Religious Education at Sunnyhill
Our Religious Education Philosophy
Unitarian Universalism stresses the worth of each individual and the power of community. Our education program seeks to develop a sense of belonging in a caring community, critical reflection that leads to personal understanding and commitment, and joy in the process of living and learning. With our youngest children we begin by fostering a sense of personal worth, an awareness of social context, and an appreciation for the wonders of life. As the children progress through the program we introduce them to the history of the human quest for religious meaning, the responsibilities of membership in the human community, and the process of creating a self-sustaining religious life through adulthood using Unitarian Universalist Principles as a guide.
Our Program Objectives
- To help children value and respect themselves and others.
- To give children knowledge of and to foster pride in their Unitarian Universalist religious heritage.
- To foster a feeling of belonging to the Sunnyhill community.
- To emphasize the universal search for meaning through the study of world religions and cultures.
- To stimulate open inquiry and freedom of thought.
- To encourage tolerance toward opinions and practices that differ from our own.
- To acquaint children with religious figures and literature.
- To foster a commitment to work for justice, love, and peace in the world.
- To provide practice and models to help children make personal decisions on religious, moral and social values.
- To exemplify and involve children in the application of religious ideals in their personal and public lives.
- To nurture a sense of wonder and reverence.
- To promote a sense of responsibility to be caring stewards of the earth.
- To support parents in their religious growth as individuals and as the primary religious educators of their children.
In order to participate in the RE Program each child and youth must have on file a current registration form. If you have not already done so, please complete a registration form and return it to the Director of Religious Education on or before the first day of class. Additional forms are available in the RE Office.
Courses deal with personal spirituality, beliefs, history and customs of Unitarian Universalists, our Judeo-Christian heritage, major world religions, peace, cooperation, and ecology.
Intergenerational Worship Services
Intergenerational Worship Services occur at holidays and special times during the year. Various RE classes also attend the beginning of many Sunday services, with a Children's focus designed for their grade level.
During the course of the year, children and youth participate in various service projects. These might involve raising money for local charities, collecting food for the food bank, or sending needed supplies to a far away place. To support the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, children and adults are invited to participate in the "Guest At Your Table" program that is conducted during the winter holidays. In 2001 members of the Youth Group went to New Orleans to work with Habitat For Humanity. Instilling in our children and youth a sense of responsibility for the larger community is one of our goals.
Summer Religious Education Program
The Summer RE Program is a Sunday class for children ages 3 to 12 years. Younger children are cared for in the nursery and older children are invited to become teacher's assistants and help with the class.
The "Chalice Club" offers supervised playtime for children during the LifeCraft hour (Adult RE).
As our Sunnyhill children pass through their different life stages, we offer programs to celebrate their growth and accomplishments. To include your children in any of the following programs please call the church office.
- A Dedication or Naming Ceremony celebrates life by affirming the child's worth as we welcome him/her into the extended family which is Sunnyhill. The act of dedicating or naming a child has been endowed with both religious and communal significance since ancient times.
- Our Coming of Age Program recognizes the physical growth and spiritual development of our eighth and ninth graders. We celebrate their journey into caring and responsible members of our community. There is a five-session course for eighth graders, which focuses on what Unitarian Universalism, means to each participant. Working with a mentor, visiting area UU churches, and performing community service also play a part in this program which culminates in "Coming of Age Sunday" in May. (Check the RE calendar for specific dates.)
- Bridging celebrates the transition of our High School Seniors to Young Adults. This ceremony honors our graduates at the Youth Group Sunday Service in late spring. (Check the RE calendar for the date.)
A Special Message for Parents
Sunnyhill's commitment to our children and youth is demonstrated in significant ways. During the year, more than seventy volunteers will donate hundreds of hours as RE Committee members, youth group advisors, teachers, and helpers to provide a high quality, enjoyable program.
Even new parents who are not ready to teach RE can help by volunteering to assist with a special event over the year.
This volunteer effort is supported and funded by the general operating budget of the church. We ask that you support the Religious Education Program by:
- TEACHING a class every year. It takes only 11 Sunday mornings of your time (at either 9:00 or 11:30)-shared with your co-teacher - and enables you to become a very special friend to many young people. You share your good humor and patience. We'll provide clever children, curriculum, materials, training and support!
- Contributing to the church financially. There is no fee required for RE enrollment. The costs are borne each year by the generosity of everyone's financial support. Please make a pledge in our annual church canvass when you are called.
- Committing to the regular and punctual attendance of your child. Frequent attendance helps children feel a part of the group. It also underscores the importance of Unitarian Universalism in a family. It is not enough to say that church and religious education are important in our families--we need to come to church on Sunday mornings.
- Participating with your child in the intergenerational events at church. Enjoying church together builds a sense of community for adults as well as children. The Family Service is a wonderful way to participate in a half an hour a month of "religious education" WITH your child.
- Volunteering to help out at one of our special events, like the Spring Festival. This is a great opportunity for new families, not yet ready to teach but hoping to meet other parents and families, to help out by lending a hand.
- Preparing snack for all children about twice each year
This vibrant program has a number of components: education, community service, leadership skills, spiritual growth and development and social activities. Youth activities during the year will include participation in local, cluster and district Unitarian Universalist Youth-Adult Committee functions, overnights (AKA "lock-ins") and socials at church and community service projects.
This year (2012-2013), the youth will use the curriculum "Thinking the Web" which explores the big issues facing society.
Meetings occur at the 11:30 service time in the basement meeting area. A group of caring adults will function as the advisory team for the Youth Program. All current high school students up to age 19 are cordially invited to participate. There is a Youth Program Registration Form that all youth must have signed by their parents.
The Youth Group sponsors an Italian Dinner put on by youth members and their adult helpers. Check the RE calendar and plan to join us for this evening of fun and great food when our church is turned into an Italian Bistro. In the past, funds raised by this event help to support youth programming at Sunnyhill throughout the year and special service projects such as: KIVA - Loans that change lives, NEED: Unlocking the Power of Education (Pittsburgh), the March of Dimes and Habitat For Humanity.
The Youth also lead a church service for the congregation in the late spring, which includes a special "Bridging" ceremony for graduating High School Seniors. Consult the RE calendar for the date.
High School Youth Group Advisors
Catherine Palmer, Tim Zeddies,
Anne Brannen, Jay Pullen