Children's Sabbath Stories
We thank the following congregations for celebrating Children's Sabbath, and for sharing their stories with iCAN. We hope their experiences and ideas inspire the members of other faith communities to participate in the National Observance of the Children's Sabbath in future years, and, in the words of Marian Wright Edelman, to become "God's hands, feet, and voice for children."
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis
At Westminster the children’s message and sermon focused on the needs of children in our community, particularly those who are homeless. They also took time during the service to commission the Social Justice Advocates in their congregation. After the service they held a Faith in Action Fair where congregants could get information of how to get involved in justice work in their community. Westminster is also collecting coats, mittens, gloves, scarves, and hats for children and adults in the community.
Grace/Amboy United Methodist Churches, Vernon Center
Highlights of their service were the creation of a work of art by children in the congregation, and a recognition of people within the community who support families, especially those in need.
"The participation of all age groups of children made this event special. At Grace Church, the children made a quilt that is now hanging on the wall. At Amboy UMC, our Sunday School children, ages 3 to 7, sang. They all participated, giving their names, ages, and grade where appropriate. The children's participation in the service really made this a very special time."
Falcon Heights United Church of Christ, Falcon Heights
According to an organizer, Falcon Heights UCC's Sabbath "did a good job of balancing celebration of children and lifting up of their needs." The children colored bulletin covers and painted a "sail" for a boat that was on display in the sanctuarly to symbolize the theme of the celebration, and information about SCHIP, including how to apply for the program, was shared.. The bulletin insert with facts about the status of children was supplemented by information about how to write and talk to legislators.
Hope United Methodist Church, Faribault
Hope's sermon was given by a lay-speaker, the president of their church's chapter of United Methodist Women. She addressed the need for children's health care, and five people from families in the congregation enhanced her sermon by sharing their stories of insurance difficulties. The congregation recognized people who support families, and content from the denomination's policy statement regarding doing justice and caring for children was also available for members to read.
Middle Creek United Methodist Church, Danube
MCUMC's pastor addressed the needs of children in his sermon, but during the children's sermon, he and the kids in the congregation made boats together!
OUMC's Children's Sabbath included a sermon on the religious imperative to address the needs of children, an adult forum that focused on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and a bulletin insert with facts about the status of children in Minnesota.
"We had the Parish Nurse present the message at our traditional service and had a video montage focusing on the needs of children for our contemporary service. We had a very positive response to our Children's Sabbath presentation. Several people wanted information on how to contact Congress regarding SCHIP.
On Wednesday evening, we conducted a Healing Service focusing on the health needs and concerns of children. This was well received."
St. Clement's Episcopal Church, St. Paul
St. Clement’s Episcopal youth, children and parents participated in a Cardboard Box Camp Out in front of their church. They had a simple soup meal in the evening and one of the youth told the story of the Good Samaritan and they discussed the topic of “who is your neighbor?” On Sunday morning they had a speaker talk about homelessness in the Twin Cities, particularly the homelessness of children and youth. The sermon was also focused on children and servant ministry. As a part of the campout, they collected money for Project Home.
"We chose to do the camp-out on our green because we wanted the congregation to see the cardboard and tents when they arrived on Sunday morning. It made a big impact on folks."
St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Minneapolis
St. Luke's Sabbath organizers used the liturgy and recommended activities in the Children's Sabbath Resource Manual.
"We read Swimmy and discussed what children need, as well as getting kids' ideas of what we can do. We wrote letters and pictures [for] legislators, and did fish activities, including water color fish, fish printing ('We're stronger when we swim together.'), and making icthys fish from clay. We followed up by having an article in our church newsletter."
St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Ely
St. Mary's promoted their Children's Sabbath in the Ely Echo prior to the day of the service. The highlight of the morning was the collective sharing done by the congregation in place of a sermon.
"We are a small congregation (13 at that service), and this was our first Children's Sabbath, so we kept things simple. We used the [Children's Sabbath Resource Manual] as a basis for our worship service, including prayers from a variety of services. Instead of a sermon, we shared concerns around children close to our hearts. [We also] discussed building schools in Pakistan, curing leprosy in African and Indian children, studying the need for a local free health clinic, and current SCHIP legislation. People were moved by the prayers (thank you!), shared freely, and want to continue the tradition of Children's Sabbath."
Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnesota, Wayzata
UUCM made their denomination's policy statement about justice and caring for children available to the congregation, and facts about the status of children were shared in an interactive way during the children's sermon. A local educator addressed the needs of special needs children during the sermon.
"[During the] children's story, ten children came forward. I had them stand up and sit down to reflect poverty statistics and other [facts]. We invited the Superintendent of I.S. District 287 to speak on children's needs, and her focus [was on] special needs children. Reference to SCHIP was made. She showed a short video, "Johnny the Bagger," which portrayed a Down's Syndrome man who made a huge difference at his store, sharing thoughts for the day. HIs generosity multiplied throughout the whole store and into the community. The message: we can all be agents of change and promise.