Friday, November 30, 2018

November 25, 2018 - Memory


Theme: We continued the month's worship theme of Memory.  

Story: Beth Merrill shared the precious book Wilfried Gordon McDonald Partridge about a boy who connects with the elderly people who live in a care home next door.  When he hears others saying that his special friend, 96 year old Miss Nancy, has no memory, he begins a quest to find out what memory is and gives her a special collection of his memories, which rekindle some of her own.  

Song: We talked about how sometimes even when memory fades for people as they get older, memories of songs often stay vivid.  Kairn Kelley led the children in several rounds of a UU hymn "From You I Receive."  It is a great song to learn as a family (via the link above).   

From you, I receive.
To you, I give.  
Together, we share.
And from this we live.  

Choice time: 

  • Kids helped make pipe cleaner snowflake decorations for the annual UCM Holiday Fair, which is a special memory and church tradition as it has been happening for at least 100 years! 
  • We practiced our muscle memory with our special youth guest teachers (Erin, Olivia, and Tia) who led the younger children in a rhythm game with claps, taps and cups.  
  • Kids played the classic card game Memory.

Want to continue the conversation at home?  
91rhZ+QmspL.jpg  1. The book they read is so lovely it will really warm your heart and is worth a revisit. You can have it read to you and your child here if you like. Look around your house.  Which objects hold special memories for each of you?  Share them with each other.  

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2. Practice muscle memory while making a new family memory!  Here is the Cup Game rhythm in a video.  (You CAN learn it, trust me.  I'm not very coordinated and after ten minutes, I got it!). 

Monday, November 19, 2018

November 18, 2018 ~ Gratitude and Thanksgiving

Above: We love when families participate in worship.  If your family would like to light the chalice sometime soon, please let me (Liza) know, or email me at and we'll set it up!

Above: We have a new Peace Place in our Children's Chapel, which came out of our October theme of learning about 'Sanctuary' and needing a quiet, safe place just to be.  Kids OR adults welcome anytime!  

Guest: I invited Gail Falk to get the children's input for the Covenant of Right Relations that is being co-created by the congregation this year.  We acted out a skit of a big argument happening at the Snack Table over donuts, and they came up with many good ideas for what could be in the covenant to help people navigate big disagreements.  

Theme: We focused on gratitude and Thanksgiving.  

9am One Room and 11am One Room (1st grade and up): We played "A West Wind Blows" with kids taking turns being in the middle and naming things they were thankful for.  They had fun gratitudes including: siblings, snow, cookies, pillows, animals, buildings, mountains, many more ... and (my favorite) this church!  We discussed:
  • the history of Thanksgiving and the actual 3 day harvest celebration between the Wampanoag tribe and the settlers of Plymouth Plantation 
  • how it is a hard holiday for many Native Americans because a moment of good will by the settlers is lifted up, and much of the hard history of how the European settlers treated the Native Americans very badly is left out of the American memory. Because one of our 7 UU principles is the search for truth, it's important to know the true history. 
  • the Honor Native Land movement and put up a poster from Abenaki Chief Don Stevens in our Children's Chapel.  
Activity: Children decorated small table tents as an option to have at their Thanksgiving table, to honor the Native land wherever they are that day. We talked about some people traveling and needing to do some research about local tribes (Tennessee, New Jersey).  

Want to continue the conversation at home?  Ask:
What were your ideas about working through the donut argument?
What were you grateful for when you were in the center of the game?
What's the name of the Native American tribe in this Vermont? (Western Abenaki) 
If you are traveling: What's the name of the Native American tribe where we are going to be for this weekend?  Here's a beautiful map of Native American Nations, that you can zoom in on to find specific tribes. It's amazing to see just how many different groups are on the map!      


11am PreK and K made a poster of their brainstorm of gratitudes (see picture below).  Play dough is on there because next they used the FRESH homemade play dough that their group leader, Amy Donald made. There's nothing in the world like fresh homemade play dough! They sculpted things they were grateful for.  Toward the end while they worked the play dough they heard some of the book Ox Cart Man, connecting with our monthly theme of Memory.  It was nice to have several new kids, to make a group of 7 today!   

Ask your preschooler / kindergartener: 
-What did you think might help the people in the skit that were arguing over donuts at the snack table?
-What did you make with the play dough?  
-Could you help us make a thankful brainstorm for the whole family to do on Thanksgiving?  

Friday, November 16, 2018

Child Dedication Ceremony

A treasured Unitarian Universalist ritual is the Child Dedication ceremony for infants or children.   This special ritual is a blessing for the new life within our community, an expression of the hopes of the parents, and a promise by the congregation to support and nurture the child in its spiritual life.  Last Sunday we got to welcome this precious new member to our congregation.  Many thanks to Mary Margaret and Dan Groberg for helping us celebrate your little one's* presence in our community and to let us commit to welcoming and nurturing her.  

We usually offer Child Dedication ceremonies twice a year.  Please let Liza or Rev. Joan know if you're interested in participating in one of the upcoming ones.

We don't post children's names with their photos that's why I'm not mentioning it here.

Hospitality Training for All Ages! Nov. 16, 2018

Having children and youth participate in worship services or Sunday morning hospitality makes for young people who realize they have an important role to play in our congregation and it leads to stronger intergenerational connections that .  It helps other kids see we are a place that values children and their gifts.  For example, one child had the idea that ushers on each side could have some of the quiet fidget bags with them, to just give to families with young children as they arrive.  Such a good idea, since some families don't know about those bags that live under the back table.

Much appreciation to the dynamo team of the Membership and Hospitality Committees for welcoming the idea of having children and youth join their team.  Last night there was a fabulous evening of fellowship over pizza followed by a training for all ages.  Keep an eye out for a young person helping as an Assistant Usher or Assistant Greeter sometime soon!  Make sure to give them some extra appreciation for this brave step into responsibility!

Above: Tina Muncy of the Safety Committee explains the fire drill protocol to the whole group.

              Above: All the kids got to practice ringing the bell.  How can you not love doing that?
              Below: Lead usher, Rhoda Chickering, give the run down on ushering responsibilities.

Above: Janet Poeton shares tips for running the elevate.
Below: A powerhouse group ~ some of the people that helped pull the evening together.

                            Above: Linda Sproul and Abby Colihan train a new bunch of baristas.

Above: Sandal Kate and Kristina Kane show the ropes (and the flags) to new greeters.

Practice Session: Interrupting Hate and Addressing Unintended Bias - Nov. 14

I am so inspired and motivated by my experience last night at the SURJ Practice Session: Interrupting Hate and Addressing Unintended Bias. It was great to see 6 or 7 UCMers participating, and I hope many more of you will come out for the third session on Wed. Dec. 12th. Each session stands alone, and yet works as a series too.  Please do mark your calendars for the next one. Refreshments included. Though we were all adults, it would be great for interested middle schoolers and high schoolers too. Co-sponsored by Central VT SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) and Lifespan Spiritual Exploration.  Many thanks to Kathy Johnson and Anders Aughey for masterful facilitating of a large group!

There was really helpful whole group time to give definitions, outline various goals that change depending on circumstances, and then a LOT of time in small groups to practice.  They changed up the small groups so we were always learning from new people!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

November 11, 2018 - Theme: Memory

Today's exploration of memory began with the Sankofa symbol below. This symbol is of a special legend from the Akan tribe in Ghana, in west Africa.  The name of the bird is Sankofa. It's feet face forward, toward the future, yet it's head is turned backward toward the past, reaching for it's egg. San-ko-fa means ‘go back and fetch it.’  The story of Sankofa is based on an African proverb: “it is not taboo to go back and fetch that which you have forgotten,” meaning that you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you came from.  They say the egg represents the gems or knowledge of the past, upon which wisdom is based.  

To do a little of our own version of Sankofa, or looking toward the past, we had time to visit with Norma Raymond, a 95 year elder in our congregation. She shared many photographs and answered the children's questions about growing up in the 1920s and 30s in Vermont. Thank you, Norma, for being our special guest!

Norma Raymond, born in Charlotte, VT in 1923. I didn't realize it was a special day for her until she shared with me and the kids. Today is the exact day of the 100 year anniversary of the original Armistice Day. Her father was serving in WWI at the time. His birthday was one day before the armistice. Pretty great birthday present, eh? Norma's been coming to UCM since she first walked through it's doors when she was 18 years old--77 years ago! It was called Church of the Messiah and she loved it right away and has been such an active participant over the years and changing names and building additions, etc. The children had time to ask questions and passed the photographs around with great care. 
Some highlights were:
-she was a huge fan of ice fishing on Lake Champlain
-for fun she went on long walks in the woods (nowadays they would call it hiking)
-picnics with all her cousins, who she still maintains close contact with
-one room schoolhouse with 25 kids in 1st-8th grades
-telephones in a big box on the wall, when she was young they were only at the neighbors house. Her family got one when she was a teen and you had to tell the operator the number. Sometimes you had wait for your neighbors to get off the shared line first, or ask your neighbors to finish up! 
-She mentioned never having any ethnic foods like kids today do. Her family had food they raised. Her father had a big garden, and she had to help in it. She hated planted the carrot seeds. They ate some meat and LOTS of vegetables. Her mother would can 500 quarts of vegetables every year, including really good pickles. 
-At age ten she learned to sew from an older woman down the road as part of 4H. She did 4H for eight years and by high school she was sewing all her own clothes! 
There was some extra time at the 11am for kids to choose an activity--more time with Norma and her photos, playing the game Memory, or time to make cards to send to the recent Bridgers who are away from home, and may need--like the legend of the Sankofa bird--a reminder of where they come from and how much we love them. A great morning all around. All the children took home a Sankofa booklet to use over the holidays to fill with names and stories of their family's history.
Thank you so much for your time with us, Norma Raymond! Thanks you also to the LSE volunteers and parents who joined us and helped.

Peace is Something We Do

This piece was written in September 2011, shortly after the floods caused by Hurricane Irene.  I could have written it this week.  At the ti...