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The Program (Creating Home)

We see in the world around us many symbols that teach us the meaning of life. You could notice if you wanted to, but you are usually too busy. We Indians live in a world of symbols and images where the spiritual and the commonplace are one. — John Fire/Lame Deer and Richard Erodes

You are about to take a journey. It is a journey you take alone and in community — a journey of inward reflections and outward actions of faith. A Unitarian Universalist journey, open to stories and beliefs from different lands and people. It is a journey from home. It is a journey to home. Welcome home.

This program helps children develop a sense of home that is grounded in faith. Together with your group you will ask questions about the purpose of having a home and the functions a home serves, for us as humans and for other animals. The program speaks of home as a place of belonging and explores the roles each of us play in the homes where we live. The program introduces the concept of a "faith home" — your congregation — which shares some characteristics with a family home. Like a family home, a faith home offers its members certain joys, protections, and responsibilities.

Creating Home is not about the outward appearance and material worth of our homes. In these sessions, children explore the deep sense of sacredness, the beauty of hospitality, and the gift of loving relationships that a home can represent. As participants actively explore the concept of home, they create a community home in your meeting space. Watch for small differences in children's respect for one another and their engagement with the wider congregation as they learn to identify their Unitarian Universalist congregation as a home.

The sessions include stories from Unitarian Universalist and other traditions, hands-on activities to make learning accessible to individuals with various learning styles, and structured opportunities for questioning, reflecting, and self-expression. The program introduces children to Unitarian Universalist heritage, including rituals, songs, and traditions of our faith, and stories about Unitarian Universalists whose words, songs, and deeds have helped to shape the faith home that participants share.

Within this program, you will find the terms "family home," "faith home," and "classroom home." Family home refers to the place where a child lives and the people with whom the child lives and/or the people a child considers part of his/her family.

Allow participants to self-define their family homes. You may find various configurations of family among the children in your group. Affirming all families and, by extension, all of their members is an explicit goal of this program. Studies show that children who accept and feel good about themselves are likely to accept and feel good about people who are different from them. As a leader, modeling respect for each child's family structure will help everyone in the program learn to identify elements of family life that are common, if not universal, and accept families that are different from their own.

In presenting your Unitarian Universalist congregation as children's faith home, Creating Home draws parallels between what happens in families and what happens in congregations. As in a family home, members of a faith home together create the type of home they want. As in a family home, members who are invisible, uninvolved, or inactive co-create the culture of their faith home by their absence. By guiding and encouraging children to be intentional in how they shape their faith home, you will help to foster adults with a strong sense of stewardship in their congregations.

Each session of this program includes spiritual activities such as chalice-lighting, exploration of a labyrinth, and structured ways for participants to practice rituals such as hospitality and saying grace. Most young children love ritual, and the use of ritual in the sessions mirrors the use of ritual in family homes, in faith homes, in the wider Unitarian Universalist community, and beyond. These spiritual activities form an important element of the program. They familiarize children with specific practices which their families or your congregation may continue after the life of this program, and they provide a common experience for the group. Practicing rituals together builds community and reminds children of their connections to something deeper and more significant than their own experiences, wants, and needs.

Many activities in this program involve stories about and observations in the natural world. Explorations of nature offer young children an accessible connection to the spiritual. Experiences in nature also stimulate children's discovery of the purposes and functions of a home. You will also find stories from the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions; familiar wisdom tales; and new stories, some of them about Unitarian Universalist heroes. You will find fun activities, humor, and new ways to play.

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This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, May 17, 2013.

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