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Pros and Cons of Pre-church Children's RE

April 2, 2007

Q. Do you know of any Unitarian Universalist (UU) churches that have Religious Education (RE) for children before the church service? We are finding that at our new building the number of children is increasing, our RE space is limited, and we have noise from RE during the service. I see several advantages to having RE before the service. The teachers wouldn’t have to miss the service. We could accommodate more children, and have parents involved in adult RE. I have not been able to sell this idea to the RE committee because they don’t think children can sit through a service. They also want to know if any other churches use this model. Do you know?

A. The Rev. Pat Hoertdoerfer, District Program consultant for the New Hampshire/Vermont District and former Family, Children’s, and Intergenerational Programs director for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), replies, “As a small fellowship with energetic and committed leadership, I love your creative thinking about RE possibilities. A number of congregations have an hour of lifespan RE followed by an hour of intergenerational worship. Here’s what I have learned from the congregations that have successfully implemented this RE/worship model:

The whole congregation needs to be educated about this model. The Board needs to take a formal (educated) vote in the name of the congregation on implementing this model with the requirements for leadership, staffing, space, and resources in place. The Board, worship committee, minister, RE committee, and Director of Religious Education (DRE) need to own the intergenerational worship decision and cooperate to make it work. The model needs to be evaluated periodically and revised as needed. A defined trial period for this model helps to relieve anxiety about this major change.

Does your congregation makes this type of RE hour work? We want to hear about it—the good and bad. Write to dskinner @ and we’ll share your stories in InterConnections.

For more information contact interconnections @

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Last updated on Sunday, December 22, 2013.

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