This year we are using “Seasons of the Spirit” as our Sunday School program:
What is Seasons of the Spirit?
Seasons of the Spirit is one inclusive program for the whole congregation. Seasons of the Spirit supports faith communities and families in their life together by
- exploring meaning and mystery in the Bible
- being grounded in thoughtful theology
- empowering children, youth, and adults to be transformed in Christ
- inspiring and equipping leaders
- nurturing the imaginative spirit
- offering resources for all ages
- integrating worship, learning, and serving ministries
“Seasons’ vision is for an authentic Christianity lived in our culturally diverse and religiously pluralistic world; to be signs of God’s liberating, compassionate, and inclusive love, and to grow in our relationship with God. Seasons continues to nurture faith through liturgy, ritual, imagination, and to encourage Christian growth through worshiping, learning, and serving together. Our true curriculum is how we live our lives together.”
~ Susan Burt, Coordinating Editor, Seasons of the Spirit
Sunday School programs take place in Christ Church Hall which is on our lower level and begin Sundays at 10:30 a.m. The Children join us for the Celebration of the Eucharist after the “Peace.”
A Letter written to Parents with Young Children in Church
You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.
I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant car seat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.
And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper. I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.
I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.
When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here, we are reminded that this worship thing we do isn’t about bible study or personal, quiet contemplation but coming together to worship as a community where all are welcome, where we share in the Word and Sacrament together. When you are here, I have hope that these pews won’t be empty in 10 years when your kids are old enough to sit quietly and behave in worship. I know that they are learning how and why we worship now, before it’s too late. They are learning that worship is important.
I see them learning. In the midst of the cries, whines, and giggles, in the midst of the crinkling of pretzel bags and the growing pile of crumbs, I see a little girl who insists on going two pews up to share peace with someone she’s never met. I hear a little boy slurping (quite loudly) every last drop of his communion wine out of the cup, determined not to miss a drop of Jesus. I watch a child excitedly color a cross and point to the one in the front of the sanctuary. I hear the echos of “Amens” just a few seconds after the rest of the community says it together. I watch a boy just learning to read try to sound out the words in the worship book or count his way to Hymn 672. Even on weeks when I can’t see my own children learning because, well, it’s one of those mornings, I can see your children learning.
I know how hard it is to do what you’re doing, but I want you to know it matters. It matters to me. It matters to my children to not be alone in the pew. It matters to the congregation to know that families care about faith, to see young people… and even on those weeks when you can’t see the little moments, it matters to your children.
It matters that they learn that worship is what we do as a community of faith, that everyone is welcome, that their worship matters. When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as members of the church community. They don’t need to wait until they can believe, pray or worship a certain way to be welcome here, and I know adults who are still looking to be shown that. It matters that children learn that they are an integral part of this church, that their prayers, their songs, and even their badly (or perfectly-timed, depending on who you ask) cries and whines are a joyful noise because it means they are present.
I know it’s hard, but thank you for what you do when you bring your children to church. Please know that your family — with all of its noise, struggle, commotion, and joy — are not simply tolerated, you are a vital part of the community gathered in worship.
“Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” – Mark 9:30 –37
3 Sundays a year at the 10:30 a.m. service we hold All Ages Worship Experiences
“AAWE” for short
We hold these service for lots of good reasons……….
Children, Worship and Learning
Worship is one of the most important ways in which children learn what it means to be Christian. Children learn to worship by doing so with the congregation. By participating in the service, children
- Learn they belong to Christ and are welcome in His Church.
- Learn the Lord’s Prayer and other parts of the liturgy.
- Build a fund of memorable, shared experiences of Christian community upon which they will be able to draw when they are older.
- Are enriched by the music and art as expressions of praise and as human responses to God.
- Hear stories from the Bible read and interpreted, and begin to see Christian worship as one place where God may speak to them.
- Witness Baptism and Eucharist as signs of God’s kindness and favour.
- Discover that they are valued as persons by God and by the people of God at Church.
There are at least three important reasons to involve children in worship. The first reason is theological. When Jesus says, “Let the children come,” he is saying that children belong in the church. Worship is the heart of church life, and children need to be included and welcomed so that they learn that they belong.
The second reason is developmental. Children learn from the moment of birth, if not before. They are open to their environment, taking in sensory information every moment. We take our infants everywhere, yet some say “children don’t belong in church.” God comes to us at all ages and all stages. With their innocence, children are often more open to the mystery, to the glorious music and and to the Word in our worship environment. God comes to those who are fidgety, curious, and talkative as well as those who are quiet and serene. Children’s spiritual life grows through experiencing God in worship.
The third reason is evangelical. If young families do not feel their children are welcomed and belong in the church environment, they will not stay. Family worship makes the sanctuary an accepting space for children and also takes their involvement to a deeper level. Children and youth are actually learning about worship, writing their own prayers and leading the worship service. Through this experience, they know deep within their hearts, that they belong in the sanctuary.
Bringing children to worship may not always be easy, but it is an essential part of their growth in Christ. The Body of Christ assembled is incomplete in their absence. We need children.
Advice for Parents of Preschool Children
- Sit near the front where the child can have a clear view of the sanctuary.
- Prepare the child for the different parts of the worship service, explaining special events ahead of time and answering questions that need an answer right now in a whisper.
- Bring a quiet toy. Don’t bring out the electronic devices!
- Model when to stand, sit, or kneel.
- Younger children may need to move around. Explore the church, and/or visit the children’s table at the front of the church near the pulpit.
- Use the quiet time of church as a chance for a special togetherness of parents and child which may not be possible during the week.
Advice for Parents of School-Age Children
- Help your school-age children to learn the Lord’s Prayer and other parts of the liturgy.
- Review the bulletin with your child to identify new or difficult words and preview together those parts where the congregation responds by reading and speaking.
- Invite the child to follow the liturgy in the leaflet or Book of Alternative Services.
- Find hymns in the Hymnal and go over the words.
- Encourage your child to listen to the sermon.
Advice for Friends of Children (That’s the Rest of Us!)
- Express your gladness at having children in present in church. Welcome the kids, if possible by name – This may sound redundant, but there is much to be said for a personal greeting from a friendly face and welcome to the service.
- During the Peace be sure to welcome the children near you.
- Include children in your conversations before and after worship to let them know they belong.
- Ask yourself the following questions
- How often do you express your appreciation to parents who struggle to church with their young children?
- Do you make a point of telling these parents that they and their children fill the church with joyful noise?
- Do you tell the parents what you see the children learning week by week?
- What actions could you take to demonstrate to these families that they are vital members of the community?
- Read Jamie Bruesehoff’s letter, entitled Dear Parents with Young Children in Church, posted to her blog I Am Totally That Mom on November 14, 2013