Children in Worship Discussion 6/2 & 6/19

The RE Council will be hosting 2 post-sermon discussions for you to ask questions, voice concerns and ideas, and hear about the approach to multigenerational worship that we will be experimenting with this summer.

These will take place on June 2nd and 19th after the service in the sanctuary. Grab a cup of tea and come catch the vision for a summer of beautiful multigenerational worship!

You can read more about the specific changes coming to RE to help you prepare for our conversation!

Changes Coming to RE!

Beginning June 9th, we will be adopting a new approach to how we welcome children and youth on Sundays! Nursery and classroom spaces will not be available during this temporary change. If you want to learn more about what’s coming to your hometown UU sanctuary this summer, read on!

What is Soul Work?

Soul Work was popularized by the UUA’s Children and Families Faith Development Specialist, Joy Berry, and is already used by countless congregations around the nation who moved to multigenerational worship after the pandemic impacted their volunteer pools. This approach to multigenerational worship involves having handwork projects — called “Soul Work” in our sacred spaces — available to members of all ages during worship.

Repetitive handwork like embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and coloring mandalas has shown therapeutic benefits similar to meditation. Many folx, young and old, feel better able to settle their bodies and listen when their hands are busy.

While the primary aim of Soul Work in multigenerational worship is to support our youngest members in being appropriately engaged in something quiet while they share our worship space, a side benefit has been referred to as the “NPR effect” by religious educators, who report that kids may look like they’re not paying attention to the service at all, but then a few days after will ask their parents about something that was said by the minister. Just like when kids seem zoned out in the car, but then ask about a Supreme Court Justice who was quoted on the radio. Hopefully, our children and youth will be able to be in conversation with all other members of our congregation around topics that are elevated in the service, making us a more whole and integrated community!

Here’s what it has looked like in other congregations:

Why Now?

I’m so glad you asked!

As you have hopefully heard by now, the classroom wing is getting a safety update sometime this summer. When that process begins — and we have no idea when the work will commence — we will not be able to enter that area for at least three months. What’s an RE team to do? Well, the staff and RE Council have been hard at work making a plan!

After exploring many options (renting other buildings, having children’s RE on a different day of the week, running in circles in a panic until construction is over), adopting Soul Work and starting it on the chosen date feels like the best possible option. Why? Well, many of our volunteers are unable to consistently serve in the summer months, and while I would ordinarily get busy trying to recruit some new summer volunteers (and did do some of that before we landed on this plan), it’s quite difficult to get people to set aside one of their precious few summer Sundays for something that may or may not happen. As you can imagine, it’s not a very compelling ask.

Planning for an unknown future is nearly impossible, so we decided to create some knowns by declaring a start date and implementing something beautiful on our own terms. I’ve been in consultation with DRE’s around our region who have already been using Soul Work in their congregation, learning what what has and hasn’t worked for them, and we’re almost ready to launch!

We will commence multigenerational worship on June 9th and return to our usual Nursery, Spirit Play, as soon as construction on the classroom wing has ended and a full slate of volunteers has been identified. This could be any time between fall and early winter. The reality with construction projects is that the timeline is entirely out of our hands.

How Will This Work?

Great question! A shelf of Soul Work options will appear near the hymnal racks at the back of the primary aisle toward the social hall. Parents, we invite you to consider stopping by the shelf on your way to your seat and encouraging your child to select something that will keep them busy for a while. If you think your child will need to return to the shelf at some point during the service, we encourage you to sit on an aisle near the shelf to minimize disruption.

I and a volunteer will be available to sit with kids in the gallery who want a little support learning a new handcraft. We’ll keep it to a whisper or silent demonstration, but we recognize that working with someone new is a novelty that might support their capacity to be respectfully quiet in the sanctuary as they acclimate to the space. We’re hoping this approach will be sufficient, but setting up a maker space in the social hall is a backup plan.

Alternative Orders of Service will be available that are simplified for children and we encourage parents and adults who are sitting near children to help them follow along in their Order of Service to help them stay engaged if it looks like they need more than their handwork.

Won’t Kids Be Disruptive to Our Sacred Time?

Multigenerational worship is a whole congregation endeavor. For years, we’ve been hearing folx wish for more children in our spaces. For four years, the RE Council has been actively working on expanding our congregation’s capacity for intergenerational connection. This is our chance to put those wishes and skill sets to work to make a meaningful and welcoming worship experience for all of our people, the tall and the small. But we’ve still got a lot of learning to do.

There will be hiccups. There will be disruptions. It will not be perfect. We’re viewing this as an experimental era, where we are committed to trying a way, reflecting, tweaking, and trying again. So the first few weeks will likely look a little different each Sunday as we work things out. I invite you to share your ideas with me and any member of the RE Council as we experiment. We’re here to help this be as smooth and seamless as possible, but we’re being realistic about the challenges ahead.

Kids do make sound. Kids do move their bodies. Kids do sing off key and clap off beat. There will be some distractions. We’re already in talks with the sound team about strategies for those with difficulty hearing, and we’d love to chat with you if that is a concern. We have some ideas, and if you’re a hearing aid user, we’d like to hear your ideas around the use of the Loop or Bluetooth, or other ideas we haven’t even thought of.

What If I Just Absolutely NEED a Super Quiet Space?

We know this is a reality for some, and we’re working toward creating a few zones for worship time in the building. Remember, once the construction begins, this is an unavoidable reality of our circumstances, so it’s nice that we’ve got a little practice time in advance to iron out some details.

We ask that parents of children who have reached their limit of quiet stillness step into the social hall, where they can still hear the sermon and choir while their children have a little more leeway to be active without preventing others from engaging with the service.

And for those who simply need a silent space, we are working towards streaming the service into the library for a completely set apart quiet space for those who absolutely need it in order to be able to focus completely.

It is our hope that the vast majority of adults will take advantage of this time to introduce yourself to the children near you, just as you would any other person in the sanctuary, and help them feel at ease in the sanctuary.

But I Still Have Questions!

We knew you would! Members of the RE Council will be available in the sanctuary after the service on June 2nd and 16th to answer your questions, hear your concerns and ideas, and share any information about the decision making process that led us here. I hope you will join us!

RE Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon 6/9

We couldn’t offer the awesome programming and community-building opportunities for our children and youth that we do if not for our tireless team of volunteers. Did you know that it takes approximately 34 volunteers to keep our Religious Exploration programs up and running? That’s a lot of people contributing their time and energy to the care and development of our tiniest beloveds!

All RE Volunteers from the Grandfolks Squad, Nursery Care Team, Spirit Play Guides, Youth Advisors, and RE Council members are invited to attend a luncheon in Rooms 6 B&C at 11:45 on June 9th. Register HERE to help us prepare.

Parents, it would be lovely if you would sign up to contribute an item to the luncheon for those who care for our littles throughout the church year. Signups for food contributions can be accessed HERE!

If you have any questions about attending or contributing, contact Skyla (dre@uucorvallis.org)

Family Picnic 5/26

Whole Family Hike and Picnic

Nursery, Spirit Play, and YRUU families are invited to a hike and picnic with Rev. Jill and Skyla after the service on May 26th. Please REGISTER HERE!

We’ll depart from UUFC at 11:45 and meet at the Fitton Green trailhead (parking is limited, so carpooling is encouraged) and make the short hike out to the viewpoint to eat together. This is a great chance for parents and siblings to get to know one another. 

Bring your own picnic lunch, sunscreen, and water bottle. The hike is short, the view is great, and the company will be greater!

If we have fewer than 3 families register, we will cancel the event and notify registered participants via email.

Direct questions to Skyla at dre@uucorvallis.org

Guest Speaker Jen Shattuck 5/12

Have you ever thought about what selves do you bring into spiritual community with you? Well, you’re about to! Join us for a special sermon and post-sermon discussion with author and religious educator, Jen Shattuck.

J.L. (Jen) Shattuck is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist and longtime early childhood professional turned religious educator. She’s passionate about helping UU churches welcome and support their very youngest congregants and currently serves on staff at both the Unitarian Church of Barnstable on Cape Cod and at Sanctuary Boston. She is the author of The Tending Years, a book for those caring for preschool-age children, and is also the creator of Ellery Churchmouse, a video series for UU kids and their families.

Rev. Jill has copies of Jen’s book, the Tending Years, available for purchase!

Celebrating Inquires Series Milestones!

Inquirer's Series

It’s been beautiful to witness the unfolding of the Inquirers Series this year, as we’ve envisioned new ways to invite folks to explore “how we do church” together here in Corvallis, as well as what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist in a broader context. The feedback from visitors as well as long-time members has been great!

Thanks to our dedicated Inquirers Series team, over 70 people have engaged with this program in just 9 months! Thank you to Rev. Jill McAllister, John Bailey, Bobbi Bailey, Karen Josephson, Dawn Dirks, and Sandy Piper for their tireless commitment to welcoming and tending our growing community.

In the service on Sunday, you had a chance to meet some of the folks who have completed the entire series! A few of them were happy to share a little something about what they enjoyed about the series in hopes of inspiring more of us to gather and learn together. Have a read, catch the vision, and then come join us in Room 8 at 11:45 any Sunday that works for you! We’d love to see you there!

Callum Barnum

I think my favorite part of the inquirers series was how much more I was able to understand about the background and purpose of the UU, and what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist.

Kristi Komar

I really enjoyed the Inquirers Series.  I learned a lot about UU history in general and the UUFC’s.  I especially liked the walk around the grounds.

Christina Marquardt

I liked the idea of a basic intro to the fellowship.  When we were here 12 years ago, there was nothing like it. Small groups typically work better for me, and the Inquirer’s Series allowed me to get to know other members more quickly than I would have in the much larger group. We need more small groups to unite our much larger fellowship. 

Brandi Tucker

I really enjoyed the grounds tour with John, where he crystallized the UUFC vision for all of us. In fact, you couldn’t ask for better ambassadors of a welcoming congregation than he and his wife Bobbi. Please enjoy these photos of us on tour. I am proud to say Rev. Jill referred to us as a good flock 😉

Aging Successfully in Community, 5/1

Wednesday, May 1, 3-5 pm in the UUFC Sanctuary

“Moving along in life and aiming to thrive!”

At our May meeting, we are pursuing two interests: the ups and downs of deciding whether to stay put in our current home or to move on to a smaller place… or one that may offer services to help us adapt as we age or, at least, simplifies life. Four UUers who have been through this quandary will share their decision processes in a moderated panel to begin the program.

One major consideration for being able to age in place is making adaptations to our current homes. The panel discussion will be followed by a presentation by Brian Egan on “Aging in Place Safely”. During his years as a general contractor, Brian trained as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Thanks to his expertise, we will learn how to make our homes safer and what products can be used for that purpose.

Feeling social? We’ll provide the forms that make it easy to be a host for a group social activity! Coffee? Games? Walking? Puzzles? You name it! And sign up!
Come join us to create positive experiences for this time of life!

Mental Health Worship Service, 5/19

On May 19th at 4pm PDT, the Unitarian Universalist Mental Health Network will be offering an online worship service
centered on how Unitarian Universalism can inspire advocacy and acceptance in the area of mental health.

I’ve been working with the UUMHN for the past several months in an effort to expand our bank of mental health resources at the ready as our local community faces increasing need in this area, particularly among our children and youth, and I’m excited to share this worship opportunity with you!

In the second annual worship service produced by the UU Mental Health Network Speaker’s Bureau, author Sheri Thomas will share how Unitarian Universalism has inspired her to become a leading disability advocate fighting to remove the stigmas surrounding physical disabilities and mental health. Additional speakers include Rev. Barbara Meyer, whose seminary story was told by Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt during her recent UUFC reception; Phoenix Bell-Shelton Biggs, a queer, BIPOC, non-binary seminarian; Erin White, member and past board president of The Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York, and I’ll be offering the time for all ages!

If you’re interested in exploring topics at the intersection of faith and mental health, I hope you’ll join us!

Coast Retreat Through the Eyes of Our Youth!

In March, members of our YRUU group, along with their advisors Dawn Dirks and Mark Aron, had a weekend of adventure at the annual youth coast retreat.

I asked our brilliant Edna if she would mind writing a few words about her experience so that we could imagine it from a youth perspective and she agreed. And without even being asked, the talented Gabe asked if he could send me some of his photography from the trip to share with you all. So please enjoy this look at the annual youth coast retreat through the eyes of two of our fabulous future leaders!

I remember feeling not excited to go on the cost trip at first. I was a bit nervous because I knew the people but wasn’t friends with any of them. but after a while I realized I had started to actually really enjoy it. I enjoyed going to the beach, and playing sardines, and the food and I felt like I kinda made friends and definitely learned more about everyone there. when I left I realized I missed it. From Edna <3

Child Dedication Invitation, 5/12

In Unitarian Universalist congregations, the dedication and blessing of a child signifies the congregation’s willingness to nurture & love the child, & to support parents & caregivers in providing for their children’s spiritual development. It also celebrates the family’s desire to raise their children in a nurturing religious community.

Children are beloved members of the UUFC. Their growth and unfolding personalities are a source of joy to us all, and we are committed, as a congregation, to their spiritual welfare.  Our child dedication service is an opportunity to recognize that commitment & to welcome the new children in our midst.

It is our custom to dedicate children on Christmas Eve and Mother’s Day, as well as any time a family makes the request. Participating families will be invited to come forward & introduce their children. Each child will be blessed with a touch of water, the gift of a flower, & words of commitment by the gathered community.

If you would like your child to be dedicated on Mother’s Day, please contact Skyla by Sunday, May 5th.