Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship


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      An Inclusive Religious Community
       Encouraging Lives of Purpose, Service, and Joy!

Lifelong Learning at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship:

Sunday Morning Programs for Children and Youth

The children and youth of BUF are guided in their religious lives through a combination of worship, small group activities, social action, and fellowship. BUF’s ministry with children and youth creates a welcoming, trusting environment in which each young person is nurtured spiritually, stretched mentally, and supported emotionally. Our challenge is to empower our children to take responsibility for their beliefs and for their ethical and moral decisions.   We are blessed with a team of dedicated teachers who are committed to helping our children and youth navigate the choppy waters of life.  They are invested in building relationships with the children and families in our community.  And they support each other in this work.  All of our children’s religious education classes are taught by teaching teams so there are generally 2 teachers in each classroom on a Sunday morning. A criminal background check as well as a signed Code of Ethics is required for all of our volunteers who work with children on a regular basis. 

Where Should the Children (Youth) Go on Sunday Mornings?

On the first, third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of each month, children in grades K-5 will begin Sunday mornings in the service with their families and will be invited to religious education as part of the worship ritual, at which time they will make their way to their various classrooms. Younger children (ages 1-4) may begin in the Childspace room up to 10 minutes before the service begins. Middle school youth in grades 6-8 will begin in the loft, located in the rear of the sactuary.

Children's Chapel

On the second Sunday of the month, beginning in November of each year, children and youth in grades K-8 are invited to begin their time of worship upstairs in the flex room. It is a change from the usual practice of beginning in the sanctuary and allows for a more focused worship time - just for children and youth. These services include music (at least two songs plus a prelude), a special topic/theme, a social justice collection (that gets collected all year and children vote on the organization to receive the money in the spring), a time for sharing, and some food for thought about why we come to church. Children are then invited to their regular religious education classes.

Program offerings for Winter 2012 and Spring 2013

Childspace (Ages 1-4)

BUF has a childcare room for toddlers and preschoolers. Parents are welcome to stay in the Childspace room with their children for as long as their child needs to become accustomed to the space. We have regular childcare providers who play with and care for your children while you attend worship. We work with parents to help the young ones feel comfortable. Our space is equipped with interactive toys, art supplies and music. We have changing tables in both the women's and men's restrooms adjacent to the Childspace room. Parents are responsible for diaper changes - childcare providers will come and get you if this is needed during the service.

Spirit Play (Grades K-1)

We use the Montessori approach and Berryman's “Morning As Worship” approach for the structure of the morning. As in Montessori, the key elements are the classroom environment and the teachers. These elements free the children to work at their own pace on their own issues after an initial lesson. The Spirit Play Greeter (one of the teachers) helps the children get ready to enter the classroom as they come upstairs from the sanctuary. The Storyteller leads the circle in the story of the day, followed by the wondering (a series of open ended questions that are asked to get kids to think about the story they heard). Teachers do not attempt to explain or interpret the stories; instead children are invited to choose an art response or to work with a story previously heard, to draw their own conclusions. This winter and spring we are focusing on stories and lessons that tell us about important figures in UU history like: Jan Hus, John Murry, Henry David Thoreau … as well as focusing on the many sources we draw upon to support our faith.

Classroom Teachers 2012-2013: Francie Gass, Becky Curtis, Ann Lackland, Jenny Bowefield


Primary Elementary (Grades 2-3)

Children in this class will be using a UUA, Tapestry of Faith curriculum called, “Love Will Guide Us.” Your children will learn to seek guidance in life through the lens of our Unitarian Universalist Sources, with an emphasis on love. Together we ask: questions such as, "Where did we come from?" "What is our relationship to the Earth and other creatures?" "How can we respond with love, even in bad situations?" "What happens when you die?" Sessions apply wisdom from our Sources to help participants answer these questions. Participants will learn that asking questions is valued in Unitarian Universalism, even as they begin to shape their own answers. All sessions highlight love as a central aspect of Unitarian Universalism. Using the night sky and the North Star as metaphors, participants are "guided to love." As they explore the night sky, participants learn to recognize and name the Unitarian Universalist Sources, as expressed in children's language:
    • The sense of wonder we all share.
    • The women and men of long ago and today whose lives remind us to be kind and fair.
    • The ethical and spiritual wisdom of the world's religions.
    • Jewish and Christian teachings which tell us to love all others as we love ourselves.
    • The use of reason and the discoveries of science.
    • The harmony of nature and the sacred circle of life.
    • Our seventh Source: Examples of faithful belief and action from our Unitarian and Universalist heritage.

For complete curriculum details visit:

Classroom Teachers 2012-2013: Lorri McMillen-Rauch, Genevieve Karkabe, Tuesday Magee

Intermediate Elementary (Grades 4-5)

Children in this class will be using a UUA, Tapestry of Faith curriculum called, “Toolbox of Faith.” Your children will be invited to reflect on the qualities of our Unitarian Universalist faith, such as integrity, courage, and love, as tools they can use in living their lives and building their own faith. Each of the 16 sessions uses a tool as a metaphor for an important quality of our faith such as reflection (symbolized by a mirror), flexibility (duct tape), and justice (a flashlight). For complete curriculum details visit:

Classroom Teachers 2012-2013 Michelle Magee, Laura Fraser, Pam Mannino

Middle School (Grades 6-8)

This year our middle school youth are working with a UUA, Tapestry of Faith curriculum called Riddle and Mystery. This curriculum helps our youth explore the big questions in life—the truly religious questions. The first three echo Paul Gauguin’s famous triptych: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? The next ten, including Does God exist? And What happens when you die? could be found on almost anyone’s list of basic life inquiries. The final three are increasingly Unitarian Universalist: Can we ever solve life’s mystery? How can I know what to believe? What does Unitarian Universalism mean to me? For complete curriculum details visit: In addition to focusing on the curriculum, our middle school youth and advisors create social service opportunities as well as visit other faith traditions to aid them in their own search for truth and meaning. These activities and the inquiries posed in the Riddle and Mystery curriculum are perfect for our 7th and 8th graders who are participating in the Coming of Age program this year. Please see the button entitled, “Extracurricular Programs” to your right for more information about Coming of Age. Please sign and return (to Crystal Neva or one of the MS youth advisors) the attached permission slip so your son/daughter can participate in the various outings!

Middle School Youth Advisors 2012-2013 Marlin Prowell, Michael Lilliquist, Beth Beyers, Noreen Fujita-Saco

Young Religious Unitarian Universalists - YRUU (Grades 9-12)

This year our high school group has been meeting twice a month, sometimes at BUF and sometimes off site. The group focuses on social connections and community building as well as deepening their UU Identity through discussions, games, and service projects. Meeting times and activities are decided by the group during their meetings. If you would like to be included in the communication updates please contact Crystal Neva at or one of the youth advisors! Please sign and return (to Crystal Neva or one of the youth advisors) the attached permission slip so your son/daughter can participate in the various outings!

YRUU Advisors: Alicia Alford, Michael Light

Children and Youth Need to be registered!

In order to ensure appropriate class configurations and staffing we need ALL families who wish to participate in childcare, or religious education classes, more than three times per church year, to be formally registered in our program! Registration is active for the current (2012-2013) church year and can be initiated at any time during the year! Please fill out and return the Religious Education Registration Form and fee to: Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, Attention Crystal Neva, 1207 Ellsworth Street, Bellingham, WA 98225. Checks should have "Religious Education" in the memo line.

Many hands are needed to offer our inspiring programs; if you would like to volunteer in Lifelong Learning, contact Crystal Neva.

All Lifelong Learning Programs at BUF promote leadership development, respectful communication, global and social awareness, creativity and fun!