Children’s Ministries primarily serves children of the parish from 18 months to 6th grade but also includes the youngest of our members in the nursery. Our classrooms are filled with the spirit of the living God and the children, as well as teachers, have been blessed and awestruck at the presence of God among them. We currently have three “classrooms” and a nursery in our Children’s Ministries program. Our nursery provides not only responsible supervision and play activities but also helps the 18-month through 3 year group get ready for the Godly Play classroom experience.
The goal in Children’s Ministries continues to be to give our children a safe, loving place for them to experience and discover the living and present God. Although we meet in “classrooms”, we follow a worship schedule that mimics the liturgy of the Episcopal Church: greeting and opening prayer, liturgy of the word, response in the form of art and prayer, then feast and fellowship. In each of our classrooms, we encourage the children to explore the Bible and their relationships with God, family and church in their own way through developmentally appropriate, structured, and unstructured activities.
On regular Children’s Worship days, we use Godly Play and Living the Good News in order to best meet the needs of each of the different age groups. The last Sunday of each month is Family Church Sunday when children attend the 10:30 service with their families. Our primary curriculum continues to be Montessori-based Godly Play for Pre-K and 1st-3rd grades. We also used the Living the Good News curriculum with our 4th to 6th graders. Both curriculums are multi-sensory, hands-on approaches to Christian formation.
The children are introduced and enter into the religious language by: hearing the stories of God, wondering and responding to the stories, worship, prayer, Bible readings, music and art. The children are encouraged to enter into the presence of God through discovery, play and art. Living the Good News is a bit more structured but provides the children more time to apply the Good News to their everyday lives through meditation, discussion and action. Below please find typical schedules for our classrooms:
Children’s Worship for 3 years old to 3rd grade
|9:30-9:45||Building the Circle/Getting Ready|
|9:45-10:05||The Lesson and Wondering|
|10:05-10:30||Individual Response Time|
|10:30-10:35||Putting Things Away/Cleanup|
Times are approximate, will vary with age of children, size of class, time of year, and special circumstances.
Children’s Worship for 4th to 6th grade
|9:30-9:45||Getting Started/Greeting/Opening Prayer|
|9:45-10:05||Today’s Gospel/Bible Study|
|10:05-10:30||Response to Gospel/Activity|
Extra Time: look through catechism in back of Book of Common Prayer or Children’s Book of Common Prayer to explore different parts of our worship and sacraments.
Each year we continue to strive to give our children new and exciting ways to discover more about God and who God is calling to them to be. Our children are encouraged to share God’s love by serving each other, their families and their community. The children are invited to serve as ushers, readers and chalice bearers in St. Thomas’s regular Sunday services. Many of them sing in the Lights choir and a few occasionally join the adult choir. In addition, the children help in various ways with fundraising and fellowship events such as the annual Annual Bazaar. They help their global community by participating in Trick or Treat for UNICEF. And at the end of each year, the children share the Christmas story in a pageant service for the congregation.
For more information on Children’s Ministries, contact Belinda Young-Payne at St. Thomas’s by phone at (302) 368-4644 or via email at email@example.com.