Children are a vital part of the United Church community.
We welcome children of all ages into our worship services, and encourage them to participate in many areas of congregational life. Children represent the future of the Christian faith, and we take seriously our responsibility to nurture their growth into mature disciples.
The Associate Pastor and Board of Children’s Ministries oversee all programs for children ages infant-11.
Our programs provide a safe and caring environment for children to learn about the love of God in Christ through Bible stories, compassionate community and Christian practices. We also offer events for the whole family, so that parents and children have opportunities to engage together in faith-centered rituals and celebrations.
For further information about any of these programs, or to volunteer, please contact the Associate Pastor for Children’s Ministries, Reverend Susan Steinberg. To read Susan’s blog “Pastor Susan”, click HERE.
You may CLICK HERE to download the Sunday School form and enroll your child in Sunday School classes at United Church.
Sundays and Your Child
All children are welcome at both worship services.
Our nursery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 pm. Parents may drop off their children (infants through first grade) at any point throughout the morning. See Nursery section for more details and biographies of our director and assistant director. All nursery staff and Sunday school teachers are trained in and abide by the United Church Safe Conduct Policy.
Infant to age 2
Parents are welcome to bring babies into services. We have 4 rocking chairs in the back of the sanctuary for caregivers and infants.
The Family Parlor, across from the Sanctuary, is open during both services and is a comfortable place for restless children and nursing mothers looking for a little more privacy. The parlor contains couches, armchairs and a rocking chair, and the service can be heard though the audio system. A bathroom and a privacy screen are also available.
Changing tables can be found in the family parlor bathroom and in the women’s bathroom across the hall.
Alternatively, infants can be cared for during and between services in the nursery by our highly professional staff. See Nursery tab for more information.
Preschool (ages 3-5)
Children who turn 3 by August 31 can attend Sunday School between Sunday services (10-10:50 a.m.) from mid-September through mid-May. In addition, on four Sundays every summer we offer Vacation Bible School for kids age 3 – grade 6.
Preschoolers attending services are welcome to take a worship bag, which contains age-appropriate books and games, into the sanctuary with them. At both services, a Children’s Message is given after about 20 minutes and then children can choose to remain with their parents, go to the Family Parlor with them, or head down to the nursery.
Elementary (Grades K-5)
Our nursery is open to children through first grade. After the Children’s Message in both the 8:45 and 11 a.m. service, young children can go to the nursery while their parents remain in the service.
Children in grades K-5 attending the 8:45 a.m. service also have the option to go to Children’s Choir in the Music Room after the Children’s Message. Children’s Choir ends at 9:50, when parents pick their children up at the music room. More information about Children’s Choir can be found HERE.
Sunday School classes for preschool through 5th grade are held at 10 a.m. from September through May. See the Sunday School tab for more information and a link to the curriculum.
At United Church, we take seriously our promise to nurture children in the Christian faith. One of the main ways we live out this promise is through our Sunday School program, where we strive to provide a welcoming, caring community in which children learn they are loved by God and are called by God to follow the way of Jesus.
Sunday School runs from 10-10:50 am every Sunday from mid-September to mid-May, with breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Children may join the class at any point throughout the year. We have a combined preschool class for 3-4 year olds and separate classes for kindergartners, first, second and third grades. Our fourth/fifth combined class also takes on special projects such as Secret Pals and baking cookies for prison ministry.
Each class is led by a volunteer team of at least three teachers. Our classes focus on significant stories from both the Old and New Testaments and use the Dwell Sunday School curriculum – click HERE for more details.
Sunday school classes also take turns leading periodic Children’s Church services at 10 am. Children’s Church gives children the opportunity to usher, read, and serve communion during a shorter, child-friendly service.
Every Sunday, we invite children to bring in an offering to support a specific project. Recent offerings have supported the building of a new playground in Haiti and a donation of animals through Heifer International.
We encourage families to worship together. Understanding that young children can struggle to sit still for a full service, and in order to help children and their families have a positive worship experience, we offer:
- Rocking chairs in the back of the sanctuary and a Family Parlor for the comfort of caregivers and children during services
- Worship bags with games and books for younger and older children, available outside the sanctuary
- A children’s message or component (such as an anthem sung by the Children’s Choir) about 20 minutes in to most services, after which kids up through first grade may be dismissed to the nursery
- Children’s Church during the Sunday school hour periodically throughout the school year
- Bibles and Bible storybooks in the pews at every service
- “Children in the Pews” brochure – View HERE.
Throughout the year, the Board of Children’s Ministries sponsors a variety of programs for families. Examples include:
- A weekly parenting class on Sunday’s at 10 am during Sunday School.
- Secret Pals – Fourth and fifth grade Sunday school students are assigned an adult church member pen pal, and then exchange letters in which both adults and children know each other only by their secret code names. After six weeks, the pen pals meet in person during a special Pals party.
- Vacation Bible School. Each summer, the Board of Children’s Ministries organizes Vacation Bible School on four consecutive midsummer Sunday mornings. This program is open to children age 3 through sixth grade and includes Bible stories, educational crafts, discussions and songs related to a different theme each summer.
Nursery and Child Care
We are happy to provide care for infants, toddlers, and young children through first grade in our nursery. The nursery is open from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm every Sunday, and during Wednesday evening dinners and programs.
The nursery has a crib room for sleepy infants. The baby/toddler room, for children 0-3, is full of age-appropriate toys. Older children go to the big kid room or, when weather permits, play on the playground.
Our nursery is headed by Director Alison Robertson, who has been in that position for thirty years; co-Director Lori Lay, and a team of capable, loving attendants.
Alison Robertson is the long-time director of a five-star, licensed mixed-age family child care home in Chapel Hill. The mission of both her child care home and United Church Nursery is to provide a safe place in which children can learn and grow in a fun and nurturing environment. Alison is a UNC graduate and the mother of a son and two daughters.
For Parents and Caregivers
Just as children are a vital part of our community, so are the adults who love and care for them. Following are additional resources for parents and caregivers.
Baptism at United Church of Chapel Hill
The United Church of Christ baptizes babies, children and adults. While we do not believe that people must be baptized in order to be saved, we do believe that baptism, as one of the two sacraments we practice, is a significant passage in one’s journey of faith. The pastors welcome inquiries about the meaning of baptism and about discerning an appropriate Sunday to make baptismal promises to an infant or child. A description of the UCC theology of baptism can be found at http://www.ucc.org/worship/baptism.
Faith and Family Sunday Morning Discussion Group
The Faith and Family class meets most Sundays from 10-10:50 to discuss current issues in parenting from a faith perspective and to provide support for all parents through the joys and challenges of raising children. In fall 2015, the group will join with Youth Ministries in reading and discussing the book The Blessing of a B-Minus.
United Church Preschool (UCP) is a high quality early childhood program for children ages 2 to 5. Our preschool is a small, non-profit school with low child/adult ratios. UCP strives to be a fun, safe and happy place for children to explore and create. UCP offers class for:
- Two year olds – 2 days a week (Monday & Wednesday or Tuesday & Thursday)
- Three and Four year olds – 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday & Friday or Tuesday, Thursday & Friday)
- Four and five year olds – 5 days a week
School runs from 9 am-12 pm with an option to stay each day for Lunch Bunch until 1 p.m. At UCP your child can:
- Have fun in a warm and nurturing play atmosphere
- Participate in individual and group activities
- Learn to share and gain respect for others
- Get to know and love caring teachers, in classes where the student/teacher ratio is 5:1 for younger classes and 7:1 in older classes
- Express themselves through art and explore the creative process
- Enjoy a weekly music and movement class with an experienced children’s music teacher
- Strengthen muscles and cooperative spirit through lots of outdoor play
- Learn about science and nature in our new Nature Explorers class
- Experience the fun of activities like singing, dramatic play, cooking, and story time
- Get messy and make new friends!
For more on the preschool, please go to the United Church Preschool website HERE.