• Family Ministry, April 2017

    Merrin Clough, Director of Family Ministry

    Spring has sprung and Easter is fast approaching on Sunday, April 16! That means it’s almost time to hunt eggs, consider the quickening of life in this season … and enjoy good food along with great company during brunch!

    Buy brunch tickets online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2906226 or at the door. The cost is $5 per person (both kids & adults). Menu: Baked Pancakes with Topping Bar: Cinnamon Apple, Blueberry, Nutella, Whipped Cream; Frittata with Cheese; Chicken Apple Sausages.
    Easter Morning Schedule

    9:15 am to 1 pm Childcare for Young Children
    9:30 am Family Worship Service
    9:45 to 11:45 am Pancake Brunch
    10:30 am Egg Hunt
    11 am to 1 pm Spring Activity Fair for Kids
    11:15 am Adult Worship Service

    A Message from Amanda Weatherspoon:

    Most of you know me as the Family Ministry Assistant, a role that has become an important and joyful part of my life. However, it is with excitement that I am announcing my transition from Family Ministry into the Intern Minister role here at UUCB!

    Working at UUCB as the Family Ministry assistant has given me a front-row seat to all the amazing work that this congregation is engaged with. I experience this congregation as one that is growing and transforming and willing to do the work that it takes to make important changes while maintaining traditions and a sense of home.

    There are many changes afoot! While I am transitioning into my new role, Merrin is doing her own bit of transitioning, as well! Merrin’s maternity leave will begin on July 9, which is about 4 weeks after my last day of work as the Family Ministry Assistant, which will be June 16. We are working with the hiring team with hopes to hire a new assistant by May 22. The new assistant will “hold down the fort” so to speak while Merrin is away on leave. During Merrin’s time away (likely July 9 – November 12), the assistant will work closely with teams of lay leaders to ensure that the Family Ministry program is well supported administratively.

    I hope that over this next year we all grow together in mutual bonds of respect and love. Making community with this body of seekers is exciting and, in these times, more important than ever before.

  • Reflections on Family Ministry, February 2017

    Merrin Clough, Director of Family Ministry

    Our Family Ministry committee has been very aware over the last few months of how anxious many of the children and parents in our community are about the future. Not only the future of our nation, but also how a Trump presidency will impact the unfolding of our children’s lives. Many kids and teens powerlessly ask, what can we do? Parents wonder how to prepare them for a world where bigotry still has such a firm hold on power.

    Our Family Ministry leaders are asking similar questions. A week after the election our Faith in Action team on the committee met to regroup. Disappointment sometimes brings things into clear focus. Moving forward our focus is to help families:

    • Joyfully celebrate Unitarian Universalist values
    • Hold up those values that feel at risk in this political climate
    • Transform concern into action and practice justice-making skills
    • Draw inspiration and learn from our UU legacy of service, justice work, and civil disobedience

    In the coming months you’ll hear more from the Faith in Action team (Shannon Roberts and Linda Zittel). Today we’d like to highlight the new curriculum cycle we will begin this month in our elementary classes. These lessons have been chosen specifically to support children in navigating the challenges of our times by helping them hone their own moral compasses.

    4th-5th Grades – Sing to the Power

    Sing to the Power affirms our Unitarian Universalist heritage of confronting “powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.” Participants experience their own power, and understand how it can help them to be leaders.

    2nd-3rd Grades – Moral Tales

    Every day our children go forth into a complex world where they are often faced with difficult decisions and situations. Moral Tales helps provide them with the spiritual and ethical tools they will need to make choices and take actions reflective of their Unitarian Universalist beliefs and values.

    K-1st Grades – World of Wonder

    As UUs we religiously respect the interdependent web of life of which we are a part. This class focuses on the direct experience of nature and how it is essential to children’s physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development. We will kindle the spark of wonder and deep sense of caring that nature can inspire.

    Looking Forward…

    Wow, time is flying! It’s already time to begin thinking about next year’s Family Ministry program (August 2017 to June 2018). As part of our annual planning cycle, we invite folks to propose ideas for the upcoming church year. Do you have a program idea you’d like to submit that upholds our church’s mission to create loving community, inspire spiritual growth, and encourage lives of integrity, joy and service?  You can submit that inspired idea here!

    We will gather submissions until March 1st. Then our Family Ministry Committee will review these proposals to make realistic decisions about which we can do well. We intend to focus our energies on programs that help bring our UU values to life in the wake of a Trump presidency. We eagerly welcome your input in this shared ministry.

  • Reflections on Family Ministry, January 2017

    Merrin Clough, Director of Family Ministry

    As the New Year arrives I want to express gratitude for the many outstanding volunteers who give shape to Family Ministry here at UUCB. We have over 55 volunteers who invest time and love into this community by teaching weekly religious education classes, special programs like Our Whole Lives and Coming of Age, and supporting our youth groups, parent groups, and leadership teams. Together we co-create a spiritual home guided by the transforming power of love. Now, more than any other time, communities like ours with progressive religious values are essential. With all of the political turmoil in our world, what a gift it is to know that there are people here in our community who are practiced in helping children to develop moral compasses attuned to the challenges of these times. Thank you.

    Our next Teacher & Advisor Training is January 22 from 12:30 to 3:00 pm. We will explore how to make our programs with children and youth more relevant to the current political climate. We’ll share insights and techniques on drawing clear links to our UU values and to events that are happening in the world that are relevant to the children and youth. In addition there will be some safety training and general housekeeping items. Lunch and childcare will be provided. Please RSVP. You’ll need an InFellowship account to do so. If you don’t have one, please sign up. It’s a huge help to us.

    Our Whole Lives – K-1st grades

    This January we are offering an outstanding sexuality education class for K-1st graders, Our Whole Lives (OWL), meeting on Sundays from 1 to 2 pm through March.

    Rooted in Unitarian Universalist values, OWL supports parents in educating children about birth, babies, bodies, and families. Sessions will engage children with stories, songs, and activities that are age-appropriate vehicles for sexuality education. In addition to eight class sessions, this program is designed to promote dialogue at home with weekly homework activities for parents and children to do together and a helpful parent guidebook.

    To learn more about the class, attend the optional OWL Info Session on January 22 from 9 to 10:30 am. All participating families must attend the Parent Child Orientation on January 29 from 12:45 to 3:15 pm.

    Space is limited. Register your child online at https://uucb.infellowship.com/UserLogin/Index?ReturnUrl=%2fForms%2f341500. If you don’t have an InFellowship account, please sign up.

  • Reflections on Family Ministry, December 2016

    Merrin CloughMerrin Clough

    The post-election time has been intense for those of us who are politically minded with progressive values. Personally, I’ve felt awash with emotion. Grieving the news of Trump as president and anxious about the future of our nation. Exhausted by these long campaigns and the tense distance between each side. I know I am not alone.

    With tears in their eyes, I have listened as parents ask what this will mean for their children. We had hoped for another path into the future. One shaped by justice, equity and compassion. Instead we wonder how to prepare our children for a world where bigotry still holds firm to power.

    The disappointment was overwhelming until I realized that my parents wrestled with similar questions. Likely their parents did too. That’s why they brought us to church. A place to be nurtured by the words and deeds of prophetic people and the wisdom of the world’s religions. To give us a spiritual home guided by the transforming power of love.

    Considering that, I now see that what feels like an unbearable twist of fate is in fact the turning of a page in a long story. I see, too, that for generations Unitarian Universalists have responded to hate with love, to fear with compassion. We are a uniquely American faith that has evolved to respond to difficult times just like this.

    Our religious heritage and theology has been slimmed down into seven principles to better guide us in these modern times. Today I’m grateful for their streamlined nature. Take a moment and reread them with the election in mind. It seems that each one was written for this very moment.

    So in the wake of political turmoil, remember you are not alone. In fact, our church is at the ready. Though we may not yet know exactly what is needed of us in these uneasy times, as UUs we do know how to move forward into an anxious future. Like those who came before us, we will stand on the side of love.

    Guided by our covenant. Enriched by worship. Together in doing social justice and service work. Through programs like Our Whole Lives and Coming of Age. In religious education classes based on our core principles, and by empowering and supporting our youth. We will help our children develop moral compasses attuned to the challenges of our times, so that they too can turn a page in this age-old story.

    Though reading the headlines spikes panic deep in my heart, I take a breath. I trust that we will do all we can to ensure that our progressive religious values are guiding lights in this dark time. And so here is my prayer for us. Like those who came before us, may we become that transforming power of love that reshapes lives and guides our country toward justice, equity, and compassion. May it be so.

    Family Ministry Programs

    Answering the Big Questions

    Sat., Dec. 10, 4:30–8 pm

    Struggling with finding right-sized answers to your kids’ big questions about the country right now? Join Reverends Kristin and Christian for a conversation on how to talk with children about the aftermath of this year’s election. This conversation is scheduled at the same time as our monthly “Parents Night Out,” so childcare will be provided. We will order out for dinner once people arrive so there’s no need to RSVP, but please pack dinner for any children you bring. In this time of national anxiety and unrest, it will be good to be together.

    Our Whole Lives – K-1st grades

    This January we are offering an outstanding sexuality education class for K-1st graders, Our Whole Lives (OWL), meeting on Sundays from 1 to 2 pm through March.

    Rooted in Unitarian Universalist values, OWL supports parents in educating children about birth, babies, bodies, and families. Sessions will engage children with stories, songs, and activities that are age-appropriate vehicles for sexuality education. In addition to eight class sessions, this program is designed to promote dialogue at home with weekly homework activities for parents and children to do together and a helpful parent guidebook.

    To learn more about the class, attend the optional OWL Info Session on January 22 from 9 to 10:30 am. All participating families must attend the Parent Child Orientationon January 29 from 12:45 to 3:15 pm.

    Space is limited. Register your child online. If you don’t have an InFellowship account, please sign up.

  • Family Ministry, November 2016

    This month we’d like to give a big shout out to the Youth-Adult Team! This team, comprised of half youths and half adults, is responsible for so much vital work in our UUCB community. Last year alone they created the Youth Event Guidebook for special events and a partnership covenant for youth and adults working together. This year they will focus on the planning of fun and meaningful activities for youth including the “Bring Your Weight in Food” food drive. This team provides a multigenerational context for lifelong learning and fellowship that every community grows and thrives from.

    And what an amazing youth community we have here! This month the Middle Schoolers will be making cornbread together in preparation for the church-wide Cornbread Communion on November 20. They have been eager to do cooking projects and this is one way they can offer their passion in service to the community. This is just one way in which youth at UUCB are committed to creating a better and more welcoming community both within and outside of these church walls.

    Speaking of making a difference, we’d like to give a big THANK YOU to Lindsey Lam. Lindsey is a junior in high school who has been serving the UUCB community on the Youth-Adult Team. Lindsey will be stepping down from her position on this team to make way for younger leaders. Her next step is to work with Chalice Circle leader Lenore Ralston to host a covenant circle for youth and adults in January. So thank you, Lindsey—we look forward to your continued leadership in this church community and in the wider world!

    Alejandra Robins and Hailey Smith are inspiring leaders who will continue as youth representatives on the team. They are excited to plan social events, find ways to bring spirit into the center of our youth ministry programs, and eager to mentor younger youth. If you (or anyone you know) are interested in participating in this critical group, the Youth-Adult Team is seeking two new Middle School reps. In November the Youth Group will vote on who the new representatives will be. If you are interested please email Merrin Clough, Director of Family Ministry at merrin@uucb.org.

    Gratitude pours from our hearts for all that spend their time, energy, and creativity nurturing and learning from the youth in this community. Thank you to the adult representatives on the Youth-Adult Team: Rebecca Mitchell, Logan Stump-Vernon, and Gillian Smith. Your commitment to multigenerational community is essential to inclusive and welcoming congregations. While we’re at it, let’s take some time to recognize all the volunteers in our Youth programming—whether it be Coming of Age, the Youth-Adult Team, or both the Middle and High School RE groups—your dedication to the youth in this community is truly a service and a ministry unto itself.

    The youth are not only our future, but our present. Actually, the youth aren’t ours at all—they belong to themselves; their hearts and minds are not ours to shape and control, but theirs to grow and exercise. Often it is the young people who lead the way, who are at the forefront of social movements, accelerations in learning, and innovations in society. This is not because the older adults deem it so, but because they themselves are committed to cultivating the environments and the institutions of which they are a part. Let’s us move together in the spirit of blessed co-creation, community, and love. May it be so.

  • Family Ministry, October 2016

    Amanda W.Hello from Amanda Weatherspoon, your newish Family Ministry Assistant.

    Growing up in church and now dedicating myself to the path of ministry, there’s one truth to which I can testify. A commitment that I’ve witnessed my whole life: the dedication of the volunteers that transform a building into a church and a church into a community. Delving into the volunteer community here at UUCB I witness the same principle at play in these walls.

    While working with the Family Ministry team I find myself often reminiscing on my days as a kid in church; children’s choir, Sunday school, Christmas plays, campfires; and I think of all the adults who made these events and programs possible. The teachers, the chaperones, the organizers who collected permission slips, the folks who coordinated the music, who supervised us on trips. I realize how much of an impact children’s programming had and still has on my life. The message that “you are not alone in this journey” is an important one—one that I carry with me all these years later.

    This year’s Family Ministry volunteer training held on September 18th provided me a glimpse into the UUCB Family community. Folks of all ages coming together to ensure that the children and youth of this community are supported in their spiritual and social journeys, that they know that they are not alone in this is a testament to the important work that these volunteers do all year. UUCB’s Family Ministry program hosts a wide range of activities, classes, and growth opportunities for the youngest and smallest of children up to the graduating high school senior. The prep work, the recurring commitments, the trainings are all in service of supporting children and families as they grow in this community.  And the volunteers are the heart and soul of this ministry. Thank you all.

    Coming up in Family Ministry…

    Games on the Field

    This month we will begin to have activities on the field for elementary children after religious education classes until 1 pm. It’ll be a time for kids to explore our UU values through play—the way they best learn and grow. Through interactive games, creative projects, and free play we’ll build community and practice putting our principles into action. In the beginning activities will be adult led, but over time kids will be involved in planning and leading activities as well. Practically, this new supervised playtime will give parents time to mingle after church without the pressure to pick up their children immediately. In the coming months I encourage you to linger around the atrium and field, say hello to folks, make friends.

    New Safety Policy

    Over the next year we will be rolling out the new Safety Policy. This fall we begin with new sign-out procedures for children. Youth in sixth grade and above will continue to be able to self-release if a parent/guardian has signed this permission on the Connection Card. Parents/guardians of children in fifth grade and under are now expected to sign their children out when they pick them up from any Family Ministry activity. Please help us be intentional about how we care for the children. Sign your child out each time you pick them up from a religious education class, event, or childcare (even if they are leaving just briefly to attend the beginning of service). Thank you.

  • Reflections on Family Ministry, September 2016

    clough merrin thmb
    Merrin Clough, Director of Family Ministry

    As a child I went through a phase when I’d personify the months in a year. Kind of like my own inner calendar. In my color pencil sketches August was a ragtag tomboy in a dress with dirty knees and uncombed hair. Her face was full of freckles that had bloomed over the summer months. My protagonist would bask in the summer sunshine but she also sensed that the winds of change were on their way. September was a whole other picture. This little girl sat at a desk and was much more kempt. She had wide starry eyes, full of the life unfolding around and inside of her.

    As a child those last days of summer felt more and more precious as free time dwindled away. But also there was this feeling of anticipation building as the new school year approached. So much was just around the corner beyond my view: new friends, new teachers, a new routine, and sometimes a new school. Then September came with all its force. Life then became all about taking the mixed-up bits of familiar and unfamiliar stuff and shaping them into a day. Inside it felt kind of like smashing different colors of play dough together. Sometimes making beautiful swirls, sometimes a muddy mess.

    As adults our lives tend to be more constant. It’s easy to forget the threshold time that September is for many young people. This month I encourage you to pay special attention to the changes happening in the lives of the children and teens you know. How can you help them shape these days into something wonderful, meaningful? How might our church community offer just the right bits of familiar or unfamiliar to balance out the picture? Certainly that’s what we’re here for… to create loving community, inspire spiritual growth, and encourage lives of integrity, joy and service.

    Children & Youth Programs: This year our Family Ministry activities start up in phases.

    • On August 21 the youth groups resumed meeting. The elementary kids will continue to meet in multi-age groups through September 18. The children can choose to attend the Miracles Group that explores science and a sense of awe or music-making workshops with Katie Lipka, director of the Youth and Children’s Choir.
    • September 11 is the Solano Stroll. All families are encouraged to join the parade and bring friends to our booth at the corner of Neilson Street, or sign up for a shift to help at the booth.
    • On September 18 at 11:15 there will be an All Ages worship service with our new ministers! Childcare will also be available, as usual. After the service is the Volunteer Training for all teachers, advisors and mentors.
    • On September 25 children’s religious education classes will resume. Our age groupings this year are toddler time, K-first grade, grades 2-3, and grades 4-5. You can learn about the curriculum on the UUCB website. After the 11:15 service everyone is invited to a Family Ministry Celebration with a taco truck, bouncy house and games on the field.

    Help Needed: Did you know it takes over 60 volunteers to staff our Family Ministry programs? Most of our teams are well supported but we are looking for a few more folks to join the grade 4-5 teaching team, middle school advisors, Coming of Age mentors, and volunteer support team. Consider joining us in this fun and inspiring work with our children and youth. To learn more, email Merrin Clough, merrin@uucb.org.

  • Reflections on Family Ministry, August 2016

    Coming of Age: Here at the UU Church of Berkeley we offer a wonderful rite of passage opportunity for teenagers in 8th through 10th grades. At this age, youth are in one of the most formative and pivotal times of their lives. As UUs we believe that each and every one of us has a piece of the truth. The Coming of Age program helps teens explore and articulate the beliefs they hold most dear as they begin to intentionally craft the kind of person they want to be.

    This program is intentional and intensive. September through May the youth will participate in weekly workshops designed to guide them on a journey of spiritual self-awareness. They will participate in three regional retreats with other UU youth. They will write personal credo statements and share these with their friends, family, and the congregation during a worship service. All along the way, they will be supported by mentors who are trusted adults in our congregation. These mentors will help the youth explore our wider church community and find their place in it.

    If you and your child are interested in participating in this program please complete this survey. The information you provide will help us plan this year’s program.

    If you are a long-time UU and interested in being a Mentor contact Merrin Clough.

    Fall Start Up: This year our Family Ministry activities will start up in phases over the next two months. Here’s a quick rundown of key dates to put on your calendar:

    On August 21 the youth groups will resume meeting. The elementary kids will continue to meet in multi-age groups until mid-September. The children will get to choose between the Miracles Group that explores science and a sense of awe, or music making workshops with the Youth and Children’s Choir.

    On August 28 families of 8th-10th graders are invited to the Coming of Age Orientation at 12:30 pm. RSVP here.

    September 11 is the Solano Stroll. All families are encouraged to attend and participate in UUCB’s outreach efforts.

    On September 18 there will be an All Ages worship service with our new ministers! After service is the Volunteer Training for all teachers, advisors and mentors – rsvp for the training here.

    On September 25 children’s religious education classes will resume. Our age groupings this year are toddler time, K–grade 1, grades 2 and 3, and grades 4 and 5. After service there will be a Family Open House for all children and both youth groups.

    Loving Hearts, Helping Hands: As the program start approaches we’ve got some strong teams of volunteers: the Family Ministry Committee and Youth Adult Team, toddler and early elementary teachers, high school youth group advisors, and welcome table greeters. We are looking for a few more folks to join the grades 4 and 5 teaching team, middle school advisors, Coming of Age mentors, and volunteer support team. Consider joining us in this fun and inspiring work with our children and youth. Click here to learn more, or email Merrin Clough, merrin@uucb.org.

  • Family Ministry Reflections, July 2016

    Often summer can feel like a slow time at church. Not this year! This month our ministerial candidate is visiting. Early July will be bustling with activities and opportunities to meet them. Take a peek at the Search Team’s announcement for a full schedule of events. And mark your calendar for our family event with this exciting guest. Join us on Saturday, July 9, from 1 to 3 pm for a Play Date & Snack-Food-Fest. It’ll be a fun, low-key time to visit with the candidate and hang out with your UUCB friends. But note, this event will not be at the church as there’s a rental that day. We’ll meet at Arlington Park (1120 Arlington Blvd.). Bring snacks and games to share.

    Our Summer Program… Possibly you’ve seen the posters by The Miracle Group? That’s our summer religious education class. We’re having a great time playing with the concept of miracles by simultaneously looking for the rational “how and why” while keeping close the truth of a miracle’s mystery. A miracle, however one understands its source, allows us to respond to something unexpected with awe and wonder. This multi-age class for children in first grade and above is exploring the miraculous—from the scientific to the spiritual—and experiencing the beauty of how those two approaches can co-exist. This is a truly Unitarian Universalist summer program, guided by curriculum co-written by former UUCB Family Minister Chris Holton Jablonski.

    Take Home Activities… Looking for meaningful ways to draw out conversation or activities to deepen the dialog with your child about substantive topics? There are now Take Home activities available online for each of our religious education sessions with the children and youth. You can quickly find these on the Activities for Families page on our website, in the This Week in Family Ministry email, or the online calendar. Simply click the name of the activity and a full session description plus a Take Home activity appears. Over the summer you can find this info for our Summer RE Class.

  • Family Ministry, April 2016

    In January, you may recall, we had a number of cross-generational conversations. We listened deeply to people of different ages as they spoke about what gifts, and challenges, our generational cohorts bring to this community. We began to put words to the hopes we have for building a future together. And I hope you dabbled a bit with reaching out to others who are younger or older than you. Through all of this we used the metaphor of building bridges.

    But we all know that connecting across differences of age and experience takes more than just talking. The work of becoming who we hope to be together takes time and attention. That’s why I’m reaching out to let you know that though this project is not in the spotlight, it’s still full of life and love. Continue reading →