Brand new hymnal for children & their families

Over the past year, a number of church members and staff have worked very hard to publish a children’s hymnal. The finished product, Sing to God: A Hymnal for Children and Their Families, has been published and has arrived from the printer.   The hymnal features over 70 hymns in a variety of styles – tunes familiar to our congregation, Sunday School hymns, and even two original “books of the Bible” songs by Jerry Monds. The hymnal also features beautiful illustrations by three artists from our congregation: Leslee Bechtel, Ansley Black, and Carey Haynes. The hymnals will be presented by the Children’s Ministry as a milestone for four-year-olds on Sunday, August 27 and annually after that; they will also be available for purchase in the FPC Bookstore beginning in September.

 

Breakfast for Parents on August 20!

Sunday, August 20, is Kick-Off for your child(ren)s’ Sunday School group.   We ask that parents escort their children to their group’s meeting room on this Kick-Off day and offer a hello/thanks to the great group of leaders who will be journeying with your child for the next 10 months.  THEN…….

Starting at 10:00 A.M. we are hosting a breakfast for parents in Courtenay Hall.   You’ll have time to visit with friends, make new friends, and enjoy Kim’s great cooking.

Groups for ages 3 through 6th grade study the Bible together and grow as disciples as they pray, serve, play, and care for each other.   Babies and toddlers have a fun time in our loving Nursery playing and hearing a Bible story, too.

The Sunday School hour for children is 9:45-10:45 A.M.   Families will receive an e-mail with their child’s group and room assignment prior to August 20.

Relationships matter!  

Faith is caught more than it is taught.  

Creating a Lenten Prayer Space at Home

In a family with small children, how do you create the space to journey through Lent in a developmentally appropriate way? Our family has tried different practices and readings through Lent, but the one thing has been constant in our Lenten practices: creating a collection of symbolic items in a central place in the home (i.e. on the family table or on a stand in a main living area). As my boys grow and our family changes, this sacred space changes.  Items I always include are a candle, a cross, an empty bowl to represent fasting, a scripture passage and/or prayer, and a small Bible. All of these items are placed on a purple cloth. We’ve also included a poem, art postcard or alms tin some years.

These items are helpful as talking points with children. They serve as a guide to other disciplines you choose to take on as a family. As you explore and explain the items, children wonder in ways that also help you to journey through Lent together. A variety of items, and giving room for questions and conversation, allows for differentiation in meeting everyone’s needs and understandings.

Candle: Always a symbol of God’s presence with us. I often say as I light the candle, “We light the candle to remind us that God is with us in this place, at this time.”

The purple cloth: For children who traveled through advent, the purple of lent will be familiar as a color for a time of waiting. Use a circle calendar of the church year to show the children that we are in Lent, waiting for the great feast of Easter.

An empty bowl: Explain that we fast so that we have more time or energy to remember to talk to God during Lent. We are getting ready for the great mystery of Easter. Older children can be encouraged to write down something they want to fast from and place the paper in the bowl.

A scripture, poem and/or prayer: This can be written on cards that can be read liturgically (we’ve found every night at dinner works well for our rhythm). The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 is a wonderful image to meditate on with young children.

Cross: Take time to look at the cross together and talk about the crucifixion and the resurrection. The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith and Peter’s First Easter by Walter Wangerin Jr. are both wonderful retellings of the events of Holy Week to share as a family as you ponder the cross.

 

Post written by Emily Watkins on February 9, 2015. Shared by Building Faith. Click here to view the original blog post.

Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18th

1. Create a space for your family to gather for your Advent devotions. Set out an Advent Wreath or Christ candle to light when you gather.

2. Sing/Listen to or read the hymn “O Come, O Come EmmanuelYou can find the lyrics of this hymn printed in your family’s Advent devotional booklet. There are many versions of this hymn; here are a few your family may enjoy listening to:

Piano Guys (instrumental)
BYU Vocal Point (Acapella)
Francesca Battistelli
Traditional Choir
House of Heroes; (punk rock flair)

3. Pray, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. We are still waiting for you. (insert the verse for the day) May you, O Lord, turn all sorrow into joy. May our souls rejoice at your appearing. May we magnify you as we sing. And may all the world be glad at the light of your presence. (pray the refrain in unison) Come, Lord Jesus. Be our light in the darkness. And may we come before your presence with a song. For you are our light and our salvation, and to you we lift our voices in prayer and thanksgiving, now and always. Amen.”

4. Prepare for the Week. As a family, choose and review the Acts of Service you have committed to do during this season. Remember and celebrate what you did last week, and then prepare for what you have chosen to do this week. We also encourage you to review the prayers on your gift tags as you gather during the week.

Third Sunday of Advent, December 11th

1. Create a space for your family to gather for your Advent devotions. Set out an Advent Wreath or Christ candle to light when you gather.

2. Sing/Listen to or read the hymn My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful ShoutYou can find the lyrics of this hymn printed in your family’s Advent devotional booklet. There are many versions of this hymn; here are a few your family may enjoy listening to:

Hesston Mennonite Church Choir
Goshen College Chamber Choir
Rory Cooney (Folky Version)

3. Pray, “Open our eyes to both the beauty and the ugliness in our world. Open our ears to the cries of our sisters and brothers in every place. Open our hands to do your work in the world. Open our hearts to feel the pain and joy, the discouragement and hope of all who long for freedom and peace and justice. Open us, today and every day, we pray. “He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good – tears gone, crying gone, pain gone – all the first order of things gone.” (Revelation 21:4) Amen.”

4. Prepare for the Week. As a family, choose and review the Acts of Service you have committed to do during this season. Remember and celebrate what you did last week, and then prepare for what you have chosen to do this week. We also encourage you to review the prayers on your gift tags as you gather during the week.

Second Sunday of Advent, December 4th

1. Create a space for your family to gather for your Advent devotions. Set out an Advent Wreath or Christ candle to light when you gather.

2. Sing/Listen to or read the hymn “Come Now, O Prince of PeaceYou can find the lyrics of this hymn printed in your family’s Advent devotional booklet. There are many versions of this hymn; here are a few your family may enjoy listening to:

Multicultural Version (English & Korean)
All English Version

3. Pray, “Dear Lord, we are grateful that your thoughts are not our thoughts, or that our ways are your ways. (say refrain in unison) Your ways are so much higher than ours. You make the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and they do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater. (say refrain in unison) Your Word goes out and it does not return empty; it accomplishes all that you desire.

Help us to be humble peacemakers who trust in you.  (say refrain in unison) Free us from worry, fear, anger, grief, and other distractions so we can be your joy-filled helpers spreading peace and wholeness in all of your creation. (say refrain in unison)

“For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12) (say refrain in unison). Amen.”

4. Prepare for the Week. As a family, choose and review the Acts of Service you have committed to do during this season. Remember and celebrate what you did last week, and then prepare for what you have chosen to do this week. We also encourage you to review the prayers on your gift tags as you gather during the week.

First Sunday of Advent, November 27th

1. Create a space for your family to gather for your Advent devotions. Set out an Advent Wreath or Christ candle to light when you gather.

2. Sing/Listen to or read the hymn “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” You can find the lyrics of this hymn printed in your family’s Advent devotional booklet. There are many versions of this hymn; here are a few your family may enjoy listening to:
Chris Tomlin & Christy Nockels
Fernando Ortega
The Choir of St John’s College Chapel

3. Pray, “Gracious God, as we wait with anticipation for the birth of Jesus, help us to open our eyes to see your presence and to work for wholeness and healing. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to care, and the strength to work toward your beloved kingdom of grace and mercy. Help us to shout with joy when we see your presence! Remind us, O God, that your kingdom is on the way and will come right on time. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Amen.”

4. Prepare for the Week. Decide where to hang the prayer gift tags this season (ex. Christmas tree, clipped onto a string on the wall, hung on tree branches used as your dinner table centerpiece, etc.).  As a family, review the Acts of Service opportunities on the enclosed sheet. You may wish to cut them apart, place in a container and choose one action to do whenever you’re gathered. Or, you may wish to select the most do-able ones for your family, and commit to those during the season.

 

Practicing Thanksgiving: Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Over the years, Building Faith has published many articles about Thanksgiving. Below you will find some of their favorites. From at-home activities, to the history and meaning of Thanksgiving, you are sure to find something helpful for you and your family. We believe that gratitude is one of the most important attitudes to practice and to teach young people. All our best to you as you thank God for the many blessings in your life.


Thanksgiving Context & Culture: This brief article, from the Living the Good News curriculum, is a treasure trove of information about the origins of Thanksgiving. Additionally, the authors explain the clear connections to the Christians faith and why giving thanks is a key component of Christianity.

10 Thanksgiving Prayers & Table Graces: Looking for that perfect prayer to say around the Thanksgiving table? We’ve assembled ten options, ranging from traditional to contemporary… simple to creative. You might even wish to print these out and share.

5 Thanksgiving Gratitude Crafts: Charlotte Hand Greeson offers five crafts with themes of gratitude. Some of these are familiar, and all of them can be found online. The key, however, is Charlotte’s advice about using the crafts to inculcate gratitude. Indeed, it’s not about the craft, but about the conversation and lessons that the craft brings forth.

Thanksgiving Litanies: For churches or faith communities looking for suggestions for Thanksgiving worship, this post is a real winner. You will find two litanies (extended call and response prayers) that capture the importance of the season and help us give thanks for all of God’s blessings.

Thanksgiving Activities for Church & Family: Sharon Ely Pearson offers brilliant ideas for getting into the Thanksgiving spirit. All of these options are adaptable, and most could be used in a variety of settings: church, home, classroom, etc. Most helpful is the way that these activities draw focus to God and gratitude for God’s blessings and care.

11 Ways to Practice Gratitude with Kids: Brook Packard offers brilliant ideas for year-round activities that teach and model gratitude for children. From a ‘gratitude song book’ to an intentional process of giving items away, these simple practices are fun, intergenerational, and helpful.

Prayer Sticks: A Holy Home Activity: This is another year-round activity, but perfect for Thanksgiving. The idea is simple: take a jar and fill it with popsicle sticks (craft sticks) each labled with a prayer intention. By keeping the jar on your meal-time table, you can introduce prayer and gratitude into the rhythm of household life.

100 Things Your Child Should Know Before Confirmation – The Miracles of Jesus

Rebecca Kirkpatrick is an ordained pastor in the PC(USA) and has written an interesting blog called called “Bread, Not Stones” from her experiences teaching the Confirmation Class at her local church.  She has also published a new book, “100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation.”  It’s worth reading!

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be re-posting her blog posts for you as she tackles the privilege of guiding our children into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. May her thoughts, your coaching, and your child’s active participation with their FPC Sunday School small group work together to raise your child to be a faithful follower of our Lord!


Often when we teach the stories of the miraculous works of Jesus Christ from the gospels, both teachers and students get caught up in the plausibility or the probability of each one. We try to figure out how you fillet a fish into that many parts rather than trying to find the meaning behind a story of abundance.

Confirmation is the perfect time to really wrestle with the miraculous moments in scripture – especially those done at the hands (and feet) of Jesus. When students have been taught the stories of Jesus’ miracles as younger children, they have had time to integrate the details into their understanding of who Jesus was. In Confirmation they can then wrestle with their faith in Jesus as a miracle worker and the question of what they can do when the miracles seem too hard to believe.

Can you believe in Jesus without believing in miracles?  For some the answer will be yes. For some it will be no. For some students this will not be a pivotal moment in their year of discernment, but for others this may be the lynch pin that helps them make an informed decision about their faith. These conversations require time to be devoted to this deep exploration and practice in struggling with our faith. This is why it is vital that all students come ready to have these conversations and knowing the following stories from all four of the gospels.

51. Feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:30-44)
52. Walking on Water (Matthew 14:22-23)
53. The Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45)
54. Water into Wine (John 2:1-11)
55. The Healing of the Paralytic (Luke 5:17-26)

Click here to read the full blog post.

100 Things Your Child Should Know Before Confirmation – The Parables of Jesus

Rebecca Kirkpatrick is an ordained pastor in the PC(USA) and has written an interesting blog called called “Bread, Not Stones” from her experiences teaching the Confirmation Class at her local church.  She has also published a new book, “100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation.”  It’s worth reading!

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be re-posting her blog posts for you as she tackles the privilege of guiding our children into a deeper, more trusting relationship with Jesus Christ. May her thoughts, your coaching, and your child’s active participation with their FPC Sunday School small group work together to raise your child to be a faithful follower of our Lord!


It was a conversation on the parables that first brought to my attention the possibility that students were not as prepared for Confirmation Class as I had hoped they would be. It was my very first class, and I was in my very first year of ordained ministry. We must have been talking about the New Testament or about the Gospels, and I asked if anyone could tell us the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Silence.

“Has anyone heard the story before, but just can’t tell it to us?”

Silence.

“Does the phrase ‘good Samaritan’ mean anything to anyone?” Hands finally went up in the air, and they explained that this is how you describe helping someone out, being nice to someone in need, going out of your way. They even knew about “good Samaritan laws” that reduce the liability of those who stop to help strangers in need. But none of them could describe the actual Parable of the Good Samaritan.

That was ten years ago. Just last week I had yet another variation on that experience as I prepared our Middle Schoolers to spend a year learning about and exploring the parables of Jesus. So below, in my ongoing series on the things that students should bring with them to Confirmation Class, are five iconic parables. We should not only tell these to our children, but also teach them to recognize them as important pieces of the message of the Gospel.

46. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
47. The Lost Sheep and Coin (Luke 15:1-10)
48. The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
49. The Sower (Matthew 13:1-9)
50. The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13: 31-32)

Click here to read the full blog post.

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