RE Family News A monthly guide to Religious Exploration opportunities for families at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara

November 2023

"“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” ― Br. David Steindl-Rast

Dear RE Families,

We tend to think of Thanksgiving as a day of gratitude. And how lovely that we make time for giving thanks. However, we short change ourselves and our world if we limit gratitude to a holiday. Gratitude is a life-changing, life-giving spiritual practice, best experienced every day. In these times of heartache and pain and global turmoil, it can be hard to access feelings of gratitude, but it's worth the effort. Gratitude takes us out of a mindset of scarcity, reminds us that we are not alone, and that we all have gifts and resources to help heal a hurting world. Not feeling it? Start close in: I am grateful for this breath, and for the next one, and the next ... When it comes to gratitude, children are incredible teachers. Ask yours to name something they are grateful for. You might be surprised. You will most definitely be moved.

“Can you be grateful for everything? No. But in every moment.”― Br. David Steindl-Rast

Yours in gratitude and community,


Important dates in RE and congregational life

Celebrating Diwali in CRE, November 12

Pizza Church, November 17

Thanksgiving Multigenerational Service, November 19

Don't forget to read your USSB Friday emails and monthly Kaleidoscope newsletter for additional congregational events, programs, and announcements!

Children's Religious exploration

October 2023

Children's Religious Exploration

Our elementary grade RE class is a K-6th one room school house with flexible curriculum designed to engage children of all ages. Children begin in the sanctuary with their families and are sung out to their class following the Time for All Ages.

Integrity * Wonder * Action

We are learning what these words mean to us in CRE

Our CRE classroom altar, October 2023

Our CRE Sunday Morning Ritual

Rituals help bring us into the present moment and nurture a sense of connection and reverence. Rituals open a doorway from the ordinary to the spiritual, and have the power to turn any moment or activity into something sacred. In CRE, we start each class by gathering together to light a chalice, reflect on the Time for All Ages, and consider how we are experiencing integrity, wonder, and action in our lives.

Integrity * Wonder * Action Jars: We've added something new to our Sunday morning ritual. Looking back over the week, we're taking a moment to share experiences of integrity, wonder, or action we've participated in or witnessed. We add a colorful puff ball to the appropriate jar as we consider how we live our mission out in the world.

Where did you experience integrity, wonder, or action this week?

Diwali, November 12

For as long as our wonderful lead CRE teacher, Janey Madlani has been with us, she has shared a celebration of the Hindu holiday of Diwali with our congregation. Diwali is the most important holiday of the year for Hindus. This annual festival of lights symbolizes the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness (National Geographic Kids). We will be celebrating Diwali with Janey on Sunday, November 12.

Celebrating Diwali in CRE 2021

Soulful Play

Because play is a primary spiritual practice for children, a couple of Sundays a month kids will be invited to enjoy time just playing together following our morning ritual. Children will have a choice of activities to engage in. November 5 & 26 will be Soulful Play Sundays this month.


Childcare is available in Starr King for toddlers and preschoolers ages 2-5 from 9:45-11:30. Children under two are invited to remain in the sanctuary with their adults. We have a baby corner with toys in the back of the sanctuary and we do NOT believe that children should be seen and not heard!

Chalice Lighting, Snack Circle, and lots of Playtime!

Preschoolers spend their Sunday mornings exploring the rich environment we share with the Starr King Parent Child Workshop. They also gather around a table for snack and a chalice lighting with our loving childcare providers. We want our preschoolers to experience church as a place of love, joy, and belonging. That is our primary aim for this age group.

Please bring a small snack for your child for Sunday snack circle.

Parents are invited to bring their children to childcare before the service or following the Time for All Ages. You know your child best. We also want parents of young children to have some adult time! We open childcare at 9:45 and keep it open until 11:30, so parents are able to enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation after the worship service.

COVID guidelines in CRE: Vaccinations are expected. Masking is optional. Our CRE classroom has an air filter and open doors for good air circulation.

Family & Community

Family Chalice Lighters!

We love inviting families to light our chalice on Sunday mornings. It is a simple but meaningful way for children, even very young children, to regularly participate in the worship service. And it is a gift to the congregation to see our children and families in the service. Please contact Charla to schedule a Sunday.

Pizza Church

Friday, November 17, 6:00-8:00 pm in Parish Hall

Pizza Church is a monthly gathering for families with young children to get to know other families! It's that simple. We gather for dinner, play time and a short, but very sweet, family chapel in the sanctuary. This month we will be introducing a social justice activity for children and parents to participate in.

We provide pizza, salad, and bubble water. Families are invited to bring beer, wine, other beverages and/or a dessert to share. New this year! We'll have one of our childcare providers on hand each month to play with the kiddos while parents chat. AND, your CRE registration donation covers pizza for your family for the year! We hope to see you on November 17th!

RE Family Campout!

September 29 - October 1

A rainy morning, a boat ride around the lake, swimming, a tasty potluck, and marshmallows roasted over a flaming chalice! A good time was had by all at the RE Family Campout at Lake Lopez! Spring camping anyone?

Ready for a boat ride!
Youth program

YoUUth Group

YoUUth Group is open to 7th-12th graders and meets on Sundays at 4:00-5:30 PM, twice a month in Blake Lounge. Friends are always welcome. November meetings are on the 5th & 19th. Teens are of course always invited to attend the Sunday morning service.

Keir Zecher and Christina Boardman, YG Coordinators

Fall Pumpkin Carving Party

YoUUth Group in November: Capacitar Training and a Possible Brunch Break

USSB youth will soon begin planning for their January service trip to the La Cobina Migrant Shelter in Mexicali, Mexico. Before getting too serious though, they spent a Sunday afternoon painting their faces, carving pumpkins and enjoying some good old-fashioned fall fun. Coming in November, John Altman, along with Hillary Peaty and Jeanette Love of the Church of the Beatitudes, will train the youth in the self-care techniques of Capacitar (learn more at https://capacitar.org/) to share with children and youth at the shelter. Keep your eyes open for ways you can support our youth and their social justice efforts in the coming months, including a possible brunch break on November 19th.

Service Trip Parent Information Meeting: November 5, 4 PM

Parents of 7th-12th graders interested in learning about our upcoming service trip to the La Cobina Migrant Shelter in Mexicali January 12 - 14 should plan to attend this important meeting (concurrent with YG) on November 5th. We will also be talking about YG service in support of the Freedom Warming Center. Please contact DRE, Charla Bregante at charla@ussb.org for more information.

2022 YoUUth Group service trip to La Cobina

Some of our ideas for the coming year:

  • Social events (game nights, movie nights, puppies & pizza, and more)
  • Brunch Break fundraisers (turn quiche into $$ for YoUUth Group activities)
  • Warming Center Meal Team (come together to serve a meal to our neighbors without homes)
  • Training in Capacitar (https://capacitar.org/) in advance of our service trip
  • An interfaith service trip to Mexicali with the Trinity Episcopal youth group (a return to the La Cobina Migrant Shelter we visited last year), January 12 - 14, 2024.
  • Youth Con (A gathering of So Cal UU Youth Groups in Ventura next Spring)
  • Coming of Age for 8th/9th graders Spring 2024

Your YoUUth Group Officers for 2023-24:

  • Emma Parent, YG President
  • Cassia Hamilton-Shive, Junior President
  • Quinn Hartman, Treasurer

COVID guidelines: Vaccinations are expected. Masking is optional. Blake Lounge has an air filter and doors will be open for maximum air flow.

special events

Multigenerational Services, Special Events, and other Noteworthy Stuff!

Multigenerational Thanksgiving Service, November 19

Everyone has something to be grateful for, so we bring all ages together for our annual Thanksgiving Service and bread communion. Childcare will be available for the very youngest in Starr King. We hope that all children who are able, will join us in this special service.

Thanksgiving Service 2022
RE Team & USSB resources

Thank you for reading

We welcome your questions, concerns, and great ideas.

For more information about the Unitarian Society, visit our website or email Charla Bregante, our Director of Religious Exploration at charla@ussb.org

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The USSB RE Team: Christina Boardman, YoUUth Group Coordinator, Sydney Tomlinson, Childcare Coordinator, Charla Bregante, Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration, Janey Madlani, Children's RE Coordinator, Emma Parent, Childcare Provider & YoUUth Group president, and Keir Zecher, YoUUth Group Advisor (not pictured, Dillon Masri, Childcare Provider)
Your Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration, Charla Bregante