At the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northern Chautauqua (UUCNC), Religious Exploration classes have had a fun year of learning, sharing and creating.
The Coming of Age group, for middle school youth, is one of the four groups served at UUCNC from birth through high school. This year's theme explores the understandings and experiences of "God" or "spirit" possessed by various cultures and individuals. Participants were invited to shape the curriculum by selecting religions, cultures and questions that spark their interest. The group has looked at religious art of various cultures throughout history; practiced "presence" in nature at Barker Common; explored festivals like "Dia de los Muertos" and the Chinese New Year; and shared their own experiences of and beliefs about spirit/God through words and art.
"We aren't teaching that certain experiences of 'God' are right or wrong," explains Sarah Sorci, UUCNC Coming of Age leader. "Rather, we hope to offer children some resources and freedom to explore the forms that spirit/God takes in their lives at this point, if any at all. It has been a pleasure examining different beliefs with children and seeing what resonates with them, and what does not. I have learned just as much as they have!"
Some of the students and teachers from the Religious Exploration Program at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northern Chautauqua. Back row, from left: Jordan Carmona, Padraic Lawson, Gillian Taverna and Isabella Taverna. Front row, from left: Jack McAlevey, Myra McAlevey (teacher, K-5), Helen Wagner-Maggitti, Sarah Sorci (COA teacher) and Brianne Buchanan.
The UUCNC nursery and Religious Exploration group for elementary school children gather weekly during Sunday service, held at 11 a.m. in the Grange building, 58 W. Main St., Fredonia. The Coming of Age group meets during every first and third Sunday service. UUCNC also offers a high school youth group. For more information about UUCNC or the Religious Exploration program, visit the UUCNC website at www.uucnc.org or call 679-7944.