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Community Advocacy and Support by and for Young Mothers

Neighbouring Faiths Program

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CanadianMamma
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Neighbouring Faiths Program

I brought the kids to an early years festival this past spring and came across a pamphlet for this program. It's for kids aged 4-6 and they go around to different places of worship to learn about their religious beliefs as well as how to be respectful to different religions/cultures. It's sponsored by our local UUC (Unitarian Universalist Congregation).

I'm really looking forward to doing this with the kids. I wish Sky could participate, though. My parents are very religious and it's had a huge influence on his beliefs. I like the idea of him deciding on his own what he believes, but I don't really feel that he's doing that with only experiencing that one religion and having it presented to him as the right way to believe.

I also like the program for the tolerance aspect. I did a similar thing with my high school world religions class. We got to experience different religions first hand by visiting their places of worship and having someone of that faith teaching us about it. It was right after 911 and hearing a lot of the hate speech about what Islam was about, it was excellent to have that experience and be able to educate people when they said something ignorant.

Our orientation in Sept 20th. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

momnipotent
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Re: Neighbouring Faiths Program

Very cool! Looking forward to hearing how it goes. Sounds like a great idea to inspire respect at a young age. Is it like a weekly class sort of thing?

CanadianMamma
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Re: Neighbouring Faiths Program

yea, it's weekly from the end of Sept to the end of Nov

boigrrrlwonder
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Re: Neighbouring Faiths Program

I think that the Unitarian Universalist religious education programing in general is really rocking. They are one of the few religious denominations that routinely teach comprehensive sex education in a religious context.

CanadianMamma
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Re: Neighbouring Faiths Program

That's awesome about the sex education. I've been wanting to check ours out for a few years, but from what I can tell it's a small group and I can't get myself to go alone. Hopfully bringing the kids to this will give me a bit of an in where I can feel comfortable attending some of their services.

acrane86
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Re: Neighbouring Faiths Program

CanadianMama: Is this run by Ontario Early Years?

I would be interested to look into this...sounds very cool!

CanadianMamma
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Re: Neighbouring Faiths Program

No, it's through a religious organization.

Here's an explanation of the religious group that holds it and what they believe.

From http://www.religioustolerance.org/u-u.htm

Unitarianism Universalism is an unusual religious organization. Unlike most religions in North America, it does not require its adherents to adhere to a specific set of beliefs. Its membership includes individuals who identify themselves as Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Humanists, Wiccans, or other religious tradition. Many inter-faith couples find it to be a comfortable religious home. UUs view the main function of the congregation as facilitating the spiritual quest of its members.

Major concerns of the UU religion include social justice and service to humanity. Most UUs readily adapt their beliefs to the findings of science. Thus they were very active in the abolition of slavery, gaining of equal rights for women, and the attainment of equal rights, including the right to marry, for homosexuals and bisexuals. They have an influence on the culture that is far beyond what one would expect from their numbers.

I don't live in Ontario anymore. I'm in BC. I do know that there are UU congregations in Ontario, I don't know where though.

CanadianMamma
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Re: Neighbouring Faiths Program

We went to the first session today and it was really cool. It was just an orientation, and they had it at a neutral place (a playgroup type place). They had a circle time where they sang songs and explained through the songs about behaviour expectations at the different places. Then they laid out some symbols of different religions and talked about what those symbols meant, without really going into what religion they belonged to.

After that, the kids had snack and the adults went into another room to ask questions and discuss our expectations of the program. Everybody had a different reason for being there and came from different religious and cultural backgrounds.

There was one thing that I realized that I'd been pretty ignorant of before. I'd always assumed that identifying with a faith system but being "non practicing" was exclusive to Christianity.

Next Sunday we are going to the Baha'i Centre.

Danielle04o7
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Re: Neighbouring Faiths Program

before we moved, we went to an awesome UU church, which did a great sunday school for the kids, and the older kids got to go to different churches every week and see what they were all about. alot of them liked the buddist temple.

CanadianMamma
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So far, we've been to the Baha'i Centre and the Hindu temple. We missed the trips to the Christian church and the Buddhist temple (which I was really looking forward to).

I really like the way they've set things up. There really isn't a lot of indepth conversation about what the faith entails. Just a brief explanation of some of the dieties/holy people, getting comfortable with the place of worship, colouring pages amd things like that. And food. At the Baha'i centre, they had each child pick out their favourite fruit and made them into a fruit salad to show, that like people, they are all the same (fruit) but different at the same time. At the temple, we were able to join them for the Divali celebration and at the end of the service, we were invited to join them downstairs for a meal.

The thing that I am finding fascinating about this experience so far is how similar both places are to what I'm used to (Christian church). In both places that we've been to, there is a large room for worship and a separate area for socializing and eating, similar to any church I've ever been to. The temple was set up much the same as a church I went to growing up. Worship room upstairs, eating area in the basement with a very cafeteria like feel. I admit that before this experience, I had a lot of prejudices, thinking that other faiths must be so different and do things so differently than the one I grew up with, but more often than not I see similarities rather than differences.

Another thing that's fascinating to me is how connected we are in this community. The volunteer who run the program has a daughter that goes to my children's school, another volunteer was a camp counsellor at Lex's summer camp, and one of the hosts at the Baha'i Centre is a teacher at the kids' school. I haven't really experienced that sense of community since moving out of my hometown and my kids have never really had that, so I'm really excited about that.

One thing that's really cool about the way they have this program set up is that the kids get really comfortable with the places we visit. Like when I was young and we'd be at a church for a special event when there was no service and we'd run through the pews playing tag. They get that experience at many different place, while also being taught what is and is not acceptable and respectful. They also get the feeling of all of these wonderful places being familiar to them. Like now we can walk down the street and visit the temple and our friends there. We know that we are welcome, and we know the rules and what is and is not appropriate. To the kids, it's now a place that they have fond memories of instead of a place that looks different from what they are used to and they aren't wondering what weird things people do in a place like that.

Next week we are going to the Sikh Gudwara.

momnipotent
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Re: Neighbouring Faiths Program

That is so great. I really want DD to get to do something like that.

CanadianMamma
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Re: Neighbouring Faiths Program

The other good thing about this program is that they've worked with the public libraries in the city to get their shelves stocked with childrens book about all of the different faiths. Before we found out about this, we were going to the library once a week to get a book teaching about a different religion. Our library even has a few really cool DVDs.