Children and spirituality
Prayer is the cornerstone of the Unity philosophy, and a way of life. Children our are future. How do we teach children that they are spiritual, not just physical beings, living in a very physical world? How do we explain that the Divine Source is within, and follow up with how to go within? How do we reinforce that faith, hope, love and compassion are important, and can be practiced in everyday life? Not only is "how" a consideration, but what age is appropriate to instill these critical concepts?
Unity believes that their teachings can make a positive difference in the lives of children and families. Unity minister Rev. Jim Fisher created three guiding principles for the Youth Ministry that supports the healthy development of the spiritual and emotional lives of individuals. He gives insight into the particulars of how to accomplish these. Children who have participated in the Youth Education Program regularly will understand these principles; the first has to do with love.
Principle No. 1 states, "God and the people at my church love me." One particular that goes underneath this principle is, "I know God loves me because I am treated with loving respect by the adults in the Youth Education Program." Principle No. 2: "I know the basic Unity teachings, and use them in my life." Putting it into practice says, "I can make affirmations and denials that are relevant to the life experiences that I want." Principle No. 3 states, "I know Bible stories and I am therefore prepared to later consider metaphysical interpretations discussed by adults." One such Bible story is "Joseph and his coat of many colors" from Genesis.
From Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, we receive the Twelve Powers of Man. The first power touches on faith, and says, "Faith is the ability to say yes to letting good manifest in your life." The affirmation for it is – "I have faith that God works for good in my life." Fillmore's fourth power, wisdom, is the ability to discern what decisions best reflect your true God-Self. The affirmation for wisdom is – "I use my inner wisdom to guide all I think, feel, say and do."
Teacher Bernadete Leal realized that teaching children about affirmations could use a dash of creativity. She created the word "a-fun-mation," and found that children enjoyed the exercises she put together to help the idea stick. One exercise has the teacher writing the affirmation on the board minus two words. Words have previously been hidden in the classroom, and children have to find the missing parts, and complete the affirmation. Director of Youth and Family Ministries, Rani, at Unity of Westlake feels the Youth Education Program supports her as a mom. She's experienced her daughter coming to her with answers to various problems, and focusing on the positive as Unity teacher Kathy has emphasized. Westlake Unity offers Youth Ministry Classes for ages 3 through 12th grade on Sunday mornings. Visit unityspiritualcenter.org to learn more.
I enjoy writing about USC's events. Everyone is welcome at Sunday services, or our numerous classes, and worshops!