Jeffrey Melcher, Director of Religious Education
What's Up @ UUCM in Religious Education?
Great People, Wonderful Community, Inspirational Classes
Religious Education Includes Service to Others
Giving Baskets (September through May): Children (and adults) learn by example and participation. A weekly habit of bringing a dollar or a handful of change to contribute in class reminds us that we can do more together by pooling our funds. The kids vote to decide the recipient of the funds. Previous recipients have been St. Vincent’s of San Rafael, The Heifer Project, and Rain Forest Action Network. Who will it be this year?
Food Drive (November through January): UUCM collects barrels of food each year to donate to local pantries for distribution. Please bring canned and packaged goods. Last year we managed four barrels. One recommendation is to put an additional item in your shopping cart during each visit to the grocer and put it by your door to carry to church the next Sunday.
Toiletries: (August through January): A long-time tradition that brings toiletries to the shelters and awareness to our congregation, we ask people to collect toiletries from the trips they take or to buy some for distribution. Our children sort and individually package on the first Sunday in January.
Annual Socks Appeal (January 1 through March 1): Many homeless people say that one of the more useful items is a good pair of socks. Please bring new and packaged white tube socks. Tube socks are a one-size-fits-all style. We are aiming for 100 pairs of socks this year.
Feed the People: Providing meals for our homeless Marin neighbors provides an opportunity for families to put their principles into practice through direct hands-on community service. Coordinated by the UUCM Social Justice Committee.
- Street Chaplain’s Wellness Dinners (one Tuesday night per month): Carol and Walt Littrell organize UUCM volunteers to provide salad and dine with the guests at the First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Women’s Shelter (November through April, every Sunday evening): Joan Nelson organizes volunteers to provide full meals for homeless women. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parent testimonial to the value to her family in participating:
I have been taking my two sons to the Sunday women’s homeless shelter to help set up, serve, and eat with the homeless ladies that come each Sunday for the last several years. They were ages 7 and 9 the first time I took them. It has been a deeply felt life experience for them. They have seen women who are mentally unstable, women who can barely stand up straight or stay awake, women who are gregarious and warm, women who are shut down and mute, women who are grateful, women who are angry, women who look like me, and women who don't. And they have served them food and sat with them to eat and talked with those that were willing. Afterwards they have had many questions about why these women are homeless, where they go during the day, what they do when the shelter isn’t running in the summer, why they can’t get jobs. This has been an avenue for us to talk about mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, economic decline, tragedy, welfare, and many other social issues. But also we talk about giving back, doing good work in the world even when it's hard or uncomfortable, and how lucky we are to have what we have. I’ve heard folks say that it’s not appropriate to take small kids to the shelter, but I have to disagree. It has opened my sons’ eyes to a world they are sheltered from most of the time. It has opened their hearts and minds to social issues that affect the people around them. And it has given them the opportunity to give of themselves. In short, it has made them better humans.
Local and National Policy: We cannot just hand out bandaids and hope that problems will go away. We work in the realm of advocacy to address systematic homelessness, economic disparity, and gender, ethnic, and racial bias that keep some people in an underclass.
We are joining UUA in two issues approved as action items by the 2015 UUA General Assembly in Portland, in which three of our youth participated:
- Support a Strong, Compassionate Global Climate Agreement in 2015: Act for a Livable Climate
We are also taking part in local projects:
To see all of the Actions of Immediate Witness and other statements from the 2015 UUA General Assembly, follw this link: http://www.uuworld.org/articles/aiw-general-assembly-portland
RE Classes & Teachers
Nursery and Pre-K: A clean, beautiful space to explore loving community. Circle time with songs, stories and games, individual care, a parent support group, and a quiet nursing lounge for distractible nursing children. [Doug Kerr, Janette Morrow, Margaret Johnston.]
K-1: World of Wonder. This program delves deep into our Unitarian Universalist Seventh Principle. It instills respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part and fosters an appreciation of its beauty, excitement, and mystery. [Teachers: Carol Kerr, Janette Morrow, Chloe H., Forrest M.] (In the spring, there will be an Our Whole Lives class.)
Grades 2-3: Faithful Journeys. I still need someone to head up this group. I have several people, including myself, who can lead activities with music, art, and games. I need someone to take the lead for at least a month or two.
Grades 4-6: Stories: Mythology and Science. [Teachers: Christine Davenport, Dee Stuever, Nani Ranken, Jef Melcher] Chris tells stories. Nani reads and shares her excitement about science creation stories. Jef brings up-to-date astrophysics (black holes, dark matter, etc.) into a cosmology of wonder and mystery. Dee shares his combined passion for science and spirituality. After a few months we will explore a UUA curriculum, Windows and Mirrors.
Grades 7-8: In Our Hands. Social Justice is up to us. Learning and doing need to go hand in hand. [Teachers: Monique Webster, Susan Mathews, Alison Clayton]
YRUU: Traditions with a Wink. A UU identity exploration and history curriculum woven in with leadership development and just plain hanging out. [Lead YRUU Advisor George Pegelow with Sher Sheldon and Dave Haumann]