A LIFELONG JOURNEY
Children and Youth
Any child in their final year of Pre-K, or equivalent, is invited to start attending elementary church school during Sunday worship. “Lowers” are pre-K-2nd grade students. “Uppers” are 3rd-5th graders. Students participate in a hands-on curriculum taught by a team of volunteers. A typical Sunday’s lesson might use art, drama, storytelling, cooking, or science in order to teach kids more about faith or the Bible. Many of our teachers are educators in their professional lives, and all of them love working with our young people and passing on their faith.
Middle schoolers participate in church school three times a month. Two of those Sundays are focused on small group discussions about faith and beliefs. The third Sunday students participate in a service project such as making cards for those who are sick, helping to assemble Thanksgiving baskets for those in need, or assisting with a church mission. On Communion Sundays middle schoolers remain in worship the entire time.
7th and 8th grade students are also invited to take part in Confirmation classes. Throughout a one year course students will think critically about their own beliefs, engage in service projects, and make a decision about whether or not they want to formally join the church. We see this as a year of exploration, when young people are given the choice to make a mature faith commitment. We emphasize staying engaged in the church after confirmation, and deepening one’s relationship with God.
Youth of all ages can also be involved in one of our two youth groups. Middle school and high school youth groups both meet on Sunday nights. These are fun fellowship gatherings that include movies, games, occasional outings, and more. Special events, like church lock-ins, also take place throughout the year.
In all of our activities for children and youth we follow our “safe church” policy. Each volunteer who works in these programs is background-checked, and at least two adults are present in classes or at events.
Our spiritual journey doesn’t end when we graduate from high school, so neither should opportunities for growth in our faith. That’s why we make sure to offer a variety of adult Christian growth options.
Discussion groups and classes are offered on Wednesday evenings throughout the year. These are short courses lasting 3-5 weeks, and centered on a particular theme. Recent courses have included a book group on forgiveness, discussions of the movie Spotlight, an introduction to the United Church of Christ, and an Advent spiritual growth group. Additionally, our Women’s Bible Study meets twice monthly and provides in-depth discussions as well as fellowship time.
As a church we are also involved in two town-wide projects, co-hosted by Christ Episcopal Church and First Unitarian Universalist Society in Exeter, as well as Water Street Bookstore and Phillips Exeter Academy. We the People is a lecture and film series that has brought eminent speakers to town to discuss current events, ethics, spirituality, and more. The One Town/One Book project was founded in 2015 and our inaugural book was Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. After a successful first year we now chose a new book each fall to be read and discussed by the entire community.