Children and Youth LSE
Children and Youth Registration for 2023-2024. 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. Our congregation cherishes families and young people. We offer a variety of programs, primarily on Sunday mornings, to nurture the spiritual lives of children and youth, from babies to teenagers. During the 2023-2024 church year (September to June), we are offering nursery care for infants and toddlers and dedicated classes for PreK & Kindergarten and Elementary School grades. We also offer Middle School and High School Youth Groups.
The Chalice Children curriculum delves deep into our Unitarian Universalist faith. It strives not just to teach about our faith, but also to provide experiences around the strength of community, the wonder and awe that transcend everyday understanding, and life issues we all share. Early childhood is filled with curiosity and wonder. In a group setting, with loving adult guides, young children can engage in spiritual seeking, develop their openness to sharing, and experience the benefit of a supportive community.
Elementary Group (Grades 1-4)
The Spirit of Adventure curriculum fosters Unitarian Universalist identity and values through exploring UU contributions to sports, medicine, cooking, winter holidays, the web of life, science, and building. This curriculum is written for active children, using physical movement, challenge and adventure as teaching mechanisms. While engaging in activities like dissecting electronics, building cantilevered architecture using graham crackers, and singing Jingle Bells in “dog” language, our children will learn about other UUs – some famous and some in our own congregation – while finding their own UU identities.
Middle School Youth Group (Grades 5-8)
The group will explore big questions through a curriculum called Riddle and Mystery. The purpose this curriculum is to assist young people in their own search for understanding. Each of the sessions introduces and processes a Big Question. The first three echo Paul Gauguin’s famous triptych: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? The next ten, including Does God exist? and What happens when you die?, could be found on almost anyone’s list of basic life inquiries. The final three are increasingly Unitarian Universalist: Can we ever solve life’s mystery? How can I know what to believe? What does Unitarian Universalism mean to me?
High School Youth Group
9th-12th graders find a welcome place with peers in this space where we blend fun, hangout and games, with some reflection and check-in time and activities or service projects that deepen their UU values. The goal is to have the youth take the lead in planning and implementing their program.
Special programming occurs on a regular basis–including some beloved traditions like the March Mystery Madness, where adults and kids are paired as mystery buddies for several Sundays, exchanging notes and clues–culminating with a Big Reveal celebration. We value other multigenerational activities too–including 5 or 6 multigenerational Sunday worship services during the year, where worship is a bit more participatory and engaging and we design the entire service and the program with all ages in mind.
To stay in the loop regarding all these happenings, sign up for the UCM weekly e-news. You can also email our staff 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.
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 staff and let us 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 if you’d like more information and/or if 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.