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!

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 😉

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

Easter in Spirit Play! It’s Complicated.

It’s that time of year again when we wrestle with what to do with the kids for Easter. As Unitarian Universalist, this can be a most complicated occasion.

For the new to UU, here’s an overview of the scene.

First, as a pluralistic congregation, we’re not universally aligned with the Christian Easter narrative, so it doesn’t always feel like our holiday to celebrate. We’re certainly a religion of Christian lineage and we’re by no means anti-Easter. It’s just…delicate. And yet, parents and children alike have expressed a desire for an Easter egg hunt every year that I’ve been on staff, and by golly, we like to give our families what they desire when we can!

We aim to be good stewards of the Earth, so there’s also the question of how to host the desired egg hunt in a way that aligns with our larger values, so without contributing more plastic eggs to the landfill. Add to that the amazing education Rachel Kohler provided around fair trade chocolate, and suddenly, even if we do have an egg hunt, what would we put in the eggs? Have I mentioned that it’s tricky? We want to live our values and host a joyous occasion at the same time!

So where have we landed? I’m so glad you asked!

We’ll be sharing the story of Ostara and the Hare in Spirit Play on Easter Sunday, and exploring some of the theories around how the Pagan and Christian cultures mingled in such a way that in modern America, we associate multicolored eggs with the Jesus story.

Then, we’ll have an egg hunt on the playground during what is usually our “work time.” We’ve found colorful wooden eggs that we can use year after year. The children can keep what’s inside, and leave the eggs for next year, as a practice in reusing to lessen our environmental impact.

It’s worth mentioning that there will be some plastic trinkets involved. Why? Because I’m not pulled toward the kind of performative environmentalism that might motivate us to send the perfectly usable trinkets we’ve inherited from previous generations to the landfill simply to look like we’re living our values. We have a fair amount of spring-related plastic items that our children will delight in, so we’re passing them out! We’re not planning on purchasing more when these are gone, but let’s give what we already own a full life before the landfill, shall we? We’ve also purchased some earth-friendly treasures to go in the eggs instead of chocolate.

TL;DR We will learn about the Pagan and Christian origins of the occasion and enjoy an informed egg hunt that aligns with our larger UU values by decentering plastics, using up what we already have, and opting out of the chocolate.


If you’re the parent of a Spirit Play kiddo, you are most welcome to send them to RE with their Easter baskets for the activity, and paper sacks will be provided for those who arrive basket-free. 

Celebrating Our Scouts!

In case you missed it, Corvallis Scout, Charlie, earned his Love and Help UU Scouting award and chose to celebrate that achievement with us last Sunday during our time for all ages. In addition to receiving his pin in the service, Charlie spent time in the social hall afterward, sharing one of his favorite treats, lemon cupcakes, and the things he recorded in his workbook along the way to this achievement. Thank you to everyone who stopped by Charlie’s table to learn about his efforts! Charlie, we are so proud of you and the learning you’ve done!

If you’re a scout who has been inspired by Charlie and would like more information about earning your UU scouting award, let me know. I’m here to help!

Wheel of the Year Conversations

Many thanks to all who have reached out in the last month to ask about the future of the Wheel of the Year services. I love it when you communicate your vision for the ways we live into our mission at the Fellowship! It’s most helpful!

While we are committed to completing this Fellowship year with the series that you have all become familiar with over the last three years, the sense that many are interested in shaping a new vision for this program grows and is worth exploring. It is difficult, as you can imagine, to birth a new vision into the world when these conversations take place one-on-one, here and there. As such, I would like to invite all who have strong feelings about the direction of Wheel of the Year programming AND who are willing to commit some ongoing energy toward a re-envisioning effort to email me at by March 15th so that we can find a time to gather as a group and see what might emerge.

New Resources for Caregivers of Teens

Our film screening of What I Wish My Parents Knew served as an excellent conversation starter! Thanks for everyone who participated! Lots of ideas were generated about how we can sharpen our skills as compassionate listeners and be more present to the needs of the members of our community. We want to keep this conversation going!

To follow up, I’d like to share a few resources that are immediately available to parents, grandparents, and caregivers in our community.

As a member of the UU Mental Health Network’s GA proposal team, I was gifted with a set of the Tell My Story card game that is designed to help initiate connection and communication between teens and their caregivers. You are most welcome to check this card deck out from the RE office for 2 weeks at a time and use it at the dinner table, at bed time, on car rides, or whenever you feel like there’s time for sharing, but maybe you don’t know where to start.

Additionally, the UU Mental Health Network spent a large part of this past year working with religious educators across the country to compile a list of mental health resources specifically relevant to children and youth. You can find the newly completed Mental Health Toolkit for Children and Youth by clicking HERE!

I hope these resources can help us keep expanding our capacities to be the kind of community where our children and youth can show up authentically and receive the support they need to thrive and connect.

Proposed new Adult RE Team needs MEMBERS

How many years now and counting??

Many at the UU Fellowship are very aware that they are getting older and would welcome the chance to consider issues related to aging. In addition, it would be helpful to have opportunities to compare ideas and experiences with one another.

The purpose of the group would be to develop community and assuage concerns related to aging. This may call for monthly gatherings on a variety of topics. Guest speakers could be called in to inform and to help the group sort through the many

If you’re facing this stage of your life and would be interested in contributing to the efforts of a new Adult RE Team, please contact: Janet Farrell at We now have three committed members and need a couple more to qualify in order for this new program to get started. Please consider this invitation to join us!

Lynn Snider, Janet Farrell and Carolyn Madsen

IMPORTANT UPDATE for Brilliant Minds

An incorrect registration link went out in the weeklies and the newsfeed for the Brilliant Minds Workshop. If you believe you have already registered via one of those , please take a look at THIS registration link and verify that it is the one you used. If you signed up on the clipboard and or via the bulletin board QR code, you are already good to go! Thank you so much for your interest in this offering!