Introducing sexuality education into your congregation can be a wonderful opportunity to put faith into action. The impetus may come from the youth of your congregation, a parent's group, the pastor, a health professional, or someone else.
There are people throughout the United Church of Christ who have been trained as Our Whole Lives facilitators and have successfully implemented Our Whole Lives/ Sexuality and Our Faith —and many of them are willing to share their journeys with you.
The main ingredient in the success of implementing Our Whole Lives is a commitment to the sexual health and wholeness of the community. Other practical considerations many have found helpful are:
- building allies
- forming an oversight committee
- educating and inspiring the congregation, and
- implementing the program and including it into the congregation's ministry on an ongoing basis.
Choose the age group you want to start with (K-1, Grades 4-6, 7-9, 10-12 grades, Young Adult or Adult) and then check out the Our Whole Lives Training page to see where a training is being held near you. Trainings are held throughout the US and Canada, and often in partnership with Unitarian Universalist Association churches; however, wherever you go, you will receive training from Approved Trainers in the levels you are planning to implement. The training page updates frequently, so check back often. You may also choose to work with your local church, association, conference or national setting to host a training. There is more information about hosting in a downloadable guide on the Our Whole Lives Training page.
How long are the programs?
Good sexuality education takes time, especially in a culture which is raising its consciousness regarding sexual harassment, assault, and toxic gender roles and expectations. Don’t let the length of the programs deter you. Contact us to find out more.
8 sessions, 1 hour each
Parent meeting: 1.5 hours, Parent/Child Orientation: 2.5 hours
10 sessions; 75-minutes each
Program Information meeting: 1.5 hours, Parent/Child Orientation: 2.5 hours
25 sessions, 1.5 hour each
Parent Orientation: 1-2 sessions, 2-4 hours total
14 sessions, 2 hours each
Parent Orientation: 1-3 sessions, 3-4 hours total
12 sessions, 2 hours each
14 sessions, 2 hours each
*These levels of curricula are modular. You may choose to do only one workshop, or work through the entire manual, depending on the needs of your group.
What is Sexuality and Our Faith?
Sexuality and Our Faith is the faith companion to Our Whole Lives. Each level of Our Whole Lives has a corresponding Sexuality and Our Faith manual that provides faith-related information and questions for each workshop. Our Whole Lives itself is secular and can be used in community settings and schools in addition to churches. One half of each Sexuality and Our Faith manual contains material written by the Unitarian Universalist Association that brings in how their principles relate to the Our Whole Lives workshops, and one half by United Church of Christ authors who bring in prayer, scripture, litany and song to support what is being taught in Our Whole Lives.
What are the visual components? Who can use them?
The Sexuality and Our Faith DVD for Grades 7-9 and Grades 10-12 are designed for use only in UUA and UCC congregations who have approved trained Our Whole Lives/Sexuality and Our Faith facilitators for those grade levels, and can only be used in the context of the UUA or UCC church offering the appropriate level of Our Whole Lives. They are an optional resource that require parent permission to be viewed by youth. Comprehensive and effective sexuality education programs can be conducted without these visuals. Both the DVDs seek to underscore the values of the curriculum and were designed to answer participants questions about what sexual anatomy and activity look like in an environment of responsibility, respect, safety, and trust.
The DVDs can only be purchased by UU or UCC congregations and only after the congregation's Our Whole Lives facilitators have successfully completed training in the use of the resource. Individuals cannot purchase them. Contact email@example.com to inquire about purchasing them.
Are the program lengths and sessions adaptable?
Our Whole Lives programs are flexible and can be adapted to your program needs. The older grades courses can be used in a retreat setting. In order to maintain the integrity of the program, it is highly recommended that all sessions of the resources in any program from K-1 through 10-12 be taught.
Can we collaborate with another church or community organization?
If there is another United Church of Christ congregation in your area, or a church that believes that sexuality education is an important part of their commitment to youth, it is appropriate to collaborate. The more diversity in a group, the richer the program. Because Our Whole Lives was written to be used in a secular setting, it does not contain religious references. The Sexuality and Our Faith manuals provide that optional addition. Be sure to have at least two trained facilitators before offering any Our Whole Lives program with any group.
How much does it cost?
What you need:
- A copy of Our Whole Lives for the level you will be offering for each facilitator on your team
- A copy of Sexuality and Our Faith for the level you will be offering for each facilitator on your team
- Training for your team
- If you are offering Our Whole Lives for Grades 4-6, there is an accompanying text called It’s Perfectly Normal, which some churches choose to provide for participants to borrow or keep.
- If you are offering Our Whole Lives for Grades K-1 or Grades 4-6, there is an accompanying Parent Guide which should be purchased for each family.
The United Church of Christ offers a significant 25% discount to UCC members who attend Our Whole Lives—Sexuality and Our Faith trainings for materials for the training they are attending. In order to take advantage of this special offer, participants need to call the United Church of Christ warehouse and order their own resources. This needs to be done at least 10 days before a training to insure delivery. The number to call is: 1-800-537-3394. When calling, tell the customer service person that you are a UCC member attending an Our Whole Lives training and would like to receive a 25% discount. Orders can be charged to your church's United Church of Christ Resource account. Click here to see what the pre-discount cost is for the resources you will need.
Congregations must also budget for Our Whole Lives facilitator training. The total cost for a congregation will be determined by how far they must travel and how many days it will take. Once the facilitators are trained, the actual cost of implementation in a congregation is small and includes costs such as printing, supplies and snacks.
What are the criteria for selecting good facilitators for Our Whole Lives?
The success of the Our Whole Lives program depends on the qualified and caring persons who are selected and trained to be Our Whole Lives facilitators. Keep the following criteria in mind when choosing your facilitators:
- Their commitment to value-based, comprehensive sexuality education. A facilitator needs to have values (responsibility, sexual health, responsibility, justice and inclusivity) in harmony with the Our Whole Lives program and goals, and to feel comfortable with their own sexuality.
- Their experience, skill and comfort with the specific age group they will work with and its developmental needs.
- Their anti-bias awareness. A facilitator needs to understand, appreciate, and celebrate diversity of race/ethnicity, culture, age, ability, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. A facilitator needs to have the skills to create a safe and engaging/learning environment.
- Their ability to be an advocate for sexual health and safety. The facilitator must support your Safe Church Policy and must follow your state's process for reporting any alleged abuse.
- Their ability to build relationships with participants, and with their parents and caregivers. Facilitators need to build community in the classroom and develop relationships of respect and responsibility.
- Their faith. A facilitator needs to be a person who is respected by the congregation and comfortable discussing the integration of sexuality and spirituality with members of the faith community. They should be aware of their own spiritual and religious grounding.
At the facilitator's training, the facilitators are being trained and evaluated. Occasionally our Approved Trainers identify individuals during the trainings that might not be appropriate for teaching Our Whole Lives. Churches should know that their facilitators may not be approved if there are concerns that arise during the training. If this is the case, the facilitators will be notified directly by the trainers and the congregational contact person(s) will be notified.
Should we screen potential leaders?
The United Church of Christ Insurance Board and Church Leaders strongly advise that churches screen all people working with youth and children. We recommend conducting background checks on facilitators of Our Whole Lives.
Our Whole Lives and most Safe Church policies insist on having at least two adults with the children and youth in the program at all times. In addition, if concerns arise during an Our Whole Lives training about a facilitator's appropriateness for facilitating Our Whole Lives, the trainers leading the workshop will speak to the potential facilitator and to the professional leadership of your congregation about their concerns.
What are people saying about Our Whole Lives?
In addition to articles being written in major newspapers throughout the country, pastors, facilitators, students and parents have expressed gratitude for Our Whole Lives. Here are just a few quotes:
"Sexuality is too important a subject for youth to be without a trustworthy source of accurate, reliable information. To be involved with these young people in one of the most important stages of their lives is an honor which is not taken lightly." (Our Whole Lives facilitator and parent)
"The information presented in the Our Whole Lives programs is straight, honest talk about respect for one's self, friends and community. Our Whole Lives provides answers to basic questions and offers many opportunities to digest and reflect on what it means to be a healthy teen. How wonderful that, as a caring church community, we can offer so much to our children in a safe learning environment." (Our Whole Lives parent, nurse practitioner)
"Don't ever stop offering Our Whole Lives at church. I took it when I was in high school and I think it saved my life. Every kid should see themselves the way Our Whole Lives sees them." (College student)
"One parent gave me a hug and thanked me for introducing Our Whole Lives into the church. Another was near tears as she told me how excited she was that we would be offering the Our Whole Lives program, how impressed she was by it, how important it was to be doing this, and so pleased that her children would be in the program. Another just said, 'Look, you can tell how moved I am, I am trembling.'" (Pastor)
"Thank you, thank you, thank you. The training I received this weekend was the best training I've ever received. I arrived very nervous—what am I doing here? Now I'm leaving knowing that the youth from my church will be receiving excellent information—and I can do this!" (Our Whole Lives Facilitator)
"What a gift to have this much-awaited resource for 18-35 year olds. Our Whole Lives-Sexuality and Our Faith for young adults is such an incredible opportunity. This inclusive, sexuality positive curriculum celebrates our sexuality as the amazing gift---from God---that it is. Through this program, young adults have the delicious chance to participate in exactly what many hunger for---frank, holistic, non-judgmental exploration of contemporary sexual questions, choices and practices and the chance to explore the powerful, zesty and life-giving relationship between sexuality and spirituality. And to do this within the beautiful, guiding framework of progressive Christianity which honors and celebrates our roots----mutuality, love and justice. This curriculum is a sacred gift. For the taking. Unwrap it!" (Lynn Young, Colorado Springs, CO)
This Young Adult resource helps participants by giving them accurate information, increased knowledge about themselves, and embraces the Our Whole Lives values of self worth, responsibility, sexual health, justice and inclusivity. This new young adult resource will expand valuable ministry to young adults not only in local church settings, but also a colleges and seminaries.
There are 14 sessions in this book. It can be ordered through United Church Resources ($40) by calling: 1.800.537.3394.
By Elizabeth M. Casparian, Ph. D.,
and Eva S. Goldfarb, Ph.D
Our Whole Lives for Grades 10-12 is a comprehensive program that can be used in religious education programs by teachers and pastors with youth groups, weekend retreats, and youth conferences and camps. Its activities help participants make healthy, well-informed decisions about relationships and sexuality.
Eva Goldfarb, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in health programs at Montclair State University where she teaches and conducts research in human sexuality, curriculum development, and evaluation of health education programs. Co-author of Filling the Gaps, a book on hard-to-teach topics in human sexuality, she has over twelve years of experience teaching courses, leading workshops, consulting on media projects, conducting seminars and developing curricula in the areas of human sexuality and sexual health. Goldfarb holds a doctorate in Human Sexuality Education from the University of Pennsylvania.
Elizabeth Casparian, Ph.D., has been a consultant in health and sexuality education for over eleven years, writing and developing teaching materials and videos, and leading training sessions and seminars with adolescents, parents, teachers and other professionals. Co-author of Filling the Gaps, a book on hard-to-teach topics in human sexuality, she has written and consulted on sexual health issues with universities, public service organizations and schools. Casparian holds a doctorate in Education Leadership in Human Sexuality from the University of Pennsylvania.
By: Richard S. Kimball
Using values, communication skills and spirituality as starting points, this program explores sexuality issues for adults of all ages. Builds understanding of healthy sexual relationships, affirms diversity and helps participants accept and affirm their own sexuality throughout their lives. Suggests 12 workshops, plus introductory and concluding sessions, but adaptable for many formats.
Our Whole Lives Sexuality Education, Grades 7-9, 2nd edition
The United Church of Christ, in conjunction with the Unitarian Universalist Association, has released the second edition of the sexuality education program Our Whole Lives geared toward youth in grades 7 to 9. The second edition introduces new content, activities, perspectives, language, and resources that will help today's young teens make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior by providing accurate, age-appropriate information.
New topics in the second edition include bullying and bystander responsibilities; sexuality, social media, and the Internet; body image; consent education; and communicating with a sexual partner. The addition also includes a section on "Taking a Special Education Approach to Sexuality Education" to help facilitators include in their programs youth with autism spectrum disorders, attention disorders, intellectual disabilities, and learning disabilities.
Order your copy of the new edition online via UCC Resources or by calling 1.800.537.3394. For those who are replacing first editions or who have or are attending an Our Whole Lives Facilitator Training, you may request 25% off the purchase price. The Sexuality and Our Faith Companion to Our Whole Lives, 2nd edition is also available for use in United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalist congregations.
For more information about the revisions or to sign up for a webinar about the changes, please contact Amy Johnson, UCC Our Whole Lives Coordinator at JohnsonA@ucc.org.
Check out the NEW Content and Order of Workshops:
Unit One: Introduction
Workshop 1: What is Sexuality?
This session quickly engages participants and establishes the Our Whole Lives setting as a comfortable place to talk about even the toughest subjects. Participants craft rules to promote positive group interaction and mutual respect. They explore the Circles of Sexuality -- a broad definition of sexuality -- that will be further refined and clarified throughout the program. In addition, they learn about the content, format, and underlying values of Our Whole Lives.
Workshop 2: Examining Values
Through activities including an exciting Values Auction, participants clarify their own values, share points of view, and reflect on the strength of their own values. They become familiar with and are asked to respect values held by others.
Workshop 3: The Language of Sexuality
Participants explore the diversity of sexual language and its impact, usefulness, and appropriateness in different contexts. After building lists of terms for sexual anatomy and activity, participants weigh the styles of language they and others use against the values they explored in Workshop 2. Standards are set for language used in the Our Whole Lives setting.
Unit Two: You, as a Sexual Being
Workshop 4: Anatomy and Physiology
The Constructing Sex Systems activity in this workshop is one of several ways of reinforcing accurate information and correcting misunderstanding about sexual anatomy and physiology. Participants learn that knowing and talking about sexual organs and their functions is both normal and appropriate.
Workshop 5: Personal Concerns About Puberty
Participants have an opportunity to talk about personal questions and concerns regarding their own growth and development. They can explore accurate information, clear up myths, and get answers to their questions. In the process, they become aware of diverse body types, sizes, behaviors, and rates of physical, emotional, and social development. Optional sex-specific discussion groups give youth an opportunity to talk about personal aspects of sexual health and hygiene with adults who have gone through similar changes.
Workshop 6: Body Image
This workshop defines body image as a person’s perception of, attitudes toward, and feelings about their body. Participants explore societal influences on body image and learn how positive and negative body image can affect a person’s sexual attitudes, decision-making, and behaviors.
Workshop 7: Gender Identity
By building a chart defining biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, participants visualize the differences between sexual identity constructs. They have a chance to gain or deepen their understanding of the ways that biological sex, gender identity, and gender expression may align or not align for different people. In addition, they discuss some of the challenges faced by transgender people (themselves or others) while learning techniques that have helped people to feel empowered and to be supportive.
Workshop 8: Gender Expression, Roles, & Stereotypes
Participants explore their beliefs about gender-role expectations, and they critically evaluate gender-role messages they have received. They identify how stereotypes hurt people of all gender identities and learn steps they can take to overcome gender-role restrictions affecting themselves and others.
Workshop 9: Sexual Orientation
This workshop explores all sexual orientations but emphasizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) orientations due to the continuing existence of heterosexism (the assumption that everyone is or should be heterosexual), homophobia (bias against LGBQ people), and biphobia (aversion toward bisexuality and bisexual people). Participants gain knowledge and skills and explore attitudes that affirm the dignity and worth of people of all sexual orientations.
Workshop 10: Guest Panel
A guest panel deepens participants’ understanding of, and empathy with, people who face homophobia, heterosexism, biphobia, and/or transphobia. This workshop is one of the most healing activities Our Whole Lives educators can facilitate for youth. Interacting with individuals who are LGBTQ provides an opportunity to put real faces on the issue and to move beyond stereotypes. Panelists can also serve as role models for participants who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning.
Workshop 11: Sexuality and Disability
All participants may benefit from this workshop: Participants without disabilities have an opportunity to gain understanding of and empathy for people with disabilities while recognizing that as sexual human beings, they share many commonalities. Participants with disabilities can appreciate their peers’ empathy toward them and acceptance of them as sexual beings. The workshop communicates the message that friendship and attraction are normal among and between people with and without disabilities.
Unit Three: Relationships
Workshop 12: Healthy Relationships
Through a series of engaging activities and discussion, participants learn the basics of healthy relationships and begin to identify the characteristics of romantic partners who can support them in exploring and defining their identities, developing interpersonal skills, and gaining emotional support.
Workshop 13: Relationship Skills
Scripted role plays in this workshop teach skills that will help prepare participants to be best friends and loving partners in lifelong commitments or marital relationships. Focused on listening, being assertive, and using refusal skills, the session can enhance all types of relationships.
Unit Four: Contemporary Issues
Workshop 14: Sexuality, Social Media and the Internet
Technology can enrich young teens’ knowledge and/or social relationships in safe, life-affirming ways if approached with care, information about available options, and an awareness of appropriate use. The workshop addresses both computer and cell phone use; however, the activities will not require that participants have either cell phones or access to a computer.
Workshop 15: Bullying & Bystander Responsibilities
A great deal of bullying relates to sexuality, so young teens need to know how to recognize it and effectively respond to it, whether they are victims or bystanders. This workshop discusses both indirect and direct bullying, debunks myths and provides realistic solutions.
Unit Five: Responsible Sexual Behavior
Workshop 16: Redefining Abstinence
Participants explore the concept of abstinence, which is redefined as refraining from sexual intercourse (oral, anal, or vaginal), as well as skin-to-skin genital contact. This definition of abstinence excludes higher risk sexual behaviors but allows for the possibility of healthy and safe non-intercourse sexual behaviors, such as masturbation and outercourse.
Workshop 17: Lovemaking
Lovemaking is placed in a moral context when negative and erroneous media messages are combatted with honest discussions of sexual behavior. Participants are encouraged to take away the message that lovemaking is a positive and life-enhancing experience when it is consensual, non-exploitative, mutually pleasurable, safe, developmentally appropriate, based on mutual expectations and caring, and respectful.
Workshop 18: Consent Education
Participants explore different forms of sexual violation that can occur between relationship partners, peers, and acquaintances, while they gain strategies to prevent and handle these violations. The workshop emphasizes that we each have the right to consent or not consent, and we have the responsibility to stand up for ourselves and others in situations of harassment, coercion, or assault.
Unit Six: STIs, Pregnancy, & Parenting Decisions
Workshop 19: Sexually Transmitted Infections
This workshop takes a unique social justice approach by reinforcing the following values: healthy sexual relationships are safe (no or low risk of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and emotional pain); all persons have the right and obligation to make responsible sexual choices; and individuals are responsible for caring for their own sexual health and for promoting the wellbeing of their partners, friends, and loved ones.
Workshop 20: Pregnancy, Parenting, & Teen Parenting
Starting with a review of the process of conception, participants are shown how easily pregnancy may occur. They explore the fact that while parenthood can be fun and rewarding, it is also challenging and expensive. The responsibilities of parenthood are addressed, along with its possible impact on participants’ goals and futures.
Workshop 21: Unintended Pregnancy Options
As they learn about three possible options for resolving an unintended pregnancy, participants explore their attitudes toward and feelings about being faced with an unintended pregnancy. They also practice making the very difficult decision of how to respond to an unintended pregnancy.
Workshop 22: Contraception and Safer Sex
Participants are given the message that careful, consistent use of protection against pregnancy and STIs can make sexual behavior more caring and responsible. They practice evaluating behaviors and their risk for unintended pregnancies and STIs, in an affirming and accepting atmosphere that promotes personal responsibility and planning for the consequences of sexual behavior. Options to the workshop plan including bringing in a guest speaker or taking a field trip to a reproductive health center.
Unit Seven: Communicating about Sexuality
Workshop 23: Sexual Decision Making
This workshop gives participants an opportunity to apply knowledge gained from earlier workshops to consider how they will make future decisions about sexual behavior. They will discuss why teens choose to engage or not to engage in sexual behaviors, and they will articulate where they stand on having sex at this time in their lives. In the process, they can gain self confidence in their ability to make healthy and wise decisions.
Workshop 24: Communicating with a Sexual Partner
Participants apply knowledge gained during Our Whole Lives to the process of communicating with a partner—initiating conversations, communicating relationship bottom lines, and responding to arguments against using protection. They learn and practice a strategy for negotiating with a partner despite disagreement about key issues, such as using protection.
Workshop 25: Self Care, Celebration, & Closure
This culminating session of Our Whole Lives provides the opportunity for facilitators and participants to reflect on their shared experience. Participants identify connections between their sexual health and their general health and wellness, with the goal of recognizing themselves as gatekeepers of their own health and wellness. They list gains they’ve made during the program and describe the impact of Our Whole Lives on their knowledge, feelings, and behavior.
Other Resources5 Reasons to Talk About Sex in the Church
Who are UCC young adults?
In the UCC, young adults are considered those between the ages of 18 and 30. The reality is that a young adult could be female, male, a student, a professional, single, married, a parent, still living with a parent, Generation X or a Millennial, a seminarian, an ordained minister, someone who hasn't set foot in a church since high school and anything in between. "Young Adult" is a distinction of age that encompasses a group as diverse and dynamic as any in the UCC.
How can young adults get involved?
Young Adult Service Communities are unique opportunities for you to live in intentional community with others who share your commitment to service and social justice. Together, you will find the space to reflect on questions of meaning and to network for change.
Service and Justice Internships
The YASC network gives you the opportunity to grow professionally and change the world through intern placements with local nonprofit agencies, which are dedicated to justice advocacy and collaborative action.
Your placement will also allow you the opportunity to grow spiritually as you serve in a leadership position at a United Church of Christ congregation. Through this work you can see the convergence of church and world.
Finally, YASC provides you a space to grow personally by living in community with other young leaders, exploring together your direction, calling and future action in the world.
The Summer Communities of Service program is an ecumenical collaboration between the UCC Volunteer Ministries and Alliance of Baptists. Particpants live and serve from June to mid-August in host congregations from around the United States. There a four fundamental facets, which together form the foundation of the SCOS program:
The "intentional Christian community element" makes this program distinct and effective. Interns share a common food allowance, transportation funds and spiritual growth insights. Participants live in community with each other and with their hosts in their temporary city.
In the UCC and Alliance of Baptists diversity is a big piece of our identity. Both churches uphold socially progressive statements and advocate politically from a faith perspective. Diverse, community-service-integrated ministries show interns, congregations, the wider church and world where this faith-inspired work is happening in our midst. The SCOS projects help interns develop long-term commitment to engage in this kind of ministry.
Hands-On Justice Advocacy/Service Opportunities
Grow professionally. Change the World.
Grow Personally. Grow Spiritually.
The Global Mission Intern program invites you to challenge yourself in a one to three year international mission service opportunity. As you offer yourself in service, you will also learn more about yourself, your relationship with God, and your place in God’s world. You will build relationships that will change the way you look at the world. You will be a part of a growing group of young adults who have been transformed by these experiences and will provide you a new community on return. You will come back from your year in mission equipped to provide a global perspective on issues facing the church in our hurting world today.
The UCC national setting recommends sites within the United States that host mission opportunities for groups. These host sites are rooted in local communities and utilize volunteer groups in their on-going service within those places. Volunteers experience God’s presence among new people and in new places through these experiences. UCC Mission Trip Opportunities are short-term, lasting up to a week.
Working together as a significant partner in the ministry and future of the church, OMA seeks to advise, connect and advocate on behalf of the network of persons responsible for Outdoor Ministries in the United Church of Christ. The Outdoor Ministry Association works to support and encourage the staff, volunteers, board members and conferences at these special places; to promote outdoor ministries in all areas of the church; and to celebrate the many wonders of God's nature!
The Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM) advocates, communicates, coordinates, and networks on behalf of youth and young adults of the UCC. CYYAM members work together and with other church leaders to establish strong youth and young adult ministries throughout the UCC by advocating to church leaders, helping make youth and young adult voices heard at General Synod, seeking to address issues of social justice and peace, and serving as a voice for UCC youth and young adults.
The vision of Justice & Witness Ministries is of a more just, peaceful and compassionate world that honors all of God’s creation. Leaders are needed throughout our churches and communities to help share, pursue and achieve this vision. Justice Leaders Engaging and Developing (Justice LED) is a program that offers training, leadership skills and support to local churches and UCC members who seek tangible ways to move our world towards this vision.
Together with Sexuality and Our Faith, Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their relationships, health and behavior in the context of their faith. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. It provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills and understand the social, emotional and spiritual aspects of sexuality.
Our Whole Lives, together with Sexuality and Our Faith, helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their relationships, health and behavior in the context of their faith. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. It provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills and understand the social, emotional and spiritual aspects of sexuality.
Our Whole Lives
- is a series of sexuality education programs for six age groups: grades K-1, grades 4-6, grades 7-9, grades 10-12, Young Adults and Adults. The resources are written by professional sexuality educators and provide accurate information for parents, teachers and pastors to be used in the affirming and supportive setting of our churches. Order your curriculum via UCC Resources.
- The resources are based on the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education produced by the National Guidelines Task Force, a group of leading health, education and sexuality professionals assembled by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.
- There is a Parent Guide to Our Whole Lives Grades K-1 and Grades 4-6 that accompanies the Our Whole Lives resource for those age levels. Our Whole Lives Grades 4-6 also uses the book, It's Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris.
- Is written by United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalist Association members and is the accompanying resource used for each of the grade groups: grades K-1, grades 4-6, grades 7-9 and grades 10-12, Young Adults and Adults in the church setting.
- All but the Adult book have separate sections devoted to UCC and UUA faith traditions. The Adult Sexuality and Our Faith book has reflects UCC theology. However, the UUA Adult Sexuality and Our Faith companion is available by calling their bookstore: 800-215-9076. By using Sexuality and Our Faith, leaders integrate worship, prayer and discussion of United Church of Christ faith values and principles into the programs for each age group.
Our Whole Lives - Sexuality and Our Faith resources may be purchased by calling 800-537-3394 or online via the UCC Store.
What do these resources provide?
Each level of Our Whole Lives and Sexuality and Our Faith offers:
- A well-designed, teacher-friendly leader's guide
- Trained leaders
- Parent orientation programs that engage parents in the sexuality education of their children
- United Church of Christ materials incorporating worship and religious values into the program
- Up-to-date information and candid answers to all participants' questions
- Activities to help participants clarify values and improve decision-making skills
- Effective group-building to create a safe and supportive peer environment
- Education about sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment
- Opportunities to critique media messages about gender and sexuality
- Acceptance of diversity
- Encouragement to act for justice
Our Whole Lives and Sexuality and Our Faith respond to General Synod actions calling for the development of sexuality education materials for all ages. Participating in a human sexuality program in a supportive and affirming environment in the church will help participants understand that sexuality is an important part of the way God created us; that their church cares about their sexual development; and that caring Christian adults are willing and able to talk with them about their questions and concerns.
- Interested in Hosting an Our Whole Lives Training? Download the Our Whole Lives Hosting Guide!
- Why get trained? Lean more about Our Whole Lives/Sexuality and Our Faith Facilitator Training.
- Frequently Asked Questions
- A Selected Chronology of UCC Relevant Actions and Events
Advocating for human sexuality education and justice is an important first step for people of faith to take as they begin to plan a ministry of human sexuality in their communities.
The Advocacy Manual for Sexuality Education, Health and Justice is a helpful manual for advocates of comprehensive sexuality education - education that enables young people and their families to obtain accurate information, articulate their values, develop relationship skills, and exercise responsibility in sexual relationships. It is a co-publication of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. It may be purchased from the United Church of Christ at anytime by calling 1-800-537-3394.
The Advocacy Manual for Sexuality Education, Health and Justice contains a variety of practical resources for introducing a comprehensive sexuality education program like Our Whole Lives in your congregation or community, as well as background information on sexuality education and its connection to spiritual and sexual health. Whether you are a parent, educator, student, clergyperson or lay leader, this resource will encourage you to employ your moral and religious values in advocating for comprehensive sexuality education.
Sarah Gibb worked with the Sexuality Education Task Force of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ from 1997-2001. Having grown up in congregations that provided faith-based sexuality education, she has witnessed the positive effects of the partnership between congregations and families in helping young people make healthy choices. As Outreach Coordinator for the Task Force, her work focused on building advocacy for comprehensive sexuality education among people of faith. Sarah has also worked with communities organizations on setting up training events for the use of Our Whole Lives. She has completed her Masters of Divinity degree from Harvard University's School of Divinity and works for the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Interested in Hosting an Our Whole Lives Training? Download the Our Whole Lives Planning Guide!
Need more information about a particular training below? Please contact the training registrar listed for the training. Updates Frequently! Check Back!
Feb 1-3, 2019
Levels: Grades 7-9/10-12 Facilitator Training
Location: Walker Center, Auburndale, MA
Sponsor: New England Region UUA
Contact: Chanel Gomez, firstname.lastname@example.org 617-948-6427
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February 8-10, 2019
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Level: All Adult Levels
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April 19-21, 2019
Levels: Grades 7-9/10-12 Facilitator Training
Location: Walker Center, Auburndale, MA
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Deadline: April 5, 2019
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Level: Grades 7-9/10-12 Facilitator Training
Location: Best Western Plus Milwaukee Airport Hotel and Conference Center, Milwaukee, WI
Sponsor: UCC Open and Affirming Coalition and National Offices of UCC
Registrar: Christina Ables Fairman, email@example.com
Deadline: June 1
June 20-22, 2019
Level: Grades 7-9/10-12
Location: University of Louisville, KY
Contact: Riece Hamilton Riece.Hamilton@louisville.edu
June 23-25, 2019
Level: All Adult Levels
Location: University of Louisville, KY
Contact: Riece Hamilton Riece.Hamilton@louisville.edu
June 28-30, 1029
Location: UU Fellowship of Manhattan, Manhattan, KS
Trainers: Judith Galas and Steve Caldwell
Contact: Sandy Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org 785-341-0135
Deadline: June 17
July 12-14, 2019
Level: CHOOSE: Grades K-1/4-6 OR Grades 7-9/10-12
Location: Dallas, TX
Sponsor: North Texas UU Congregations
Registrar: Lauren Daniell email@example.com 817-832-6437
Deadline: June 15, 2019
August 30-Sept 1, 2019
Contact: Aisha Hauser firstname.lastname@example.org 425-747-3780
By Patricia Hoertdoerfer
This guide is designed to help parents (and other loving caretakers) respond to children's questions and concerns about sexuality. It includes information about the sexual development of children and tools to help children grow up in sexually healthy ways. It is intended to guide, inform, and prepare parents for roles as sexuality educators. Each age-level program guide includes a summary of the topics of each session, question parents often ask and possible responses, and examples of how to take advantage of "teachable moments." The questions and teachable moments may be directly or indirectly related to each session.
There is a Ceremonies and Celebrations section that provides descriptions of ceremonies parents may wish to use for family celebrations. A glossary of terms used in both Our Whole Lives for Grades K-1 and Our Whole Lives for Grades 4-6is included. The resource section includes resources required for the program, suggested resources for young children, older children, and parents and families.
The Reverend Patricia Hoertdoerfer, author of The Parent Guide to Our Whole Lives Grades K-1 and 4-6, is a Unitarian Universalist minister of religious education. She serves as the director of children's programs and family ministry for the Unitarian Universalist Association.