During the Time for All Ages Rev. Rachael spoke to the children about two important African Americans.
Francis Ellen Watkins Harper was a Abolitionist and Universalist who freed slaves through the Underground Railroad, wrote novels and poetry and lectured about slavery and women’s rights.
James Weldon Johnson wrote Lift Every Voice and Sing which was originally sung by school children in Jacksonville, FL in 1900 to celebrate President Lincoln’s birthday.
Downstairs we talked about how the adults in the congregation were kicking off the annual canvass and how keeping the UUSA requires members and friends to give money. I asked the children to list things they thought we should consider raising money for and what kinds of things we could do together that would not cost money, but would help bring us together. I gave them pennies to incorporate into their artwork and we wrapped up by playing pass the penny guessing game.
On February 9th we had a whole congregation worship service that was a special “break out” service organized by the UUSA Religious Education Ministry. The original breakout was designed about five years ago after RE went to a training and learned about the many ways we can worship beyond the traditional Sunday Sanctuary experience. RE Ministry has been experimenting with different types of services ever since.
In the past RE asked people to choose between music, conversation, art and action and they heard people say, “It is so hard to choose!” This year RE Ministry set up the breakout groups in a way so that they didn’t have to choose because each group had a little bit of conversation, did a small amount of art, some action and some music. This system encouraged a good mixing of people. Many people in the congregation say they want to get to know each other and this was one small step towards helping people mix and mingle.
Four weeks before the service we began collecting items for a backpack project supported and run by A Project of St John’s Episcopal Church in Ashfield & the Franklin and the County Transition from Jail to Community Task Force (TJC).
Here are some of the highlights of the program that were told to the breakout groups in our congregation:
It’s difficult when women are released, because there are waiting lists for low-income and subsidized housing, and it can be hard to find work. The women often leave jail with nothing but the clothes on their back.
The organizers asked women being released from jail for ideas about what would help the most if included in the backpack. The list has developed from their ideas. 35 packs were given out the first year and 45 were given out last year.
A member of the organizational committee is quoted as saying “The program continues to grow and evolve every day…” “We want to expand, but we need the help of others. This little church (the St. Johns Episcapal Church) with a big heart does a lot, but we can’t do everything. We’ll be doing some outreach to other churches this next year.”
The UUSA collected and packed 16 backpacks and an additional five or six boxes of items that could be used by the group to pack more packs!
Below is a photo of Brenda Miller leading the congregation in singing How Could Anyone. After we sang together we blessed the packs with backpack charms we had made for our own Back Pack service in the fall.
This past Sunday we had an enthusiastic session. We started off reading I Have The Right To Be A Child by by Alain Serres, Aurélia Fronty Helen Mixter
Next I asked the children to quickly draw a flower on a folded piece of paper. Then I gave them flowers to observe and take apart. We taped down the separate pieces of the flowers and then labeled the parts. It is a good thing we didn’t have a huge group because helping everyone do their labeling was challenging. Next time I will do a big drawing and label it so everyone can see, rather than passing out the tiny print outs I found online.
Finally we talked about the parts purposes of a flower and the children discussed if flowers were around before people and if we could live without them. There was general consensus that we could not live without beautiful flowers, happy bees and plants to breathe out oxygen.