About Religious Exploration

Welcome to First Parish of Sudbury’s Religious Education program. First Parish of Sudbury is a Unitarian Universalist congregation that was first established in 1640. Although much has changed since then, one thing that remains the same is our steadfast belief in the inherent right to freedom for every person in all matters regarding religion.

Because we want people of all ages to embrace our open-minded heritage, we believe that religious education is a lifelong exploratory process. We offer many programs for children, teens, and adults.

While we, like many churches, call our programs “religious education”, our programs could better be named “religious exploration” and “youth ministry” because of our deeply spiritual and “whole person” approach to learning and growing. What is most important to our growth as individuals is how well we connect with one another in worship and fellowship … therefore, our focus includes building community.

RELIGIOUS EXPLORATION FOR YOUTH

The members and friends of First Parish comprise a congregation that enjoys multigenerational connection through worship, having lots of fun, in a social justice framework that includes outreach. Our Religious “Exploration” program for children and youth is a spirit-centered journey that encourages each individual to engage in unpacking their own spiritual identity and ethical values. Our framework is comprised of seven principles, we guide children and youth in a developmentally appropriate exploration of who we, as Unitarian Universalists, are in the world, and how we can be in relationship with each other and with the earth. Our Religious Exploration classes are geared to support the child’s innate sense of wonder and curiosity, relying on nature, art, music, discussion, mentoring, stories, and play to help them explore their beliefs with an understanding of world religions. Our mission in religious exploration is to help our UU children and youth to grow up to be inquisitive mindful young adults who care about and respect whomever they meet irrespective of difference.

Why Religious Exploration instead of Religious Education:

We hope through a model of exploration instead of education children will learn to openly engage in experiences and the material presented. The curriculum will include lots of fun which helps in the exploration process as well as being presented with facts about the world’s religions, the complexities of social issues, and the differences that exist in our world. Children are encouraged to ask “why” and come to their own conclusions (based on their family of origin’s values). It is through exploration that families learn and grow together as they face the challenges of life all while being supported by the ministry of the First Parish of Sudbury. Families of all religious and non-religious backgrounds and identities are welcome to participate without concern because whomever you are… you and your children are welcome without judgment.

Program Goals include:

  • putting children central in the life of our community, such that they know they are beloved.
  • nurturing the child’s own innate sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around us.
  • supporting friendships between young people and across generations.
  • offering mentoring and companionship to young people engaging with a spiritual quest.
  • exploring ethical values and a responsible search for truth and meaning, guided by our seven principles.
  • encouraging respect for and appreciation of difference.
  • learning about world religions and traditions from many cultures, including our own.
  • strengthening Unitarian Universalist identity and the felt sense that this congregation is a safe place and a spiritual “home.”

May ours be a religion which, like sunshine, goes everywhere.
Its temple ~ all space
Its shrine ~ the good heart
Its creed ~ all truth
Its ritual ~ works of love
Its profession of faith ~ divine living.

~ Theodore Parker