Our Youth Ministry Mission: To create a safe, loving, empowering environment in which children may learn, apply and celebrate Unity principles.
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Youth Ministry care is offered during our 9:30 am service and includes:
Professional childcare for infants and children through the age of four.
Spiritual Education classes for students in Kindergarten – High School. Classes are divided into four groups according to age or school grade. Each child’s emotional maturity is taken into account when advancing him or her to the next level. Please feel free to contact the Youth Ministry Director or adult class sponsor if you would like to discuss any concerns or issues about your child’s placement.
Focus by Age Group:
Unitots (Infants-4 years)
The youngest representatives of our Youth Ministry are provided with a safe, nurturing environment while you attend Sunday services. Their room has a generous supply of infant and toddler equipment and activities for learning, play and comfort. Unitots is staffed with loving and experienced childcare providers who are here on a regular basis. Parents are asked to provide diapers, wipes, juice cups and/or bottles for their own child. Unitots provides a small snack (crackers, animal cookies, juice) but we ask that you bring your own if your child has special dietary needs.
The main focus is on reinforcing the idea that God is within us, around us, everywhere present and loves us unconditionally. This is done through music, movement and a special children’s Bible that tells the stories in rhyme. The children also learn Unity’s Prayer of Protection, the Peace song, the five principles of Unity.
The main focus is establishing a very basic understanding of the Bible and how its stories reflect our basic Unity principles. The practice of meditation, and the beginnings of metaphysical interpretation are introduced as well.
Uniteens (6th-8th grade)
The focus is on giving students the opportunity to be spiritually enlightened, encouraged, strengthened and empowered via group discussions, activities and projects. Classes focus on the many challenging issues that exist during one of the most difficult stages in life. Topics such as peer pressure, school difficulties, etc., are brought up during weekly check-ins. Group follow-up discussions provide an avenue to develop spiritual problem solving and social skills. Unity’s spiritual principles are applied to feedback and the class ends with a meditation. Opportunities to attend regional retreats with adult sponsors are also highlights.
Y.O.U. (high school)
Y.O.U. (Youth of Unity) provides an opportunity and safe place for teenagers to meet other teenagers seeking their own spiritual path. The group provides an unbiased environment in which they may share their feelings toward any situation, and in which all aspects of spirituality are covered. In the course of learning and growing, they are allowed the freedom to question and challenge. A weekly lesson, taught by Y.O.U.’ers for Y.O.U.’ers, is offered, as well as the opportunity to plan and participate in fundraisers and various types of service work. Highlights of the year include opportunities to attend sub-regional, regional and international rallies and conferences.
All K-12 students should report to the Freedom Room on the 2nd Floor of the west side of the building. K-5th grade students must be signed in by a parent or guardian.
Parents are expected to pick up their children in the Freedom Room and sign them out immediately after the service is over.
The Sunday Morning Experience
During this sharing time, the children introduce themselves, share their love offerings and prayer energy and sometimes participate in a brief meditation.
Unity in Chicago Youth Ministry utilizes the “Living Curriculum” philosophy in its Sunday School classes, drawing forth the Truth principles that already reside within each child through the use of: Bible and contemporary spiritually-based stories or videos, discussion questions, creative experiences, affirmations, meditation and prayer, and song.
This is the time for the students to actively explore the new ideas and to make them their own. During this time, the students are guided to see how these ideas have meaning in their own lives and to practice using them.
This is a time to have the students uniquely apply the concepts in a lesson-based art project, journaling assignment or other type of expression.
Students will be in the Freedom Room for parental check-out.
While meditation is a valued part of our Sunday morning experience, it is a skill that needs to be practiced at home. If we teach our children to meditate so that it becomes a natural part of their lives, we will be looking at future adults more centered and more aware. They will be able to draw from their innermost being the necessary resources to carry them through the difficulties that life can present. We have included some guidelines here to help you to successfully practice this in your home.
Goals of Meditation
Experience the presence of God within
Commune with God
Become open and receptive to hearing guidance from our indwelling Christ presence
Experience peace, joy and clarity
Process of Meditation
Still the body
Quiet the mind
Focus on the Christ within
Gifts of Meditation
In leading children in the experience of meditation, it is important to approach it differently than we would with adults. With children, it is helpful to provide them with the experience of ONE of the many aspects of meditation at a time. They can thereby have an enjoyable experience, and at the same time learn many things on a subconscious level.
Through a variety of meditation techniques, children can learn to:
Control their breathing
Perceive changes in their bodies
Still their bodies
Notice their feelings
Change their feelings
Each of these is a wondrous skill to have and of which to be aware. Given the right environment and support, children respond to meditation naturally. Persist! It is a worthwhile goal.
Steps to Meditation
Meditation is most successful and powerful if it is done at the same time and in the same location each time. This sets up a routine for you and your child and becomes a very powerful time to be together.
Establish a certain cue, or set of cues, that always occur prior to meditation time. This will become an unconscious signal to the children and they begin to prepare themselves for the experience without even being aware of it. Allow the child to participate in the ritual of preparing for meditation. Remember to focus on one aspect of meditation at a time.
Some cues you might use are:
setting up a peaceful picture
lighting a candle
turning the lights off
playing a specific piece of music
turning on a special night light
A Technique to Try
Invite your children to sit quietly and comfortably with you for just a moment. Tell them that we will focus on our breath. Just gently breathe in and out, feeling our shoulders relax, our hands relax and our feet become still. Just gently breathe for a minute or two. Then softly encourage your child to repeat the Prayer for Protection with you.
We are here each week to hold your child in love and respect. Our work is about allowing each child to unfold in his or her own Divine way. Our overriding concern is the well being of all the children.
Teachers take into consideration the child’s comfort level in participating with the group. Each child is encouraged, but not forced, to participate. If they choose not to interact with others, they may sit quietly and observe the class. The teacher periodically invites the child to join the class.
If your child has special needs or is experiencing difficulty in some area, please feel free to share that information with the teacher or Youth Ministry Director so that we may take appropriate steps to enhance your child’s experience.
Yes, volunteer opportunities DO exist in Youth Ministry. We don’t care if you can’t commit on a regular basis-we would be thrilled to have you donate your time and talent for any amount of time, based on your schedule of availability.
For instance, here are some of the many opportunities:
Sunday School Teacher/Sponsor
Prepare and lead Sunday school lessons. Training and materials provided.
Be there to assist the teacher facilitating the lessons. Volunteers can sign up for one or several Sundays … no teaching experience required.
Help out in the nursery with the Unitots.
Kids Expressing Teacher
Our special summer classes focus on a different and cool activity each Sunday: yoga, puppetry, sign language, nature games, acting, music, and art projects just to name a few! What could you share?