RE Lending Library is OPEN!

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If you have been downstairs in the Lounge area recently you may have noticed some changes. We have a new RE Lending Library!

Children’s Religious Education has a great collection of books. The last few months the books have been sorted, cataloged, organized, and labeled. Over 450 books are available for you to read and take home with you. There are books on Unitarian Universalism, UU parenting, world religions, LGBTQ stories and resources, social justice, books for teens, nature, meditation, and other wonderful and inspiring stories for reading and sharing.

You can view the catalog at, then come on down and learn something new, share a great story, increase your awareness, and live out our values. The library is still growing. If you have book recommendations or more topics you would like to see on the shelves please email me. Hope to see you downstairs reading soon!

The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance.”

Libba Bray (New York Times Bestselling Author)


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Dia de los Muertos

Jose Guadalupe Posada

Planning has begun for this year’s fall celebration in Children’s Religious Education. With the help of some wonderful and knowledgeable volunteers, the children will learn about the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. Day of the Dead originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful. Death was seen as a natural phase of life and the dead as members of the community, kept alive in memory and spirit. Traditionally, celebrations take place on November 1st and 2nd however our celebration will be held during RE on Sunday, November 4, 2018. The children will learn about the history, traditions, activities, and foods of this yearly celebration of the life and ancestors. We will create ofrendas, (don’t forget to bring pictures of loved ones who have passed away), decorate sugar skulls, and of course enjoy delicious treats. All are welcome, so if you would like to learn along with the children or would like to volunteer your time, knowledge, or experience, please join us.

Enjoy this Literary Calavera, a satirical type of poetry created during Dia de los Muertos!

Al torero                                                                              Bullfighter

Aquí yace un buen torero,                                                  Here lies a good bullfighter,
que murió de la aflicción                                                   Who died of grief,
de ser mal banderillero,                                                     From being a bad banderillero,
silbado en cada función;                                                    Booed at each performance;
ha muerto de un revolcón                                                  He has died of a tumble
que recibió en la trasera,                                                    Received on the rear
y era tanta su tontera                                                          And such was his foolishness
que en el sepulcro ya estaba                                              That he was already in the tomb,
y a los muertos los toreaba                                                Turned into skull and bones
convertido en calavera.                                                      And fighting the dead.


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Fall is in the Air

As we prepare for a new year in Children’s RE, I would like to give thanks to all our summer volunteer leaders. Over a dozen congregation members gave their time, expertise, and creativity to make summer in Children’s RE a fun, learning filled adventure for our children. It was a smashing success that the children will look forward to until next summer.

Our fall semester in Children’s RE begins on September 16, 2018. Our classes this year will be Spiritplay for the Pre-k – 2nd graders, Crossing Paths for the 3rd – 6th graders, and Heeding the Call for the 7th grade and above. Please visit the Children’s RE section at to register your child for classes. Read on to learn more about these engaging class offerings.

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 them remember the story. Included are legends from many different faith traditions, creative expressions of our Unitarian Universalist principles (introduced as “promises”) and tales of our UU ancestors.

In Crossing Paths our adolescents will explore various religious traditions with an emphasis on both the diverse forms and the diverse aims of the traditions. Each month the class will explore a different religious or faith tradition, including a visit to the faith community and/or interview with a member of that faith. From our beginning, Unitarian Universalists have looked to our sibling faith traditions as each having something unique to offer us and the world. Crossing Paths invites us to explore those unique gifts more deeply.

Heeding the Call is a series of workshops that offer a unique opportunity to engage youth in the critical work of developing skills as Unitarian Universalists committed to social justice. The workshops encourage youth to reflect on their own lives while also making connections to the lives lived by others. The youth are encouraged to become Justice Makers by learning together, listening together, laughing together, working together, and heeding the call together.

This important work could not be done without the dedication of our volunteers. If you feel called to participate in this unique spiritual experience, please let me know. We will be glad to have you.

In fellowship,

Jessica Dunn Safonof

UUCSJS Director of Religious Education

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Summer Fun Continues

damon mushrooms

Each Sunday throughout the summer, our children are treated to an all-ages activity or craft led by a volunteer from the congregation. Our activities in July included making sun-catcher chalices, designing problem-solving inventions, a nature walk and mushroom hunt, tie-dying t-shirts, and jewelry making.

More fun is on the roster to finish up our summer program when our Sundays will include the following activities:

August 5 Bug Hunt with Paul
August 12 Fun Stuff with Bud
August 19 Mindfulness & Meditation with Nick
August 26 Sign Language with Ivette
September 2 Yoga with Erica


Our regular Religious Education classes will resume on September 16, 2018. You can register for the 2018-19 RE year by visiting the Children’s Religious Education page at I’ll be announcing the Autumn RE class offerings in the next post!

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Hello, Goodbye from your D.R.E.(s)

As I have prepared to step down from the Director of Religious Education position this month, I have had some time to reflect on the last eleven years and feel immense pride in the work we have accomplished together. I truly appreciate the opportunity of having a career in religious education here at the UU Congregation of the South Jersey Shore. At the same time, I am becoming more and more convinced that I will hardly be missed with such a fantastic replacement!  I am thrilled that Jess Dunn Safonof will be serving as our DRE! Her involvement in UUCSJS has benefited this community in countless ways over the years and her dedication to our faith has been a shining example of what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. Her commitment to our congregation and her homeschooling experience make her an ideal candidate for leading the Children’s RE program.

I wish her the very best as I pass her the torch (or RE lantern, as it were).

In Fellowship,

Heidi Jannsch

I am so excited to be taking over as the Director of Religious Education.  Heidi has done such a wonderful job in her tenure as DRE to build a strong program with dedicated volunteers.  Many of you know me from my various roles within our Congregation, most recently as the Secretary of the Board of Trustees. My husband Fred and I, along with our three children Quin, Max, and Cyrus, have been members of UUCSJS since 2013 and I have been a  regular volunteer teacher in our RE program. I am conti20180625_1936582nually surprised by the children of our Congregation, and children in general, for their insight and optimism and their willingness to try new things! If you haven’t had a chance to volunteer with the RE program yet I highly recommend you try it out. You will learn so much more than you thought possible from our young people. I have always had a passion for working with children, helping them along their path; learning and growing.  In my spare time I enjoy reading, knitting, and doing yoga. I look forward to sharing my commitment to our UU values and partnering with the children and youth of our community to foster their spiritual growth.


Jess Dunn Safonof

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REflections on 2017-18

Our school year concludes this month with our annual RE service on June third, and our annual retreat at Murray Grove from June 8-10.

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Some of the highlights this year included.

  • Guest at Your Table: Our teen class successfully led the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Guest at Your Tableprogram this winter by researching, publicizing, encouraging donations and finally tallying the total collected. Thanks to their efforts, our congregation raised $1450 for GAYT!  In addition, since seven individual donations were $125, these funds were matched by the Shelter Rock Congregation raising our total donation to $2325!  Thanks to our students; Grace, Quinn, Carly, Kylee, Jackson, Sam, Quin, and Lauren and to Jess and Mariann for leading the class through this effort!
  • December Intergenerational Service: A highlight this winter was the Nativity Pageant intergenerational service on December 24, where cast members were volunteers from the congregation.  Our RE students and their families also sang a song with the choir during this service which they had rehearsed with Barbara Miller.
  • Family Shared Meal – In February our RE families got together for our fifth annual shared meal.20180228_191641
  • Our 2-5th graders ended their year of learning about the web of life by creating a Monarch Way Station with Jesse Connor.20180527_103658Have a great summer!


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Guest at Your Table

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Thank you to our teen class for leading the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Guest at Your Table program this winter!  The class was charged with researching, publicizing, encouraging donations and finally tallying the total collected. Thanks to their efforts, our congregation raised $1450!  In addition, since seven individual donations were $125, these funds will be matched by the Shelter Rock Congregation raising our total donation to $2325!  Well done Grace, Quinn, Carly, Kylee, Jackson, Sam, Quinn, and Lauren and thanks to Jess and Mariann for leading the class through this effort!


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