Children in Church
Children and youth are a central part of the life of St Paul’s.
At St Paul’s, we believe that the development of a love for God and a sense of belonging as God’s beloved children takes place in a community where children are cherished and nurtured at all levels to grow into the people they were created to be. Our life as a vibrant, intergenerational community is rooted in our Sunday liturgies where all ages gather together for worship. Children are not only welcome in worship; they are a vital part of our worshipping community! Children and parents are encouraged to move around, as necessary, to be comfortable in worship. A variety of books, leaflets, and activity bags are available in both vestibules for children to enjoy.
Babies and toddlers are important members of our worshipping community, too. However, should little ones (or their parents) need a break, we offer nursery care from 8:50 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Sunday. Young children are lovingly cared for in the nursery and toddler rooms by paid staff who are trained in health and safety and enjoy their time with our youngest members of St Paul’s. Silent pagers are available for your use, along with comfortable chairs, changing tables, and plenty of toys. You are welcome to take your little one to childcare at any point during the service you attend. Just ask an usher to point the way.
Childcare is also available for 3-5-year-old children during the 9 and 11 o’clock services. During the 9:00 service, children enjoy supervised play, crafts, and a story before joining the service at the Peace.
All clergy, staff members and volunteers who work with children and youth at St Paul’s are trained in Safeguarding God’s Children, a child abuse awareness and prevention education program offered through the Church Pension Group of the Episcopal Church.
Christian Formation for Children
Godly Play is an interactive and developmentally appropriate model for teaching children in preschool through Grade 3 the stories of our faith and the sacred language used in worship and faith formation. Combining the works of educators Jerome Berryman and Sophia Cavaletti, Godly Play invites children into the biblical story by way of their own life experiences and the natural “work of children” … PLAY.
The Godly Play program recognizes children as spiritual beings who already have a relationship with God. Adults are guides who offer space, tools, and language which help children deepen their already existing relationship with God.
In Godly Play, we trust that given the opportunity, children will bring their own life experiences to the stories of God and will receive what they need. At the heart of a Godly Play session is the telling of the story, experienced in the contexts of both the deep chronology of scripture and the church calendar. The storyteller uses simple, beautiful materials to illustrate the story and to engage imagination. The structure of Godly Play and the classroom itself offer children a safe space to explore, wonder, and worship. “I wonder…” This is the open-ended response from the storyteller whose role is to encourage children to listen to God, ponder, and to grow closer to God.
This thematic and story-based curriculum for children in Grades 4-6, is designed by our St Paul’s team to build community and encourage authentic engagement with the language of faith. In each session, we connect with each other and explore biblical stories through projects that challenge our minds, hearts, and imaginations; we study scripture, we make videos, we practice sign language, we build cities, we take field trips, we play games, we experience God.
Some of the highlights of our program year:
- Performing a skit about St Francis at the Blessing of the Animals service
- Studying the story of Abraham, learning about connections between Abrahamic religions, and visiting an Islamic Mosque.
- Making a video newscast about the Parables
- Building a scale model of the city of Jerusalem
- Producing a shadow-drama about Peter and Jesus
- Organizing a collection of money and food for a local food bank
“Total Chaos,” for short, is our fellowship-focused youth group for 4th-6th graders. Total Chaos meets monthly for fun activities that take us outside of church and provide opportunities to make new friends and develop a deeper sense of community. Check the Children & Youth Ministries Program Calendar to learn about upcoming Total Chaos events.