Sunday School & worship changes: the Rev. Michael Wallens explains the details

Recently we announced some important changes to our Sunday morning in this article. I want to describe what upcoming worship & Sunday School changes will do for us as a community in transition.

By moving the 8:30 a.m. service back to 8:00 a.m., and having Sunday School for all ages at 9:15, the hope is that opening up this time and inviting and encouraging everyone to participate will give dedicated time not only in this time of transition but also allow for regular offerings for all ages as time goes on. These changes are designed to facilitate our congregation going through the process of transition. We need a dedicated time where the vast majority of the community—all ages—can come together. Moving the 8:30 a.m. Sunday Eucharist to 8:00 a.m. opens up time for the work we need to do as a community.

In our 10:30 a.m. family worship starting in October, we are also having children present once a month for the whole service. The rest of the Sundays will follow the pattern established this summer – the children will go to children’s chapel and come back for the Eucharist.

When it is the Sunday for children to remain in the church, the sermon will be geared either to the children and/or be one which is intergenerational. Our children will be invited up around the altar during the celebration of the Eucharist so they can see what goes on at the altar.

This is a way to get children more comfortable with the worship space which the adult community uses. My experience is that children pick up on what is expected as they feel a part of this faith community.

Kids in adult worship? How can it ever work? Preschoolers bang on the pews! Six-year-olds can’t follow the songs! Third graders use their bulletins to play tic-tac-toe! And the big kids whisper and pass notes! How do we make all of these kids feel welcome in worship while teaching them what worship is about? We can catch their interest by greeting them in creative ways and including them in the history and traditions of this congregation. We can teach them about Christian worship by involving them in many aspects of the adult worship service. Kids will learn by example – parents, other adults, older kids.

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. —Mark 10:13-16, The Message

The plan for our October inter-generational class Bible Studies for the Journey at 9:15 a.m. is here. In November, when we shift our Sunday school time to 9:30 a.m. and return to an age-level breakout, we will launch an adult class at 9:30 a.m. to round out our field of age-appropriate Sunday School classes. We’ll describe that class in October. I am working with the staff to make the programs appropriate for where we are in process of transformation.

Let us take some time and see what happens.

–Fr. Mike

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