Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

No Religious Education classes for preschool through 6th grades will be offered this Sunday, Nov. 30.  After our usual Time for All Ages at 11:00 am in the sanctuary, supervised childcare will be offered in the downstairs classrooms.  We'll have board games, books and art supplies available.  

Our youth group will meet as usual and the nursery will be open and staffed to care for infants and toddlers.

Happy Thanksgiving wishes to one and all!  

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fire Drill on Sunday, Nov. 16

In order to better prepare teachers and kids for what to do in case of emergency, we will hold a fire drill midway through class on Sunday for each of the RE classes (except the nursery).  

Teachers will wait for my signal, at which point classes will line up and exit through the nearest (front) door. Teachers and assistants (and advisors, in the case of the youth group) will lead the children and youth out of the church, and down the block to the corner of Franklin and Cathedral streets, in front of the Mount Vernon Hotel. In the case of an actual emergency, this corner is the meeting point for parents to reunite with their children, including infants and toddlers. During Sunday's drill parents will not be meeting us. Rather, once all the kids are accounted for, we will return to church to continue classes.

Unless you'll be teaching on Sunday, you needn't participate in the fire drill, but I wanted to keep families in the loop about our plans.  If appropriate, you may wish to use this opportunity to talk with your family at home about emergency preparedness.  

There are many excellent resources online:

• In addition to Liberty Mutual's interactive website on fire safety here, you can also find downloadable instructions for creating your family's own fire escape plan, a Fire Fighter coloring book and more.

• In an emergency, it may be helpful to have clear and up to date medical information for your entire family. Download a family medical information form here.

• See the American Red Cross website for what to include in an evacuation plan and how to prepare an emergency kit.

If you know of other resources that families might find useful, please let us know by leaving a comment!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Saying Grace

by Rebecca Wald

It's 6:15pm on a weeknight. I'm rushing around cooking dinner. My husband Michael is simultaneously running herd on our 3.5-year-old daughter Alex, setting the table, and trying to steal a peek at the news. Alex is underfoot and demanding attention after a long day at nursery school. Michael and I are both tired from long days at work. The pre-dinner hour is not the best time of day for our family — I suspect that the same is true for many of you.

At 6:30, we sit down and reach out to each other. The three of us hold hands and begin to sing:

For each new morning with its light

For rest and shelter of the night

For health and food, for love and friends

For everything that Goodness sends

Thank You!

As we sing, we look into each others' eyes and smile. At the end of our grace, Alex says "Thank you, my family!" Michael and I comment on how glad we are to all be together. The chaos and hurry of the pre-dinner hour has been transformed, at least for the moment, into loving and peaceful connectedness.

We've been saying grace for about a year and a half. We began after attending SUUSI, the Southeast Unitarian-Universalist Summer Institute, in 2007. I realized that I really enjoyed the religious practice incorporated into daily life at SUUSI. But my previous attempts at home religious practice, such as meditation, had always been unsuccessful. I'm too busy, too scattered, and too tired to set aside time each day when nothing else is on my mind.

So we decided to try something simple as a family: singing grace. We alternate the grace above with one Alex brought home from nursery school:

Oh, the Earth is good to me

And so I thank the Earth

For giving me the things I need

The sun and the rain and the apple seed

The Earth is good to me.

Some benefits we have found to our daily grace:

• The physical act of singing forces us to slow down and take deep breaths. This helps bring us all to the table in a calmer mood.

• Grace helps us be mindful that dinner is a special time for our family to be together. It reminds us to be present and aware with each other as we connect after our day apart. 

• Grace reminds us that we are a religious family seven days a week, not just at church. It has prompted us to pay closer attention to Alex’s faith development and the religious values we model for her at home.

• Saying grace has encouraged us to “come out of the closet” as a religious family. We say grace when we have guests in our home, even if those guests are not religious or practice a different religion. Sharing our family moment of spiritual connectedness with guests spreads the light of Unitarian-Universalism in the world.

If your family doesn’t do any spiritual practice together at home, you might like to experiment with the simple act of saying grace. Try it for a week or a month, and see how it feels. I hope you’ll find it as rewarding as we do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

First Unitarian Church will be holding two workshops this weekend to help the congregation begin to formulate a comprehensive Safety Policy.  As parents in the Religious Education Program, your input is especially important as we work to create a document that will guide our congregation in maintaining a safe and secure community for people of all ages.  

Part one of this workshop will be held Friday, Nov. 7, from 7 pm to 9 pm.
Part two will be held Saturday, Nov. 8, from 10 am to 1 pm.

Childcare will be available for both sessions.  Paid staff will provide care for infants and toddlers for both sessions.  Friday night we will have a movie night for older children.  PJs and sleeping bags are welcome! Popcorn will be served.  Saturday we will be enlisting the help of volunteers to take one hour shifts to lead fun activities for the kids.  One such activity, from 11 am to noon, will be a Board Game party, led by Whitney Novak.  We will serve a light lunch for the kids at noon.  

If you are willing to help other families attend by leading an activity for the kids from 10 am to 11 am, please email Becky at your earliest convenience.  

Don't forget to RSVP!  Please let me know if you'll be attending and for which session(s) you'll be joining us. Click here to send me an email.  

I look forward to your input!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Can You Bring a Can?

Of course you can!

Our Explorers class will be conducting a canned food drive in the coming weeks.  Members of the Explorers class will be publicizing their efforts soon; look for posters and announcements about how you can help lend a hand!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Party Survey

Thanks to everyone who attended the Halloween Carnival Thursday night!  Look forward to a post with photos soon.  While the event is still fresh in your mind, please take a moment to complete a brief survey about the party to help us make plans for next year.  Your feedback is much appreciated!  Click here to access the survey.