• Children and Youth Online Registration for 2022-2023. 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 know this pandemic time has been hard on many families.  We want to support you!  Our LSE programming will continue to be one of innovation as we try to safely stay connected during this time of social distancing. We learned a lot from last year.  Families loved the outdoor service projects and times together in nature.  Youth group wants in-person gatherings, even as the weather gets colder.  We are currently planning a variety of outdoor, socially distanced in-person programming for the fall, along with online offerings. We’ll reflect and revise as the year goes. This year our goals are to hold our UCM community together, to continue to widen our circle of concern and awareness, and deepen our service in the community.

If you are new and would like to set up a meeting with me I’d be thrilled to talk with you and find out more about your interests. We can talk either by phone, Zoom, or outside with masks on. Please email me here and I’m happy to arrange a time to give you a tour and talk through any questions you might have.

Check out our LSE blog to see pictures and summaries of many of our recent 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.


Children/Youth Spiritual Exploration Programming 


Pre-worship Children’s Chapel on Zoom
Multiage spiritual exploration time will happen 9:15-9:45am twice monthly. Led by Liza and a variety of guest families or guest congregants, along the lines of Mr. Rogers… we’ll use story, games, songs, mindfulness activities to explore our UU values and each month’s theme more deeply.


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.  We are excited to have returning youth advisors to support this mission! Elizabeth Peebles (former Coming of Age guide and lifelong UU) and Pat Meehan (also a new dad and 4th/5th OWL instructor) are both looking forward to another year with these awesome youth. For the fall, the youth are interested in welcoming the new 9th graders, trying out one in-person, outdoor, socially distanced gathering a month and one online gathering a month.  Community service projects are popular with this group, so expect that to be in the mix too!

We want children or youth of any age to feel encouraged and welcome to participate in Sunday morning worship as their spiritual exploration. We try to put elements with kids/youth participation in mind in the first 15-20 mins. of worship. Though online worship is not for everyone, sometimes with our separated, busy weeks, sitting together as a family unit in worship is what each person in the family is craving. Lighting your own candle or chalice helps make it engaging, and standing or dancing during the music.  Also, feel free to have a special set of activities or fidgets that are just for that time.  


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.  We hope to offer a modified and abbreviated outdoor-based Coming of Age possibly in the spring of 2022 for 9th and 10th graders.

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 (emails during COVID-19) 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 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.

With appreciation,

Rowan Van Ness, Acting Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration

ucm.dre (at) gmail.com | 223.7861 ext. 2   


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.

Multigens – a FAQ for Parents.  

  • 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 Acting Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration (LSE), Rowan Van Ness, 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!


Child Dedication

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 Rowan Van Ness 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.

March Mystery Madness

Adult Spiritual Exploration information here.