Religious Education for Youth
The Goal of the Religious Education program for children and youth at UUFM is to create a nurturing and trusting community in which young people can investigate:
- a variety of ancient and modern religious traditions;
- some difficult ethical questions that all humans face; and
- some of the mysteries of life.
We get our inspiration for Religious Education for children and youth from William Ellery Channing, a founder of American Unitarianism, and from Eric, a modern day seven-year-old:
The great end in religious instruction is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own;
Not to make them see with our eyes, but to look inquiringly and steadily with their own;
Not to give them a definite amount of knowledge, but to inspire a fervent love of truth…
Not to impose religion upon them in the form of arbitrary rules, but to awaken the conscience, the moral discernment;
In a word, the great end is to awaken the soul, to excite and cherish spiritual life.
— William Ellery Channing, 1837
In a recent article in the UU World magazine (Spring, 2008) William Doherty describes a conversation with his seven-year-old son Eric.
Eric asks “what happens to us after we die?”
William explains what different people believe, but when pressed, states what he believes.
Eric responds “I will believe what you believe for now, and when I grow up I’ll make up my own mind."
Unitarian Universalist Principles Interpreted for Children:
- We believe that each and every person is important.
- We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly.
- We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.
- We believe that each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.
- We believe that all persons should have a vote about the things that concern them.
- We believe in working for a peaceful, fair, and free world.
- We believe in caring for our planet earth, the home we share with all living things.
Some topics we have explored recently through stories, crafts, and activities:
- Creation stories from science, judeo-christian traditions, and native people;
- The interconnected web of life on this planet;
- “Love is patient, love is kind” I Corinthians 13:4-8;
- The story of the Buddha and the 8-fold path;
- Ghandi’s seven social sins;
- The related history of Christmas and the Winter Solstice;
- Death and grief; and
- History of Mother’s Day.
Some social justice activities children and youth have led and/or participated in:
- 2006-2008 – Yearly chili feed benefits have raised in excess of $500 for The Giving Tree, an organization that brings holiday gifts to underprivledged children in the Missoula area.
- 2007 – Youth members assisted with a yard sale and plant sale that raised $700 in support of the building of the Mahankhal Chautari school in Nepal.
- 2008 – Our youngest and oldest youth members made fleece blankets in pouches including a “care package” to donate to the YWCA domestic abuse shelter to comfort children in crisis.
Information for first-time visitors:
- Children stay with the adults for the first 10-15 minutes of each service. After the Story for all Ages segment, they open their own service upstairs with chalice lighting and Joys & Concerns. Parents are always welcome upstairs if the child needs a little reassurance.
- We can better plan for your children if you let us know in advance that you will be attending. Contact Marleen Ochs at 745-2548 or
for more information.
- We welcome you and your children to our community and look forward to getting to know you.