Category Archives: Children’s Corner

Children’s Covenant September 2016

An Excerpt from”Making Promises, Making Covenants” by Janeen K Grohsmeyer

Do you remember your first day of school? I remember mine. Your parents and grandparents probably remember their first days, too. Probably everyone remembers, no matter how long ago it was.

Going to a new place and starting something new can be exciting… and sometimes a little scary. We have a lot of questions:

“Where do I sit?”

“What time do we eat?”

“Where is the bathroom?”

“Am I allowed to climb the trees?”

“Does the teacher expect me to do homework?”

And, of course, “When can we go outside to play?”

At school, the teacher shows us where things are and explains how things work. She tells us the rules. Once we know what we are expected to do and what we are allowed to do, it’s not so scary anymore.

Starting a new Church year can feel very much like our first day of school. The children go to their first day of classes with new teachers just like during the school week. Of course, they’re shocked when we go outside to do community garden cleanup. The adults go to their small group discussion to talk about what it means to be in community with other adults. The adults and children meetup again in coffee hour to compare notes and realize “Hey, this place is different!” At Third Unitarian Church (or TUC as we affectionately call it) we covenant to take care of each other, and take care of this world. Total chaos is not kind to the teachers, just as totalitarian dictatorships are unkind to the citizens. At TUC we labor to find a middle ground. May we enjoy re-covenanting each Sunday we come together. 


The RE Department at TUC!

A “Simple” Goodbye

Children’s Corner – June 2016

by Christopher Bakker


A “Simple” Goodbye leads to the Next Hello


We reach the end of many milestones in our journey together as a church this Summer. Two years with Jennifer. My first year as DRE with the children’s program after Kate’s 5 years. Kyle’s second year as Music Director after Christopher. Maureen’s departure followed by Deb’s arrival. Allen’s tenure on the board ending with Luke’s beginning.


With each ending, it feels like there’s the seed of a beginning. With the departure of one minister (Rev. Nordstrom), we prepare to say hello to the next minister (Rev. Henley). With the end of the RE program this year, we lay the groundwork literally for the RE classes, curriculum, & teacher trainings next Fall.


We’re busy meeting with teachers to debrief on what to do for next year. We’re working on advertising for a replacement to our wonderful Nursery Supervisor, Brita. We’re cleaning & organizing those rooms where our 4-14 year olds studied this year.


While we do this, the children will still have nursery & childcare available from 10-12PM every Sunday. They’re still encouraged to stay in the service for our three remaining services. We’ll have three “simple” goodbye Sundays as we work toward our Flower Communion Closing Sunday (usually around Father’s Day), when we’ll give the biggest hugs of all that last until we see each other again.


June 5: A Simple Goodbye. In the book In the Interim psychologist John Hughes is quoted, “Saying ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye are two major tasks all humans need to, and often fail to, accomplish. Leaving is as much a part as arriving, and it is important we learn to do it well. This service will remember our two years together and set the stage for parting ways.


June 12: Just the Essentials. Simplicity is about getting to the essence, narrowing in on the core of a question, person, or idea. What is the core of TUC? What will you carry forward with you?


June 19: Simple beauty: Flower Communion. Slow down and smell the lilacs. Being present to natural beauty in the moment, despite our complex, beeping, zipping, ringing lives.


My best,


Simple Blessings

May Children’s Corner 2016

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We should not forget that May is when the complicated celebration of Mother’s Day happens. Mothers alive & no longer with us are honored for their role in creating/shepherding life. The celebration happens appropriately in the time of late Spring, when the world around us in the Northern Hemisphere is abundantly coming alive again. Please join us May 8th!

Also in May is the time of “RE Sunday.” This is the time when we celebrate our teachers in the RE Program. Adults in many roles (teachers, RE assistants, mentors, one-time visitors) spent 100’s of hours with the children in the 40+ Sundays this church year. Friendships & relationships were established, so that when the children run passed people during coffee hour, they know just a bit more about who’s around them. Adults who teach get a glimpse into the lives of our children & connect with the vibrancy of youth. Please join us May 15th!

Austin Scholarship Sunday falls within the month of May this year as well! Our “Share the Plate” initiative takes a portion of the monies collected during the offerings every Sunday in May to share with this important Scholarship. This scholarship has helped send 1,000’s of Austin neighborhood youth to college to better themselves & our world. Please celebrate with us May 22nd!

Finally, we reach the mixed blessing of Memorial Day this May right at the tail end of the month. Many families & church members are getting ready for their Summer plans (camping, visiting family, vacations), the church is beginning to get hotter (Chicago weather does get warm & we have limited cooling for such a large sanctuary), & there’s one month remaining. Please join us May 29th!

Next month June will be the Soul Matters theme of Simplicity!

Hugs from the RE Department!


Director of Religious Education (DRE for short)

What can children create?

What can children create?

Spring Children’s Corner 2016

There’s a feeling in the air when Spring comes. Tremulous & silent, it leaks into our thoughts like butterflies & bird song. When we’re at work, school, driving in the car on errands. Something is there & it comes upon us with a fidgety excitement, both unnerving & fun.

Where does our fast-paced, Western, instant gratification society allow a child to feel their voice for creation in this time of the year? Our teachers in the religious education (affectionately called RE for short) program will be asking this question of themselves & our children in the month of April. Rita, Mandie, Nancy, Maddie, Nadea, Brita, David, Gale, & Christopher are slated to teach, guide, & model how to create & allow ourselves to see creation happen around us.

What do we have coming in April? There are three age groups within the RE program. The nursery – zero to five. The middle age group – six to ten. The tweens & teens group – 11-18.

Each group will have breakout sessions with just themselves & group activities this month. Interwoven within the month will be activities around the community garden – our plots on both sides of the building that need prepping, planting, & tending.

Also within April is the celebration of Earth Day – very much linked to the garden. There will be a SPECIAL Earth Day planting on April 16th (Saturday) at TUC, possibly with CANA (Central Austin Neighborhood Assocation) & coinciding with their corner plantings.

At the end of the month is the Jewish celebration of Passover. There will be a SPECIAL Saturday Dinner on April 23rd where Nancy & other lay leaders will guide us through what a Seder tradition could be. Dinner is 5-6:30PM & there are a slew of singing, cooking, music, & other activities to feel heard. Please look for Mena to sign-up in the weeks ahead during Coffee Hour!

Our children may or may not be feeling the added energy going into Coming of Age celebrations in May, the Annual Auction fundraiser (also in May!), & the transition efforts to find Jennifer’s replacement.

What the children can absolutely feel is Spring. The buzz, the energy. How will They want to channel it? How can the adults help their vision come alive & thereby feel rejuvenated, too? Please feel welcome to Spring into this joint creation when you’re ready!

Hugs from the RE Department!


Director of Religious Education (DRE for short)

Black History Month & Desire – February 2016

The month of Love – February – was also Black History Month. Third Unitarian Church followed the Soul Matters theme of Desire, both in the service for adults & for the children in the religious education (RE) program. Before we head into March and the theme of Liberation, this is a snapshot of the activities in the Children’s Corner for February.

The first week in February was “Desire for Recognition & Authenticity”, with Gabriel Gamez as Worship Associate & Mandie McGlynn as the guest Minister.  Jude & Quentin were able to see their Mom taking on the role of Minister & one day as a Reverend at a UU church. Our Time for All Ages Story was “The Velveteen Rabbit” about a rabbit who wants with her whole heart to become “Real” but doesn’t know how to. She does know that it takes the love of a child.

The second week in February was both Valentine’s Day & Momma Kemba presenting Aunt Clara Brown in service. For Valentine’s Day, the children in the RE program designed love mobiles to hang around the church for the congregation & the children of the Little Leaders of Tomorrow daycare, also housed within the church. Momma Kemba’s reenactment of Aunt Clara’s search to find her children after slavery was inspiring & troubling as it highlights the scars of slavery still haunting our country today. Lastly, the icing on the cake this Sunday was a presentation of TUC’s work to stay a Welcoming Congregation to LBGTQ identifying members is helping to pave the way for great initiatives in Oak Park & Austin.

The third week in February was “Desire & Depravation” with our Worship Associate Elizabeth Zemke & our Reverend Nordstrom presiding. The children in the RE program worked on relationships with meditation, trust falls, the 5 Love Languages, & a dance party. There was also a “Pledge Ceremony” just like the congregation did in the service. This one was about what the children will do for the next year for TUC.  The children & RE staff decided they would work to continue to build the food pantry connection this year with the Fraternite du Notre Dame, acquire better equipment for the playground at the church, & fundraise as well for the community garden (with our own RE plot this year!).

Our book in service was “City Green” by Disalvo-Ryan which covers who small efforts by one little girl in an urban neighborhood can change a blighted city lot & her neighborhood into a more loving place through a community garden. Our adult forum

The final Sunday in February was with Worship Associate Max Lisles & Guest Minister Deb Rostorfer.  The theme was “Loving the Hell Out of this World.” With the children’s class at 10 we delved into their Passions, what they love, & what makes their heart sing. We also developed a bit more of what the RE community garden space might plant (cucumbers to watermelons!) & what kind of playground equipment we might want out there (possibly a new sandpit!). The book during the service was “Motherbridge of Love” by an anonymous Mom. This is a poem written by a mother who adopted a little girl from China explaining how both she & her birth Mom love their daughter.

So, that’s a wrap on February 2016. We’ll be exploring the Soul Matters theme of Liberation next, but will continue to “Stand on the Side of Love” throughout the year. All you need is love!