This past Sunday we had our traditional Flower Communion and we also wished our three seniors well as they move from high school on to college in a ceremony called Bridging. The Flower Communion involves members of the congregation bringing in flowers for collective vases and then at the end of the service the flowers are redistributed so that every person walks away with a different bloom. The children did a wonderful job parading the vases in and distributing the blossoms out to the full room.
At the UUSA Bridging involves rubber gloves, roses with thorns (can you see where this is going?), a book that we (and the parents) think the youth would like and a quick update from the youth on where they are going next.
At this service we also said goodbye to our Interim Minister, Cindy Frado. We wish her well.
This summer we will be offering childcare on most of the Sundays except when Pancake Breakfasts are scheduled. This coming Sunday the UUSA will be closed. Please check the website for updates.
Have a wonderful summer everyone!
Good luck seniors!
This past Sunday we took time in our service to thank all of the adults who have volunteered with our Religious Education. For those who helped out downstairs once or twice (or four or five times) we gave candles. Fort those who helped facilitate OWL and Neighboring Faiths and served on the RE Ministry we gave potted flowers. Please see below for excerpts of my email to the volunteers.
Downstairs parent volunteers led a (not so) secret thank you project going on in the Preschool and Elementary rooms for me – thank you for MY thank you posters everyone! And in Classroom A with the Kate’s help we met with three youth to talk about next year. Thank you to the youth for helping me paint the senior chalice gifts and for giving us lots of good ideas for next year.
Thank you everyone,
This is what I wrote in my email to all of our volunteers:
I am writing to thank you for helping the UUSA RE Program. The program was successful because of the time and the effort you put into volunteering and as the DRE, I can tell you that your dedication is essential to the children and youths’ spiritual development as well as their connection to the UUSA congregation…This Sunday I am hoping you can attend the Sunday Service because there will be a short ceremony to recognize both the people who volunteered downstairs during Sunday mornings and those of you who have helped to facilitate OWL, Neighboring Faiths and Youth Group… Again, I am so appreciative of your time and support and I hope that you will help me and the RE Ministry recruit others to become part of our RE programming. The more people we bring “downstairs,” the more the children will feel part of upstairs and the more adults will realize that RE is integral to who we are as a congregation.
This past Sunday our amazing Preschool Teacher Jacy set up stations for the children to move between. One of the favorites was the block monument construction zone and the other was snack! Check out the monuments that included gems and candles. The watermelon was a sign of summer to come. The children did a beautiful job of working together and respecting each other’s space and ideas.
Thank you all.
This past Sunday our Neighboring Faiths group pulled off a thoughtful service that filled the congregation with a sense of purpose, pride, love and appreciation. Thank you to all of the youth for their dedication throughout the year and to the facilitators for helping to make the program happen. I hope that the RE elementary children could picture themselves up in the pulpit in a few short years and that the high school youth could think back on their time in the program and realize how much they have changed since they participated in the program. I hope all the adults in the room realized that one of our missions is to help our children develop their faith and feel a sense of belonging in our congregation.
5-20-18 NF Order of Service.docx
Thanks to Jason for coming to RE to help prepare a special Mother’s Day concert for the mothers of our congregation. Jason wrote a song especially for the occasion!
We practiced singing the song several times and then we wrote poems for our mothers to go with the song and flowers. Once the service was finished we assembled upstairs in the social hall and called for silence. The song was a big hit.
Thanks to Jason and to all the mothers out there!
In honor of the Gay Pride parade that happened on Saturday, May 5th, we read the book Pride by Robert Sanders. The book celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Rainbow Pride Flag and does a great job of providing an overview of Harvey Milk’s work, as well as the artistic flag work done by Gilbert Baker.
After reading the picture book we talked about how the UU has worked to provide guidance to its congregations through the Welcoming Congregation program. The concept of a welcoming congregation has changed since it was first conceived and it is now more radically inclusive than ever before. “Today, most Unitarian Universalist congregations are recognized Welcoming Congregations. The spiritual practice of welcome is a very important one to our faith community.” Before moving over to the art table we also talked about how it is important to act on our principles as we go about our daily lives.
After the discussion we got to work on our own rainbow flags – BEAUTIFUL!
Welcome is a spiritual practice. It takes constant doing and stretching for our welcome to grow. We practice welcome in our congregations by:
This past week I ran into Sue gardening around the UU and I blurted out , “Would you mind if the RE program did some planting?” Sue was enthusiastic. The next leap wasn’t hard to take – “Would you like to help us garden? I’ll buy the plants! How about this Sunday?” Who could say no to extra hands and plants? I arrived Sunday with three boxes of pansies and dark skies. By the time we got outside, it was showering and we moved as fast as we could, using all of Sue’s tools and some kitchen spoons too! By the time we got to the third box it was pouring. We decided to let Sue plant the rest when it let up.
Back inside we talked about why we want to keep the outside of our building looking nice and the consensus was that nice building make people feel welcome. We drew pictures of things that changed and Sue handed out baby sunflowers for everyone to take home to grow. Remember, don’t plant them before Memorial Day! And for those budding scientists, Sue gave instructions on how to do a bee count and turn over the data. I included the instructions below.
Thank you to all the kids who got muddy and cold for the sake of the flowers and thank you to Sue for maintaining our welcoming presence in the Town of Amherst.
Lemon Queen Sunflowers
These sunflowers like the sun and mature to a height of 5 to 6 feet. They have been started
indoors, so they will need some gradual acclimation to their growing spot outdoors. When the
weather has warmed into the 50 degree range, transplant the flowers 12 inches apart, or put your plant in an 8 inch pot. Keep the soil moist and well weeded. You can protect young seedlings from hungry birds with netting or plastic berry baskets, removing before the plants get crowded.
The Great Sunflower Project run by Dr. Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University uses
Lemon Queen Sunflowers. Participants count the number of pollinators that visit the Lemon Queen in a fixed period of time. When the data is compiled, a baseline number of pollinator visitations for the plant can be compiled for sites across the country. That number can then be used to track pollinator trends over time and determine their health. Bees need our support as they pollinate our vegetables and flowers!
To learn more about the project or participate, go to http://www.greatsunflower.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This past Sunday the first attention activity involved sorting the rice and beans with eyes closed. Try it! It takes a lot of attention to detail. The second activity included drawing on circles and adding to the circle of circles. Children discussed the First UU principle and the importance of caring for people close to them and in their community.
This past Sunday I took the day off and let two wonderful volunteers lead the RE elementary program in preparing for social hour and discussing how our social hour after service is part of the Sunday morning worship experience. Thank you to Susan and Sue.
This past Sunday the youth did a great job pulling together a worthy worship on the topic of Change! Because of time constraints I set up the worship and then assigned different parts to each youth who could make it. During the reflection time they each read a short piece on their thoughts on change. The thoughts, no surprise, were varied and insightful. Our elementary RE children did a great job sitting through the service too!
(Order of Service drawing by Rosie)