For the 2018/19 church year we are embarking on a new adventure in Religious Exploration using Soul Matters. Soul Matters is a collection of resources centered around a monthly theme which weaves itself throughout our church experience. Worship, Religious Exploration and Adult Small Groups will all be pulling from these resources to better facilitate an experience that extends beyond our congregation walls on Sundays and around the dinner table the rest of the week.
Once a month, our congregation holds an Intergenerational Service. These services are designed to welcome all ages in worship with a service that encourages participation and engagement of our young congregants.
Our Pre-K through 1st grade class meets three Sundays per month. In this class, children will explore various aspects of the monthly theme each week led by experienced educator. This group begins by centering themselves through a meditation or guided imagery exercise followed by stories, art projects, and both group and solo activities.
Our 2nd through 5th graders meet with the 6th through 8th graders for two Sundays per month and separately once per month in their own volunteer-led Sharing Circle. In this group, they delve into the monthly theme using mindfulness and deep listening practices and community building among peers. Children in the Sharing Circle are provided opportunities to develop the building blocks of resilience and empathy as well as deepen bonds with each other.
Creative Expression Sundays are held once monthly for grades 2 through 8. On these Sundays, children will use various art mediums to delve into the monthly theme. We have a congregation rich with artistic talent to provide inspiration and guidance to our kids.
Social Justice Sundays are held once monthly as well for grades 2 through 8. Our children crave opportunities to engage in social justice. On these Sundays volunteers with help children examine our monthly theme through experiential social justice activities. These activities are designed to help our young congregants build the confidence and skill set to continue social justice work for a lifetime.
High School Youth Group meets at least monthly and will use the monthly Soul Matters theme in a small group format. High School Youth sometimes collaborate with other area UU congregation youth for fellowship and other activities.
This year, Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun is hosting UUCS 7th through 9th graders in the Our Whole Lives (OWL) Program. This program begins with a mandatory parent orientation in September, and meets 2 Sundays a month October through March.
Adult RE programming consists of a variety of small groups and classes. This year there will be classes on Mysticism, Cultivating Compassion and a small group using the Soul Matters content. Additionally, we have an outside leader who is presenting a 4-week seminar on “God Problem: Why Do We Suffer.” This seminar explores the topic of “If God is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good, whence evil? Examples of recent, past programming include:
- “Telling Our Story”, a conversation about our congregational history and our transition in search of a new settled minister, led by Interim Minister Wayne Arnason
- “Caring for Students Experiencing Stress”, a teachers’ forum on how to provide support to students during times of increased anxiety and fear
- “Animals, Our Nature, and UUs: Bringing Our Principles to Life, a workshop about living compassionately and joyfully in a multispecies world, led by Rev. Dr. LoraKim Joyner.
- “Women’s Personal Self Defense Class”, a class to teach physical and mental exercises needed to recognize and survive potential confrontations
- “Between the World and Me”, a 6-week seminar based on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book
- “How Jesus Became God” lecture series led by Jack Dalby. Based on Bart Ehrman’s book examining the question, “How is it that within 100 years of his death, Jesus, an apocalyptic, itinerant Jewish preacher, went from being seen as God’s unique messenger to God himself?”. This was Part 3 of the Early Christianity Series that Jack taught at the UUCS.
The UUCS Religious Exploration program is coordinated by Rachael Roman. The two adult volunteer assistant coordinators are Stephanie Roche and Heather Suri.
Rachael started attending UUCS with her family when she was about ten years old, and grew up in the congregation. She was an active member of the high school youth group, and later was a Youth Advisor before becoming the RE Coordinator this year. When she is not at church, Rachael works at a public library and cares for her eleven pets at home.
Stephanie is a retired Fairfax County Public School Science Curriculum Coordinator and Science Teacher. She has taught science at all levels of education from early childhood through college level. She has a BS in Biology with a minor in Education. Stephanie is a founding member of UUCS, has trained and taught the Our Whole Lives class. She has been a youth advisor, RE volunteer teacher, and RE Council chair. Stephanie raised her own two children in the congregation.
Heather Suri has attended UUCS for the last 6 years. She has 4 children and in years past has co-led the middle school RE program and several summer RE sessions. With the departure of our part-time DRE, Heather says, “I wanted to make sure that I did all that I could to ensure a robust RE program survived the transitions in our congregation. I have the pleasure of serving alongside 8 other congregation members who are equally committed to Lifespan RE. When I am not at church, I am a nurse and geriatric care manager as well as a Girl Scout troop leader.”