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by Kate Bell, Director of Children’s Ministries
We have been blessed with a dynamic and growing Children’s Ministry led by Kate Bell. I asked Kate to share a bit about her ministry to children and how our financial support makes this ministry possible. As Kate herself is quick to point out, she has built on a foundation that was faithfully laid by her predecessor, Jessica Neeper. She is also accompanied by a wonderful group of fellow staff and parishioners who make this ministry
possible. I find Kate’s vision and work transformative – she is as much a minister to me and other adults as she is to our children. She is an inspired and gifted leader. So, please take a moment and read her witness.
— Father Bill
I was not looking for this job. But I absolutely love it. And when Father Bill asked me to write some reflections for you, I had to step back and take a deep breath. I am used to speaking to children rather than adults!
Let me begin by talking about what we do during the program year. Each Sunday, the children gather in St. Dunstan’s Chapel at 9:45 am – this time is sacred. We transition from the family we live with to the family we grow in faith with. The kids, from preschool through 5th grade, sing, pray, practice the Lord’s Prayer and talk about where they see God.
I have the honor of asking the children (and Sunday School teachers) each week, “Where do you see God?” Something sacred happens when we ask this question. We see God in each other’s faces. We see God in our families and in our churches. We see God in nature. We see God in our community. We see God when we see someone helping another.
Hearing their answers helps me to be open and aware of the countless “God Sightings” in my own life. I see God when I see a child who brings his or her family to church. This begins a relationship that works until it finally “clicks.” A sacred place has been found.
I’ve also seen God when I have witnessed children go from tears at check-in to standing up front of St. Dunstan’s during gathering time leading the Lord’s Prayer.
At Sunday School, we read the core stories in the Bible during “Godly Play” and go deeper in the Bible during “Connect” – the children ask big and small questions, they wonder about the little things and the big things. They are faithfully growing – and to have the role of coordinating this time is beyond rewarding – it’s also exhausting and nerve wracking. Trusting in God makes it possible. At the end of the day, I am grateful I was called for this role.
We have a wealth of children to welcome and to teach and to show the love of Christ to, and we do that on a weekly basis. We do it throughout the program year, we also do it during Vacation Bible School.
Vacation Bible School is the best week of the year. The amount of energy that comes through the doors is immeasurable. There’s so much positivity and love and growth that, the kids that walk in the first day are different people when they walk out on the last day. They have new tools in their pockets in order to take on the challenges in the world.
You may not have any kids in the Sunday-school program. If so, keep this in mind: This church is a community. It’s made up of mixed ages from the infants through the grandparents and all those people who came before us who are here. A lot of loved ones are out in the Columbarium, and they have left a legacy that we need to carry on and contribute to as we can. We each need to work to make sure that legacy continues.
We need your pledges and we need your support to create space that is as positive as the stories we tell. And with the children’s ministry growing so much, the current class spaces are very full, and we’re starting to miss out on some opportunities to really dive deeper. So, we need you to think hard about the present and the future, so we continue to be the place God has called us to be.
When a child is baptized, we all make a promise together to cherish their life in Christ and to lead them on a faithful journey. And by providing our children with the time and the space and support they need to grow in their Christian life, we fulfill the promise we all make on their baptism day. And every time a child is baptized we say, yes, this is our future, this is also where we are today. I wonder, where will you see God today.