May 3, 2020 Chapel

Today, we re-read the story “The Monk’s Heavy Load” and talked together about how we can hold what we are feeling with those we love. We invited families to create space in their daily lives to talk about the things and people they miss from the pre-COVID world.

We’d love to hear how you are continuing to talk about what you are carrying in your hearts with one another at home!

Did you miss chapel this week? Watch the video, below and download the Chapel Guide for May 3 to bring children’s chapel home!


Virtual Children’s Chapel

Children in grades Pre-k through 5th are invited to join us for virtual a Children’s Chapel with Nico Van Ostrand and Amy Peterson Derrick! For Zoom links, please keep an eye on your weekly email, or send an email

We will light a chalice, do a feelings check-in, share a story, and be together with friends. Parents of young children are encouraged to attend with their child.
Children’s Chapel | Prek-1st Grades
Sundays at 2pm
Children’s Chapel | 2nd-5th Grades
Sundays at 3pm


Download this week’s Chapel guide so you can follow along at home: Chapel Guide Apr 26

april 26 guide

Paper Chains and Covenants

From Sunday, March 29th. Watch the Service:

A few weeks ago, way back at the beginning of the month, when we were first considering this month’s theme of Attention and Centering, I shared with you one of the ways that we had been inviting our children to center and to pay attention to the gifts of being in community together.

We invited our children and youth to consider the gifts that they had received when they had been present in community together and to write these each of these gifts on strips of paper. 

They wrote things like fun, love, deep thinking, friendship, equality, pride, being myself, love of nature.

We then linked their responses together to create paper chains, and hung them over the doors of each classroom– we hoped that these would serve as a reminder to all who entered into those spaces that they were crossing a threshold into a sacred space–where all of these gifts had been present– a space that had been made holy by the presence of all of you; a congregation of all ages, sharing their gifts with one another. 

I’ve been thinking a lot these paper chains these past few weeks– I thought about how these paper chains are a reflection not just what we had experienced in those spaces when we were together, but how they also represent our covenants–our promises to and with one another; how we aspire to be in the world. These paper chains are full of our hopes and aspirations, and these hopes and aspirations stretch far beyond the walls of our little church. As Unitarian Universalists, we know that what connects us, what binds us together, are these covenants. To be a people in covenant with one another, and with the holy (however we define it) is our primary work–no matter what we might be learning about or wrestling with. 

These days, we are being called to be in community with one another a little bit differently, and our thresholds are becoming a little less clear. But we are still bound together, connected by our commitment to love, friendship, equality, pride, and fun and so much more. 

This week, if you choose, I’d like to invite you to consider the questions that our children and youth have been thinking about:

  • What gifts have you experienced by being in community?
  • What do you hope others will experience?
  • What gifts of community are you committed to?

Then, write down your answers on slips of paper (whatever you happen to have around–it doesn’t have to be colorful), and then create your own paper chain– hang it in a doorway, or put it on an altar or on your dinner table– and send us pictures. 

I’m going to keep my paper chain on my altar to help me remember that our covenants connect us no matter where we are, and to help me remember that even this space, far away from church, is made holy by all of you. 

Pictures can be sent to

Toolbox for Difficult Conversations

As caregivers, it can be hard to know how to navigate difficult conversations about tragic events in the news with the children in our lives– especially as we struggle to make sense of things ourselves. Here are a variety of resources to help guide tough conversations at home.

Talking about the Coronavirus

Talking To Your Kids About the Coronavirus from NASP
Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus by NPR


General Guidelines for tough conversations:
From PBS Parents “Talking With Children About News.

Tragic events in the news: Tragedy calls us to remind our children that they are safe and not alone; remember to make space for questions and talking together.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

Talking to Kids About Social Injustice and Discrimination: Chicago Children’s Museum  | Excerpt: “Nobody’s perfect. We all have our own biases, and children hear what we say and take it all in.  Avoid speaking in generalizations about other people and question others when they do so.  If you do speak unfairly about a person or group, openly acknowledge the mistake.”

Youth writing on big questions:  Kidspirit Online   |  Excerpt: “We walk with it./Dignity./All the walls crumble to the ground/And we are not afraid.”

Talking to Kids About Injustice: Electricity Magazine  |  Excerpt: “The conventional wisdom is to let children lead: wait until they ask, and offer only the minimal information necessary.  … For many marginalized families, there is less choice.  As queers, we have had to talk to our children about our differences and vulnerabilities as a family.  Most straight parents have not had to discuss homophobia with their children, which means there are few allies for my children when slurs and heterosexist assumptions arise.” More HERE

Talking about safety in communities: Jacob Wetterling Foundation website is full of information, including tips on how to have age-appropriate conversations about appropriate touch, setting the tone for talking about scary news, and tips for personal safety in communities, including communities of faith. Please feel free to reach out with questions about our safety practices at WBUUC.

Thinking about Death and Dying: 

Looking for more resources? Let us know what you’d like us to add. Write to

Amy Peterson Derrick, Director of Religious Education






Attention: The Practice of Centering

Today’s Chapel Sunday is one that can easily be reproduced at home. Four readings were selected from the WBUUC theme page and used to inspire activity centers.

Reading 1:
“It is quite possible that an animal has spoken to me and that I didn’t catch the remark because I wasn’t paying attention.” ― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

At this center, the kids were invited to use stuffed animals to act out a situation where someone was not paying attention. What might the animals miss out on? What were the animals paying attention to instead?

Reading 2:
“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”― Mary Oliver, excerpted from “Sometimes”

This station was situated by the window. Everyone was invited to pay attention to what exists outside of the window, notice something astonishing or wonderful, and then write or draw about it.

Reading 3:
“Within you, there’s a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.” – Hermann Hesse

This center contained materials to create a quiet altar space. The kids are provided with LED candles, altar cloths, stones, pine cones and other nature objects, and mind jars. Every time we do this activity, the group decorates an altar with deep intention and purpose.

Reading 4:
“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language…Go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

This station was a Wonder Wall where kids were invited to write down what they wonder about — questions big and small. The purpose was not to find answers to the questions, but rather to hold them in wonder together.

How do you center Unitarian Universalist practices and rituals at home?

Chalice Lighting Rituals

This morning we gathered together surrounded by beautifully falling snow to create chalice lighting rituals.

The kids selected readings, incorporated sounds, and thought up questions for reflection. This is just one example of the beautiful rituals they created this morning. The group decided on a woodlands/animal theme:

Shake the mind jar. Watch the glitter swirl and calm down, and notice your mind calming down with it.
Ring the chime, and let the sound ring.
Make a frog sound on the bamboo rain instrument. Tilt it back and forth and listen to the sound of rain.
Light the chalice.
Read the selected words:

“Spirit of Life, help me remember
that all animals belong.
Bless the bats for eating mosquitoes.
Bless the crows and buzzards
for cleaning up the dead,
and bless even the snakes,
who keep the mice out of the rice.
Each of them is important.
And each does good in its own way.
Blessed be.”
-Eliza Blanchard

Pass around stones for a check-in. When it is your turn, share your name, pronouns, and favorite animal.

Do you have an altar space at home?
What words, items, and practices do you include in your own chalice lighting rituals?

Children’s books for chalice lighting rituals:

Breathe and Be
A Child’s Book of Blessings and Prayers
A Child’s Book of Animal Poems and Blessings
A Cup of Light

The Broom Master

This month’s theme is Awakening: The Practice of Letting in Light.


For this week’s Chapel Sunday, we read the story “The Broom Master,” adapted by Sarah Conover in her book, Kindness: a Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents.

In this story, we are invited to explore how our grasping to the past, future, or the things we are told about ourselves can cloud our inner light and beauty.

In chapel, we talked about how we “sweep away” or inner dust and dirt so that we may make space for being awake to ourselves and our world. What does “being awake” feel like in your body? How is an awakening different than just learning something? What practices help you “sweep away the dust and dirt?”00100lrPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200204104608978_COVER


Community, Hope, and Resilience

This was the last Sunday of Fall semester. Thank you to all volunteers for sharing your open minds, helping hands, and loving hearts with the kids.

To close out our time with the Fall volunteers, each PreK-5th grade class made felt chalice kits to take home. These chalices serve as a reminder of everything learned and shared during Religious Education so far this year.

Each child created a blessing to accompany their chalice, and at the end of class all of the chalices were gathered up together for a communion ritual. Everyone — children and adults — took home a chalice and blessing created by someone else in their class.

“This chalice was created and blessed by a friend. May its flame bring you strength and hope.”

This pocket sized chalice, with its felt flame, can be brought and lit anywhere — a portable, tangible reminder of the community from which we can draw hope and resilience.

What reminders of community, hope, and resilience do you carry with you?

If you are interested in volunteering to teach for Spring semester (Feb-May), please email Amy Peterson Derrick at

Growing and Serving

At WBUUC, we say we “Grow our souls and serve the world.” This means that we are intentional about seeking out and learning from stories, people, and experiences– and that we then do our best to live these learnings each and every day.


Praying With Our Feet by Lisa D. Weaver, Illustrated by Ingrid Hess; March On  by Christine King Farris, Illustrated by London Ladd; Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson, Illustrated by Frank Morrison

The stories that we shared this week challenged us to think about just that– noticing injustice in the world, learning about it, and then working together for change. 

Guiding Questions for children: 

  • What is your faith calling you to do?
  • Who or what gives you the strength to do the right thing even when it’s hard?

Our teens talked about Dr. King and about how his faith guided his work. We wondered about our faith guides our work in the world.

Guiding Questions for Youth: 

  • Do you feel that Unitarian Universalism helps you to fight for what is right or work to make the world a better place? Why or why not?
  • Have there been times when your faith community has helped or encouraged you to do the right thing? 
  • Do you consider yourself to be a person of faith? Why or why not?

Growing and Serving is a lifelong charge– what stories have helped you to grow your soul? What gives you the strength to serve the world?