Christian Education

Education Programs

MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to help children, youth, and adults to develop a relationship with God through the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

Christian Education Registration


On Sunday Mornings

Nursery Care | 9:50 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

The Nursery provides care for children birth through 3 years of age, year round.  A paid care provider is responsible and manages the Nursery.  Helping her, every Sunday, is an adult volunteer.  The Nursery is a safe environment with lots of love and toys.  The facility has a pager system for parents and an adjoining child size bathroom.

Church School

All children are invited to attend the worship service at the beginning, and after the Children’s Message they are dismissed to their age level classrooms. We use Celebrate Wonder, (Cokesbury) for our elementary age curriculum. 

Celebrate Wonder honors the spiritual life of children. 

This curriculum seeks to deepen children’s faith formation and to create a safe space for children to ask big questions and claim their spiritual identity as children of God. Classes are offered to children 4 years of age through 12th grade, from September, (after Labor Day), through May. Visitors are always welcome.  There are 8 separate classrooms with their own sink and intercom. A niche with a Cross and Bible are also in every room.  That niche echoes the same curved wood design as in the sanctuary.

To register your child for Church School, please access the Christian Education Registration online form. To sign up for teaching please Contact Us. Teaching Church School is the best kind of adult Bible study.

Experiential Education Programs

Acolyte

An acolyte lights and extinguishes the altar candles. The word acolyte is taken from an ancient Greek word that meant companion, attendant or helper. An acolyte helps prepare the congregation for worship and after takes the light of Christ out into the world. All children and youth, third grade and older are invited to become acolytes. An acolyte training is provided several times per year.

Adult Education

Adult education classes are frequently offered through study groups to enrich faith and spirituality. These adult study opportunities include but are not limited to Adult Bible Study, Soup and Study, Luminaries, Membership Inquiry, Prayer groups, Book club, Speaker series and Teaching Church school.

Bible Sunday

All third graders receive a Bible on “Bible Sunday” which is held in October.  Bibles are presented during the 10:00 am Worship service and all recipients and their family members are invited to a Bible Breakfast on that morning.

Christmas Pageant

Our Church school shares the Christmas story with the congregation during the 10.00 am Worship service on the third Sunday of Advent.  There is a free catered supper and pageant rehearsal on the Friday evening before.  All children are invited to participate.

Confirmation

Confirmation classes meet September through May.  All ninth through twelfth graders are invited to participate.  Each confirm and is teamed up with a mentor, usually of the same gender.

Pilgrim Lodge

Pilgrim Lodge, or PL is our UCC summer church camp located on beautiful Lake Cobbosseecontee in West Gardiner, Maine.  PL has programs for children, youth, and adults of all ages and family camping too.  First Parish provides financial assistance through a campership program.  Campership applications are available online and are posted in April of each year.  For more information about the camp, visit: www.pilgrimlodge.org

Vacation Bible School

VBS is a week long program in early July.  Music, Bible stories, crafts, snacks, science experiments, recreation and reflection take place around a central theme. Summer of 2022 the theme was Food Truck Party (Cokesbury).  We also participate in various service projects throughout the week.

Youth Fellowship

First Parish Youth Fellowship, (FPYF) has various activities occur throughout the year.  All youth, sixth grade through twelfth are invited to participate.  Friends are welcome.  Some of our activities/events include:  Thanksgiving Baskets, Worship leaders for the 5 pm Family Christmas Eve Service, Souper Bowl of Caring offering and Sub Sandwich sale, College Care Packages, Mother’s Day Breakfast /Blanket Sunday offering.  We have 3 overnights per program year and other fun activities.  Every four years is the National Youth Event, (NYE).  The next event will be in 2024.  Over 2500 UCC youth and chaperones spend time enjoying days of wonderful worship and workshops, fabulous fellowship, marvelous music and spectacular speakers.  Financial aid is available for this event.

Safe Church Policies

  • Two Adults to Every Classroom and Nursery: For any church–sponsored program, event, program or ministry involving children or youth, FPC will have two adults at all times, and the two adults are not to be related.  This policy provides important protection to the church's workers and volunteers as well as children and youth.
  • Permanent Nursery Caregiver/Coordinator:  The church has a paid permanent nursery care provider and coordinator.  As part of our nursery there is an easy to use pager system available and all parents are asked to take one when dropping off a child.
  • Policy for Food and for Peanut and Tree Nut Free in the Lower Level of FPC:   We ask parents not to leave any food with their child.  Cheerios are provided if a snack is needed.  Baby bottles/sippy cups are only allowed for the children being dropped off at the nursery.  For the safety and good heath of all who gather at First Parish, the Christian Education Team has a policy to prohibit "Peanut/Tree Nuts" on the Lower Level of the building.  See section below for details.
  • Classrooms Doors: Windows in and adjacent to all classroom doors remove the opportunity for secrecy and isolation. Half doors (Nursery and PreK/Kindergarten classrooms) offer protection against children wandering outside the classroom and allow for full viewing.
  • No Workers Under the Age of Eighteen in the Classrooms or Nursery: No workers or teachers in the classrooms and nursery can be under eighteen years of age, however, junior and senior high aged youth may assist. This policy is necessary to reduce the risk of injuries to children and youth. Allowing junior and senior high aged volunteers in the church nursery is a very common practice among churches, but only adults (18+ years of age) supervise children.  Children and youth under the age of eighteen have not developed the maturity and necessary judgment needed to supervise children or youth at FPC.
  • Background Checks on All Adults that Work with Youth/Children:  Aong with the policy of two adults in every classroom and nursery the Christian Education Team uses background checks for all church school teachers, nursery participants, youth/children fellowship leaders, confirmation mentors, vacation Bible school teachers and youth/children's music directors.  Funds for background checks is a line item within the Christian education Team's budget.
  • Youth/Adult Covenants for Programs, Trips and Overnights:  Every program, trip and overnight that occurs inside and outside of FPC's walls comes with a covenant signed by youth and by the adult chaperones.  Sometimes parents/guardians have to sign, also. These covenants are provided by the national United Church of Christ.  Download the UCC Youth Covenant.
  • Parental/Guardian Written Permission for All Programs, Trips and Overnights:  Parental/guardian consent is a MUST for all programs, trips and overnights that take place offsite or onsite, including any FP Youth Fellowship or Confirmation Classes.  At FPC the policy is "no signed permission form, you don't participate nor travel, period".  For a copy of the parent/guardian permission form contact FPC's Christian Education Director.
  • Volunteer Driver List:  The FPC policy is that we don't accept driving without a license, therefore, all people who drive youth to FPC programs, trips or overnights (parents, youth leaders, ministers, directors, mentors) have to sign a form stating that they are legally licensed and insured to drive within the continental United States.  Youth do not drive other youth when participating in any church program, trip or overnight, and that is part of the driver policy.
  • Registration Forms: All Children and Youth must be registered in advance by a Parent's/Guardian. Every year new registration forms are filled out on each child and youth under the age of 18. These forms also request a parental/guardian signature to give us permission to video or photograph each child/youth, for church brochure, sharing pictures within the church building or website use. We do not match names with pictures.

Fire & Emergency Safety Evacuation Plan

FPC has set forth the following Fire & Emergency Safety Evacuation Plan to ensure the safety of all people using our facility. The plan is to be followed by all staff, Church School teachers, teams, groups, other ministry members, visitors and long and short-term building renters, including child-care programs, social organizations, non-profit organizations, public organizations, and organizations.

First Parish Congregational Church, UCC, Saco will periodically conduct fire drills coordinated with the Saco Fire Department. The Saco Fire Department has reviewed and endorsed this Fire & Emergency Safety Evacuation Plan.

If you are in the building and the automatic fire alarm sounds, you must prepare to evacuate the building immediately:

  • Assist those less ambulatory than yourself;
  • Call 9-1-1 and give as much detail as you can;
  • Evacuate the building by your safest exit route
  • Go directly to the designated emergency gathering spot which is the parking lot behind the church and funeral home;
  • Church School teachers will remain with their classes and are to bring the attendance sheet and the grade level sign (labeled Pre-K/K - 7th grades) with them;
  • Do not re-enter the building until the Fire Dept. gives an "All Clear".

In the event you come upon fire or smoke in the building and the fire alarm has not yet activated, go to the nearest Pull-Station to activate the fire alarm:

  • Pull-Stations are located near every exit door;
  • Assist others while evacuating the building by your safest route;
  • Go directly to the designated emergency gathering spot which is the parking lot behind the church and funeral home;
  • Do not re-enter the building until the Fire Dept. gives the "All-Clear".

FOOD & PEANUT/TREE NUTS FREE POLICIES FOR FPC's LOWER LEVEL

For the safety and good heath of all who gather at First Parish, the Christian Education Team has a policy to prohibit "Peanut/Tree Nut" on the Lower Level of the building.

Severe food allergies, especially peanut and tree nuts, (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans, etc.) are exceptionally dangerous, often life threatening for many individuals.

First Parish Christian Education Team is especially concerned for infants and young children, who are not able to advocate for themselves.

Therefore, we are committed to maintaining a "Peanut/Tree Nuts Free" environment for the Lower Level of FPC.

Food Allergy Basics, Below are some food allergy basics:

  • Food allergy is a growing safety concern in the US.
  • Eight foods account for 90% of all the reactions in the US.
  • Approximately 11 million Americans suffer from food allergies: 3 million allergic to peanut and tree nuts.
  • One in every 20 children under the age of 3 has food allergies.
  • Food allergies are most prevalent in younger children.
  • Trace amounts of food allergen can cause a reaction. People need to be on guard for hidden ingredients (such as peanut and tree nuts) in unsuspected places such as candy, baked goods, trail mixes, sauces, desserts and gravy.
  • There is NO cure for a food allergy. Strict avoidance is the ONLY way to prevent a reaction.
  • See www.foodallergy.org for more information.

Complete information regarding this Food Policy must be circulated to the church and outside community. The Christian Education Team advocates the following regarding this Policy:

  • Post signs
  • Include regular announcements in the Weekly Bulletin, Messenger and Website
  • Include this information in the new Member packets and have it available in the Atrium
  • Include this information to anyone using and renting the Lower Level spaces of the building
  • Request the Facilities Team to include this policy in all Building Rental Agreements.

FOOD, In the Nursery, the following is required:

  • Baby bottles/sippy cups (milk and/or juices), will be the only liquid/food that may be brought into the nursery.
  • Cheerios will be purchased by the Christian Education Team and will be the only snack food allowed.

In the remainder of Lower Level of Building the following is required:

  • Food will be allowed, but only items that are "Peanut/Tree Nuts Free."
  • Since trace amounts of food allergens can cause a reaction, people need to be on guard for hidden ingredients, in unsuspected places such as candy, baked goods, trail mixes, sauces, desserts and gravy.
  • Please read all labels of any food items each time you bring them into the lower level.
  • Remember, just because a product was safe the last time you bought it, does not mean the ingredients have stayed the same.
  • Please, ALWAYS CHECK FOOD INGREDIENT LABELS EACH TIME YOU BRING FOOD! 

 

Congregational Church
UCC, SACO MAINE

12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072
207-283-3771



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