Children's Faith Development

Children drumming at First parish UU Bedford, MA.
Girl lights a chalice at the start of worship at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, Colorado.

"We are Unitarian Universalists: a people of the open mind, the loving heart, and the helping hands." The children often recite words like these when a chalice is lit to begin religious education time.

Parents and caregivers come to Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations for communities that help raise children to become kind, respectful, fair-minded, caring, and strong enough to side with love and fight for justice. UU religious education and participation in worship, social justice work, and multigenerational gatherings reinforce what parents teach at home. We nurture truth-seeking, spirituality, and progressive moral values that will continue to shape and support our children as they grow.

Children’s programming usually occurs on Sunday mornings. Most congregations have a nursery for babies and toddlers during worship and offer age-specific programs from preschool on up. It is common for UU religious education programs to combine story, song, art, movement, discussion, and play to engage children with many learning styles, abilities, and activity levels. Program content varies; many congregations rely on Tapestry of Faith curricula, offered by the UUA online at no charge.

Understanding Children's Faith Development

  • Full Circle : Fifteen Ways to Grow Lifelong UUs, by religious educator and lifelong UU Kate Covey, reports on her interviews with 82 men and women ages 25 to 87 who were raised as UUs. She suggests ways for UU congregations to meet the needs of their children and youth for a faith they can keep.
  • The Gift of Faith : Tending the Spiritual Lives of Children, by Jeanne Harrison Nieuwejaar, shows how religious community profoundly serves a child’s natural need for spiritual growth and religious grounding. It explores the crucial role of parents as their children's primary religious educators; an accessible, inspiring book.

Welcoming Children in Our UU Congregations

  • Sunday and Every Day : My Little Book of Unitarian Universalism, by Patricia Frevert, features prayers for worship and everyday use, stories, songs, plus the seven Principles and six Sources in children's language.
  • Unitarian Universalism Is a Really Long Name, by Jennifer Dant, in this fully-illustrated introduction to Unitarian Universalism, the simple text and lively full-color art combine to offer youngsters useful and accessible answers to questions like Who Are We?, What Do We Believe? and Do We Pray?
  • Welcoming Children with Special Needs : A Guidebook for Faith Communities, by Sally Patton, advocates and offers specific ideas for congregations to welcome and meaningfully engage children with special needs and to support their families.
  •  A Cup of Light : All About the Flaming Chalice, by Pamela Baxter, the flaming chalice is the symbol of Unitarian Universalism. Yet where did the symbol originate? Why did Unitarian Universalists adopt it as the emblem of their faith? What does the symbol mean? This book provides answers to those questions and also creates a framework for coming to one's own sense of meaning.
  • A Lamp in Every Corner, by Janeen K. Grohsmeyer brings UU-inspired stories to children, including stories about historical UUs, UU symbols and rituals, and our Principles.

The Gift of Faith Tending the Spiritual Lives of Children, Second Edition

By Jeanne Nieuwejaar

From Skinner House Books

Celebrates the importance of nurturing our children's spiritual growth...

Buy This Book

Children share "gems of goodness" in the Tapestry of Faith program, Moral Tales, for grades 2-3.

Children take turns sharing Gems of Goodness that represent times they showed compassion or fairness, in the Tapestry of Faith program, Moral Tales.

Children hold Standing on the Side of Love signs as they participate in Immigrant Rights Protest in San Diego, CA.

With Justice and Compassion (PDF, 63 pages) is a curriculum to engage UU children in immigration justice.