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Religious Exploration News

The thing about change is that it often brings about more change. This is certainly the case in our RE Program since we’ve tried a new worship structure at Westside. What is evolving since we put all of this into motion last fall is both interesting and heartening to watch develop.

New Nursery Care Worker

We are happy to have hired one of our Elementary Lead Teachers for our Nursery, Linda Chavez. It’s wonderful to have another staff member in the RE wing on Sundays, and Linda is great at being available for anything. The nursery itself is changing shape in that we have begun to give children up through age 5 the option to be in the nursery during the service.

While we often have some activity to do while we worship together, sometimes it’s easier for younger children to have the space to be more active and vocal. Linda offers the same activities we do in the sanctuary as well as free playtime or, weather permitting, a trip to the playground. It’s really a lovely addition to our Sundays, and we’re very thankful to have Linda in this role.

We are still looking for a second assistant nursery care worker to volunteer. This person would just be a back-up in the room, a second set of eyes and hands. It’s a wonderful way to get to know some of our younger children and serve Westside. Contact DRE Wendy Weiss Southern if you’re interested.

Heart Talk Elementary Curriculum

Last fall we tried something I called “Collage Curriculum” in which each teacher taught classes based on their expertise. Fall is always kind of a scattered time for RE in that we had very few consecutive Sundays with class time. It’s a season of holidays and special events, and we had lots of fun with all of it.

Winter and Spring bring more consistency to our RE schedule. So one of our teachers, Beth Sandidge, is taking the lead in offering the children’s version of Compassionate Communication. Written by two Unitarian Universalist religious educators, “Heart Talk” is designed to help connect children with their inherent worth and dignity and that of others through communication skills emphasizing feelings, universal needs, empathy for self and others, gratitude, understanding anger, conflict resolution, and active peacemaking.

Both Beth and Lorie Allion have participated in our Adult RE group over the past two years and bring knowledge and practical experience of this method to the classroom.

Youth Group Structure

In looking at our Youth RE classroom, we have discovered that what our youth are really needing is a Youth Group model. For the remainder of the year we will combine Youth Group types of classroom activities that build community and individual purpose with service project outings. The youth are creating this along with our lead Youth Advisors, Beth and Brad Kurtz, in consultation with and support of the RE Committee.

Our schedule will be such that Youth Group will officially meet two Sundays each month, with regular service project outings:

Jan. 22

Feb. 5 & 12

Mar. 5 & 26

At other times, youth are welcome to join us in the service, sit in on Adult RE classes and programming, help with the Elementary classroom or nursery, or have informal time to just hang out. Remember that this Sunday, and every 3rd Sunday, is potluck which is a time for our congregation to share fellowship and food. We truly enjoy this time together as a multigenerational community. Please join us (even if you aren’t able to bring a dish)!

In Spirit,


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