Before You Start
In every session, a ritual associated with the session theme is highlighted. Some of the rituals may be alien to your congregation. If a described ritual is conducted in your congregation in a different way, replace the text with an accurate description. For example, different congregations have different methods for sharing Joys and Concerns. Describe the ritual as children would see it conducted in their own congregation. Some rituals may not be part of your congregational culture at all. In this case, explain to participants that some UU congregations conduct rituals around this theme, but your congregation honors this theme in another way. Each session's theme is general enough that leaders should be able to find evidence of the theme's existence in their congregation's culture. Be willing to adapt sessions to reflect what is true for your congregation.
Some rituals are scheduled to happen during set times in the liturgical year, such as flower, water, and bread communions or child dedications. Consider scheduling Signs sessions that discuss these rituals to coincide with the liturgical calendar. In this way, if the congregation engages in multigenerational worship services, children will learn about them and be able to experience them in the congregation simultaneously. If these rituals have not previously been held during multigenerational services, consider asking the worship team to hold these rituals during times when the Signs group may witness them and even, perhaps, participate in them. In this way, the congregation supports the learnings of the Signs group and witnesses their budding leadership.
Signs of Our Faith is also a program on building leadership in children. Consider adding additional opportunities for leadership, whenever possible. One addition could be assigning duties that would rotate amongst participants. See Faith in Action: Sharing Leadership in Session 2 for suggestions. Though Faith in Action activities are not part of the core session plan, it is highly suggested that you find time within the first few sessions to conduct this activity.
The program includes the wearing of ceremonial stoles. In Sessions 4, 8, and 12, children add an emblem to their stoles that symbolizes concepts taught in the previous sessions. The first emblem (Session 4) represents living one's faith to oneself. The second emblem (Session 8) represents living one's faith in relations with others. The third emblem (Session 12) represents living their faith in the congregation. The Leader Resources in these sessions provide a template for the emblems. In Session 16, the conclusion of the program, the children add an iron-on chalice patch to their stoles. It represents living their UU faith out in the world.
Work with the religious educator well before the start of the program to make decisions about the stoles, including:
- Will you purchase stoles or do you have the resources in the congregation to make them?
- Will they be the same color or a variety?
- Where will stoles be safely stored between sessions?
- If stoles become soiled, who is responsible for cleaning them?
- Will you use the designed emblems included with the program, ask an artist in the congregation to design emblems, or invite children to design their own?
- On what material will the emblems be created? How will they be attached to the stoles?
Consider budget as well as congregational resources for design, sewing, and craft skills. There are several options for creating and attaching emblems:
- Let children design their own emblem with fabric paint directly on the stoles. Do a practice run on paper first.
- Outline simple designs to sew on with simple embroidery
- Before each session, use the template to cut out felt emblems. Attach pin backs to the felt with glue. Children attach the emblems to the stole with pins.
- Another option is more involved but could be fun for craft-loving people. Copy the template designs onto inket shrink paper or shrink film. Follow the instructions with the paper or watch this YouTube video that demonstrates how to use the shrink paper. This will create small plastic emblems that can be glued to pin backs and pined on stoles.
- Another option to involve more members of the congregation in Signs, is to ask artists in the congregation to design emblems. Use these instead of the ones in the program. If they are drawn, follow the shrink paper directions. If you choose an artist who works in a fabric medium, you may be able to make individual emblems by hand and pin them to the stoles.
In Session 16, you will help children add a UUA chalice patch along with the fourth emblem. Purchase the patches from inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop; order extra for children who may join the group during the program. These patches are iron-on.
The sessions suggest children wear stoles for Opening, Closing, and occasional worship-like activities, but leaders may wish to help the group in decide how best to use the stoles.