Z. Brown, 12.5 years old

What I Cherish About This Church

When I think about what our church has meant to me over the years, three things come to mind. These things are Peace Camp, RE [religious education], and OWL [Our Whole Lives].

Peace Camp is a summer program supported by our church, and sometimes housed by our church. I started going to Peace Camp when I was 6. It was the first time I was away from my parents for an entire day. Through Peace Camp I have learned peaceful ways to express myself through conflict resolution and cooperative games. I have learned to center myself through meditation. In Media Awareness, I have learned how big corporations are attempting to trick us. Also, since Peace Camp was the first time I was away from my family for that length of time, I truly believe it helped me advance in my social independence.

I don’t remember how old I was when I started going to Religious Education, and for this reason, it’s hard for me to pick out what I’ve specifically learned there. It feels like it’s always been part of my life. I think it has helped me progress into the great adult I am today. (My mom disagrees that I’m an adult, but sometimes we agree to disagree. Like adults do.) RE has always felt like a safe place for me, and it’s helped me learn how to interact with other humans.

Our Whole Lives, or OWL, is a sexuality curricula taught in RE. I’m glad I have been taught about these things from an early age so I never had to get false information from other sources like peers, media, or my imagination. Although I believe the values I’ve internalized through RE and my family would have kept me from making bad decisions anyway, I’m glad I’ve already had the chance to think about various aspects like respecting sexual diversity, consent, relationship health, safety, and correct terminology.

And now, I can also say our church has given me the opportunity to make a public speech! Thanks for listening, thanks for being my church.

15-year Old Student

I enjoy debating in class about other religions. Sometimes we go to people’s houses just to have a party or go swimming.

A 17-year Old Student

I like singing in front of the congregation because they are so supportive and appreciative, and tell me how proud they are of me! I enjoy meeting together in class because we all get along even though we are all so different. We can say what we want because we are all friends, respectful of each other’s ideas and thoughts.

A 14-year Old

In the past the Social Action Project involved learning about the local animal shelter, baking and selling “pet cookies” and donating the proceeds to the shelter during our first-ever “Blessing of the Animals” Sunday. On animal Sunday, pets came to church in all shapes and sizes! This shows that we shouldn’t care just about ourselves but also our four legged friends!

An 11-year Old

I liked making pinwheels after we read a story about the Wind.