Relax and RejUUvenate this Summer

As summer approaches, it is time to begin thinking about our congregation’s annual retreat at Murray Grove Retreat Center.

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Each year members of our congregation get together for a cookout and gathering at the Murray Grove historical site and retreat center located in Lanoka Harbor, NJ (Exit 74, Garden State Parkway).  All are welcome to join us for all or part of the weekend, which will include:

  • Friday night – cookout/potluck dinner and campfire
  • Saturday – unstructured playtime for kids and relaxing time for adults
  • Sunday morning – a participant-led Children’s Chapel/Sunday service

There is also a labyrinth to enjoy, a ga-ga pit and playground to entertain the kids, and swimming is usually available.

Overnight accommodations are dormitory style housing with two twin beds per room and shared bathrooms. To offset expenses, we are requesting a donation of $25 per adult and $10 per child per night, or $50 per adult, $20 per child for the weekend (babies free). All children must be accompanied by an adult.  A donation of any amount will be gratefully accepted, and please do not let the cost keep you at home.

If you are interested in attending, look for more information and sign-up sheets on Sunday or contact Heidi Jannsch at

In addition, if you are interested in other UU summer camp opportunities, take a look at the links below:

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What’s Happening in RE

Our Religious Education programming on Sunday mornings continues to be enthusiastically attended each week.  Some of the highlights from this winter and spring include:

Our Annual RE Family Pot Luck held in February:

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Our 2-6 grade “Harry Potter class” helped fight the hunger “horcrux” by contributing Vegetarian Bean soup mixes to the Family Promise Soup Sale Fund Raiser:


We can help others


Throughout this year our teens have been working with a great group of mentors to explore some of life’s big questions.

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We are all connected

The teens attended a Coming of Age Retreat at Murray Grove Retreat Center and began writing their credos (belief statements) which they will share with the congregation during the RE Service on June 4.


We are awesome!


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Making a Difference in RE

This year’s Children’s RE Program has already proven to be a busy and exciting season for our youth.  Right before we returned to our regular Sunday classes, a group of UUCSJS kids and parents visited the Absegami High School rain garden.  Under the direction of Katy Cardwell, advisor of the Earth Shepherds group at AHS, our families spent a few hours weeding, clearing and watering the rain garden.


We began our regular classes on September 18th, offering SpiritPlay for Pre-K – 1st grade, Harry and UU for 2nd-6th grade and Coming of Age for grades 7 and up.



Our youth have been incorporating service projects into their classes this year: in October the 2-6 grade class ran a successful Food Bank fundraiser for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.  As UUCSJS prepares to host families in the Family Promise program, our kids have been preparing our space by collecting books for a sharing library, and also helping prepare the classrooms to be turned into bedrooms for our guest families in January.











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Teens Painting Project

Our teens got together on December 4th to paint the closet in preparation for the Family Promise supplies we will be accumulating and storing as we prepare for and participate in Family Promise.  To learn more about Family Promise visit


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News from the Ministerial Search Committee

The following excerpt appeared in the November, 2015 edition of the UUCSJS newsletter

…The Search Committee wants the Congregation be aware that the youngest members of our Congregation also engaged in a Roundtable discussion about our search. On October 11, Angela Wexler held a Round Table discussion with a group that included our 2nd graders through our adolescents. The kids were asked to respond to three questions. 1) What is the most enjoyable or best experience you have had at UUCSJS? Some of the answers included; working outside on Blue Jean Sunday, making tie dyed T-shirts and helping out in the kitchen. Another teen expressed a feeling of bonding while attending the retreat at Murray Grove. 2) What would you tell a friend if asked what you do here on Sunday? From the teens: “We watch Twilight Zone and explore the Unitarian ideas in each episode.” Rod Serling was a Unitarian. 3) What do you think are the main responsibilities of a minister? Preaching at the service seemed to be agreed upon as what the minister does. Since RE is one of our most important assets, taking time to talk to as well as listen to our children and parents will be part of our search process.

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Welcome Back to RE!


Our regularly scheduled Children’s Religious Education classes are off to a great start!  This year, we have three Children’s Religious Education classes each Sunday. See below for a brief description of the age groups and topics for each class, and feel free to contact Heidi Jannsch, DRE at for more information or with any questions.

Pre K – 1st grade: SpiritPlay is a storytelling religious education program. During each class, the storyteller relates a story while presenting visual cues (small objects or pictures) to the children as a way to help the children remember the story.

2nd – 6th grade: Windows and Mirrors nurtures children’s ability to identify their own experiences and perspectives and to seek out, care about and respect those of others. The program teaches that there are always multiple viewpoints and everyone’s viewpoint matters.

7th grade and up: D’oh, God! and the Fifth Dimension – The animated show The Simpsons is unique in that its characters are often seen attending church. D’oh, God! uses episodes of The Simpsons as the basis for in-depth discussions of a wide variety of religious topics. The Twilight Zone tackled a diversity of social issues and political statements not seen in shows of its time.  The Fifth Dimension uses episodes of The Twilight Zone as the basis for in-depth discussions of a wide variety of topics.

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The Year in RE-view

We had a terrific church school year at UUCSJS! We utilized the UUA Tapestry of Faith curricula as our Pre-K-2nd graders were presented with Love Surrounds Us in the fall and World of Wonder in the spring, while our 3-6 grade group learned from Spirit of Adventure and Love Will Guide Us. Our 7-9 graders participated in Our Whole Lives (OWL) from September-May, led by Betsy Erbaugh, Paul Utts and Heidi Jannsch.


Flower Communion lesson with Miss Karen


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The 3rd-6th graders plant mystery seeds with TJ

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The 7-9th grade Our Whole Lives class celebrates after their final lesson.

Special Events this Year:

  • Stockton students volunteered to help set up the children’s play space during the MLK Day of Service this January to prepare play area. TJ Jannsch and Steve Fiedler helped provide materials and guidance for this project.

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Family Shared Meal – In January our RE families got together for our second annual shared meal. This gave our parents an opportunity to relax and socialize with other parents of children in our religious education program.


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  • Anniversary Sunday – On February 22 our teens and some former RE students presented some theatrical elements during the 15th anniversary service.


    Brian York visits for our 15th anniversary service…and still ends up at the Lego box!

  • Throughout May, Melissa Hutchison led the teen class in RE Sunday Service planning to prepare for the RE Service  presented on June 8th.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


  • We concluded our RE year with the annual retreat at Murray Grove from June 12-14.


Have a great summer! See you in September!

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