My rough estimate is that we have experienced a 350 percent increase in children worshipping! I’m comparing the last three Sundays to the same three Sunday’s last year. The energy, vitality, and warmth of the 9:01 service are palpable. When I passed out the stained glass window books to the children at the children’s sermon last Sunday, I only gave one to Gus and Henry because they are two-year-old twins. But then one of them came to me with his sad eyes and lamented “I didn’t get one.” So I smiled and gave him his very own copy.
It reminded me of the Methodist Church I was born into in Texas. I remember kneeling on the red cushion and leaning on the wooden altar rail to receive bread and wine when I was still a toddler. I remember rolling wrapping paper in the wide corridors as my parents’ Sunday School class prepared for their annual fundraiser. And I remember rocking on the plastic rocking horse in the nursery. And the man who played a song on his comb during the annual Christmas lights tour. Did those adults have any idea that they were shaping a young life?
Before this church even broke ground on a building, we had formed a thriving Sunday School. Our calling has always been to nurture faith in children. And in this fast paced, pressurized and electronical culture our service to young people can be life giving and even life saving. Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among teens. But here, the young may find “sanctuary” a refuge, a warm embrace from the living God.
This summer I received a kind note from one of our teens who is now heading off to college. She spoke with deep affection for this congregation. I thought back on the days when she first came to the children’s sermon. And I thought of how much she has shared with the church in terms of service, mentoring, leadership. Thank you for creating a space here at 61st and Ward Parkway for the young to grow and thrive as children of God.
Grace and Peace,