Religious Education News: Sun Apr 14

Sun Apr 7 was an opportunity for me to facilitate the children’s worship for RE classes K-7 in Fellowship Hall. In anticipation of the Sun Apr 14 Animal Blessing service, I chose to explore animal-related issues. After we lit the chalice Rev. LoraKim Joyner spoke to the children about her mission as a veterinarian rescuing parrots in Central America. We showed a brief documentary on the work being done to save and rehabilitate these gorgeous feathered creatures, and protect them from harm and possible extinction at their hands of poachers. The K-3 classes returned to their classrooms and the remaining 4-5 and 6-7 students engaged with me in a conversation about animal care and animal rights. I conducted a very animated activity on whether certain animal “facts” were true or false, such as “Cats and dogs misbehave out of spite”; “Cats get cavities”; “Cats sneeze when they get a cold”; “Dogs need jackets in the winter”; etc. The children were quite good at this game and were surprised at some answers. They were particularly insightful when they related stories of their own pets. We then talked about my background as a veterinary technician and the things vet techs do nursing animals. I have also served as the director of an animal shelter so we discussed the important rescue work done by shelters and what supplies shelters need most. I proposed that we sponsor two shelters in the area, the Humane Society of New Rochelle and Paws Crossed in Elmsford. I placed cards in a basket, which the children then pulled out and identified as items on a shelter wish list that we could collect and bring to the shelters. Our UU principles came into play as we talked about compassion and respect for others and why animals are so important to our world and to people. I showed the kids a short YouTube documentary on people who are homeless and have pets. The children responded deeply to it and, I feel, really understood the plight of the people in the video and the love they had for their companion animals. The last discussion of the morning addressed the actions of people, how some are kind to other humans and animals, and others are not. The children were again reminded of the need for compassion and the belief that there is recovery, hope, and even resiliency in some cases. I then described the true story of a 2-year-old cat brought into a NYC shelter where I happened to be one day. She had been rescued by a young construction worker who had chased away some kids who had been kicking her. I took her back to my shelter where she eventually recovered from several fractures but was left with brain damage and neurological deficits. I adopted her and with much love, attention, and medical care she has lived to be 14 years old. She is blind in one eye and loses her balance but my little “slip and slide” is a survivor. At the end of my story I asked everyone to sit on the floor in a close circle and told them I’d be right back. To the kids’ surprise and utter amazement, I came in with my Brook, who I had brought in especially for this lesson. She became the center of attraction, was petted by everyone, and reciprocated with loving head butts. The students got to see and enjoy a literal miracle of rescue in every sense of the word. Brook, like so many animals, pets, and wildlife who are broken and abused, survives sometimes due to the enormous strength of their spirit and their love for us humans. It was a wonderful exercise for the children to experience the intrinsic bond that we have with animals and to understand the need to respect our shared place on this planet. I was so proud to witness the love, concern, and true understanding demonstrated by all the children. In that Sunday’s lesson in particular, they were young warriors and ambassadors of the very principles that Unitarian Universalism is founded on.

Michele Rinaldi
RE Coordinator

Looking ahead...

RE This Sunday, April 14
All grades are in the sanctuary for our multigenerational Animal Blessing service.

Faith Friday, Fri Apr 12, 6:15pm, Fellowship Hall
Our evening of learning, spiritual growth, and community. 6:15pm Pizza & Salad Community Dinner; 7:00pm Programs; 8:30pm Coffee. Programs include Adult RE and Family Journey Group. Adults may also just come for a slice and unstructured social time together. All are welcome to stay after the programs to share coffee and a chat. RSVP to CUUCevents@gmail.com by 12:00 noon on Fri Apr 12.

2019 Variety Show Fundraiser, Sat May 4, 5:00pm
Help us get ready for the fun! Buy RAFFLE TICKETS on Sunday; PERFORMERS (adults AND kids) sign up in the RE lobby; BAKE SALE sign-ups: Contact Benetta Barnett (benettabarnett@hotmail.com); RAFFLE PRIZE DONATIONS: Contact Kate Breault (ksnobro@gmail.com).

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