Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday in the life of a DRE

Today I arrived at church at 7:30, carried my sleeping son into a classroom that has recliners in it, and began to set up for classes.

There was furniture rearranging (some very heavy), that I do every Sunday to transform one large room into two small classrooms.

Then I set up all the class altars, with pretty cloths, chalices, baskets of stones and bowls of water. This is one of my favorite tasks of the day.

Some classes needed media set up, some needed art supplies organized and arranged. One needed a story basket carefully ordered and set out.

People begin to arrive, and there are greetings to make, conversations about our holidays, our families. There are also people who want something from me - I dash off little post-it notes to myself if I can, knowing that I am likely to forget things on a Sunday.

Families begin to arrive. There are children for me to greet, hug, or meet for the first time.

Teachers arrive, and I show them their supplies, make sure they are all set for class.

The church service starts, and I quickly review my Story for All Ages and try to center myself for storytelling.

I go in and tell my story of the day, from memory.

The children and teachers are sung out of the service, and we all go down the hall to classes together. There is a new family to settle into classes, my own son to extract from the nursery and put in his class, and one class whose teacher suddenly had to go to the bathroom.

I visit in all the classes, helping as needed, taking attendance, and taking pictures.

The church service ends, and parents arrive to see what their kids have done. We have new curricula starting, so several parents linger to look at materials and talk to the teachers. I mingle, tidy for the next class, thank my teachers as they leave, and briefly circle the coffee hour to greet the rest of the congregation.

As the next service starts, I review my story again. Some teachers come in late and just wave at me to say they are here, and the snack parent passes me with her bag of snacks, headed for the kitchen.

I tell the story again, and once again follow the children and teachers down the hall. A committee has set up a meeting in the wide spot in the hall, so I briefly talk to them. Space is at a premium right now, and we laugh about the improvised meeting rooms.

I check in with each class, and take attendance. One class is rather large and rowdy and there is only one teacher today, so I stay and help with classroom management. When that class is done, there are new parents to meet and get them to fill out registration forms. I say thank you to the teachers as they leave, and then young adults are arriving looking for their group leader (me).

Because I was busy with the rowdy class, I didn't start the young adult lunch cooking, but I run and pop that in the oven and on the stove. I quickly pull a table and chairs into one of the classrooms and the young adults sit down together.

As young adults is starting, one of my youth advisors comes in and says the other youth advisors have not arrived yet. I tell him to come back and get me if he really needs me. The young adults today include two new folks, so we spend some time on just introducing ourselves. I serve them lunch, and we continue with conversation about faith, worship, depression, whether humans are the only life form with consciousness, etc. Everyone is so open and ready to share, and it is an honor to just be there and listen to them. They need someone to listen to them, I think.

I am interrupted a few times during young adults, by my son and by youth advisors. I get up and deal with each interruption, then return to the group (and my lunch). The minister comes in and joins the YA group for a bit, then leaves, and we wrap up our conversation.

Now I head off to check in with the youth group, but pizza has just arrived for them so they are distracted. I take attendance, and the minister and I briefly confer before he leaves.

My son has managed to make a big mess while he was alone and I was busy, so we spend some time cleaning up the classroom (again). We also add the young adult dishes to the dishwasher and turn it on.

For the final half hour of youth group, I join them and deal with business matters such as forms for youth attending a Con (youth conference with youth from other area UU churches), putting youth events on the church calendar, and confirming details for an upcoming fundraiser.

I get two youth to volunteer to stay back and wash dishes, and then I have some more paperwork to do related to the fundraiser. Everyone leaves, and I make a circle of the building. There are a few more post-it note reminders to leave for myself, and then I gather up work to take home - books to read, forms to fill out, some thank you notes that I can write at home. One more circle of the building, to turn off the lights and check all the doors are locked, and then my son and I gather our things, make two trips to the car, and then head home.

It's 3pm, and I am exhausted.


  1. Oh, man, now I feel terrible for bugging you about the pizza. We should make sure the youth advisors know where to access the pizza kitty and have a spot for pizza coupons.

    What a long day for Carbon, too!

  2. Sara -- you are so awesome! All that you do is so very much appreciated... thank you for making our lovely church such a fantastic welcoming place for children of all ages. We were just talking OUUC up... to another potential family. You were a central point of discussion, as one of the major reasons to come to OUUC.... thought you'd like to know.

  3. Wow! I think they are lucky to have such a dedicated, innovative DRE!