Hello, my name is Julie Heise and I am on the Middle School RE teaching team with Bill Chappell and Carrie Coello. I have been so impressed with the energy of our Middle School RE group this year! They prepared 40 breakfast burritos for the Congregations for the Homeless (CFH) men staying at East Shore, hosted the Parent Afternoon Out auction event, and enthusiastically welcomed a new youth into our group. With the “Questing Year” curriculum, we talk about life’s big mysteries and think about how to help our church, our community, and our world. Coming up we will learn about the history of the UU chalice, and talk about tolerance and diversity. This energetic group already has even more ideas for “Action Quests” this year too.
When I first started helping with East Shore’s RE program in 2001, we taught in portables in the lower parking lot while the RE building was being built. I love the combination of children participating at the beginning of church service in the Sanctuary and then heading over to the RE building for classes. It’s so important for children to see their parents and other adults expressing their faith and being part of that experience. I have had the joy of watching the preschool children that I taught enter middle school, high school, and then head out into the world as adults. Along the way our East Shore youth learned about traditions from different faiths, worked on service projects, and became friends.
As a parent who had a child in the East Shore RE program for 15 years, my favorite memories are when my daughter proudly showed me her homemade chalice, her World Religions class and visit to a Hindu temple, the Water Bottle project to raise money for water bottle filling stations at East Shore, and chaperoning at High School Con. One of the things that impressed me during Amélie’s years in RE was that in addition to exploring UU principles, the adults around Amélie encouraged her to explore opportunities and challenge herself – being stage manager for RE winter pageants, assisting Walter Andrews with RE classes, YES team, Con staff and participating in regional and national UU events.
Amélie taught me about the “Robbie Rule” where there is always an empty chair and an opening in a circle of friends – so that more people can join in and be included. Then the high school youth created the “Robbier Rule” where there is not only an opening for another person to join, but participants look around to see if anyone is alone and invite them to join the circle.
As our Middle School RE group continues our journey this year, we will leave a chair open for new members to say, “We’ve been waiting for you. Welcome home!”