Our children’s religious education program encourages children to think for themselves and to have respect for the values and beliefs of the larger community. It promotes basic values of love and respect for ALL people and teaches the responsibility to make the world a better place. The life of the child is emphasized, along with his or her experiences, beliefs, fears, and family relationships through discussion, historical perspectives, drama, and other creative experiences. We work hard to make our religious education program relevant to the times in which we live.
The curricula, produced by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), draw heavily from the world’s great religions and the Unitarian Universalist Principles. The curriculum this year emphasizes UU principles and people of long ago and today whose lives are guided by these principles
Story for All Ages with Emmalinda MacLean
What We Offer Through the Lifespan
We provide children, youth, young adults, and adults an opportunity to explore, reflect, and learn in a nurturing spiritual community. Unitarian Universalist religious education programs offer all ages, inspiring:
- Ethical growth – internalizing enduring values like justice, equity, and compassion, and gaining tools to act on them in everyday life.
- Social growth – connecting with peers and people of all ages on a deeper level; finding acceptance among people who see beyond the superficial.
- Spiritual growth – feeling a connection with the sacred within, among, and beyond us.
Emerson’s Religious Education program has 40 children and youth enrolled this year, infants through teens, in five different classroom groupings: nursery, preschool, elementary, junior high, and high school. Approximately 30 volunteers are involved in some aspect of the program every year; many are not currently parents of a child at church but view RE as a vital ministry of the entire congregation.
Last year, Emerson’s children and youth raised $600 for the UUSC/UUA Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund through a ceramic-crafts auction coupled with a “Stone Soup” lunch after service.
Other RE projects from recent years have included a towel/blanket/toy drive for our local animal shelter culminating in a visit to the shelter; a fundraiser-and-donation drive to fill backpacks with new school supplies for children at a domestic violence shelter; and preparing sack lunches for children visiting incarcerated parents in collaboration with the “Get On The Bus” program by the Center for Restorative Justice.
Emerson families also hold one to two smaller fundraisers a year to maintain our Youth Empowerment Scholarship Fund, which allows all our children and youth to have access to UU camps, conferences, and other faith-deepening experiences, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.
Coming of Age
We teamed up with the Studio City church the last time we offered Coming of Age in 2013. Emerson youth met twice monthly from January to June, and we planned four special events with the UUCSC Coming of Age group. Our sessions were built around the “Coming of Age Handbook for Congregations,” and youth also took on independent projects either selected from a list or created based on their own interests.
The four special events we offered to youth of both congregations were a circus-arts workshop with training in tumbling, trapeze, and aerial skills; a visit to a homeless shelter where we delivered meals; a sing-along and story-sharing visit at a nursing home; and a camping trip that included six hours of solitude in nature. The six Emerson participants finally created a youth-led worship in which they presented their credo statements and received the blessings of the congregation. Prior to this, Coming of Age was offered in 2011, organized and led by volunteers, with a smaller scope. Our goal is to offer a program in 217 similar to the 2013 class.
Our Whole Lives
Emerson typically offers OWL in collaboration with our neighboring UU church in Studio City so that our congregations can cross-promote and share resources and trained facilitators. Here are the classes we’ve presented in recent years:
- Fall 2015: 10-12 grade OWL, at UUCSC
- Spring 2015: Adult OWL, at Emerson
- Spring 2014: 10-12 grade OWL, at Emerson
- Spring 2013: 4-6 grade OWL, at Emerson
- Fall 2013: 7-9 grade OWL, at UUCSC
- Spring 2011: 4-6 grade OWL, at Emerson (with Sepulveda UU Society)
- Fall 2011: 7-9 grade OWL, at Emerson/UUCSC
A few times a year, children and youth join adults for the full hour of worship for a less traditional, more participatory service. These have often been held, though not consistently, on Dia De Los Muertos, the winter holiday pageant, Earth Day, and a youth-led service.