Resources for Church Intergenerational Retreats
Looking for resources for a weekend intergenerational retreat for your church? The folks at Christ Church in Summit, NJ have graciously offered their plans for 4 years of retreats to UCC churches. Click on these links for plans and inspiration.
Intergenerational Retreat Plan #1: Touch the Water, Taste the Bread
Learning together about the meaning of Baptism and Communion.
Intergenerational Retreat Plan #2: Praying and Playing
Learning together about prayer.
Intergenerational Retreat Plan #3: Let's Can Hunger
Learning together about hunger in our world and what we can do about it.
Intergenerational Retreat Plan #4: Under Construction: Building Our Faith Together
Learning together about what it means to have faith and practice faith.
Worship Activity Sheets for Children
New Resources for Children's use in Worship or other educational times.
Ecumenical Children's Curricula
Kids2Kids includes: Journey to Congo VBS
Visit our page dedicated to this year long educational possibility for congregations
Additional resources that you might find helpful
A Bibliography of Children’s Storybooks, related to the Events of September 11th
UCC Youth Page
Disciples of Christ Family & Children's Ministries
Disciples-UCC Kids-to-Kids Mission Project
Materials for reflection and your use
What Matters for Children and Families
Children and Families in Worship: Two Perspectives
Children and Communion Suggested Resources
Tips on choosing a Bible for children
Your children will probably go through four to six different Bibles between the day they're born and the day they leave home. This is not only practical, since their reading skills, comprehension levels, and interests change, but it also encourages children to see that they are progressing in their knowledge of God.
In the past, choosing a Bible or Bible storybook for children was a relatively simple task because the choice was limited. Times have changed. Now there is a dizzying variety of Bible storybooks and regular Bibles to choose from. They all come with illustrations, study notes, and other special features. But which one is the best one for your child? Here are some general tips to help you make your choice:
Each of your children should have his or her own Bible. Owning a Bible shows them how important God's Word is and how it should always be on hand as the practical guidebook for life.
Let your children have a say in choosing what type of Bible to buy. Ownership in this decision will increase their interest in reading it.
When your children are old enough to want a whole-text Bible, choose a translation that uses modern language. Some versions are deliberately made for children's use. If you're not familiar with the various modern translations, pick out a few verses from different parts of the Bible and compare how they read in different versions.
Finally, look for children's and teens' Bibles that contain the whole text of the Bible as well as additional materials to help your children understand and apply what they read. Choose a Bible with all or some of the following features: a simple concordance, explanatory notes in the text, introductions to each book of the Bible, maps of Bible lands, cross-references, and Bible facts or trivia.
Here are a few hints for choosing a bible storybook or a Bible by age group
Preschool: Buy a Bible storybook, with simple illustrations, that covers key Bible stories and has a small number of simple words per picture.
Beginning Readers: Choose a storybook that contains simple illustrations and more stories than a preschool storybook. It is best if beginning readers have a storybook that takes two pages or more to tell each story.
Grade Schoolers: Fewer pictures, more words is the key at this level. Make sure the illustrations are interesting and up-to-date. Simple Bible reference lists and an index are also good features to look for at this age level.
Seuss Enterprises graphic.
"Oh the things you can think up if only you try."
"Virent Ova! Viret Perna!"—that's the Latin title of Dr. Seuss' newest foreign language translation of "Green Eggs and Ham," the best-selling children's classic that has sold 7 million hardcover copies since fi rst published in 1960.
The story of Sam-I-Am's odd culinary journey now ranks as one of the best selling English-language books in history, coming in third behind the Bible's King James Version and the dictionary.
If you need proof of its astounding global popularity, just consider that the Latin rendition has sold 60,000 copies since its debut in October—a fact that can stupefy when one considers that Latin is basically a dead language. In all, Dr. Seuss' 44 titles have sold 200 million copies, making him one of the most widely read authors of all time.
Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991)—the man behind the pseudonym—would have turned 100 on March 2, making 2004 a "Seussentennial" of sorts for those who admire Geisel's imaginative spirit and poetic style.
Geisel, a doodler who said he never really learned how to draw, first began using illustrations to augment his liberal-leaning political satire, a pursuit that helped him, as a college student, become editor-in-chief of Dartmouth College's humor magazine, "Jack-OLantern."
But when Geisel and some other students got in trouble for throwing a campus party that broke school rules, he lost the job. Undaunted, Geisel continued to write for the publication under an assumed name: "Seuss."
"Ted grew to respect the academic discipline he discovered at Dartmouth—not enough to pursue it, but to appreciate those who did," Judith and Neil Morgan wrote in their 1996 biography, "Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel."
In time, Geisel parlayed his rhythmic wordsmithing and quirky illustrations into unparalleled success in the literary world.
An unwittingly religious voice
Although some attribute theological significance to his works, Geisel did not intend as much. In fact, he did not consider himself to be an overtly religious person.
"Like most works of merit, the works of Dr. Seuss have been overanalyzed; many scholars have found devices where there are truly none to be found," reads Geisel's biography at Dr. Seuss Enterprises' official website seussville.com.
Still, Geisel's parabolic creativity has inspired religious imagination and theological interpretation—perhaps for good reason.
After all, Seuss' "Sneetches" were born in1961 as commentary on the absurdity of discrimination, and Geisel's concern about the environment—individual and industrial pollution—led him to write "The Lorax," published in 1971. Geisel's "Butter Battle Book" (1984) about conflict between the "Yooks" and the "Zooks"—perhaps his most controversial work—was written in response to the proliferation of nuclear weapons during the Reagan administration. For six months, his Cold War commentary was included in The New York Times' best-seller list—for adults.
Understandably, Seuss has become staple in many church-based curricula—for believers of all ages, all persuasions. "I don't know if Seuss would say he had a theological point of view, but he definitely had an editorial view on the way of life," says the Rev. Marcia Cham, pastor of Union Congregational UCC in East Bridgewater, Mass., who developed a religious education series on Seuss for use in her parish.
"I think [Geisel's] books are a teaching device similar to Jesus, because they are lessons that sneak up on you—the wiz-bangs that you go through," Cham says. "[Geisel] is saying, 'This is the reality, folks,' and I think that's what Jesus is trying to say."
"The whole world of imagination is what captivates me and that's the way Jesus' parables should captivate us. Instead of a one-time moral, we should be intrigued," she says.
"You've got to keep looking for the wisdom, not just the closed canon," Cham says, quoting her theological mentor, the late professor Harold Beck of Boston University's School of Theology.
Imagination opens the future
Heidi Hadsell, a professor of social ethics and president of UCC-related Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, says, "Religious imagination is an important way that we can open up the future and its alternatives in ways that people who are stuck in this worldly, daily life can never see."
The religious life is not only about seeing things the way they are, but focusing on how things should be, Hadsell says, "and that kind of religious endeavor requires imagination.
If we are to envision the kingdom of God or create new social relationships, that's a very hard thing to do without the religious imagination to help us make those leaps."
She notes how the German Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) credited religion for its "imaginative powers, for giving to humanity what could be better, to re-do things and strive for the new."
In this way, Hadsell says, Jesus "introduced to the here and now a taste of what might be and modeled different ways to act on the Sabbath, different ways to think about Sabbath law, different ways to think about outcasts."
Similarly, she says, Seuss employs words and illustrations to inspire readers to look at things differently. She's especially fond of Seuss' exuberance for life in "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"
Likewise, Cham says she enjoys looking for theological themes in Seuss' stories. For example, she says, in "Horton Hatches an Egg," she delights in the "faithful fidelity of our God." Moreover, the repetitive, sing-songy nature of Seuss' writing style—"The Whos down in Who-ville will all cry boo-hoo"—is reminiscent of the repetitious laments we find in Psalms, Cham points out.
The Rev. Doug Adams, a UCC minister and professor of Christianity and arts at UCC-related Pacific School of Religion, says Seuss' stories, just as some of Jesus' parables, employ humor to "lay low our idolatries, whatever we take too seriously."
"The humor of the parables and the humor of Dr. Seuss imagine what we find unthinkable," Adams says. Adams offers this illustration: "Horton the elephant sits on the bird's eggs until they hatch and out come little flying elephants which defy the determination of heredity just as Jesus' genealogy in Matthew has Jesus coming out of a family tree loaded with immoral people who do right."
Cham believes that by opening up our religious imaginations, we can better pursue the meaning in life.
"I don't know if he would call it religious or not, but Seuss was sensitive to the conscious and unconscious aspects of life, the rhythm of life," she says, "and I've had a wonderful time with it."
What Seuss can teach you
"Bartholomew and the Oobleck" (1949)
"Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" (1973)
"Green Eggs and Ham" (1960)
"Horton Hears a Who" (1954)
"Horton Hatches an Egg" (1940)
"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1957)
"I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today" (1969)
"Oh, the Places You'll Go" (1990)
"The Lorax" (1971)
"The Sneetches" (1961)