational service & Easter egg hunt
May 12 — Flower communion intergenerational service
May 19 — Coming of Age service (intergenerational)
May 26 — Memorial Day weekend, child care only
June 2 — Summer Sunday school begins
June 16 through July 28 — One service, with summer Sunday school, at 10:30 a.m.
For latest calendar information and corrections, see the monthly CYRE newsletter.
Sunday Programs for Families
Because we believe in learning by doing, and most important part of our religious education is participation, with all ages, in the first part of regular worship services. Then during Sunday school, young people learn and play with people their own age. Feel free to ask Sunday school teachers what they did this week. If you would like to review curriculum materials that are not online, please call Dan Harper.
9:30 Sunday morning, September through April
Child care (for infants, toddlers, and young children) — Loving and safe care with our professional child care providers. Children who are over 3 and toilet-trained may go to Red class (if your 3-year-old is not yet toilet-trained, they may be in the class as long as you are on call via cell phone if toileting is necessary). To meet our child care providers, click here.
Children from K-8 may choose to attend Sunday School during the service. For more information about Sunday School, please visit the Nursery-Preschool, Elementary School, Middle School, and High School pages for an overview of the curriculum.
We also have a lesson-by-lesson curriculum plan that teachers refer to as they plan their classes. Teachers may diverge from this plan to accommodate the interests of their class. To see the 2018-2020 curriculum plan online, click here.
The Curriculum Subcommittee of the Children and Youth Religious Education Committee is currently reviewing all curriculum books used in Sunday school. The Subcommittee will be rolling out changes in the curriculum over the next couple of years. If you would like to comment on your child’s experience with any curriculum or lesson, please contact Greg Becker, chair of the Subcommittee.
Spring project, late March through May
The spring project looks more like summer camp than Sunday school. All school-aged children meet together at the beginning of the session, then kids get to choose which activity they want to do that week. Click here for more information, as well as this year’s planned activity.
2019 Summer Sunday school, (June through mid-August)
Summer Sunday school is less formal, and emphasizes having fun and building community. In 2019, summer Sunday school will run from June 3 through mid-August. For more about summer Sunday school, click here.
Youth programs, Aug.-May
During high school and especially after the Coming of Age program, students may choose to attend services. They may also attend SHYG on Sunday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Room A.
Senior High Youth Group (grades 9-12) or SHYG — Teenagers in high school are welcome to join SHYG group for fun and community-building, learning, worship, leadership development, and some community service/social action. To learn more, go here or check the latest CYRE newsletter for recent announcements.
Coming of Age (grades 8-9) — In the Coming of Age program, teens explore their own spirituality and learn more about Unitarian Universalism through group meetings, projects, field trips, and meetings with mentors. Coming of Age is offered roughly every year based on demand at 11 a.m. on Sundays (some field trips and projects meet at other times), with monthly meetings Sept.-Dec., and weekly meetings from Dec.-May. Coming of Age will next be offered in 2019-2020. For more information, contact Rev. Dan Harper or see https://www.uucpa.org/learning/coming-of-age/
Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive sexuality education
OWL (Our Whole Lives) is a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education class grouped by age (Gr. K-2, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12). Youth receive age-appropriate sexuality education and learn about relationships and decision making. Programs are offered every other year or based on demand. Visit Our Whole Lives (OWL) for more information.
How your child will progress through CYRE at UUCPA
Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) email newsletter
If your family has a child or youth registered in Sunday school or youth programs, your family will be subscribed to a once-a-month email newsletter. This newsletter will give you notice of upcoming events, including family social service projects, barbeques, and more. It’s also available online — to read the newsletter, click here.
Our Sunday School Teachers
People who offer to teach in the Sunday school are the heart and soul of religious education at UUCPA. Their teaching ministry is one of deed more than word, of setting an example more than wordy instruction. Their caring presence encourages new learning and new growth for all generations.
Each year, parents, grandparents, non-parents, and others volunteer to be Sunday school teachers. The Associate Minister of Religious Education provides face-to-face and online training opportunities. Teacher-to-teacher mentoring also contributes to excellence in teaching, since teaching teams typically include one or more experienced teachers who can act as mentors.
Because training and guidance are easily available, newcomers to teaching, and newcomers to Unitarian Universalism, find they too can succeed at teaching Sunday school. People who have never taught or led a program before are surprised at how satisfying this ministry can be, and they are pleased at how well they can meet its challenges.
Consider furthering your own spiritual growth by leading a church school or adult program. And don’t forget to express your thanks and appreciation to those who lead our programs for children, youth, and adults. Tell them how much you appreciate their dedication to UUCPA, and to liberal religion.
All our paid and volunteer staff follow the UUCPA Safety Policy for Legal Minors.
Religious Education Staff and Leadership
The Children and Youth Religious Education (CYRE) Committee meets monthly with the Associate Minister of Religious Education (typically on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:15 p.m.), to oversee and evaluate all children and youth programs, to plan and carry out special events, to support social justice projects that welcome children and youth, and more generally to help the wider congregation better meet the needs of families, children, and youth.
Alyssa Erickson, chair
Harrison Frahn, Board liaison
Maribea Berry, OWL coordinator
Associate Minister of Religious Education: Rev. Dan Harper
Dan Harper works closely with the Children and Youth Religious Education Committee to set curriculum, monitor our educational goals, and chart overall direction for the programs. Dan provides pastoral care to families, and assists other programs that support families. He often teaches in the Sunday school and advises the youth group. Dan also works with the Adult Religious Education Committee, and attends meetings of the Board of Trustees. Dan has been working in Unitarian Universalist congregations for two decades, and has served as a Director of Religious Education, Minister of Religious Education, interim minister, and parish minister.
Click here for more information.
Need more information? Contact us!
Rev. Dan Harper, Associate Minister of Religious Education
Children and Youth Religious education Committee:
Edie Keating, chair
Alyssa Erickson, treasurer
John Kostka, Board liaison