Children's program

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Director of RE 
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Children's RE News!

 

March, 2014

Dear UUCE,

The month of March brings with it the crocus and the daffodils - it's one of my favorite times of year as the sun begins to peak out more regularly, and the flowers begin to rejoice with us in the returning warmth and light. While it can be hard to choose, I have to say the crocus are my favorite springtime flower. Their bright colors and almost mushroom-like quality of pushing through the dark wet soil, overnight, toward the light makes them seem so hearty and steadfast to me. But I know that as soon as they are picked, their strength drains away. They have to remain connected and rooted to maintain their essence. Perhaps there is a metaphor in that - people are much the same way, after all. We are products of our place in this world, and our connections to our own roots - our friendships, families, churches, values, interests - keep us sustained and whole, as well. So, I try to stay tuned to their coming - not only are they a good reminder to me about my place in this interconnected web, they are such a bright and cheerful joy to see!

As the weather shifts and the flowers begin to reappear outside the church, inside the church we are working hard to prepare the ground for new things to grow. 

I very much want to create an RE Program that is easy for volunteer teachers to participate in, and exciting and enriching for everyone involved. I stated in a recent blog post that “I want our classroom volunteer rotation to be more "doable" for people, and to see that volunteer opportunity be one that is sought after by people of all ages and stations in our church because the reward of working in the program with our kids is so great that people are clamoring for their turn to take part.” (You can see more of the blog here: http://uueugene.org/re-news-blog). We have a few ideas about how to create such a program, and I will share them with you in the months to come. One of the highlights is a shorter length of commitment for those who sign on to be teachers in the program (teaching for a 10-week trimester rather than a mandatory church-year-long commitment). I don't have more details to share with you now - the idea is not quite ready to be "picked." But these first new flowers of vision and planning for the future of Lifespan RE are inspiring - a bright and cheerful joy that I wanted to share with you. 

This month, there are a few events that I would like to call your attention to. Firstly, March 9th will be the youth-led service. The high school youth have created a program that celebrates the interconnected web of life of which we are all a part, and I encourage each of you to come and enjoy their offering on that Sunday morning. Later in the month, the local schools will go on Spring Break. At UUCE, this means a one-room-school-house model for our children and youth during Sunday service - the 23rd and 30th, all children over the age of five will join me and a small team of teachers for lessons and activities designed to engage children of all ages. We'll go back to our regular programming the first Sunday in April. Because of Spring Break, there will be no Soup Sunday in the month of March. And lastly, a celebration I would like to share: February's Soup Sunday event brought in over $200, which was donated to Food for Lane County  - thank you for your generosity!

In gratitude,

Katy

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes! -2.13.14

The title of today's blog should be read to the musical soundtrack of "Changes" by David Bowie...

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Don't want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time

And reading those lyrics has me aching to get up out of my seat to dance to the beat! This is a song that I sing along to with wild abandon! I love to sing it loud and sing it proud, baby. But, I have to admit, my response to actual changes in my life is a little less 'wild abandon', and much more ‘crumple and cry.' As much as I want to be a lover of spontaneity, I am really - and deeply - a creature of habit. I joke with my family that I really like variety, but of the predictable, planned variety. Real change is just plain hard. Especially those changes that you have very little or no control over. And even more especially the kind of changes that you signed up for thinking it would be a good thing, only to find out that it's painful anyway!

Like Bowie says, time may change us. In fact, it's guaranteed to. Nothing stays the same – what is static is stagnant, and even stagnant water is undergoing changes (just not very pleasant ones). James Freeman Clarke, a Unitarian minister who was influential in the fields of comparative religion, education reform, women’s suffrage, and antislavery, wrote in 1877 "We are either progressing or retrograding all the while; there is no such thing as remaining stationary in this life."  The progression of change means that it is not the same as it was. We are not the same as we were (now que "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads...) 

As a kid, I dealt with change by using one of two methods, or, more accurately, first one method and then the other. Firstly, I would ignore the approaching change. I acted as if it did not affect me in the slightest, and this was a good strategy for the most part, because up until the change, I would be on an even keel and totally unruffled. Then, the change would arrive, and it would hit me like a mack truck! I would be totally unprepared. So I would go silently inward. I would retreat into books and my cat, Daphne, and would not come out of my self-imposed cocoon. I disconnected from my friendships and people in general, so that they couldn’t bring more change to me. And then I would get depressed. That last part wasn’t really a method, but a by-product of the methods I put in place before… and as a result, I learned relatively quickly that my methods did not work! Now, as an adult, I don’t follow these strategies any more. To the best of my abilities, I acknowledge changes when I see them coming, and I acknowledge the disruption and agitation they are bringing to my world. I try to see the positive in change, but sometimes that’s a stretch, so I count the things I’m grateful for in the moment and I open my eyes wide to look for any way I can be grateful for the coming change. I reach out to the people around me to make sure I have folks to turn to when I’m really feeling upset or bewildered. I move into the change so that it is not something happening to me, but something I am taking part in. I allow it to transform me, but in the ways I want it to, not arbitrarily or as a victim of the change. I adapt.

We at UUCE are being called to adapt. We have ushered in change, and the change is beautiful: new families every Sunday, new visitors in the sanctuary at each service, new groups coming to use our beautiful space because we now have enough room to provide them with what they need. It is not the same as it ever was.

 

Here is an example of how these structural changes at UUCE have impacted on me: my job description has changed. Twice. When I was hired here 2 and a half years ago, my job entailed working with children and youth. I was tasked with recruiting volunteers for Sunday morning teaching, finding and writing UU curriculum for our classrooms, reporting to the board on a regular basis via written report what was happening in what was known as “Children’s RE,” writing a newsletter article each month, and maintaining extra children and youth programming such as OWL, Coming of Age, and trips to Youth Con, as well as the occasional holiday pageant or holiday celebration and multigenerational service.

 

Since my hire in 2011-12, my job description has expanded to include not only children and youth programming, but Adult RE programming as well. So, not only do I now do the things listed above, but I also work with Adult RE liaisons to bring you a variety of programs such as Building Your Own Theology, Transfiguring Congregations – A Transgender Curriculum from Interweave Continental, and the UnTalked-About Series which aims to shine a light on those issues rarely discussed in polite company – suicide, mental illness, caring for aging parents, dealing with dementia, and other topics that don’t get talked about on a large scale. The next UnTalked-About lecture is coming in March, FYI. (As a side note, if you are an expert in a topic that you think would fit well with this series, please come talk with me or send me an email – we’d love to consider including your area of expertise in our series.)

What this change in my job description means, along with the overall change from UUCE being a pastoral to a program church, is that my job has gotten both bigger, and smaller. I am responsible, as a part of my new job description, for the content and the quality of all of the Lifespan Religious Education programs that are offered here. I am responsible for tying the content to both the mission of the church and to the weekly topic being discussed from the pulpit. I spend a lot of time in meetings and lot of time behind my desk at my computer. That is the part that got bigger. The amount of time I get to spend creating craft projects with kids is, unfortunately, the part that got smaller. It is challenging and rewarding to look ahead at what might be and to begin visioning that future for us. I have incredible people at my side as we move into this change – committee members and liaisons, a fantastic and collaborative minister, and an excellent staff. And even given all of that, sometimes my confidence falters. I am being asked to make changes, and adapt to changes – what if I can’t? This is when the habit of mind that I’ve cultivated – one of looking for the things I am grateful for – comes in handy. It’s hard to stay in the nervous ego place when I am washed in all the blessings this church has given me.

So, I suppose what I’m saying is, for many of us (I will remain un-named!), changes can be uncomfortable. We have to grow ourselves outside of our comfortable boundaries in order to adapt to what is yet to come. We have to get well acquainted with things being imperfect. We have to manage our anxiety around not knowing what to do. Our egos have to let go of the notion that we have this under control, and in fact, we have to let go of our egos entirely in order to be open to the beauty and the light of the changes yet to come. We have to trust our ability to adapt to the current structure, and any future structures that may come, and we have to trust our capacity for joy, even in times when the crumple and cry reflex, or the fight or flight reflex, or the hold on for dear life and whatever you do don’t let go reflex, is strong in us.

Go well and safely, love is ever with you,

Katy

 

It's a climb - 1.30.14

Hi there. I'm preparing for the RE Town Hall meeting scheduled for this coming Sunday (February 2), and I'm looking through materials from last year's town hall.

As I do this process, I realize that so much has shifted since last year's event! So many ideas that came out of the town hall last year are now a regular part of our programming: opportunities for one-time volunteer involvement at the RE Fairies table, Tweets on the RE Volunteer Tree, a parent support group for parents of toddlers, more social justice involvement both in our classrooms and in our financial donations to various groups generated from Soup Sunday. We are doing excellent work. And we are constantly changing, learning, and growing.

And yet there is still so much to do - we have so much farther to go! I want to see our programs beautifully aligned with the spiritual needs of our children met at every developmental age, with a burgeoning young adult group for our bridging teenagers to join, and with a depth and clarity of purpose that aligns with what is happening in the pulpit every Sunday morning, so that parents and their children can have conversations about what we're all learning, together.

I want doors on our chapel so that a children's chapel can happen on a regular basis, where our children are gathering all together in worship and a spirit of community, fun, and singing. I want our classroom volunteer rotation to be more "doable" for people, and to see that volunteer opportunity be one that is sought after by people of all ages and stations in our church because the reward of working in the program with our kids is so great that people are clamoring for their turn to take part. I want a Soup Sunday tradition that people are inspired by, that raises money which is significant for the groups we donate to. I want all of this, and more, and each year I see us moving toward bringing to life this wildest dream scenario! We are doing it! We are making it happen! And, it's a bit of a climb.

How grateful I am to have such stalwart climbing companions as all of you. I hope to see you at the Town Hall, and if not there, in the halls of UUCE on any given Sunday, as we make this journey together.

Katy

 

 

Where do you find inspiration? - 1.5.14

Dear UUCE, 

I am sitting at my kitchen table, looking out the back door windows on my foggy morning rose bushes, brown and bunched and closed tight for the winter. A small bird keeps flying to the birdhouse hanging near my porch - checking it out as a potential nesting site, I imagine, though I know very little of the life of birds. But I do feel inspired by this small guy's insistence. He (or she, I really don't know which!) keeps prodding grass stems in to the hole, pulling them out again, sliding his small body into the house and then peeping back out again, trying to decide if this really is the right fit for him and his future family. I love to see him so focused on the job at hand. It is a good reminder to me that I can put that same focus to use in my own endeavors, if I so choose.

It's easy to allow myself to be distracted. After all, I have social media and the regular media and the cable media and the billboard media all vying for my attention (and the messages they send are appealing - high drama, low content. We don't have to think much to be entertained by it - it's like hershey's chocolate for our brains: not at all complex in flavor, but it gives us a rush nevertheless). I have household chores to do, which also loom large and larger the longer I let them sit. I have creativity to tap in to - and lots of it - and on this particular morning, it's hard not to think that I am wasting time by watching this small bird make household decisions. But the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I am using my time wisely in this moment.

After all, slowing down and turning off the overwhelming inputs has allowed me the opportunity to become inspired to write these thoughts for you. 

I still have much to do. The slowing down hasn't made those piles go away, nor has the To Do list grown any shorter. But it has helped me to become aware of how overloaded on empty calories my brain can become. Best to take my inspiration from my neighbor, the bird, and focus my attention clearly and concisely on whatever comes next. This is not only survival, it is plain good living, as my friend outside can attest. He's currently fluffing his feathers in contentment on my porch railing. His work here is done.

Bright blessings,

Katy

January, 2014

Happy New Year, UUCE! It's been a heck of a month, but things are returning to normal around here (whatever THAT means for a bunch of Unitarian Universalists!), and RE is back underway. We are finishing up our section on general human rights, and are beginning to look at issues of homelessness in our classes. Age appropriate explorations of the issues of homelessness will be going on in all classrooms on Sunday mornings for the next month or two - I urge families to talk together about what children are learning, and to look for weekly updates on the RE Families listserve for suggestions for conversation starters to consider trying with your kids - eliciting continuing conversations helps children to make connections, and allows families to discover their own teachings about the topics we explore in RE.
 
RE is in need of three teachers. Two of our K-1 (ages 5-7) teachers have had to step away from their teaching roles (one is moving out of the area, and another just had a baby!), and one of our 4-5 (ages 9-11) teachers is committed to his hospice work and is unable to continue teaching for us due to time constraints.  
 
I urge you to consider volunteering with the program. The need is great and the personal reward is incredibly fulfilling. Our teachers develop friendships with our children and with one another while doing a deep service for our community - what more could you ask for in a volunteer position? The commitment is twice a month, and the materials are all provided. 
 
I hope your new year is starting out full of joy.
 
Bright blessings,
 
Katy

 

December, 2013

Meet the Teachers!

Each month, you can look here to meet our wonderful RE teachers and learn a little something about each of them. We will present one teacher from each team for the first four months of the church year. Enjoy!

K-1: Justine Enes has worked as a high school teacher, and her son, Emmett is in the K-1 classroom, so she is well-equipped to teach for RE this year. This is her first time as an RE teacher, and we are thrilled to have her! Justine enjoys gardening, cooking, and music (and, I have it on good authority, roller skating!) She loves working with children because of their perspectives, enthusiasm and humor. She says, “they make me think, and they make me strive to be my best.” Justine has a passion for learning, and hopes to share that with the children in her classroom. Justine and her partner, Tina, have been together for 17 years, and along with their six year old son, the before-mentioned Emmett, they also live with two cats named Betty and Harold. As a family, they choose to eat vegan foods, and together each year they celebrate the seasons. We are so pleased to have Justine working in the K-1 classroom – Welcome!!

4-5: Richard Wright is recently retired from his city maintenance position with the City of Drain, and joined the 4-5th teaching team after some encouragement from the DRE, who thinks he is a wonderful influence on people, children included. Richard loves the unbridled enthusiasm, creativity, spontaneity and joy of life that children posses, and he hopes to support children in developing their self-confidence in this world. Richard has a deep love of all religions, though he himself leans toward the mystic/contemplative aspects of Christianity and Buddhism, and also has a strong interest in psychic phenomenon. He loves music, animals and nature, and people in all their various shapes and sizes, styles and attitudes – most of all, he believes in living life as a celebration. We are so very happy to have Richard in the classroom with our 4-5th children, and celebrate the time he is able to give teaching in RE. Welcome Richard!

Middle: Barbara Kellogg is a retired union organizer, and social justice is a strong interest of hers. She also enjoys gardening, hiking and exploring nature, and she remains active with various political groups. Barbara was born into the UU church in Detroit, Michigan, and reconnected with Unitarian Universalism more recently after her retirement. She hopes to both share her experience with our youth, and learn from their experiences growing up in this day and age. She says, “it’s a very different world.” She was drawn to working with youth because of their energy, their views of the world and their incredible resiliency. Barbara, we are thrilled to have you teaching in the middle school class room – thank you, and welcome!

High: Myles Knebel has been teaching in the middle school classroom for the last several years, and this year moved up to the high school group. We can already see it is a great fit! Myles works as a handyman, mechanic, and carpenter, and recently put those skills to work with UUCE – he worked for a full year on the building project lovingly known as the BUUB. Myles began his affiliation with the UU church when he was just three years old. Together, he and his wife home school their children, as well as enjoying kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, drawing, and music. Myles plays a mean guitar. He enjoys working with our youth because he feels they are our future, and he likes their endless energy. His spiritual motto might be condensed to “being present in the moment is the most important thing,” and Myles does a great job of doing just that when he is with our youth. Myles, thank you for serving RE and our youth again this year!

 

NEWSLETTER ARTICLE: 

Dear UUCE,

It’s hard to believe I am writing to you about December already. I am struck by how quickly the time goes by, and how many changes can be packed into a short amount of time. The first, and biggest, example from my own life is my recent engagement to Jason Kimball. And this is the part where I get to burst with happiness: Hip-hip-hooray!! It’s a very exciting thing to know that I get to marry such a dear, kind, funny, patient, intelligent, and thoughtful man, and I cannot wait!

Other changes that you may notice: Our RE Assistant, Jen Lin, has left her position here at the church in order to pursue full-time work. I have loved working with Jen Lin over the past two-plus years. Her humor, creativity, and spark is inspiring, and I wish her the very best in her new endeavors. Mistee St. Clair has been hired to step in to the RE Assistant role, and she is doing an excellent job of picking up where Jen Lin left off. I am excited to work with another person whom I admire and enjoy so well.

The Preschool Teacher, Rowan Bupp, is also leaving her position at the church in order to pursue her graduate degree in Speech Pathology, and to have more time with her family. Rowan has been an excellent addition to our staff here in the Religious Education program – she brought with her a thoughtfulness and a curiosity that allowed the children in her classroom to feel safe and to learn each Sunday from her example. I am in the process of finding a replacement Preschool Teacher. In the meantime, our preschool children are being well cared for by our excellent childcare staff.

Our K-1 classroom and our 4-5 classroom are both in need of a fourth volunteer teacher. Kate Meyer in K-1 will be having her baby any day now (it may have already happened by the time you read this!) I am looking forward to meeting the new addition to the Meyer family, but newborns and classroom teaching don’t easily mix, so if you have a hankering to work with a fantastic group of 6 year olds, here’s your chance! And the 4-5th team is also in need of a fourth teacher. This is an excellent group of kids who might engage you in a thought-provoking conversation one minute, and have you giggling the next. These 10-12 year olds are fun to hang out with, and they will probably teach you a thing or two, and the teaching team for this class is excellent. They would very much appreciate your support!

Our RE Committee is looking for new members. If you are a teacher or have a background in teaching and are interested in how RE works at the church, please consider joining the RE Committee. The commitment is once a month, and the support I receive from that group is invaluable.

More and more adult programming is being offered as the Adult RE program finds its wings here in our new location. It is exciting to see the ways that Children and Youth and Adult programming at the church might better intertwine in the years to come. If you have an idea about a program that you’d like to see here at UUCE, please don’t hesitate to fill out an Activity Proposal Sheet and place it in my inbox, just outside the main office doors. I am always looking for great new ideas!

Coming up in December:

Friday, December 20th: Winter Wonderland Party – all families welcome! Hosted by the Breakfast Cluub and Children’s RE, this party is designed for children and parents to come together and celebrate the holidays with good cheer! More information can be found in the article about the party.

The Pageant!

Pageant Rehearsal: Saturdays, December 7th, 14th, and 21st from 1:00 to 3:00 in the sanctuary. All children welcome. Sign up in the social hall.

Pageant Debut: Sunday morning, December 22nd, 10:00 a.m.

It’s December, and there’s a lot going on here at UUCE. It is good to be together!

Bright blessings,

Katy Siepert, Director of Lifespan Religious Education

 

November, 2013

Meet the Teachers!

Each month, you can look here to meet our wonderful RE teachers and learn a little something about each of them. We will present one teacher from each team for the first four months of the church year. Enjoy!

K-1: Melissa Robinson is currently a graduate student, working toward her MPA in Program and Non-Profit Management. In her free-time (I’m guessing she doesn’t have much as a grad student, mom, and RE volunteer…) Melissa enjoys song writing, hiking and camping, gardening and cooking, and ballet. She enjoys working with children for many reasons, but one that she mentions is “their amazing insights for things grown-ups don’t see.” Melissa grew up in the Corvallis UU congregation, and has been in the Eugene church for the past three years. She is a founding member of Oregon’s Operation Purple, and her favorite beaches on the planet are found in Kona, Hawaii, and Manzanita, Oregon. Melissa used to be in a band (ask her what genre of music!), and she believes that there is a spirit inherent in this world which connects us all to each other. Thank you, Melissa, for your wonderful service to the RE program!

2-3: Jason Kimball joins us in the 2-3rd classroom for his third year of teaching with the RE program. When he isn’t teaching in RE, Jason works as a veterinarian at a Eugene-area clinic. Jason loves hiking, camping and fishing in and around the Willamette Valley, as well as playing board games with friends and gardening in his veggie/fruit garden. Jason was raised by a single mom, and together they attended the Episcopalian Church while he was growing up. He found the UU church later in life and has been attending UU churches ever since – he feels UU is a good fit for him because of it’s inclusivity and focus on our connection to all things. Jason is the father of two boys, Asa and Eliot, who both attend classes at UUCE on Sunday mornings. He has travelled all over the world and has lived in places as varied as Georgia, Montana, and New York City. Thank you for your time and talents in our RE classrooms, Jason!

* On a side note, I am also happy to say that Jason and I have been in a loving, committed relationship for the last two years, and it is a joy and a privilege to be able to call him my partner 

4-5: Sherri McCutchen is an elementary school teacher by calling, as well as being a chef – she grew up in New Orleans and trained as a chef while living there. Sherri loves cooking, as well as reading, hiking, pets, and has an interest in history. She loves the joy and discovery of learning, “the whole messy process…” and enjoys children’s sense of humor. She hopes to encourage them in their strengths and support them in learning to use their challenges or mistakes as a way to help them grow into who they are meant to be. Sherri has two sons – one who is serving in Afghanistan, and one who is studying architecture at the U of O – and a daughter who she reconnected with in later life. Sherri was part of the Great Peace March for Global Disarmament in 1986, and this experience is one that she is excited to share with our children and youth in RE (yay!). We are so lucky to have Sherri on the RE teaching team – thank you so much, Sherri!

Middle: Bonnie Romane loves kid energy and playfulness, and she hopes to help every youth in her classroom to know that they are “loved in this community and in this world.” When not serving in our RE classrooms, Bonnie works as an Insurance Agent in Worker’s Compensation, and she also serves her community as a hospice volunteer with Cascade Hospice. Bonnie has been a member of UUCE since 2003, and believes in the Divine Mystery that we are all connected to – an Ultimate Source. She says that because of this connection, “we are called to love.” In her free time Bonnie loves to kayak and read books. Bonnie was born here in Eugene, Oregon, and we are so glad she chose to stay in Eugene and be a part of our UU community! Thank you, Bonnie, for your work in Children’s RE!

 

High: Ryan Doppelmayr has been working in the RE classrooms off and on for the last 12 years. When she is not teaching for RE, Ryan works as a tutor at the Sylvan Learning Center and as a substitute teacher in our local schools. Not only does Ryan teach for us here at UUCE and in the schools and learning center, but she is also the mother to 1 ½ year old son Griffin (who is as cute as he can be!) Ryan states that working with youth “forces [her] to stretch and grow, to become more flexible and spontaneous,” and she writes that one of her reasons for coming to UUCE is because it gives her a sacred space to explore, question, and learn. She loves to travel, read, dance, and go to the theater, and in 2004-06, Ryan served in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan. Her family is currently hosting an exchange student visiting the U of O from China. Ryan says she is a “reluctant runner” and hopes to complete a 10k this year, as well as hoping to some day go sky diving again! Ryan, thank you for serving RE and our youth again this year!

 

October, 2013

Meet the Teachers!

Each month, you can look here to meet our wonderful RE teachers and learn a little something about each of them. We will present one teacher from each team for the next four months. Enjoy!

K-1: Kate Meyer is a child and family therapist. This will be her second year working in the K-1 room with some of our youngest members. Kate enjoys being able to watch children grow socially and emotionally, and as the mother of a kindergartener herself, she will get to spend her Sunday mornings in the classroom with her daughter, Iva. Kate enjoys knitting, spending time with her family, and has a strong interest in nutrition. Welcome, Kate!

2-3: Chris LeBlanc will be serving the RE program for his third year this year. He has done lots of volunteering for other areas of the church, as well. While helping to build our building here on Chambers, Chris has had the opportunity to climb and crawl through all of the attic spaces in this building! He grew up in a Pentecostal church that had a female minister – something unheard of at that time. He later attended both Mormon and Baptist churches before coming to UUism. Before working at the U of O as a Registrar, Chris worked in television as both a director and an engineer. Welcome, Chris!

4-5: Amber Alexander is a holistic health coach, the Program Director at the YMCA, and a mom to her daughter, Emily. Amber has worked in the RE program in many different roles, but this year she will be teaching a new age group (at least, new in this context!) Amber has a deep love of nature and enjoys hiking, backpacking, and camping – in fact, just this summer, she backpacked 60 miles on the Pacific Coast Trail. Of that experience, she writes: “it changed my life.” Amber also loves dance and music – she uses these mediums to help her work through intense emotion, and she even creates soundtracks in her head to most of her life. She will be a great addition to the 4-5 teaching team. Welcome, Amber!

Middle: Ryan Brockey grew up in the UU church in Corvallis, OR. Ryan has a deep faith in humanity, and is inspired by our ability to do good in this world, as well as our unquenchable habit of exploration. Ryan enjoys barefoot distance running, and science and technology are two of his personal great loves. To that end, he has a degree in applied mathematics.  He currently works as a math and physics tutor, and hopes one day to work on a manned mission to Mars. We are so lucky to have Ryan this year in the middle school room. Welcome, Ryan!

High: JT Justman is starting his second year as a youth advisor at UUCE, and we are so happy to have him back. JT originally came from a Bahai family, and began attending UUCE about three years ago. In his life outside the church, JT works as a software engineer and farmer – he enjoys being in the outdoors and gardening.

 

NEWSLETTER ARTICLE: 

Dear UUCE Families,

The bustle of the new church year has begun, and I am so happy to see our classrooms once again full of children and youth on Sunday mornings! I wanted to share with you a few “nuts and bolts” types of information, to get you oriented to what’s happening this year:

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT CHILD/YOUTH REGISTRATION:

  • If your child was registered with the program last year, please register your child to the RE Program for the 2013-14 church year by bringing in or sending in a check for snack/program supplies. The snack fee is sliding scale: $10-$20, and is paid only once a year.
  • Please make checks out to UUCE, with “RE Snack Fee – 2013-14” in the memo line.
  • If you were registered last year, but your family information has changed, please notify us of the changes in writing by updating that information only on a new Registration Form, or via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

OTHER IMPORTANT CHANGES TO BE AWARE OF:

  • This year, we will be sending Take It Home info prior to RE classes out to the families listserv. This email will include information about what your child will be learning that Sunday, and some suggestions for questions or discussion topics for you to bring up with your child if you are so inclined. If you are not registered for the listserv and would like to be, please contact the DRE at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , and your name will be added to the list.
  • We have a pamphlet rack and bulletin board dedicated to information about RE programming. These resources are located just outside the kitchen door, in the North entrance hallway. Please check the pamphlet rack for information about Religious Education in general, including Registration Forms, and check the bulletin board for upcoming events.
  • If you would like to propose an activity for the RE program to sponsor, you will find an Activity Proposal Sheet in the pamphlet rack. This can be filled out and turned in to the DRE inbox, located to the right of the main office door.
  • The cooler fall weather will bring back the well received Soup Sundays, beginning October 27th.  This is a fundraiser hosted by the Religious Education classes that occurs the last Sunday of the month, from October to May (excepting December and March for Christmas and Spring Break).  Each RE class will take turns hosting by bringing in delicious soups, comforting bread, and sweet treats. After service and coffee, at 11:45am, congregants are invited to purchase unlimited soup for $3-$5 dollars, and then sit down to enjoy it and each other.  Coupons are available for visitors who would like to join but don't have the funds.  We ask that parents support this fundraising effort by taking part and donating a soup, bread, or treat to share during your child’s classroom’s month. A schedule will be posted on the website, and classrooms will be notified during the month leading up to their Soup Sunday. NEW THIS YEAR: Various Soup Sundays will be dedicated to raising funds for human rights and social justice work in our community. So mark your calendars and come hungry!

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:

  • We are looking for three additional RE teachers for the elementary classrooms. I ask that if you feel pulled to answer this call for service, please contact me soon. I am planning a “catch-up” teacher training for Friday, September 27th from 6:00 to 8:00, for those who are joining our teacher teams a little late in the game.
  • This year, we will have an “RE Fairies” table set up in the Chapel or Social Hall with RE prep projects set up for volunteers to work on for as long as they like. The hope is to get many hands making lighter work for your DRE and RE Assistant. The projects will be simple tasks which can be accomplished without a lot of explanation (stuffing envelopes, cutting out paper shapes, etc.) This is intended to be a fun opportunity to dust off your wings and pitch in a little fairy dust (and elbow grease) to help keep the RE program running smoothly.

On a personal note, last month I had the opportunity to enjoy a new first in my life. For the first time ever, I stood up in front of a large group of people and told a story, mostly from memory! I had no idea that I had this ability, but I have to admit that it was quite a rush of excitement preparing for that Sunday morning, and quite a wave of relief when I made it through without completely blanking on what came next in the tale! So, this month, here is to new firsts in our lives – whether new homes or new home towns, new relationships such as new members of our families or friendship circles, trying new recipes or just trying new things – let’s enjoy all those firsts in our lives, and celebrate them for the gift they are!

Thank you,

Katy

 

September, 2013

Dear UUCE Families,

            Here it is – September! I cannot believe how quickly the summer has gone by. School will be back in session soon, and September 15th marks the official start date of our 2013-14 Religious Education program. This year, we will be focusing on social justice – what it looks like, how to get involved, and at several different points in the year, there will be opportunities for your child to take part – hands on projects that will allow your child or youth to help someone in our community.

            A few things to start our year off on the right foot:

·       If you haven’t already done so, please be sure to register your child in the RE program. There are registration forms in the blue pamphlet rack by the kitchen door. By registering your child, you help us get a clear picture of who is attending class and how many children we serve here at UUCE. Also, if your child has dietary restrictions, registering them is the very best way to ensure that our classroom teachers are aware and can accommodate those needs.

·       K-1 and 2-3 still needs classroom volunteers. If you enjoy children, and want to help create a just and equitable classroom environment for our youngest members, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The commitment is twice monthly on Sundays.

·       There is a teacher training on Saturday, September 7th.

o      Elementary teachers: 9:00 to 12:00

o      Middle and High School teachers: 1:00 to 4:00

Curriculum materials will be handed out at that time.

·       If you have a curriculum notebook from years past, it is not too late to turn them back in to me (no questions asked  J).

·       September 1st is our Labor of Love Sunday. Childcare is available from 9:00 to 12:30. We are also sure to provide tasks that children can accomplish, such as sorting markers, sharpening pencils, and helping to sort toys. If you have an elementary age child, please, bring them with you!

Also, as you come back to the church, please take some time to check out the

great new colors in each of our classrooms. Each color represents one of our Seven Principles:

1.     Respect All People (Red)

2.     Offer kind and fair treatment to all (Orange)

3.     Yearn to Accept and Learn About Ourselves and Others (Yellow)

4.     Grow by Exploring What is True and Right (Green Promise)

5.     Believe in our Ideas and Act on Them (Blue)

6.     Insist on Freedom, Justice, and Peace for all People (Indigo)

7.     Value our home, Earth, that we share with all living beings (Violet)

Bright blessings,

 

Katy Siepert, DRE

 

August, 2013

Dear UUCE,

It's that time of year again - the summer heat has me thinking the world should be moving more slowly, but the demands of September are fast approaching. If you are considering volunteering in RE, now is the time to contact me and let me know of your interest. I am putting together some excellent teams for the fall, and we can always use more support! This year's focus is on Social Justice. With the latest re-imagining of what social justice can look like here at UUCE, we are following the five-topics that SJUUCE has proposed:

·   Human Rights

·   Housing and Homelessness

·   Hunger and Food Security

·   Environmental Justice

·   Health

Much of our curriculum this year will be based upon current world issues, and we hope to give kids hands on projects to make an impact in these five areas. Please let me know if you have the time and energy to put toward helping our kids make the world a better place.

In addition, this year, we will be rolling out various OWL curricula. If you are interested in getting training to be an OWL facilitator, please let me know as soon as possible.

As for summer activities, the WHOzoo is well under way. So far, we have been visited by Hermione, the dog, from the Greenhill Humane Society, goats and chickens from a local farm, and Frannie the Frog from Nearby Nature. Coming up in August is a visit from the Raptor Center and a look at exotic animals and insects care of Zany Zoo Pets! Sunday mornings are dedicated to learning more about the interconnected web of life of which we are all a part, and it's been pretty darn fun, too.

September 1st will be our Labor of Love Sunday. On this day, there is no service scheduled, aside from the service of our hearts for this community. There are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved in helping to clean up and spruce up the RE rooms for the coming church year - and lots of great people to work alongside you. Please come in work clothes and get ready to use a little elbow grease on this day. Limited childcare is available for families with young children, and there are plenty of jobs for the older kids to help with, too.

 

Also, as you may know, there is a plan to paint an accent wall in each of our seven classrooms. Each room will be dedicated to one of our seven principles and will have an accent wall that represents that principle. Please contact me if you have some experience with painting and are able and willing to help with this project. More details are forthcoming - stay tuned! Along those same lines, we are hoping to get our playground structure installed before September, and need a team of people to help with that project, as well. Again, contact me if you are able to help - I will maintain lists for each of these activities and will announce dates and times as they are decided. 

Contact info:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you so much for all that you do,

Katy

 

July, 2013

Dear UUCE,

I just got back from a new “first” in my life: a vacation to visit family in North Carolina. I say family, and I want to clarify a bit what I mean by that. Until recently, my family was defined as a unit of two: myself and my son, Sage. The next layer was my mom, and the layer beyond that was grandparents, cousins, friendships (all of which are very rich, vibrant, and wonderful relationships in my life – I am blessed to have them all!) Now, my immediate family has grown to include the incredible rich blessing of my partner, Jason, and his two wonderful sons, along with his mother and her family and friends.

So, I was visiting family for the first time, and I fell in love. With North Carolina. With Jason’s mom, Jane, who is funny and active and who welcomed me in with open arms. With the hummingbirds that visited each morning, the motors in their chests moving to beat wings that sound exactly like tiny purposeful lawnmowers as they breakfast on the nectar supplied diligently to them each morning, or start bird fights with one another over this or that piece of territory, this or that mate. I fell in love with the sound of the waterfalls and the humming and blinking of the night insects. I fell in love with the easy way people greet you as they pass by in their vehicles - a little wiggle of the fingers on the steering wheel, and the way they call you “darlin’” everywhere you go. I fell in love more deeply with my own son who caught and released (and for a few less lucky ones, cleaned), fish of all sizes; slid down rocks in a waterfall for hours on end; and stoically helped to lug our various bags and belongings across the vastness that is the Atlanta Airport. I fell in love more deeply with Jason, Eliot, and Asa as we played in the lakes and streams of that place, catching salamanders by the dozens and splashing each other mercilessly; as we played on the Wii in an epic tournament where I was beaten by a six year old in both boxing and bowling several times in a row; as we made clay critter houses – new sculptures for our gardens that will house fairies (and barring that, snails and slugs, who also need shelter from time to time); as we sat quietly in a boat, rocking with the small waves that were kicked up by the wind on the surface of the lake, waiting for a fish to bite or a dragonfly to land or a bullfrog to croak.

I also fell more deeply in love with Unitarian Universalism during my time in North Carolina. The depth of feeling, passion, creativity and commitment that UUs access within themselves and help to bring about in others inspires me to love you all more deeply. The Unitarian Universalists of Transylvania County meet each Sunday at 9:30 and 11:00 in a small squat church built of stone and stained glass on the corner of Broad and Varsity Avenue. Their pastor, Ernie, has a mustache reminiscent of Mark Twain and together with the music director, the choirs, the trumpet player and two violinists, they put on a service that moved me to tears and laughter (sometimes at the same time). It was an exploration of the power of music, and the pieces they performed led us from sorrow, to hope, to joy. As Ernie said, not the shallow kinds of joy, but true and lasting joy, like the kind you experience when your beloved achieves a level of wholeness that you had not witnessed before.

Seeing Jason with his mom, in his home state, with his children, with my child, with me… it helped me to understand a bit more fully what family is. We are by no means perfect. We bring about sorrow for one another from time to time. We fall and we fail and we let each other down, mostly without meaning to. Also, we bring about hope – for what the future holds, for more family vacations to come, for more time together so that our love can grow. But mostly we bring about a deep joy. It is worth celebrating, I know this. And the way I know how to celebrate most fully is to share my joy, and my love, with you. I hope you will join me in accessing your own gratitude for what you have today. Rarely do we have what we expect, or even what we deserve, but what a deep joy it is just to look up, reach out, and truly celebrate all the gifts of this life.

I am so glad that I get to count you all as a part of my extended family. It’s good to be home, and it is infinitely good to be together.

WHOzoo?

Please join us this summer for the “WHOzoo?” program – a fun schedule of Sunday morning activities that focus on the interconnected web of life of which we are all a part. Each Sunday, children will learn about different animals, and on five Sundays this summer, they will get to interact with the animals themselves! Guest presenters include Cascades Raptor Center, Greenhill Humane Society, Nearby Nature, and Living Earth Farm, to name a few. Join us for some squawking, barking, chirping, rip-roaring good times.

RE Volunteer Tree

Have you noticed the Fichus tree standing at the crossroads between the kitchen entrance and the hallway leading past Rooms 1 and 2? Next time you are walking by, stop for a moment to take a peek at the “tweets” attached to our new Volunteer Tree! These tweets (in the shape of multi-colored birds) are perched on the tree, just waiting for a volunteer to pluck them from their branch and sign up to take part in one activity or another.

Anyone with an RE need is welcome to fill out a tweet – and if you need more than one volunteer, you can always use a “Capture two birds with one tweet” sheet… The more tweets in the tree, the merrier, but that’s only part of the picture! For those of you who would love to do something for RE, but just can’t commit to teaching, or who have a spare hour on Tuesday afternoons to drop by and take care of a project – if only you knew what was needed! – this is your way to find out. Read a tweet, find a volunteer job you can (and want to) do, fill out your info and drop it in the basket. But don’t forget to take your half home so you can contact the recruiter and get further details about what’s needed!

It’s our hope that this RE Volunteer Tree will help people connect with one another and with the larger church. So please, don’t be shy. Give it a try!

K-1 OWL Camp

OWL summer camp will be held from July 29th-August 2nd, from 9am-12pm.  Please come to the Parent Meeting on Friday, July 5th , if you are interested in enrolling your child in this year’s K-1 summer camp or if you just want to learn more about the program.

This half-day camp will include an hour of Our Whole Lives curriculum each day, and is designed to help your child think about and discuss age-appropriate topics of human health, growth, and sexuality in safe, healthy, and supportive environment. Topics include where does a baby come from, self-esteem, and friendship.  The sessions engage children with stories, songs and activities and include a weekly HomeLink - a homework project for parents and children to do together. Our main goal is to promote dialogue between parent and child – you are your child’s best resource! 

On Saturday, July 27th, there will be a Parent/Child Orientation, with Camp starting July 29th!

Enrollment fee: $100 – for a week of camp activities, art projects, curriculum, and fun! Snack and a light lunch will be served each day. Please inquire about scholarship availability if this fee presents a hardship for your family. No one will be turned away.

Review of Dates:

  • June 4, 6-7:30 p.m. – Mandatory Parent Meeting (Childcare provided)
  • July 5, 6-7:30 p.m.    Mandatory Parent Meeting (Childcare provided)
  • July 27, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – Mandatory Parent/Child Orientation (Sibling childcare provided)
  • July 29-August 2, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – OWL Summer Camp!

That’s all for now, but there is, indeed, always so much going on around here. So – keep an eye on the newsletters and the e-bulletins to see fun upcoming events for your children and youth, and get involved in what’s happening in RE!

Have a great summer, folks!

Bright blessings,

Katy

 

June, 2013

Dear UUCE,

There is always so much going on around here, and the month of June is no exception. Though RE slows down a bit starting June 16th, we will still be providing childcare for children up to age 10, and this summer’s line-up of activities is guaranteed to be entertaining, interesting, and fun!

WHOzoo?

Please join us this summer for the “WHOzoo?” program – a fun schedule of Sunday morning activities that focus on the interconnected web of life of which we are all a part. Each Sunday, children will learn about different animals, and on five Sundays this summer, they will get to interact with the animals themselves! Guest presenters include Cascades Raptor Center, Greenhill Humane Society, Nearby Nature, and Living Earth Farm, to name a few. Join us for some squawking, barking, chirping, rip-roaring good times.

RE Volunteer Tree

Have you noticed the Fichus tree standing at the crossroads between the kitchen entrance and the hallway leading past Rooms 1 and 2? Next time you are walking by, stop for a moment to take a peek at the “tweets” attached to our new Volunteer Tree! These tweets (in the shape of multi-colored birds) are perched on the tree, just waiting for a volunteer to pluck them from their branch and sign up to take part in one activity or another.

Anyone with an RE need is welcome to fill out a tweet – and if you need more than one volunteer, you can always use a “Capture two birds with one tweet” sheet… The more tweets in the tree, the merrier, but that’s only part of the picture! For those of you who would love to do something for RE, but just can’t commit to teaching, or who have a spare hour on Tuesday afternoons to drop by and take care of a project – if only you knew what was needed! – this is your way to find out. Read a tweet, find a volunteer job you can (and want to) do, fill out your info and drop it in the basket. But don’t forget to take your half home so you can contact the recruiter and get further details about what’s needed!

It’s our hope that this RE Volunteer Tree will help people connect with one another and with the larger church. So please, don’t be shy. Give it a try!

SUNNY SUNDAYS

Sign Up Now for Next Year: The children and youth RE program is currently recruiting teachers for next year’s teaching teams. There are six classes: K-1st, 2-3rd, 4-5th, 6-8th, and 9-12th. Our biggest need is in the middle school room, but there is a place for you at whatever age-level you would like to work with.

The commitment is twice a month in the classrooms, curriculum and trainings are provided, and lots of support from the RE Committee, the RE Assistant, and the DRE. Please contact Katy Siepert, DRE, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or sign up at our SUNNY Sunday table located just outside the chapel on Sunday, June 2nd.

K-1 OWL Camp

OWL summer camp will be held from July 29th-August 2nd, from 9am-12pm.  Please come to the Parent Meeting on Tuesday, June 4th , if you are interested in enrolling your child in this year’s K-1 summer camp and to learn more about the program.

This half-day camp will include an hour of Our Whole Lives curriculum each day, and is designed to help your child think about and discuss age-appropriate topics of human health, growth, and sexuality in safe, healthy, and supportive environment. Topics include where does a baby come from, self-esteem, and friendship.  The sessions engage children with stories, songs and activities and include a weekly HomeLink - a homework project for parents and children to do together. Our main goal is to promote dialogue between parent and child – you are your child’s best resource! 

On Saturday, July 27th, there will be a Parent/Child Orientation, with Camp starting July 29th!

Enrollment fee: $100 – for a week of camp activities, art projects, curriculum, and fun! Snack and a light lunch will be served each day.

Review of Dates:

  • June 4, 6-7:30 p.m. – Mandatory Parent Meeting (Childcare provided)
  • July 27, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – Mandatory Parent/Child Orientation (Sibling childcare provided)
  • July 29-August 2, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – OWL Summer Camp!

OWL Facilitators Wanted

Get trained to be a facilitator for Our Whole Lives and join the ranks of our illustrious OWLS (Our Whole Lives Staff)

OWL is a comprehensive human growth, relationship and sexuality curriculum. There is an OWL curriculum for each developmental stage in a person’s life: K-1, 4-6, Middle, High, Young Adult, Adult, and Senior Adult. The ideal OWL program would follow a person through all of these stages and help them to address their specific questions, fears, concerns, and interests in a safe UU environment.

Trainings for each age level are available at different times in the year. If you are interested in learning more, and think you might like to teach in the OWL program, please send your name and contact info, along with the age group you’d be interested in teaching, to Katy Siepert, DRE, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

I will contact you as needs arise and trainings become available.

That’s all for now, but there is, indeed, always so much going on around here. So – keep an eye on the newsletters and the e-bulletins to see fun upcoming events for your children and youth, and get involved in what’s happening in RE!

Have a great summer, folks.

Bright blessings,

Katy

 

May, 2013

Dear UUCE,

We recently got to enjoy our baby dedication. This was a first for me, and such a joy! I got to hold each child as their parent stated their name for the congregation, and then to gift each family with a rose at the end of the ceremony. I have to say, it’s hard to hand those babies back over – there is something quite alluring about an arm-full of baby. Whether they were laughing or crying during the ceremony, we love them the same – it is a wonderful gift and responsibility we take on when we covenant with those small children, and their families, to be their community for years to come. It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly, and also, one to be celebrated!

I had the extreme pleasure of hosting our 9th grade youth on their vision quest weekend not too long ago, and I wanted to say a few words about what I learned during that experience. Firstly, our youth are astonishing. They are varied, individual, funny, strong, vulnerable, and resilient. Secondly, our adult support people are also all of these wonderful things! Our weekend together created bonds that I am so thankful for, and friendships strengthened over the vision quest weekends are certain to give each of our lives continuing gifts as we move on from this year’s program. I want to thank each and every person who took part in the vision quest weekends (we ran two – one for 7-8th graders, one for 9th graders). Each weekend had its unique challenges (including a tree falling across the road, and two broken down cars!), and those challenges helped to show me just how much I love working with you all. Thank you.

In other news…

Coming up in RE:

** May 12 is Mother’s Day, and the Coming of Age service. Please come and enjoy our middle school and 9th grade youth’s credos, which they will present to the congregation on this very special day. Light reception fare will be served afterward.

** June 9is Senior Bridging Sunday. Please come and enjoy this heart-felt service as we join together to wish our senior youth happy journeys, wherever they may go!

** K-1 Families, mark your calendars – these are the dates for the up-coming OWL summer camp:

  • June 4, 6-7:30 p.m. – Mandatory Parent Meeting (Childcare provided)
  • July 27, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – Mandatory Parent/Child Orientation (Childcare provided for siblings)
  • July 29-August 2, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – OWL Summer Camp!

Please come to the Parent Meeting if you are at all interested in enrolling your child in this year’s K-1 summer camp or would like to learn more about the program.  Incoming and outgoing kindergarteners and first graders are invited.  This half-day camp will include art projects, camp activities and an hour of Our Whole Lives curriculum each day.  OWL is a curriculum designed to help your child think about and discuss age-appropriate topics of human health, growth, and sexuality in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment. Topics include: bodies, body parts and their functions; families and relationships; birth and babies; and celebrations of life.  All sessions embrace increasing a sense of self and self-esteem, awareness of their health and safety, and strengthening communication between families.

Following a Parent Meeting and Parent/Child Orientation, the sessions engage children with stories, songs and activities and include a weekly HomeLink - a homework project for parents and children to do together. Our main goal is to promote dialogue between parent and child – you are your child’s best resource!

Enrollment fee: $100 – for a week of camp activities, art projects, curriculum, their own personal journal, and fun! Snack and a lunch will be served each day.

 

April, 2013

RE: News for April

The buds on the trees are in full force now, and the daffodils have taken over where the crocus left of. The sun shines a bit longer each day, and even the rains have a slightly different quality now that it is spring – you can see the good work all that water is doing in bringing out the green here in our valley. Bike rides and long walks in the spring air have become a regular part of my life again, and I am so very thankful. These various signs of spring make my whole body glad to be alive! What do you and your family do to celebrate Spring time?

The Religious Education program for children and youth is moving along at a fine pace, even with my week-long absence at the beginning of March (as an aside, a vacation to Baja California Sur is recommended for everyone!) Thank you to every one on the RE Committee who helped to keep the programs running smoothly, and an especially big thank you to Jen Lin Hodgden for her excellent work in my absence.

In early April, we will see the Vision Quest Weekends for both the 7-8th and the 9th grade youth. These weekends represent the culmination of months of incredible hard work and planning on the part of the COAST (Coming of Age Support Team) – thank you Judy Shaw, Noelle Gabler, Jon Miller, Maren Peterson-DeGroff (our communication guru!), and many others who worked to bring these weekends about. Each weekend is staffed by a team of 7-9 adult volunteers who have agreed to go sleepless and comfort-lite while we bring a life-changing weekend to our twenty COA youth! Bravo everyone, and thank you!

Easter was a time of great joy and coming together – we saw baby springtime animals, and egg-decorating, craft-making, and egg-hunting in our newly fenced playground area! Soon, there will be play structures installed and children will have a place to play after service. We are all heaving a sigh of relief over that one. Please thank Jake Walsh, Emmett Band, JT Justman, Jason Kimball, Myles Knebels, and many others for their great help with bringing about the playground for UUCE.

Coming Up:

April 5-7th is Vision Quest for 7-8th graders, and Spring CON for 9-12th graders. I discussed the Vision Quest weekend earlier in this article. CON (Youth Conference) is a youth-led, youth-generated, youth-centered weekend for high school UUs, and it is a truly expansive experience for everyone who attends – both for youth and the adult sponsors who agree to help put on the weekend. Thank you Laura Lawver, Erik Troberg, and Digger Peterson-DeGroff for your help with this year’s Spring CON.

April 12-14th is Vision Quest for 9th graders.

April 25-28th is the regional LREDA (Liberal Religious Educator’s Association) meeting in San Jose, California. I will be there along with hundreds of my peers to learn about best-practices and to come back to you with great ideas for what’s next in RE.

May 12th is the Coming of Age Service – please come and hear our youth talk about their beliefs and witness their credos. This is the culminating event of the year-long Coming of Age program, and is sure to be both entertaining and moving.

Please remember, if you have suggestions for programming in RE, or for ways to make things run more smoothly in the already existing programs, there is now a process for you to communicate that information to me. I love your suggestions, and want to hear from you! Please fill out an RE Activities Proposal sheet, and be sure to include your name and contact information. We want to bring you a thriving program, and your energy and ideas help to make that happen! Thank you!

Have a great Spring,
Katy Siepert

 

March, 2013

On Sunday, February 10th, the RE program held the first Growing Our Hearts: What would you love to see in RE? Town Hall Meeting. There, we discussed what sorts of programming we would like to offer in RE, and then people put their names on the dotted line to begin making those visions become a reality.

Some projects that came out of the Growing Our Hearts sessions were:

  • One time only general fundraiser – “Dead Man Walking” at the Hult Center. For details, see the article by Phyllis Kesner
  • Monthly hiking group specifically for families with children – possibly pairing this with the already established hiking group. Mistee St. Clare is helping to bring this about
  • Coordination with the Earth Action Committee – Laurel Allender is on-board to follow up with them, and possibly coordinate a family-friendly activity!
  • Container gardening, in homes and at church – with reminders and helpful hints for how to best care for the plants, and a recipe book at the end! Thea Cook is working on this, with the help of George Carroll and Jane Wagner
  • One time Chanting Session - Laura Lawver is going to organize a chanting session with our youth.
  • On-going Volunteer Recruitment Trees. The Communication table had a wonderful collection of ideas for how to get the word out about volunteer needs in RE – both small and large! We would love to see this idea grow into a forest, so that all volunteer opportunities in different groups could be represented
  • Guest speakers from the congregation coming to speak with children and youth – Malia Scanlon, with the help of George Carroll and Martha Snyder, will put this program together.
  • Tactile Art Project will be brought to the children by Martha Snyder
  • Family of Choice (otherwise known as “fake families”!) program will be headed up by Susan Schneider and Malia Scanlon
  • Last, but certainly not least, our Playground Task Force has been identified and will be helping to bring our playground to life – thank you JT Justman, Myles Knebles, and Jason Kimball!

These ideas, and many more that have yet to get a lead person assigned, came out of the two half-hour long sessions that we engaged in. The whole-group discussions sparked more ideas and helped everyone to know what kinds of programming we can look forward to.

As our church expands and becomes more and more a program church, lay-leadership will play a key role in bringing the kinds of programming you want to see here at UUCE. There is now a form that you can use to present programming ideas, and a way that you can sign up to be involved in being the change you wish to see here at your church. In this way, we each get to grow our hearts, help to grow the hearts of our children, and grow the heart of this church by offering exciting, fun, and relevant RE programming!

Thank you for your wonderful work.

 

Katy

Soup Sundays are a huge success! 

Last week's 2-3rd grade class raised $247 for the general fund. Thank you to all RE families who donated your time and and talent to make it come together, and thank you to all who attended.  March 24th Soup Sunday is hosted by the 4-6th grade class. $3.00 for a bowl of soup, $5.00 if you want unlimited refills. If there are leftovers, you can also purchase soup to take home! Yum!

Our Special Needs Ministry is up and running.  

Any families who have a child in RE with special needs, contact Katy for details on how your child will be fully included and supported.

Parents check out the Breakfast Cluub for friendship, fellowship and fun!

Re: R.E. 

Katy's Blog:  Regarding Religious Education at UUCE

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January 2013

Dear UUCE Families,

In our recent Holiday Pageant, the children
explored the idea that the ending of the Mayan
calendar was, in fact, a signal to a new awakening
in the world – an opening for the potential toward
goodness, love, compassion and kindness. I am
warmed by that notion, and I hope that 2013 brings
us all many good things.

Indeed, 2013 is starting off strong right out of the gate for us in the Religious
Education (RE) program: transitioning to a lifespan model, reawakening old programs, and instituting new traditions.

Transition to Lifespan Religious Education

This transition was proposed by our interim Minister Don Rollins, and I wholeheartedly support aligning our religious education for all ages so the themes of our discussions can be more cohesive.

For families with young children, those with college age youth, or those who like to connect with folks of different generations, this model will mean more opportunity to do just that.

parachuteSometime in the first quarter I will invite a representative from each committee that has something to do with lifespan faith development to attend another discussion. My main work on that front now is, together with our minister, to identify themes that we can focus on as a congregation. I look forward to seeing what we can do together to bring lifespan religious education into better focus here at UUCE.

Enliving Existing Programs

1) We need two more advisors. Coming of Age requests for your involvement and support;, we need you to step up and fill this role. Several people who had hoped to be involved in this way had to bow out. This means that our 7th to 8th and 9th grade groups are down one advisor each.

2) Parent of a 4th or 5th grader: Elementary OWL (Our Whole Lives) sexuality education is set to begin for 4th and 5th grade elementary students this winter. Some dates to set aside:
 

• Monday, January 7, 6:00-7:30 pm – Parent Orientation. This is your opportunity to be introduced to the program, the methods for teaching, and the philosophy behind OWL Sexuality Education.
Designed by the UUA and the United Church of owlogoChrist, this program offers age-appropriate information for people of all ages. If you are interested in having your child attend OWL classes this year, you must attend this parent orientation.

Monday, January 21, 6:00-8:00 pmParent/Child Orientation.
For families who have decided that OWL is the right choice for their family and child, this orientation is the first night of sexuality education offered through the church and is an important first look for your child at how class will be run and what they can expect.

and finally:
• Fridays, January 25-March 15, 2013, 6:00-7:30 – The fabulous eight-part series taught by trained facilitators. 

Bringing New Traditions

Town Hall meeting on February 10 after the Sunday service.  Please come to be a part of shaping new children and youth’s religious education traditions here at UUCE by attending the “Growing Our Hearts: What Would You Love to See in RE?”  This larger collaborative effort will envision what the future might look like in the world of children’s RE at UUCE. 

The year 2012 was full of transition and change.  As we prepare for 2013, it’s shaping up to be a lot of fun. So I look forward to another excellent year with you all!
Bright blessings,
Katy Siepert


September 2012

Dear RE Families, Another wonderful year here at UUCE!

Please read the Welcome letter (above), and return the registration packet. Even if you remember registering last year, with all the changes, I don't want anyone to slip through the cracks.

 
On the 9th, childcare will be provided and RE programs start September 16th. After the service on the 9th, there will be a very informal meet and greet the teachers "event" for you to stop by the classrooms, orient your child to their classroom and get questions answered for the coming year. 
 
In the service September 16th, there will be a small moving up ceremony for our children and youth to acknowledge their changing and growth from last year to this. Children will then be sung to their classrooms by the congregation. This year we ask our middle and high school youth to come to the start of service and leave for their classrooms with the other age groups. This change has been discussed with our teens and they are on-board and excited about being a larger presence in our congregation!
 
I'm looking forward to a rewarding year with your children and youth here at UUCE.
In light, Katy
 

July 2012

Dear UUCE,

          I wish that I got to write the entry for July’s newsletter when the month is actually July – I want to write this letter telling you all of the amazing things I experienced while in Phoenix for the UU General Assembly. As it is, I am sitting in the airport, late in June, waiting to board my plane to head off on this grand adventure. So, instead of telling you what I’ve learned, I will content myself with telling you what I’m most anticipating.

          I am looking forward to being in a convention center filled to the brim with Unitarian Universalists. As a people, we are humorous, generous, opinionated, educated, and kind-hearted. It’s a combination that makes my heart flutter.

          I am looking forward to learning more about our faith in action. Standing on the side of love and tackling the issue of immigration and discrimination head-on is such a UU thing to do – I cannot wait to take part!

          I am looking forward to connecting (and re-connecting) with other “church ladies” (and gentlemen) from across the nation. By this, I mean leaders and lay-leaders who take a vested interest in the way our church life is going. I love talking with those who have innovative ideas, a passion for their work, and a wealth of knowledge and understanding of what it is to work in a church environment.

          Most importantly, I am looking forward to coming home to implement new ideas, apply new understandings, and refresh our RE program for next year’s session.

          Thank you for this opportunity to serve as a delegate to this year’s General Assembly in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s 113 degrees there right now – a heat I cannot even imagine, really, but I am so ready to go and participate as much as I possibly can! See you in July!

In faith, Katy Siepert
Director of Religious Education


June 2012

Dear UUCE Families,

 As a UU, I believe that there is no one path to truth, understanding and higher power. As a mother, I want to provide my child with the tools that he needs to successfully navigate the many options he has open to him. And as your director of religious education, I want to provide that same kind of safe container for each of your children. So I have been thinking a lot about the role of spirituality and religious education in a person’s life – in the lives of children, most importantly – and I am finding I have a hard time quantifying the value that I think spiritual exploration brings to our everyday experience.

It was recently announced that my son’s choir is going to be disbanded due to lack of funding. Some of you also have children in OFC. If you do, you have experienced the impact one person can have on the life of a child. The director of that choir, Peter Robb, has impacted the lives of so many children in profoundly positive and affirming ways, and the loss of that community is felt very deeply. I want to take a lesson from the example of Mr. Robb. I want to encourage each of us to think of each of the children in our congregation as our own. In a broader sense, they are our own. They belong to our community and thus make up a part of the fabric of our being. They influence us. And, perhaps more importantly, we influence them.

We are all here for a finite amount of time. I am made more aware of this fact as friends and family (and organizations) fall ill or pass over into death. The finite nature of being means that, as Mr. Robb would say every, every moment is precious. And then it is gone. Learning the balance of being present for each moment as we are simultaneously letting it go is a life-long lesson. And we have the great privilege and honor of offering the beginnings of that search for balance to our children here in this UU community. Our children, who are struggling with issues of self-esteem, peer-pressure, cultural messages and norms, consumerism and patriotism and nationalism and racism and sexism and ageism… the list of isms could go on and on, but I think you get my point. The world offers up many choices, and I see more and more clearly that the role of religious education is to help make the distinctions between these choices more clear.

What I am saying is that your actions and reactions make an impact. Your participation or disengagement sends a message. Your acceptance and your judgment play a role in creating our children’s experience. Even by reaching toward one another as adults to understand one another’s needs, we come closer to modeling the kind of community we want to provide for our children: one of acceptance and understanding, open and active listening, where it is safe to express our needs and it is a blessed gift to be together.

This summer, the high school group is planning to come together at least once a month in order to keep their connection to one another alive and well. Childcare will be offered in our religious education wing during the summer services. Middle schoolers will embark on their Coming of Age journey. I encourage you all to find a way to participate in these occasions – whether it is just to pop down the hall to say “hi” to our children, to bring a dish to one of our potlucks, or to sign up to be a mentor to our middle school youth. You are needed. You are wanted. You can and do play a role in teaching our children. How actively you engage that role is up to you, but you are teaching them every, every moment whether you know it or not.   

Sincerely,
Katy


May 2012

Dear RE Families,

I set off the alarm last Thursday. It was an accident! I didn’t mean to do it! But I did, and it wasn’t my finest moment. Let me tell you the story.

You see, I was rushing to get back to the church to do some last minute prep work for the final session of middle school OWL.  I was running late because I had just gotten done with work for my son’s choir group, so I was anxious to get back to the church in time to research some questions from the question box and to grab a quick bite to eat. My mind was distracted with thoughts of the leftovers I had stored in the office fridge. I had made it down the steps and to the front office door when I got a phone call from our lead childcare person saying that the class I had signed her up for did not have her on the list, so she wasn’t going to be able to take the class – what should she do? I was carrying several large bags of RE snacks from Costco and some random art supplies that I’d cleared back out of my car – I had these things in both hands and hanging from both elbows as I tried to unlock the door to the office. Of course, I had the phone propped under my chin and was now explaining that I had sent the fax over at least ten days ago, why hadn’t they included her on the list? Was there someone I could talk to? I remembered that the Costco snacks needed to go in the fridge in the infant room, so was headed back out the door with keys, snacks and phone when the alarm began to WHOOP! I was so startled, I actually crouched down before I realized what was happening! Then I ran to the alarm box to enter in the code. The siren stopped and the air around me seemed so immediately quiet and still as to be disorienting. I set down the snacks. I set down the phone. I set down the art supplies and put the OWL prep on hold. I waited to see what would happen next. And I breathed. 

You know, sometimes the alarm goes off for me in less literal ways.  But sometimes, the alarm is as literal as it gets.  Sometimes, apparently, that’s what I need in order to be reminded that I still have to breathe.

We have less than a month left in our sweet tree house, here with the deer and the ravens, the turkey buzzards and the mice. As the day draws near, I still have to breathe. I still have to laugh, to enjoy my friends and read poetry and look at art. I still need sustenance – the stuff that feeds my soul so that my body feels revived and ready to enter into the world and do the hard work ahead, transforming it into joyful work as I go. We all need this.

Oh, and by the way... The meditation group which was meeting in the Breezeway at the time the alarm went off reported that instead of distracting them from their practice, it invited them to breathe more deeply, too.

So, I’m sending up an alarm in the hopes that we can all breathe more deeply as we covenant together yet again to do the joyful work that is required of us. Middle and High school youth groups are taking part in this work, spending countless hours shucking dirt clods and sweeping the road, moving furniture and directing traffic. Our BUUB volunteers have donated days, months, and years to our project. Community members have given money beyond anything that could have been dreamed. For all of you, and all those who I haven’t mentioned but who are doing the work of this church: when you breathe in, you breathe in peace; when you breathe out, you breathe out love. Thank you all for all that you do.

In faith and gratitude,

Katy


April 2012

Dear UUCE,

Cooperation is a big concept. I see our children struggling to understand, to practice, and to appreciate cooperation in our classrooms each Sunday.

It’s hard sometimes to step outside of ourselves long enough to see our impact on others, but whether we see the impact or not, it is there. With young children, the impact is felt and seen quite immediately - someone doesn’t share, takes a toy, says a mean word, or hits with a fist, and everyone in the room is privy to what just happened based upon a child’s tearful, angry response.

In the world of grown-ups, however, our sophistication and the sophistication of others often precludes us from really understanding the impact of our words and actions. As an educator, I find each new event when a child makes a choice that hurts another to be an opportunity for learning and growth. I believe the same principle applies in the grown-up world.

The problem in the grown-up world, I suppose, is that most often there is no benevolent teacher at hand who can step in and intervene on the behalf of all. Thus, I believe that it is up to each of us to take on that role. This can be difficult to put into practice when we are experiencing stress, frustration, pain, fear, or any number of emotional or physical ailments in our own lives. But it is important enough that I have chosen to write about it today.

As I have transitioned away from my role as a member of the congregation to my role as your acting Director of Religious Education, some of my old veils have fallen away. Being privy to the inner workings of the church has been both refreshing and frustrating. I love having my finger on the pulse of church activity, being included in the processes that are moving to shape and re-shape this community. At the same time, I get to see first hand the high emotion and experience the knee-jerk reactions that cause undue pain. That pain is caused, as far as I can see, through defensiveness of one sort or another. But, really, we are all here to support and cooperate with one another.

This time in our church is full of uncertainty, excitement, fears, and joys! So the heightened quality of our emotions must be considered before we act or react to the situations that arise within our beloved community day to day. We come together each Sunday because we share a common vision about what is right and good in this world. The seven principles guide us. And they are an excellent resource when things are feeling a bit uncertain.

Here's a quick refresher course: We must all strive to treat one another with dignity and respect, to acknowledge the interconnected web of which we are all a part and which implies that a harm done to any one of us is harm done to all, and to work for the UU call for justice, equity and compassion in relationship with one another. This moves us toward our goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. Our children learn by watching us. When we model the behaviors we want to see from them, we are not only teaching them, we are reinforcing our own connections, cooperation, and community. In these last months before the move, and in the time of transition that will most surely occur once we are in the new building, I encourage us all to take extra care in our treatment of ourselves and in our dealings with one another.

Thank you, Katy


MARCH 2012

Hello Dear Families,

The month of March is upon us… can it really be that more than half the church year has passed? So much has happened in the last six months – I want to take some time to re-cap the highlights from this year so far:

     The RE program has been visited by a dozen visitors or more, representing different faith traditions: Judaism, Islam, Sufism, Paganism, Confucianism, as well as story tellers, musicians, and dancers who have come and shared their knowledge and talents with our children on Sunday mornings.
 
     The RE Committee presented it’s first “Parent’s Night Out,” a night for children to have a safe and fun place to play together so that parents get the chance to go out and play together too! The next Parent’s Night Out is scheduled for June 1st to align with Eugene’s First Friday Art Walk. Get it on your calendar and take advantage of this new opportunity.

     Youth have attended two CONs this year, and are preparing to take part in a third. These youth-led events offer our teens an opportunity to connect to other UUs in the area, build community, explore their spirituality, grow in leadership and self-direction, and develop bonds that last a lifetime.

     Our dedicated teams of RE teachers have explored a variety of religious and spiritual traditions, created beautiful crafts like making paper, stitch-crafts, painting and collage. Take a few moments to visit the rooms down in RE, and you will see classrooms filled with wonderful artwork and crafts that help to make each space unique and interesting.   

I look forward to the coming months and am excited to see what else we are able to create together.
Go well and safely, Katy


February 2012

Hello Dear Families,

The month of March is upon us… can it really be that more than half the church year has passed? So much has happened in the last six months – I want to take some time to re-cap the highlights from this year so far:
     The RE program has been visited by a dozen visitors or more, representing different faith traditions: Judaism, Islam, Sufism, Paganism, Confucianism, as well as story tellers, musicians, and dancers who have come and shared their knowledge and talents with our children on Sunday mornings.
     Our new 10:00 service offers an opportunity for families to worship together – it is still an experiment, but is proving to be a worthy one! Children, young adults, and older adults who are drawn to a more alternative perspective are all encouraged to attend.
     The Middle School OWL program got up and running in late October. Each week, a team of dedicated facilitators meets with 15 middle school youth to discuss and learn about human growth, development, and sexuality in a holistic and realistic way.
     The High School OWL program is a vibrant group, meets bi-monthly, and is organized and run in cooperation and collaboration with three other area churches. This interfaith program is ministering to more than 30 youth!
     The RE Committee presented it’s first “Parent’s Night Out,” a night for children to have a safe and fun place to play together so that parents get the chance to go out and play together too! The next Parent’s Night Out is scheduled for June 1st to align with Eugene’s First Friday Art Walk. Get it on your calendar and take advantage of this new opportunity.
     Youth have attended two CONs this year, and are preparing to take part in a third. These youth-led events offer our teens an opportunity to connect to other UUs in the area, build community, explore their spirituality, grow in leadership and self-direction, and develop bonds that last a lifetime.
     Our dedicated teams of RE teachers have explored a variety of religious and spiritual traditions, created beautiful crafts like making paper, stitch-crafts, painting and collage. Take a few moments to visit the rooms down in RE, and you will see classrooms filled with wonderful artwork and crafts that help to make each space unique and interesting.
     Youth are in the process of planning two days of lessons that they will teach to our younger children – they are building up to a celebration of the Indian holiday Holi, planned for the second Sunday in March!
     Children from the RE program are acting as chalice lighters each Sunday morning at the 10:00 service. Worship associates introduce the child, offering congregants an opportunity to get to know our kids in a more meaningful way. If your child is interested in participating, please contact me to schedule the day.
     My new blog is up, and will soon be running, on the website!
 
As you can see, RE is a busy, vibrant, and active place to be. I realized this month that it was important to me to pause and look back at what has been accomplished so far. While I often feel that there could be more: bigger, better, and brighter, there is truly so much that has already been accomplished this year in RE. I think the growing edge for children’s RE might be about increasing the integration of the program with the other wonderful offerings and programs that are happening at UUCE – what do you think?
 
I look forward to the coming months and am excited to see what else we are able to create together.
Go well and safely,
Katy
 

January 1st, 2012

Can it really already be the New Year? The time truly has flown. And in the short time I‘ve been with the RE program at UUCE, I‘ve learned some things I think are worth sharing. So, without further ado...the RE Top Ten: 

10. Learn to use your day planner efficiently. It is worth the time it takes to re-write entries into the larger day-by-day squares provided. Your time is precious, and you will be asked to be in at least three different places at once, so time management is of the essence! And calendar everything, even recurring events. 

9. Time in the RE classrooms (maybe even outside them) is warped and bent – a full hour can feel like only five minutes. So as the children are leaving to go to the playground, or being picked up by parents, look back at the time and the things you didn‘t get to and laugh, knowing that it‘s just a time warp and there‘s nothing you can do about that! 

8. Create art with great, quality, interesting materials – hand and eye appeal means high quality products our kids can be proud of. 

7. Don‘t re-invent the wheel. There are lots of resources available out there – it‘s about finding them early and tweaking what already exists. 

6. Get plenty of rest, eat healthful foods, get lots of exercise, and drink water. It serves no one to run yourself into the ground, even if you‘re having fun while doing it. Long-term commitment means having long-term health. 

5. Take care of personal matters – pay bills on time, return those overdue library books, take the dog, kid, self in for regular check-ups. Even if it‘s inconvenient. 

4. Communication is key. And knowing who to communicate with is even more key. 

3. There is never a slow time in the world of RE. The next big project is just around the corner. So even if you don‘t know what‘s next up, waiting for you, anticipate that it is! 

2. Always accept help when it is offered, even when you don‘t know what you will need the help for. There is always, ALWAYS, something else to be done. (See #3.) 

And the number one lesson is… 

1. Celebrate! Often! Revel in the successes, learn from the failures, and be sure to celebrate them all! 

I‘m sure there will be more learning as time goes by – that is practically guaranteed in this life. And as I look back over this list, I realize that what I‘ve really created is a wonderful list of New Year‘s resolutions. So, I resolve to take these lessons into the New Year here at UUCE and apply them wherever possible! The coming year is shaping up to be filled with many new lessons for all of us. So, if you look over this list, and see some things you‘d like to adopt as your own, go ahead and take 'em – they‘re free! 

Happy New Year, Katy 
 


November 2011 

This is my first attempt at populating my newly formed blog, and I'm not sure what to call it.

Children's Corner?
Family Fun Pages?
Re: RE ?
I would love your input!! At this time, Re: RE (said "Ree-ree") is my personal favorite, so we'll go with that for now.

I must say, it feels great to be here at the church, working with the kids, and with RE in the swing of things - all the rooms were filled with children this past Sunday (except for 4-5th, where we had only one child! She joined the 2-3rd class). It was truly wonderful to work with the preschoolers this past week, and to see so many children so engaged in our material.

This week, our over-all focus shifted to the study of Islam. On Sunday, November 13th, we will be visited by some sufi dancers who will teach the children some Dances of Universal Peace. I am very much looking forward to that experience!

I want to tell you that my favorite time of day on each Sunday has come to be the moment when we sing the children's song. The second time through, when all the children stand up and begin to move toward the door, it fills me with a huge sense of gratitude and wonder. The very first time it happened for me, on our first Sunday of the church season, and my very first service as your DRE, I knew that I loved my job. All of those wonderful small people who know the way and who are sweeping me along as I carry the family chalice...  It is a moment of overwhelming joy for me.

Until next time, go well and safely,
Katy 
 

September 2011

Dear Congregants,

Hello! For those of you who don’t know me, for those who haven’t yet heard of the change, and for those who are just curious about the coming year, I want to introduce myself – my name is Katy Siepert, and I am thrilled to be stepping in to my new role as your acting Director of Religious Education here at UUCE! I love this community - you are my friends and my peers, and I am so blessed to be able to serve you in this way. The coming year is brimming with possibilities and change - what a wonderful time to be a part of that movement!

I have been a member at UUCE since 2009, and prior to that attended as a friend of the church for many years. I have worked down in the RE classrooms as a volunteer and lead summer program teacher, and am trained as an OWL (Our Whole Lives) facilitator. I come to you with a background in Early Childhood and Elementary Education - I finished my master’s degree and got my teaching license in December of 2010. I also have a background in environmental studies, biology, fine art and pre-law. My son, Sage, is going into 7th grade; he has been an active participant in life here at church since he was seven years old.

I am in the process of assimilating as much information as I possibly can before Candee Cole leaves us and moves on to Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church in Bainbridge, WA. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Candee so closely over the last few weeks, and wish her all the best on her new adventure!

As for our programming here at UUCE, there are a couple of things that I would like to draw to your attention:

September 4th is the Labor of Love work-party.

Come on down and help to make RE beautiful!

Families and children of all ages can help to spruce up our rooms for the coming year – jobs range from marker-checker to bark-chip-spreader to teacher- materials-compiler. This gives children a chance to become acquainted with their classrooms and helps them invest in the coming year. Whatever your age or ability, we’ve got a job for you! Childcare is available for infants and toddlers up to preschool age children, and for children with special needs.

September 11th is the Water Ceremony. Families are encouraged to bring their children and a small amount of water, representing our coming together as a community for the coming year, to participate in this beautiful UU tradition. Childcare will be available for infants and toddlers up to preschool age children, and for children with special needs, but of course these age groups can also participate in the ceremony!

The Fall RE program will begin September 18th for all age groups – please try to register your children with the RE program before this date so that we can update our class lists. There will be a registration table set up both before and after service throughout the month of September, with RE Committee volunteers who can answer questions and walk you through the sign-up process.

We are seeking one female Youth Advisor volunteer. Have you worked with youth in the past? Do you know someone who would be a wonderful addition to our team? Our youth are an incredible bunch of people with as much to offer you as you offer them in terms of time, commitment and support. You are guaranteed to learn and grow right along with them!

We are seeking three Preschool Teacher volunteers to work in the preschool room. Talk about feelings, explore new ideas, tell stories and play games with our young ones – it is sure to make your day brighter!

I would love to hear from you about your vision for the coming year - any ideas, questions or concerns that you might have, please don’t hesitate to voice them. You can contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , via phone at 541-686-2775 or at the message line at 541-743-0641, or come find me at church on Sundays! I do not currently have official ―office hours,‖ but I am in the office Mon-Thurs. In the coming weeks we will be developing a format for anonymous feedback - when this is up and running, an announcement will be made.

I am so excited to work for and with you all! Thank you so much for all that you do to make this community vibrant and whole – it’s going to be an exciting new year for UUCE!

Sincerely,
Katy Siepert
Director of Religious Education (DRE)