Leah’s Blog
Editor Albany UU | Sep 10, 2020

Religious Education During COVID Keeping Traditions, Offering Innovations – Still the Same Community

Religious Education for children and youth will look different this year because all our offerings are online now. Still, much of what you’ll see will look remarkably familiar:

  • Family Chapel
  • Theme-based sessions for the younger children
  • A return of Crossing Paths, our program to learn about world religions for 6th and 7th graders
  • YoUUth group (grades 10-12) led by Tracey Hickey
  • We’ll continue to have occasional family-friendly multi-generational services throughout the year. And as in past years, on those Sundays we won’t have RE; those are services for families to worship together.
  • We’ll continue to provide parents/caregivers with materials on the theme of the month for them to provide faith development for their children at home, as a family.


And some of our offerings are new:

  • Preschool parents can opt to do RE at home using provided materials
  • Materials for RE activities will be available each month for children in grades 5 and younger
  • For 8th Grade we’re offering a Book Club style small group, with books chosen to amplify Black voices or relate to #BLM
  • 9th Grade – Coming of Age (a version of Rite of Passage) with pairs of mentor and youth meeting online, plus a “self-study” option.
  • And we have some snazzy online platforms for our RE community to connect anytime.

We’ll have a new schedule this year – one that will give parents/caretakers and RE guides more flexibility.

The first part of the 10:00 service each week will be child-friendly and include the story. Some families may want to attend the 10:00 service and after the story, they can settle young children in another activity nearby while the adults enjoy the rest of the service. That may be their choice for their Sunday morning experience for faith development.

RE will start at 11:30. This way the guides can both attend the service and volunteer in RE. And children (and adults) who are not morning people can sleep in.

The first Sunday of the month we’ll have Brunch Church (at 11:30) for all the children, and youth and their parents/caregivers and their guides. Brunch Church is our relaxed, theme based, child oriented 30 min service. It will be a time for us to hear the story of the week; have our traditional rituals; and explore creative ways for everyone to participate. 

The other Sundays, we’ll start at 11:30 with a short Family Chapel that will include the story for the week. Then we’ll have break out rooms for each group.

The sessions for the k/1 group will be based on the theme of the month and I expect those will be very short – about 10 – 15 minutes. The idea is to make and keep connections between the children and the guides and among the children. And to keep it fun! The elementary groups (2nd-5th) will also have sessions based on the theme of the month. Their sessions might be a bit longer – maybe 15-20 minutes. The older groups (6th/7th Grade, 8th Grade, and 9th Grade) are written as 45 to 60-minute online programs.


YoUUth group may want to meet one evening a week as well as or instead of Sunday morning.

It is especially important for parents/caretakers to register their children this year. This way we will know how to plan for each group, and ensure you have the passwords to our online events. Correct contact information is vital for communication this year as we are meeting virtually and won’t see each other in the halls or at coffee hour. We’ve shortened up the form to make it as quick and easy as possible. Click here to register

And we still need adults to serve as RE guides. As always, we’ll need two guides for each session of each group, so as in past years, we’re aiming for teams of 4 guides. And we’ll need mentors to pair with our 9th graders for Coming of Age. If you have been reluctant to volunteer in RE because classroom management is not your strong suit, this may be the year for you to join a team! Our goals are to keep everyone connected and to make the sessions fun and engaging. Elizabeth, our RE Program Coordinator, and I will be holding an orientation for anyone interested in being an RE guide THIS SATURDAY from 3:00 – 5:00 pm. Email me is you’re interested or have questions at dre@albanyuu.org. I’ll host a separate orientation for Coming of Age mentors, but we need two guides for the Sunday morning sessions.

About those snazzy online platforms:

We have a new Mighty Network for the RE community to connect anytime called “The Treehouse”. This is a social media platform just for the RE community. We had a trial run this summer with our “Chill Summer Camp” Mighty Network and it was great fun for children, youth, and adults to contribute to the different topics. The Treehouse topics include UU’s in Action; UU’s at Play; UU’s at Church; UU’s in Spirit; and UU’s at Home. Email Leah for details to join dre@albanyuu.org There you’ll find resources for parents/caretakers, for children and youth and opportunities for everyone to contribute their thoughts, photos and videos, ideas for resources and upcoming events in the community.

We’ll also set up Padlets – one for each RE group. This is like an online bulletin board with resources for the children and youth of each group and for their parents/caretakers. It’s also a place for children and youth to post responses on their sessions. More on Padlets after we have them set up.

We’re better together. Elizabeth (my partner in planning and implementing our RE program), and I share the disappointment that our RE groups cannot meet in person soon. We are doing our best to meet needs of our children, youth, and families online.  And we’ll be sharing our new plans as we make them. We welcome your thoughts on what your family needs from our RE community now.


In joyful service

Leah Purcell

Director of Religious Education and Family Ministry