April 2017

Dear Families,

Click here to register children and youth for Sunday & Wednesday classes

Volunteers are always needed and appreciated!
If you are interested in helping with R.E., email Tracy Beck, DREdre@ucdsm.org

Wednesday Night Programming and Hospitality!

Many members and friends of our church community come to church on Wednesday nights for Religious Education experiences as well as for community building with other UUs.  There have been a multitude of changes to Wednesday evening programming over the years- between kinds of programming being offered, for what ages, dinners being served and staff support offered, the evening ultimately belongs to YOU-the congregation and we need input about the next church year.  Please plan on attending a conversation on Wednesday, April 12 from 6-7 pm in the Gathering Space to discuss what the congregation wants for the next church year.

Times – Through conversations with program staff, the RE Council and other volunteers, it has been determined that some shifts in programming times would alleviate hindrances on families who have multiple ages of children with one primary time being offered for programming for ALL ages – this time is most likely going to be 6-7:15 pm.

Children’s Choir – There will be no Children’s Choir Director – we are exploring ideas for music being offered within already scheduled programming – using musical volunteers and focusing on UU songs and hymns

Dinner – for the past two years, dinner has been entirely volunteer run – with a very basic menu and teams of folks providing shopping, cooking and clean up.  These teams are very small – often 2-5 people with a total 15 volunteers providing a meal for an average of 40 people each Wednesday night.  Lisa Houchins has been coordinating meal teams for two years with minimal staff involvement.  Currently, there is not a staff person assigned to oversee the component of Wednesday night programming.  Lisa is going to focus her volunteer energy elsewhere in the church, and needs someone to replace her position – and new Meal Teams need to be formed so we can keep providing this ministry.

Wednesday Hospitality – what do we need to make this a night of real Family Ministry at First Unitarian?  How can we provide radical hospitality on Wednesday evenings?

Please attend a conversation and let your voice be heard on Wednesday night, April 12 from 6-7 pm in the Gathering Space.

Social Justice and Our Children

There is much going on at the church in form of social justice, with discussion around becoming a Sanctuary Church and also replacing our stolen Black Lives Matter banner. Our children are hearing us talk about all of this, and probably have questions. I have also been talking with my own 9 year old child about both of these issues. I have had a few parents ask me for ideas for helping with conversations around these topics for our children. I found some resources I found to be helpful and wanted to share them with you:


A video from the UUA about talking with children about immigration in relation to our UU faith

PBS Kids – Living Undocumented

PBS Kids – Immigration Myth v Facts

Black Lives Matter

UUA Blog: Starting the Conversation About Race

UUA: Family Discussion Suggestions

“Talking about Black Lives Matter to White Children”

“Are We Raising Racists?” – from the NY Times and written by First Unitarian friend Jennifer Harvey

April Theme of Transformation

This month our theme at church is TRANSFORMATION. Transformation is when something changes into something else. As people we are transforming all the time as our minds, hearts and bodies grow. Transformation is important for Unitarian Universalists. Unitarian Universalists believe that it is important to continually to transform ourselves into being the best people we can be. As we grow, we are searching and learning for what is true and right. We work to transform ourselves and the world into a peaceful, fair, and free place for all.

Books to Read Together:

  • Mole Music by David McPhail
  • Remy the Rhino Learns Patience by Andy McGuire
  • My Mouth Is a Volcano! by Julia Cook
  • You Get What You Get by Julie Gassman
  • Someday by Eileen Spinelli

The Story of Easter

If you are looking for a nice way to talk about Easter in your Unitarian Universalist family…  I found this Spirit Play story to be helpful….

Source Story from the Christian Tradition
Adapted by Vicki Merriam

This story comes from the Christian tradition.   It happened in the desert.

Every year the Jewish people celebrate Passover with a big feast called a Seder.  They do this to remember how Moses led them through the waters to freedom.  At the time of this story, many Jewish people would go once a year to a city in the desert called Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.

At the year of this story, there was someone going to Jerusalem who said such amazing things, and did such wonderful things, that people followed him wherever he went.  His name was Jesus and he was a great story-teller and teacher.  He was very kind and cared about all people.

Jesus was going to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover at a seder with his family and friends.  But this year, as Jesus traveled to Jerusalem crowds of people came to see and hear him.

Jesus was loved by the people because they knew he loved them and would not turn them away no matter what.  Even the little children wanted to come to Jesus, too.

Some people blocked the children and told them to get out of the way.  They said, “No!  Don’t bother Jesus.  He has important work to do.”

But, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.  It is always the children who teach us.  When a child shares, the whole world seems to follow.  If we could all be like the children, the world would be a better place.”

One child was worried that Jesus would get sick from all the sand and dust so she spread her cloak on the road in front of Jesus to keep the dust down.  Jesus looked deep into the child’s eyes and said, “Thank you for sharing your cloak and your love.”

When the other people saw this, they hurried to put things down too.  They even put down branches from the palm trees for Jesus and the donkey to walk on.

When Jesus got to Jerusalem, he went to the temple to celebrate Passover at a Seder with his twelve friends who were called the Disciples.

They had matzoh and all the special Passover foods.  They made a place for Elijah and prayed for freedom and peace.  Jesus’ Passover Seder is called the “Last Supper”.

Sadly, Jesus died soon after that.  His friends were very sad because they loved and missed him very much.  Like everyone we love, Jesus lives on in people’s minds and hearts.  And Jesus was never forgotten.  People remembered his stories and all the things he did to help others.  They even wrote down what he did and the stories he told in a book called the Bible.

Easter happens in the spring when nature comes back to life, the trees get leaves, flowers bloom, and birds lay their eggs.  Easter eggs, like eggs on Passover, remind us of the rebirth of the earth and the new life coming.

On Easter, we remember Jesus and the things he taught.  On Easter, we remember all who have died that we love.  They come back to life in our hearts and minds.  We know that love is the most important thing in our lives.  Some also know that the word Easter derives from Eostre, a pagan goddess of spring and fertility- and Easter is also a Pagan holiday- connected to the time of the Spring Equinox.  The Easter date is the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox.

We are HIRING!

Religious Education Teachers to Work with our Preschool – Grade 1 Children!  Please email Tracy Beck dre@ucdsm.org if you are interested.  To begin Immediately.

Ideally, we are looking for candidates who match any of the following criteria:

  • Current or former daycare providers
  • Current or former pre-school or elementary teachers
  • Current high school students (at least age 16), college students or recent college graduates with a major in early childhood or elementary education

General Responsibilities:

  • Work under the direct supervision of the Director of Religious Education (DRE)
  • Collaborate with the DRE  and RE Assistant to understand curriculum based on weekly themes
  • Provide positive classroom management and create community in specific cluster
  • Work with volunteer teachers in conducting specific activities related to curriculum and also be willing to lead activities
  • Maintain attendance information and related reporting for assigned Cluster

Specific Requirements:

  • Must be able to teach nearly every Sunday during the church year from approximately 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (You may have one Sunday off per month-must ask 1 week in advance)
  • Background check required if 18 years of age


  • Enjoys and relates well with young children
  • Mature and responsible
  • Collaborative, friendly nature
  • Articulate
  • Sense of humor
  • Previous teaching experience; preferably in early childhood education or religious education
  • Previous experience (preferred) or working familiarity with the values, principles, and practices of the Unitarian Universalist faith
  • Ability to work with volunteers, and a willingness to work closely with parents


  • $10 an hour

Dates of Importance

April 2: Sunday RE Classes, 9:15 & 11 am

YRUU, 6-8 pm

April 5: Wednesday Night Programming

April 9: Sunday RE Classes, 9:15 & 11 am

YRUU, 6-8 pm

April 12: Wednesday Night Programming

Wednesday Programming Conversation, 6-7 pm, gathering space

April 16: Easter Sunday RE Classes, 9:15 & 11 am*

* Easter Egg Hunt for Children at 10:40 am on back patio (led by our YRUU High School Youth)


April 19: Wednesday Night Programming

April 23: Multigenerational Earth Day Service, 9:15 & 11 am – No Sunday RE Classes

April 26: Wednesday Night Programming

April 28-30: Coming of Age Spring Retreat at Camp Hantesa in Boone, IA

April 30: Sunday RE Classes, 9:15 & 11 am

YRUU, 6-8 pm