Children and Church
Children Worship and Learning
Children are important members of The Episcopal Church.
“We receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood.”(Book of Common Prayer, Holy Baptism, p.308.)
Trinity Episcopal Church has many ways to include children into the life of our church, and we give parents many choices as to how to include children into our worship community.
- We welcome children to the whole church service. We provide special “tote bags” with books, games, crayons and children’s bulletins at every service. You may find them in the rear of the Church. If you need help finding one, ask an usher.
- All the baptized are welcome to receive communion, including children.
- On Sunday’s at 10:30 am there is a nursery in the Langner Lounge staffed by parents and trained volunteers. For more information, call Julia Burns at 610-438-1528.
- Church School is on Sundays at starting at 10:15 am, (doors open at 10 am) on the second floor of the Christian Education Building. Each week’s lesson is tied to the season and lesson of the day with scripture, prayer, crafts, discussion and ritual.
We take our promise to “support and uphold these persons in their life of Christ” very seriously and very lightly! We want our worship and our community to be a joyful and welcoming place for all children!
Worship is central to what the Body of Christ does. “Children learn especially by example and by trying things out. Inviting children to participate is the most powerful way to teach them. Guiding children in worship passes on to them a heritage of language and image and gesture by which they can then form their own approach to God. It is a gift they will be able to draw upon throughout the course of their lives. It is a gift which includes the clear message that they are absolutely integral to the community of faith.” Julie Eileen Ryan, “Children Worshipping: the Challenges and the Gifts”, Worship ’93, September, 1993.
Children also learn the following in worship:
- Children discover that they belong to Christ
- Children learn that we are welcomed and included in God’s church
- Children discover the beauty of music and art as expressions of praise and human responses to God are appropriate, enriching, and valued
- Children find out about how God’s people gather to hear and interpret stories from the Bible.
- Children learn that worship is one place where God may speak to them.
- Children experience that that they are both a part of a local faith community and part of the entire church of Christ.
- Children find out that the Christian life is not a solitary thing but grows best in community.
Preparing at Home
Participation is much easier when we are familiar with what is being done. The following activities will give children the time to learn and reflect on what happens when we worship together:
Show your child the Lord’s Prayer in the Bible (Matthew 6:9-13) or in the Book of Common Prayer (p.364). Discuss the meaning of each petition. Pray the Lord’s Prayer together.
Pray at home for family, friends, work, school, needs of others beyond your neighborhood, and events of your congregation. Use Devotions for Individuals and Families in the Prayer Book (pp. 136-140) or check out the Trinity Store for all kinds of books and ideas.
Read the scripture passages for the next Sunday at home during the week. Talk about themes that you might hear and see on Sunday. Next Sunday’s lessons are listed in each weeks bulletin and found on the web on the Lectionary Page (http://www.io.com/~kellywp/)
Read the Words of Institution in the Bible (I Corinthians 11:23-25) or in the Book of Common Prayer (p. 362-363). Discuss what Holy Communion means and what happens during worship.
The following suggestions will help children prepare for some of the specifics happening on any given Sunday.
Try to arrive in plenty of time to follow these suggestions prior to the beginning of worship.
Greeting and welcoming others before worship is encouraged in many congregations. Help children learn this by including them in your greetings. Introduce them as you introduce yourself to others.
Encourage children to include their prayer requests to worship leaders.
Use children’s bulletins and/or a simplified version of your regular bulletin. Also begin to acquaint them with regular Sunday bulletins.
Encourage children to use their soft voice as soon as they enter the sanctuary, remember that other people are in the space to pray and worship.
Help children locate the hymns and liturgy for the service. Use bookmarks to mark the pages. Look together at the words, helping them to read and understand the meanings.
Comment on special events in worship such as a baptism, new members joining, a special day in life of our congregation, and changes in the church seasons and colors. Look around and discuss new banners or other visual changes in the sanctuary. Discuss symbols also.
Assist our children during the service. Make sure they have the right page for hymns. Point out words to help them understand and participate. Let young children know when a part they are familiar with is coming. They can respond with “Hear our prayer,” “Thanks be to God,” and say all or part of the Lord’s Prayer, for example.
If there is a Children’s Chat or Sermon, encourage children to take part.. Accompany them if they are timid.
Help children participate in giving to the life of the congregation by making sure they have their own offerings, regardless of the amount.
Sit close to the front of the sanctuary. Children are able to participate more fully when they can see what is happening. Provide pencil, crayons, and paper for drawing. Don’t be surprised if you see symbols of the church in their drawings as they listen to what is being said around them. Hand activity can actually help them concentrate and reflect on what they experience in worship.
Put together a bag of soft toys, cloth books, etc. for young children to use only during worship. Remove young children’s shoes. It reduces noise as they move around.
Bring children to Communion. All baptized Christians are eligible and welcome to receive Communion in the Episcopal Church. (See our website on Children and Communion) Even if your child is not able to receive, bring them up for a blessing and help them take part in this important part of our worship.
Walk around the sanctuary to look more closely at the font, the altar, banners, windows, etc. Encourage your children to greet others as you stay for fellowship, prepare for Sunday school, or leave to return home. Talk with your child about what he/she heard, saw, did, and felt during worship. Make worship a regular part of the time you spend with your child. Let God’s love be evident in your family life the rest of the week.
You may obtain the following either through the Trinity Store, or in the rear of Church or through the parish office. Speak to the clergy if you have any questions.
Taking the Plunge: Baptism and Parenting by Anne E. Kitch. A practical and accessible book that helps parents connect the promises made at Baptism with the day-to-day work of parenting. (2006: Morehouse Publishing, New York.)
What we do in Church by Anne Kitch. A fun and instructive workbook filled with activities that show children what we do in Church and what it all means. (2006: Morehouse Publishing, New York.) Also: What we do in Advent and What we do in Lent.
Alleluia! Amen! and New Life! Gretchen Prichard. Cartoon descriptions of what is going on in the Holy Eucharist and in Holy Baptism based on the texts of the Book of Common Prayer. (1986: The Sunday Paper, New Haven, CT)
All about Children and Communion.