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RE for Small Congregations


Annotated bibliography for small and tiny RE programs

Here are the books recommended in the workshop, plus a few others. I have used all these books myself in small and/or tiny RE programs, or have heard form CLF families who have used them successfull. I can attest that these each of these books will work for (or will help inspire) small and tiny RE programs with fewer than 15 children all told.

--Dan Harper


Basic books for the small and tiny RE program

Ann Fields, Cindy Spring, and Jeanne Neuwjaar. Starting Small UUA

A good, brief summary of everything you need to know about starting up a church school program, this book also gives established programs a good voerview of what you should have in place, from suggestions for the nursery to plans for stocking the supply closet. Available from the UUA bookstore.

A MUST-HAVE BOOK for small and tiny RE programs.


Betsy Hill Williams. RE at Home. Church of the Larger Fellowship, 1996.

Although it was originally written for parents, it's also a great resource for Sunday school teachers. Includes a basic outline for a lesson plan, and ideas for children's and fmaily worship. Available from the UUA bookstore.

A MUST-HAVE BOOK for small and tiny RE programs.


Wayne Arnason et al. The Local Youth Group Programs Handbook. UUA, n.d.

If you read this book carefully, you will see that it can apply to congregation with only one of two youth. Look at the chapter "Youth/Adult Relations," and read the section on "Maps and Models for Local Church Youth/Adult Relations." One suggested model is one where the Youth/Adult Committee is the entire program. Based on this model, the rest of the book will make sense. I used this model successfully with a three-member youth group.

This book may be out of print. Ask nearby UU congregations if they have a copy.


Virginia Steel. Which Lesson?: Unitarian Universalist Curriculum Finder, 2nd edition. Contact the author directly for copies: 22 Sylvan Way, Wayland, MA 01778 <>

Ginny is the brains behind the Church of the Larger Fellowship curriculum plan. In this book, she summarizes every lesson in each major UU curriculum guide. She provides a useful table showing the age groups each curriculum will work with. She provides another table that shows the general themes of each curriculum (UUism, Jewish/Christian heritage, world religions, , peace and justice, environment, etc.). Ginny updates this book regularly to cover new curriculum guides as they are printed.

This may be more information than many small and tiny RE programs need, but for more developed programs, this can be very useful, especially as you try to decide which new curriculum guides you wish to purchase.



Suggested curriculum guides

Ann Fields and Joan Goodwin, eds. We Believe: Living and Learning Our Unitarian Universalist Principles. Church of the Larger Fellowship/Ohio-Meadville District/UUA, 1990.

Designed for small and tiny church school programs and for families doing religious education at home. 22 fully scripted lessons. This was the curriculum guide recommended in the workshop. Available from the UUA bookstore.

A MUST-HAVE BOOK for small and tiny RE programs.


Colleen McDonald. We Are Many, We Are One. UUA, 1996.

Written to be useable for various-sized groups from tiny to large, and designed to be flexible enough to interst ages 3 through 6 or 7. The perfect solution for tiny RE programs to use with preschool-aged children. Available from the UUA bookstore.

A MUST-HAVE BOOK for small and tiny RE programs.


Joseph Bassett and Joan Hunt. The Adventure of God's Folk. UUA, 1978

Though it's long out of print, this curriculum guide may be available through district lending libraries, or you might be able to borrow from a nearby UU congregation. It's a great, flexible curriculum that I have used successfully with just 2 children. Better yet, once you get the idea of how it is organized, it is easy to develop your own lesson plans based on your own stories.



Other resources

Harris, Maria. Fashion Me a People: Curriculum in the Church. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox, 1989.

Although it's written from a distinctly Christian and Roman Catholic point of view, this book will help you to understand how how the entire congregation can be considered curriculum It's a little dry, but well worth reading. Includes interesting questions for disucssion at the end of each chapter, suitable for use in religious education committee meetings.


Armstrong-Hansche, Melissa, and Neil MacQueen. Workshop Rotation: A New Model for Sunday School. Geneva Press, 2000.

The concept in this book is simple. Instead of regular Sunday school curriculum, set up a series of workshops all centered on one theme. Children go to one workshop this week, another workshops the next week, and so on. The volunteer teachers teach the same basic workshop over and over for a period of, say, six weeks. Kids like the variety. Volunteer teachers like the fact that they only have to come up with one lesson plan every few weeks. Program directors like how easy it is to administer the program. You'll have to translate if you're not Christian, but it's still a good summary.

For small and tiny programs, you can alter this plan by only offering one or two workshops each week, and still get a great new approach for doing religious education.

All materials copyright © 2008-2017 by Helen Zidowecki unless otherwise noted. - -

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