Lifespan Spiritual Exploration (LSE)–Children and Youth Programs
Children and Youth Online Registration for 2019-2020. Please register your child(ren) each year so we can plan to best meet your needs. (If you are just a one-time visitor, or just checking us out, please feel free to wait on this until after one or two visits.).
Thank you for wanting to know more about the children and youth activities that are part of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration (LSE) at UCM. The people of our congregation enthusiastically support a vibrant program for young people.
Check out our LSE blog to see pictures and summaries of many of our activities.
Click on this link to read UCM’s Vision for Lifespan Spiritual Exploration created by the congregation during our RE Envisioning Process of 2016-18. Our LSE Committee strives to bring quality programing to all members of our spiritual community.
Starting Sunday, Sept. 15th, there will be two services: one at 9 a.m. and one at 11a.m. We encourage families to pick a service time they generally will try to stick to, which allows both you and your child(ren) a chance to form some meaningful relationships with people. That said, we welcome you at either service that works best on any given Sunday. The early service allows you early birds to launch your day with church and have the full rest of your day for whatever your family wants. The later service allows a slower morning, time for pancake breakfast in PJs, and you can STILL take in church!
The content of worship will be the same with the exception of the choir. The choir will sing at the early service two Sundays a month and the later service two Sundays a month. Guest musicians will fill those worship elements for whichever worship the choir is not singing in. While Coffee Hour follows each service, this fall the plan is that the Kids Snack Table will be open ONLY AT THE FIRST Coffee Hour. Families attending the 2nd service should feel welcome to arrive early for their child(ren) to snack BEFORE the service. (Many families were struggling with how to feed their child(ren) lunch when they had just filled up on snack at coffee hour.
Most Sundays, unless it is a multigenerational worship Sunday, children are present for the first 15-20 mins. of worship and then sung out to their specific programming. Parent(s) / caregiver(s) are always welcome to accompany their child to their LSE programming for part or all of the time. Children always have the option of staying in the sanctuary with their family for the duration of worship if they prefer (and if it works for the parent(s) / caregiver(s).
Children/Youth Spiritual Exploration Programming on Sunday morning
Infants & toddlers (Both services)
We’ll continue staffing the nursery 15 mins. before both services. We’re thrilled to welcome some new youth staff, along with many of the familiar faces of last church year’s nursery staff, including Becky Webber and Cheyenne Sebold as the adult supervisors. We will also be working on making a cozy, corner nook in the Fireplace Room. This will be a quiet (but not silent) place for parents to take in the livestream of worship with activities in the nook for their young children do not want to be in the nursery or the sanctuary. (The Fireplace Room will still be a shared space, with some adults or teens there to take in worship in a quiet — but not silent — space as well.)
Soul Matters One Room for Preschool – 4th grade (During both 9am and 11am services. Early middle school welcome at 9am too.)
Multiage spiritual exploration time during each worship service. (This is sometimes called the “One Room LSE” (though sometimes this does involve splitting into more than just one room. We try our best to offer choices of specific activities each day). Led by Liza and our talented team of caring volunteers, we’ll use story, games, and art to explore our UU values and each month’s theme more deeply. New this year: We are aiming for about one hour of time together with the kids. Since they are sung about 20 minutes into worship most Sundays, LSE pick-up will be in classrooms around 20 mins. after. Adults can enjoy a little kid-free coffee hour time!
The Soul Matters curriculum is grounded in the monthly worship themes. This allows families and congregants of all ages to be exploring the same spiritual questions and ideas each month. We find this can lead to rich, engaging conversations at home during the week. Liza will provide families a brief summary of the main ideas from the morning and a couple follow-up questions to help facilitate these conversations. The Soul Matters curriculum is written by a veteran Director of Religious Education (DRE) in collaboration with DREs from around the country. They provide a menu of themed-lessons with a goal of including kids who have many different learning styles. These lessons weave in stories, games, art, movement, and fascinating threads of UU history. Each month includes options of exploring different traditions and religions as holidays arise during the year. For more information on the Soul Matters curriculum, or to see a sample session plan, click here.
Crossing Paths for 5th-8th graders (During 11am worship)
We are excited to bring back a beloved UU tradition of having middle school youth explore other faiths including visits to other faith centers in our community. The Crossing Paths curriculum is known to be engaging and thought provoking and often inspires the entire family to join in the learning. We’ll offer an orientation in early fall to meet facilitators and learn more. Read more here. This program is offered only at the 11am service and will likely begin in late September or in October.
High School Youth Group (During 11am worship)
9th-12th graders are strongly encouraged to participate in what we hope will be a year of youth deepening connections with one another and with themselves while engaged in fun activities that help them explore their beliefs and UU values. We are excited to welcome Elizabeth Peebles (former Coming of Age guide and lifelong UU) as our new youth group advisor! She’ll be assisted by Pat Meehan (last year’s 4th/5th OWL instructor) and likely one more advisor. Currently scheduled to begin Sunday, Sept. 15th, and to meet during the 11am worship. The exact start and end times are still being determined. Youth Group will alternate with 10th-12th grade OWL so the programs will not conflict with one another. Any interested youth group members who are NOT participating in OWL will be invited to take in 11am worship with Elizabeth and other youth by sitting together in a pew.
Our Whole Lives for 10th – 12 graders (During 11am worship)
This program helps senior-high youth gain the knowledge, life principles and skills they need to express their sexuality in life-enhancing ways. Great for both youth who took the 7th-9th grade level, and also for those who have not. Facilitated by Peter Watt, Mara Iverson, and Becky Webber. 14 sessions. Currently scheduled to begin Sunday, Oct. 6th, 10:30a.m. – 12:30pm. this will alternate with High School Youth Group Sundays and also with an overnight. We usually do not plan programming for holiday weekends or school vacations. Find out more details and sign up for the Parent Orientation (required) on Sept. 30th here.
Our Whole Lives for Young Children (preschool – 2nd grade)
We want children or youth of any age to feel encouraged and welcome to participate in Sunday morning worship as their spiritual exploration. Just because we do offer separate children/youth programming most Sundays, they are not obligated to participate. Sometimes with our separated, busy weeks, being together as a family unit in worship is what each person in the family is craving.
Coming of Age
We also offer Coming of Age–a year-long small group program that marks the transition from childhood to youth. It deepens participants understanding of Unitarian Universalism and fosters the ability to explore and articulate one’s own set of spiritual beliefs. In order to shift from 7th-8th graders to 8th-9th graders doing the program, Coming of Age will next be offered in 2020-21.
Special programming occurs on a regular basis–including some beloved traditions like the March Mystery Madness, where adults kids are paired as mystery buddies for several Sundays, exchanging notes, clues and small gifts–culminating with a Big Reveal celebration. We value other multigenerational activities too–including 5 or 6 multigenerational Sunday worship services during the year, where the children and youth stay with us in the sanctuary the entire service and the program have all ages in mind. The past two church years we have had a Multigen Choir and we hope to start one up this year as well. There have been three well received UCM Camping Weekends the past several years, with several dozen people of all ages building community and taking our spiritual journey to the peaceful waters of Kettle Pond State Park.
To stay in the loop regarding all these happenings, sign up for the UCM weekly e-news. You can also email me to be added to the monthly Friends and Families of LSE newsletter specifically for families and LSE volunteers. We also have a Unitarian Church of Montpelier public Facebook page. If you come to the church and like what you have been experiencing, you can join our private Friends of UCM Facebook page. You will also find more details below.
On behalf of the volunteers who share in this ministry of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration, we are so glad to have you take an interest in our program. Definitely reach out if you have any questions or would like to schedule a time to meet or to tour the LSE spaces at the church.
Liza Earle-Centers, Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration
ucm.dre (at) gmail.com
223.7861 ext. 2
Kids Snack Table
A simple gluten-free and nut-free snack is offered during the early coffee hour. It shows the young ones that we value their needs, gives them a mid-morning boost. We depend on families to share in this tradition to keep it going.
Sign-up for an upcoming Sunday here! using SignUp.com (no password or registration needed).
THANK YOU for being part of this important part successful Sunday mornings. It’s really easy, you don’t have to bring anything with you if you can’t do extra shopping (the cupboard at church is always stocked). It’s a great way to include your kids in service for our church community. They tend to LOVE helping to set-up and host! Click here to check out our guide to Hosting the Kids Snack Table for details with ideas of what to bring, tips for set-up, and the how-to’s to clean-up. A paper copy lives in the Kids Snack Cupboard, so don’t feel you need to print one out.
Other Children/Youth LSE information & resources:
Sexual Abuse Prevention, Education and Response — Every year each UCM staff person and every volunteer who works with children and youth here receive training in this policy. We work hard to create the safest space possible for our young people. The easiest way to get a sense of it is to view our “SAPER Snapshot” which is a slideshow presentation of the main elements. You can also read the policy in full here. Every year each staff person and every volunteer who works with children and youth here at UCM is trained in this policy. We work hard to create the safest space possible for our young people.
- Most Sundays are “regular LSE Sundays” meaning after a little time in the sanctuary, the congregation sings the LSE children and teachers out (pre-K – 6th graders to the Children’s Chapel (aka “The Green Rug Room”).
- Usually every six weeks or so we have a Sunday that is ‘multigen.’ Multi-generational worship includes an order of service geared toward engaging all ages in the sanctuary together. These are fun and special services (see FAQ above).
It Takes a Village
Listen to volunteer Sunday morning preschool teacher Nancy Schulz as she describes the funny and enriching moments of her first year leading preschoolers at UCM. Then, please take a moment to email our Dir. of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration (LSE), Liza Earle-Centers, and let her know of your interests and skill set so we can find the right match for you helping out with LSE. It takes a village to offer rich programming for kids, youth and adult religious education! (Nancy shared this story as part of the local Extempo storytelling competition in April 2017. She tied for second place!) Enjoy!
Most Unitarian Universalist congregations have child dedication ceremonies for infants and children. This special ritual is a blessing for the new life within our community, an expression of the hopes of the parents, and a promise by the congregation to support and nurture the child in its spiritual life. Please contact Rev. Joan or Liza Earle-Centers if you’d like more information and/or you’d like your child to be a part of such a dedication ceremony. We often try to offer one each fall and another in the spring. Keep your eye out for announcements in the e-newsletter as well.