To make maximum progress towards our four goals and gain the most benefit, keep your child enrolled through high school. Here’s how young people progress through our programs:

Preschool: Young children make friends, have fun, and learn the rhythms of the congregational year.

Grades K through 5: Children at this age like to learn facts, and we teach them the basics about Western and other religions (building religious literacy). We begin to give them skills in group process (building skills).

Middle school years: In these critical years for religious education, young people learn about religion by visiting other faith communities (building religious literacy) and doing hands-on ecology activities (building skills). They begin to use group process and leadership skills, and they continue to learn interpersonal skills in Sunday school. The OWL program offers an opportunity for deeper learning in interpersonal skills.

Coming of Age: This is the keystone of our religious education programs. Young people reflect deeply on who they are and their own personal religious identity. They use skills in group process, critical thinking, and public presentation to lead an entire worship service in the spring. At the end of this program, they are eligible to become full voting members of the congregation, and they have the skills to decide for themselves whether they are Unitarian Universalists. This program is not offered during the 2023-24 year but will be back next year.

High school years: The high school years are an important time for youth to develop skills in participating in democratic process. Leadership opportunities abound, and teens have served on the congregation’s Board of Trustees, the Committee on Ministry, the Finance Committee; they have taught Sunday school, served as worship associates, etc. Basic participation in the life of UUCPA will give young people aged 13-18 the skills they need to participate effectively in democratic institutions. A motivated teenager can gain enough experience at UUCPA to serve on the board of any small to medium sized nonprofit institution.

The Search Institute has shown that regular participation in a religious organization is a developmental asset that enables “young people [aged 12-18] to develop into successful and contributing adults.” The Search Institute has done research to back up their claims, and we have also seen this year after year at UUCPA. Teens affiliated with UUCPA develop healthy relationships across the generations, helping them to stay grounded and more stable.