This is an update written for those with children in our children’s church program, but it is good information to share. If you are interested in volunteering as a teacher, please find Reverend Darren at church.
I hope this finds you wonderfully inspired, and ready for this beautiful autumn weather. I know I am ready for the shift in seasons and the slowing down of summer’s busyness. I wish we could have that without the snow that will surely follow, but for now we can enjoy the amazing fall foliage.
As you know, I’ve recently stepped into the role of Children’s Church Minister. After many years, Reverend Heidi decided that she was ready to take her ministry in different directions, for now. In the time since I’ve started spending time with the children, we’ve worked on a few foundational ideas as part of this transition that I would like to share with you.
We started by making it very explicit to the children that things might be different with a new person, and so I asked them every Sunday what they would like to do to get things started. This allowed them to teach me what they want the time to look like. They have kept a lot of things the same. We start some Sundays with a little meditation time, and every Sunday we have prayer. Everyone in the classroom offers up prayer requests before we start, and those are the things for which we pray. We follow that by a story, generally, and some kind of art project that ties to the story.
My favorite craft so far has been face painting. It was Nick’s idea. He suggested that the children all draw how they would like their faces to be painted, and that the adults then make it happen for them. I chose to use the book Old Turtle in connection with the activity. If you haven’t read it, please feel free to stop by the room to borrow it. It’s a great story. In it, many animals describe God as being like themselves and then like other animals. I asked the children to pick an animal that has characteristics that they have or would like to develop, and then to write those down and draw how they would like their faces to be painted like those animals. Heather and I then painted their faces as directed. It was a super fun day!
Beyond projects and activities like this, we’ve been looking at creating a new altar space in the room that reflects who we are as a group and that engages the children in creating it. Some of them have also started an altar of sorts at home. We began by talking about what it means to offer a blessing. We changed glue into a rubbery mass with a little science, and talked about how blessings change things as well, though not always so obviously. We talked about blessing people and blessing objects. We are going to be looking at nature, and how we find the sacred in the world as well.
Most recently, we’ve been studying the book Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?. It’s a great book! We’re using it for several weeks, and this is why I’m writing you now. The story tells us that everyone has an invisible bucket that they carry with them everyday. Sometimes we fill other people’s buckets and they fill ours by doing nice things, saying kind words, or offering reassurance. Other times, people dip from each other’s buckets by putting others down, making fun of them, or ignoring them. The children really seem to get this book in a deep way. We’ve been asking everyone when they or others around them have filled the buckets of others. We would like to extend this by asking them to keep an eye out for times to fill buckets and to catch others doing the same during the week. While they get the concept in an abstract way quite easily, this is, I hope, going to help them know in very real ways, how to fill others’ buckets.
This will go better with your help! We would like for you to take the time to ask the children from class who are in your life to journal about this. If they aren’t yet writers, please help them make a record if writing is what they would prefer. They can also draw, collage, or use any other expression that suits them. Then, on Sunday mornings, we’ll talk about what they’ve done through the week.
I’m really excited for the time I’ll serve the children of The Church Within. Thank you for letting me be a part of this amazing ministry!
Reverend Darren Chittick