Religious Education

Welcome to the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara’s Religious Education program! Whether you are new to Unitarian Universalism or are a member of this congregation, we are pleased you are visiting our website to learn more about our Religious Education Program for Children and Youth.

Mission Statement

Children’s Religious Education at Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara:

Together we create a fun and supportive multigenerational community that fosters

curious minds, generous hearts, and a passion for justice.

USSB Philosophy of Religious Education

We seek to provide children and youth with an environment that is nurturing and supportive; one that encourages personal exploration and grounds them in our Unitarian Universalist faith. The USSB Religious Education program is designed to both promote individual self-exploration and give children knowledge of UU values and principles. We are committed to providing an environment that encourages and empowers children to seek and to learn. Our Sunday morning experience is a fun and active part of our USSB community. Our children and youth laugh, grow, make friends, explore tough questions, and sometimes even try to change the world.

If you have questions about Unitarian Universalist theology, religious education, pastoral concerns or other related topics, please contact Assistant Minister, Rev. Caitlin Cotter at Caitlin@ussb.org.

Visitors

We welcome newcomers throughout the year, and your family is welcome to visit any of our Religious Education classes. In July and August we hold one Sunday service at 10:00 a.m. From September to June we hold two services each Sunday morning, at 9:15 and 11:15 a.m. Childcare is available 9am to 12:30pm. Classes for Preschool through 8th grade are held during Middle Hour at 10:15 a.m. Check out the RE News page for this month’s CRE schedule and family friendly events.

Our Director of Children’s Religious Education, Jena Foster, can give you a short tour of the classrooms and show you where your child would go for class before church begins. If you plan on visiting more than three times throughout the year, we ask that you complete the RE Enrollment Forms, available here or at the RE table on Sunday mornings in our Parish Garden. Completing this form will get you signed up for communications and announcements from the RE program.

For Children

Childcare

We have nursery care for young children at each service, staffed by qualified and trained childcare providers. Childcare is provided in Starr King Preschool which is located on our Lower Campus.

Preschool: Story TImeI have two hands

Story Time is a literature-based curriculum written by educator and UU mother, Mary Jerse Schwartz. Stories for this program were chosen based on the following themes: feelings, relationships, holidays and nature. Lesson plans need not follow a specific order so we decided to align preschool lessons and activities with the values our K-2 Scouting program is exploring.

Kindergarten – 5th Grade: Scouting our values, principles and sources

Research has shown children learn best through play and creativity. USSB’s Scouting program is an exploration-based program utilizing science, cooperative games, music, crafts, theater, mindfulness and outdoor activities to support all children in their growth and understanding of what is important to them and their wider UU community. We believe in honoring multiple intelligences and unique learning styles and above all, that learning should be inclusive and fun. That’s why we’ve also designed this program to be easily adaptable to your schedule

K-2: Scouting our Values

Our youngest scouts will begin their exploration of Unitarian Universalism by focusing on values that are commonly upheld in UU congregations: diversity, courage, community, love, generosity and joy. The intention of this program is to gently guide participants in developing their own value system.

3-5: Scouting our Principles

Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote seven Principles. These seven principles grew out of the grassroots of our communities, were affirmed democratically, and are part of who we are. The intention of this program is to deepen participant understanding of each principle, allowing our children to connect the principles of Unitarian Universalism to how they live their daily lives.

For Youth

6th – 8th Grade

Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote six Sources. These sources of our “living tradition” are as diverse as science, poetry, scripture, and personal experience. Our Jr. High scouts, along with their adult advisors, will gather information from guest speakers and by visiting other faith communities. The intention of this program is to expand participant knowledge of world religions and spiritual practices and explore what allows each participant to connect deeply with self and other.

YRUU – Young Religious Unitarian Universalists

In YRUU, high school students gather to explore and share their questions and answers about life, relationships, spirit, and social justice. Activities include camp outs, retreats, social outings, guest speakers, worship and involvement in church and community service projects. An annual mission trip is a high point of the year. This program meets on Sunday afternoons from 4-5:30 in Blake Lounge.

Our Whole Lives

A sexuality education program for youth that models and teaches caring, compassion, respect, and justice. A holistic program that moves beyond the intellect to address the attitudes, values, and feelings that youth have about themselves and the world.

Unlike many other sexuality curricula currently available, this program is comprehensive and progressive. In an inclusive and developmentally appropriate manner, it addresses sensitive topics that are typically excluded. Although the curriculum was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, this volume is completely secular and free of specific religious doctrine or reference. However, the underlying values of the program reflect the justice-oriented traditions of both denominations.

Check with our Director of Children’s Religious Education, Jena@ussb.org, for the current schedule.

Parent Expectations

Come regularly. One of the most important ways to encourage religious and spiritual development in children and youth is to participate consistently in the life of the congregation. By coming regularly, your actions reflect your values. Continuity ensures that children get a deeper understanding of the curriculum and build trusting relationships with our dedicated teachers. Consistent attendance also helps to build lasting friendships with other children and families, making the RE experience richer for all.

Our Religious Education program is a cooperative venture. As an RE parent, you will choose a task force to serve on to contribute to our program and deepen your own experience in our wonderful community.

Why enroll?

  • So we know how to contact you about upcoming events, etc.
  • So we know if your child has any medical, allergy, or behavioral needs we should be aware of!
  • So we can plan our classes accordingly.
  • So we have your permission (or not) to provide medical care, take photos, etc.
  • So you can volunteer and support our amazing cooperative program!

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