Children in Worship
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“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them;
for it is to such as these that
the kingdom of heaven belongs."
- Matthew 19:14

In response to Jesus, we believe that the practice of hosting children in the congregation begins with the arrival of children at worship.

On Sundays the first thirty minutes of worship are shaped in a way that welcomes children's participation in the liturgy:
  * a carpet is provided at the front of the Chapel and another near the Chapel entrance, along with soft toys, so that infants and toddlers can play quietly (we suggest leaving plastic toys & hard soled shoes at home as they can cause noise on the wooden floors that can be distracting).
  * the Peace of Christ is passed, with all learning the bidding and response.
  * news of the congregation’s life is kept to a minimum in order that worship moves at a good pace.
  * a variety of music and song is offered for children to experience. Both the Kyrie ("Lord, have mercy") and the Doxology are repeated throughout the seasons of the church year so that children can join in these songs.
  * prayers are spoken, silent prayer is offered and the Lord’s Prayer is sung (with actions) bringing children into a community shaped by prayer.
  * the church bell is rung, the Bible and light enter in procession as the drama of holy worship begins. To a child the Chapel is a large space and the gathering of all ages offers the gift of a generative memory of the church for years to come.
  * offerings of food for the hungry are carried forward by our children as they feel the weight of the world’s need and of their part in responding to Christ’s call for the community of disciples to respond with sacrificial gifts.

While we consciously shape the beginning of the liturgy on every Sunday with children in mind we welcome the participation of children in worship at all times.

The Little Ones program for children five years of age and younger provides a rich experience of learning activities that tell the stories of the Bible. The Little Ones program is flexible, with young children welcome to come into it at any time during the service (after the children have followed the small cross and the candle to their learning time).

Older children (ages 6 to 12) gather in the Elementary class to discover the Christian faith through the biblical story.

Newborns and infants are beloved by the congregation and are most welcome in its worship life. We hope that parents of infants will feel at ease moving in and out of the Chapel during the service if their babe is becoming fussy. The sound system includes a speaker in the narthex (foyer) area of the Chapel that allows an opportunity to listen to the service while comforting a child before re-entering the Chapel. The nursery downstairs also provides a place for infant care for parents who so choose.

Children Leading in Worship

The leadership of children in worship can range from greeting to bell-ringing to carrying in the Bible and lighting the candles. Children who are able to read are invited to act as lectors. Children who learn to play an instrument or to sing are invited to add their musical gifts to our worship. From time to time children participate in offering testimony to the working of God in their life. Children are also invited to pour water into the font during the sacrament of Baptism and to assist in serving the elements in the sacrament of Communion.

The Sacrament of Communion

The Eucharist is the central drama of Christian life. In order to prepare children for the sacrament we regularly teach our children about the Eucharist. Since Holy Communion is intended for those who have been baptized, and since many of our children are baptized, we do not exclude children.

Since we also make room at the table for those who have not been baptized but who desire to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ in the world prior to their baptism we do not discriminate when it comes to those who reach out to take from the loaf and cup. At the same time, there is no compulsion for anyone of any age to receive the sacrament of communion.

We encourage families to discuss this matter and to make their own decision as to the appropriate time and place for participation in the Eucharist. We invite those who do not wish their young child to receive the sacrament to ask the Presider for a blessing as they come forward to the table. The Presider will lay a hand on the child’s head and say a blessing. Children and adults may also simply remain seated to watch the Eucharist.

 

Banner art is taken from the Christian Seasons Calendar. Thanks to our artists for 2015-2016
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