Children & Youth Program

Our Religious Education Program

Unitarian Universalists believe that it is the right and responsibility of every individual to develop his or her own religious beliefs and philosophy of life. Religious (‘to bind back’) Education (‘to lead out’) is that process of spiritual growth.

Sensitive to the different needs and abilities of all ages, our program provides information and skills, encourages questioning and free-thinking, supports the sharing of concerns and ideas with others, nurtures spiritual growth and celebrates life.

General Information

10:30 – 11:45 AM.  Children grades K-12 will join the rest of the congregation in the Sanctuary for the beginning portion of the service.  They will stay through “moments for all ages”, and return to Harrop Center with their teachers and classmates.  There is no longer a children’s worship in Harrop Center. **

We encourage parents to help their children arrive on time and remain for the full 1 ¼ hours.

  • Babies through Kindergarten children should be picked up in their classrooms by 11:45 AM
  • Children and youth in grades 1-12 will join the adults at Hospitality Hour in the Parish Hall at 11:45.
September 11, 2016 is Ingathering Sunday. 

All babies, children and youth will attend the beginning of the 10:30 AM worship service in the Sanctuary with their families.

Then babies and their parents, children, youth, teachers and new families will proceed to Harrop Center to register, find their rooms and meet their classmates. 

Refreshments will be served outside at 11:30 AM.

New families may visit our church school or register in our program throughout the year. 

For more information, please contact Katy Joseph, Acting DRE at: 

Our primary goal with our youngest children is to nurture their sense of trust and comfort in the people and places beyond their family and home.  This program is led by staff member Justine Mello throughout the year.  She is CPR and First Aid trained. There are also always parent volunteers to assist Justine. 

The church school community can provide that first step into the larger world.

Your child will find loving care, first friendships, and a choice of toys appropriate to their varying ages, interests, learning abilities and emotional needs.

About Our Program

Worship – “Considering that which is of worth” – is an important component of our religious education program.

10:30 – 11:45 AM.  Children grades K-12 will join the rest of the congregation in the Sanctuary for the beginning portion of the service.  They will stay through “moments for all ages”, and return to Harrop Center with their teachers and classmates.  Note: There is no longer a children’s worship in Harrop Center.

Middle School and High School Youth Groups will occasionally attend full services in the Sanctuary.

Several intergenerational worship services are planned throughout the year with childcare available in Harrop Center.

Over 500 books for all ages are located in our library next to the kitchen in Harrop Center. In addition to children’s fiction, that illustrate our Unitarian Universalist principles, there are books, audio-tapes, and DVDs for children, teens and adults on:

  • Unitarian Universalism,
  • world religions,
  • Bible study,
  • spirituality,
  • parenting,
  • death and dying,
  • birth and adoption,
  • divorce,
  • remarriage,
  • aging,
  • new babies,
  • nature,
  • holidays,
  • simple living,
  • earth-keeping,
  • social justice  and more.

You may borrow books on the honor system – simply sign the card found in the back of the book, leave it in the basket, and return your book in one month.

Harrop Center is the English Tudor style house behind the Sanctuary and to the west of the Parish House.

It was built in 1904 as the “manse”, the home of the ministers and their families.  Sixty years later it was named in honor of Helen Harrop, Church School Director from 1937-1958 and became the home of the church school program.

It is now used for childcare, church school and youth group on Sunday mornings, as well as playgroup, adult education, meetings, social activities and community events during the week.

Our church school is a cooperative church school – everyone working together for the benefit of all.

All parents, except newcomers, are asked to contribute some time to our program every year. There are many ways to help. Your time and skills will enrich our program.

Newcomers are encouraged to attend the adult worship service in the Sanctuary to become more familiar with the Unitarian Universalist faith and our congregation.

An “Orientation to UUism” is offered twice a year and our staff and lay-leaders are always happy to talk with you.

Our Curriculum

Our year for children is divided into seasons, each with a different theme:

  • Fall – Unitarian Universalism; Celebrating the Holidays
  • Winter – Religions of the World
  • Spring – A Social-eco Justice Curriculum and Childcare and Activities for young children

Nursery – Pre K and Grades 1 – 4

Spirit Play this curriculum is offered K-2.  It is a Montessori based program for UU children to explore their faith while encouraging imagination and spiritual wondering in a sacred space.  The prepared classroom and trained teachers give the children a safe place to explore the UU principles and promises. 

Spirit Play (Grade 2) This multi-age curriculum is based on the Montessori method and Jerome Berryman’s “morning as worship” for the structure of your child’s hour at church. 

Harry Potter and the UU (Grade 3 and 4) Based on the popular book series by J.K Rowling, this curriculum will reinforce in your child the idea that they can change the world with their actions!  They will conquer real world problems (Horcruxes) as a part of Dumbledore’s Army.

Grades 5 and 6

Sept. 25 – Dec. 11

Neighboring Faiths-Building Bridges (Grade 5 and 6) this curriculum will explore 6-8 different religions that the group would like to know more about.  They will also learn about their own developing faith. 

Our Whole Lives (Grade 5 and 6) this year we will offer the OWL program for our 5th and 6th graders.  This curriculum is an age –appropriate program meant to discuss physical and emotional changes of puberty.  Topics will include values, communication, and decision making.  Each session includes a Home Link activity for parents and children to complete together.  This class is led by two trained teachers.


November 27 to December 18
Grades 1–6 will recognize the holidays with service projects and preparations for Intergenerational Christmas Worship service on December 18.

There will be no church school for grades 1 -12 on December 25.

January 1 to March 12
With age-appropriate content and activities, grades 1-2, 3–4 and 5–6 will learn about how people of different religions around the world celebrate holidays; recognize life passages; understand what is holy or transcendent; and how their faiths teach them about themselves and their interaction with other people and the earth.
March 19 to June 11
Grades 1–6 will learn how to make the world a better place and will participate in an eco-justice activity that helps them act on their faith.

Although our formal curriculum ends on the Sunday before Memorial Day weekend, childcare for babies, toddlers and preschoolers continues to be available in the nurseries.

Arts and outdoor activities are offered to primary children and older children are invited to attend church with their parents.

Grade 7-8

Our Whole Lives (Grade 7-8) This sexuality education program provides an age appropriate approach to the subject.  The class is led by two trained teachers in a safe environment.  Topics will include sexual development, reproductive health, affection, intimacy, and body image.  There will be a parent orientation offered before this course begins. 

Grade 9-10

Virtue Ethics The curriculum we will be using in the High School Youth Group for this year is called Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth.  This curriculum is based on the idea that we make hundreds of big and small decisions every day, and we need to be aware of these decisions, as making intentional, thoughtful decisions will help us to shape the person we want to be.

Each youth selects an adult mentor who will help in the completion of the monthly projects, most of which will be done as a group on Sunday morning.

A Rite of Passage celebration will take place at the end of the year. Youth who complete the program may choose to become junior members of our church.

Grade 11-12

 Older teens may attend adult worship, sing in the choir, help teach church school or participate in Sunday morning youth group.

By learning about different spiritual practices, their curriculum On the Path will explore the nature and meaning of spirituality in the lives of youth and young adults.

Consistent with our commitment to life-span faith development, programs will be offered throughout the year and announced in our church newsletter. These may include speakers and discussions, small group ministry, affinity groups, meditation circles, book discussions and curriculum series.

Program Leadership

Katy Joseph is the Acting Director of Religious Education. In addition to Sunday morning at church you may contact her at 508-992-7081 or

Chelsea Burke is the Youth Program Coordinators.

In addition to Sunday morning at church you may contact him at 508-992-7081 or

The Religious Education Committee meets once a month to determine the policies and programs for the children, youth and adults.  The following members currently serve on this committee:

  • Deb Becker, Chair
  • Toby Dills
  • Shannon McGuire
  • Beth McLeod
  • Bill Roth
  • David Tripanier
  • Robin Zora

Frequently Asked Questions

In fall 2014, there were about 85 babies through teens in our program with an average attendance of about 50.
There are between 4 and 12 children in each class. Each class has 2 teachers.
In fall 2014, 46% of the families were from Fairhaven, 17% from New Bedford and the rest were from Mattapoisett, Dartmouth, Marion, Rochester, Westport, Acushnet, East Freetown, Somerset, Wareham and Falmouth.
The church school meets in Harrop Center, the large English tudor-style house next to the Parish House. You can enter the front door from Center Street or the back door near the Parish House or the west porch door at the end of the ramp from the handicap parking area.
Church school is from 10:30 – 11:45 AM. Children in grades 1 – 12 will join the adults at coffee hour at 11:45. Younger children must be picked up from the religious education building by their parent at 11:45. (Parents must give permission to the teacher to release their child to anyone other than themselves.) Adult worship is from 10:30 – 11:30. Please enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation following the service until church school is concluded.
Snacks are provided for children in Nursery through Kindergarten in their classrooms. Please let us know if your child has an allergy.  Children in grades 1 – 12 will join the adults for Hospitality Hour at 11:45. This enjoyable fellowship time with refreshments is for all ages.
We have a hands-on, active program so children usually wear regular school clothes.
No. Our church programs (church school, worship, staff salaries, supplies, etc.) are paid for by contributions of those who attend.  An offering is taken during every adult worship service and envelops are available on request. Once a year, our Stewardship Committee asks everyone to make a commitment of financial support for the coming year so that our Finance Committee can prepare its annual budget.
A donation basket is passed during the Children’s Worship Circle that begins the morning for grades 1 – 7. There is no offering for the young children and the teens contribute to our congregation by often providing childcare for church meetings and events and helping in church projects.
We have an active Social Justice Committee that coordinates service projects and justice work for multi-age and adult volunteers. Some of these include soup kitchen, food pantry, marches for peace or earth sustainability or equal rights. These are listed on our website and in our newsletter.
Throughout the year, we offer several intergenerational activities such as pot luck suppers, game nights, film showings, outdoor events, etc. These are listed in our newsletter.
Here is an excerpt from our Safe Congregation Guidelines for Children and Teachers.

  1. No volunteer may teach in the church school or advise/lead the youth group until they have been actively attending the church for a minimum of 6 months and preferably one year.
  2. All teachers will attend a Teacher Orientation meeting, at least once every two years.
  3. All teachers will read or review the Teacher Orientation booklet.
  4. All teachers will read and annually sign the Code of Ethics.
  5. All teachers will complete a CORI request form every 3 years.
  6. There will be at least two teachers/leaders in every classroom. If a teacher must be absent, s/he or the DRE will secure a substitute. If a volunteer is without a teaching partner, s/he will do one or more of the following with the approval of the DRE:
    1. ask the parent of a child in the class to assist for that session
    2. conduct the class with the door open
    3. move the class to a downstairs room with the door open
    4. combine with a younger or older class
  7. All doors to the Nurseries will remain open with the gates closed.

No. (Our ritual for welcoming new children into a family is called a child dedication. This optional celebration names the child as a recognition of his or her individuality, commits the family to love and care for the child and welcomes the child into his community of extended family and friends.)
Our 9th and 10th graders participate in a Coming of Age program during which they learn about our faith, our church, and then work on articulating their own religious beliefs. These credo statements are read before the congregation in May and the youth participate in a brief ceremony of leaving the children’s church school and joining our youth group.

These teenagers are eligible to become Junior Members of the church.

Our graduating high school seniors meet once a month with the minister to reflect on their time in our religious education program, how their faith informs their decisions and behaviors, and their feelings and hopes for the next chapter of their lives.

A “Bridging Ceremony’ takes place during a Sunday morning worship service in early June when they ‘graduate’ from our religious education program and begin their journey into adulthood.

Yes. Many interfaith families are happy to find that Unitarian Universalism is faith that welcomes and affirms people of diverse personal theologies.
Yes. However, if they are absent or leaving early most of the Sundays, it will be a more difficult for them to become familiar with the curriculum and routines and to develop friendships. We encourage parents to request of their child’s coach that no, or at least a minimum of, practices and games be scheduled on Sunday morning.
Unitarian Universalists believe that it is the right and responsibility of every individual to develop his or her own religious beliefs and philosophy of life.

Religious (‘to bind back’) Education (‘to lead out’) is that process of spiritual growth. Sensitive to the different needs and abilities of all ages, our program provides information and skills, encourages questioning and free-thinking, and supports the sharing of concerns and ideas with others.

The Unitarian Universalist approach to religious education reflects an on-going search for truth and meaning and a commitment to freedom of belief. Inspiration from all the religions of the world including Jewish and Christian teachings, as well as humanist teachings, science, and personal experiences of mystery and wonder are the basis for church school and adult programs.

Using stories and songs, games and discussions, arts and crafts, service projects and celebrations, children and teens have an opportunity to ask their own religious questions, evolve a sense of ethics, develop their own beliefs and learn to appreciate and deal with life issues.

Yes. We hope you will make a commitment to bring them on the alternate weekends so they will become familiar with the ‘routine’ of the morning and to begin to make friends that they will look forward to seeing when they are here. Some divorced parents use Sunday morning at church school as the time and place to transfer children from one household to the other. That way, the children can have more regular attendance.
Our children are grouped together with other children within two years or two grades of each other. You can look at our curriculum and see in which group each of your children will be.
We will. If you sit on the aisle at the right side of the sanctuary, I can discretely find you during the worship service if she needs you. You may also leave a cell phone number with me – but please remember to set it on ‘vibrate’.
Yes. And it is good to make a commitment to try church and Sunday school for several weeks. It takes a while to become familiar with the ‘routine’ of the morning, to begin to make friends that you look forward to seeing each Sunday morning, and to decide if our religious education program meets your needs for your child’s spiritual growth and development.
Newcomers are not asked to co-teach a church school class during their first year. We want you to get to know Unitarian Universalism and our church. But when you are ready to lend a hand in the church school, you will be given a curriculum, you will be paired with another adult volunteer who has taught before, and you will be invited to a teacher orientation meeting.