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Something New for Our Kids!

March 31, 2017

Part of the work that our dedicated children and youth Sunday School teachers and members of our Christian Education Committee do – in addition to planning lessons, choosing curriculum, and working to create the strongest Christian Education program possible for First Baptist Church in Beverly – includes working, always, to think of new and creative ways to be flexible and responsive to the needs of children and families within our church family and to support children and their families as best we can.

A recent discussion with our teacher group led to a new and creative idea for Communion Sundays, and it is one that we would like to launch this coming Sunday, April 2nd, for the first time.

On Communion Sundays, we do not hold our usual Multiage Children’s Class during worship (although we do offer Nursery Care for children through Grade 1 throughout the service). The reason for this decision being that, when the shift was made to offer Children’s Sunday School during the worship hour, there was still great concern for the importance of having children and youth in worship and sharing in the experience of being a part of the worshipping community, together, with adults in the church family. Having people of all ages – children included – together in worship is good for everyone. It is good for children to be with adults – not only their families but all members of their church family, and to forge connections of comfort and trust with them. It is good for us as adults, too, to have children in the worshipping body with us, to be reminded, through their wiggles and their wonder, their whispers, their laughter, their use of the children’s bookshelf at the rear of the sanctuary, their drawing, their learning, and their presence, of what it is to be the whole Body of Christ, together in one place.

Not only that, it is good for children and youth to have the experience of being in worship – to hear the words, to lift their voices in song, to stand for prayer – to begin to understand and to love the practice of coming together, as a gathered community of seekers and believers, of fellow pilgrims on a journey, to worship a loving God.

There are thoughtful articles and research, too, that point to the importance of having children and youth in worship, rather than drawing an artificial distinction that worship is for grown-ups and Sunday School is children. Drawing too firm a distinction and removing children from worship on a regular basis can, unfortunately, have the unintended consequence of “Sunday Schooling kids out of church.” We are committed to building and ensuring connections between all members of our church family – including our youngest members – and to helping children to feel as welcomed and as comfortable in worship as our adults.

So, for all of these reasons, we are beginning at new practice on Communion Sundays – when our children do not leave for their Multiage Class – and we would like to invite all children and their families to participate, if they so choose.

We believe that children are most engaged and feel most valued when they are best able to see and feel a part of what is going on. For that reason, beginning this Sunday, April 2nd, children and their families are invited to sit in the front pews on the right side (non-pulpit side) of the Sanctuary. Crayons and paper will be placed at the ends of these front pews for ease of access and use of children and their families. Beginning this Sunday, the minister who is not participating in serving Communion (this week it will be Rev. Julie Flowers) will be joining those sitting in the front pews after the opening of the worship service.

This is a new practice for us, and, as with all the shifts and changes and new things that our Christian Education department has tried in an effort to be flexible and responsive to changing times and changing needs of children and families, we will be living into this change and will welcome feedback, thoughts, and reflections, as we work out how best to continue serving the needs of and supporting the youngest members of our church family. Please join us in helping to welcome these youngest members and in helping to be a part of their journey of faith.

We are reminded that the Body of Christ requires all of us, giving of our gifts – and that means the youngest to the oldest of us, all together, gathered for worship. May it be so this Sunday and many more!

Shalom and peace be yours!