Friends regard spiritual growth as an essential component of sound education.
The goal of Religious Education is to develop the Divine Spark, that inward light, that enables individuals to know God's will and to experience true joy in this knowledge.
Classes for all ages (known as First Day School), are held at Gwynedd Friends Meeting from 9:55 to 10:45 AM on Sundays from September to June.
Adults explore such topics as religion, spirituality, and social issues. The three main areas of concentration for youth are Quakerism, Bible studies and spirituality. A program is in place which provides advice for young Friends who are concerned about military matters. A music program and a variety of field trips round out the program.
Service projects and guest speakers enrich programs for both adults and young friends.
Child care is provided each Sunday morning from 9:30 until 12:00.
Any questions concerning Youth First Day School should be emailed to JB Baker-McAllister at firstname.lastname@example.org .
First Day (Sunday) Programs for Youth
Gwynedd Friends Meeting is blessed to have an active and vibrant First Day School (FDS) program for our young people. Our religious education program is fun, enriching and individualized to meet the many spiritual needs of young people.
The Youth FDS program is made up of five class groupings led by teams of dedicated volunteer FDS teachers from the Meeting community. These class groupings are
1. Pre-K & Kindergarten,
2. First & Second grade,
3. 3rd, 4th & 5th grade
4. Middle School (6th-8th)
5. High School (9th-12th).
Our pre- K through Middle School classes meet every Sunday from 10:45 until 12 noon while our High School group meets once a month on a weekend evening for discussion and fellowship. Our High School youth are also encouraged to participate in Adult FDS when the topic is of interest to them.
The theme for the 2013-2014 Youth FDS program is Service & Community. Over the course of the year we will look at service from three perspectives - the spiritual aspects of service, how Quakers and Quaker organizations have served others through history, and Bible stories of service and caring for others. By working together to serve others we will build a stronger sense of community within our Meeting and begin to understand our connection and responsibility to the community outside our group and in the greater world.
Junior Meeting for Worship
All of our FDS youth participate in a monthly Junior Meeting for Worship. During this time the children gather with interested adults in shared silent, guided by a facilitator who might share a story of a spiritual experience or lead us in worship sharing or guided meditation. It is in this worship each month that our children are exposed to the language of shared worship and the power of collective silence. We find that this builds and strengthen our spiritual community.
Youth FDS Service Project
Each month, usually on the 3rd First Day, the entire Youth FDS joins together to work on a service project. These service projects might include sprucing up our Meeting grounds and Peace Trail, preparing meals for a community housing organization, baking to raise funds for a local charity or collecting items needed by people in our local community or internationally. For some of our service projects we work in conjunction with the Gwynedd Friends School Parents Serving Community (PSC) group, and Gwynedd Meeting's Peace & Social Action committee and the Fellowship and Outreach committee.
First Day Programs for Adults
We seek to strengthen and nurture our sense of community in classes that take a variety of formats, from slide shows and talks, to panels of members speaking about their lives and callings, to small group discussions and intergenerational events that involve holiday celebrations, creative activities, or food and fellowship. Adult gatherings also serve as a forum to discuss Meeting policies and plans in depth.
Past classes have focused on world religions, environmental concerns, historical Quaker leaders, and the Meeting's policies on child safety. Often our own members and attenders lead the classes. At other times we welcome guest speakers.
The monthly Gwynedd calendar lists the upcoming Sunday programs for adults.
Special Events and Extensions to the Youth First Day Morning Program
- Kindergarten through 5th graders rejoice in the spirit through song each week with Carl Baron. He leads them in singing songs, which celebrate peace, Quakerism, the Bible, and indeed, all of God's creation.
Youth and Militarism - Joanne Penn and Michael Lapreziosa bring "Youth and Militarism" into each of the grade levels. Their discussions center on learning to "think for oneself about war and peace." In examining the causes of war and pea
ce, all grade levels will be encouraged to (1) consider the militarization of U.S. society and government, and how it may affect their futures; (2) think and write about conscientious objection, which requires that they consider their own personal convictions and (3) prepare for a time when they will have to make critical life choices.
Take Your Classroom to Meeting for Worship One Sunday (TBD) each month will be "Take Your Classroom to Meeting for Worship." This is an opportunity for youth to worship with the entire meeting, become comfortable in silent worship and begin to understand what worship means to them.
Intergenerational Workshops -provide an opportunity for all ages to relax, have fun and grow spiritually together.
Quarterly Meeting - Gwynedd hosted QM on February 7th.
For the young grades, Susan Miller held a Black History event involving Underground Railroad storytelling and music. We also hope to take a class or two on a class trip to Quarterly Meeting in the May when it is held at Upper Dublin Meeting.
Secret Friends is an intergenerational program designed to allow young and old friends to get to know one another over the course of several weeks. Intergenerational buddies exchange letters and notes, stories are shared, and friendships blossom. This program allows us to truly know one another, despite our age differences.