This past Sunday members of St. Paul’s Children’s Ministry held its first Children and Family Eucharist. The service was held in our parking lot and each family unit was invited and required (I grant that sounds less hospitable) to sit together in their own circle. We sang lively songs in rounds and played various percussion instruments as we sang. I admit that the cicadas were often louder than we were, but they only added to our joyful noise. One of my favorite pieces of this service was inviting each child and their parents to name aloud the people and things they wanted to be praying for in the week ahead. As school was beginning for most this past week many anxieties and excitements were named around the start of a new school year. One child even asked prayers for those who will feel the weight of the disparities found in our education system; something I ask you all to keep in your prayers as COVID-19 has only magnified them.
During this time of social distancing we have been blessed again and again with resources to incorporate our wider community of faith into our worship. A generous gift made possible the purchase of a camera with live-streaming capabilities for our Sunday morning services to be brought to you in the safety of your own home. On August 2nd we began again administering the Holy Sacrament in one kind. In conjunction we continue to commission our Lay Eucharistic Visitors to serve small groups of those desiring to receive communion, have social distanced fellowship in prayer and reflection at this time. We have been able to pray the offices of Morning Prayer and Compline together on Tuesdays and Thursdays via Zoom and several dinner groups and book study groups have continued to organize social gatherings using this technology as well. Our music program offered Friday concerts and will begin streaming concerts in the fall with our very own Richard Rhodes to kick things off on September 18th.
So as Summer draws to a close and a new school year with new realities is upon us we began asking ourselves how best to minister to our children and families. Knowing that children’s learning will almost entirely be virtual to begin the school year we wondered how best to engage kids in worship and formation safely, creatively, and in person. The Children and Family Eucharist, which incorporates elements of Children’s Sunday formation, was organized out of this desire to provide an alternative to a digital model.
For the time being we are stressing that this is a children’s service with children focused components. You are invited. We hope that this childlike service will speak to all who feel moved to attend. Please RSVP using this link . As we continue to explore this ministry with our children as well as faithfully walk the new terrain we find ourselves in we will continue to discern and experiment with new ways of being Church in our communities and with one another. I ask that we each continue to hold one another in prayer and that we pray especially for children, parents and teachers in the weeks and months ahead.
Rev’d Adam Pierce