We joyfully welcome children and their parents to worship at St. Dunstan’s! There are coloring pages based on today’s lessons available on the way into church, and also in the back of the church in the Quiet Play area around the fireplace. There you’ll also find crayons, dolls, blocks, books, and some good company. Our Nursery is always available for use, but we hope that parents and children alike will feel welcome in our worship services. Young children absorb the language and patterns of our liturgy, even if they don’t seem to be paying attention at all or don’t know what the words mean.
To parents with young children in church, may we suggest:
1. Relax! Many of us present were once children ourselves. More of us are parents and even grandparents. Our Lord commanded us to let the children come to Him, wiggles and all!
2. Find a good spot. Sit where you and your children are most comfortable. Sometimes children like to sit in the front, so they can see and hear what is going on during the service. Sometimes children like to sit where they can watch the musicians up in the loft. Sometimes they like to sit where they can walk up and down the side aisle when their legs get restless.
3. Please participate as you are able – s ing, pray, respond. Children will learn liturgical behavior by following along and copying what you do. At the same time, be at peace with the fact that you might not catch every cue, when you’re worshipping with your child. Your divided attention is a gift to your child, an investment in his or her future as a person of faith. Also, know that it’s okay when kids make a bit of noise and even on occasion have a full-throttle tantrum in church. We expect it, and we won’t give dirty looks if it happens to you.
4. Teach. Explain parts of the service to your children. You can help your children follow along in the worship booklet, and find music in our hymnals. If your child has a question you cannot answer, ask the priest or one of the other worship leaders later.
5. Use the crayons, coloring pages, books, etc.! At the entrances to the Nave and in the Peace Corner, we have crayons, coloring sheets, and children’s books for kids to use during the liturgy.
6. Snacks are OK. If a bag of Goldfish or Cheerios helps a child be present and comfortable, by all means, snack away! Please try to pick up any dropped snacks before you leave; they’re a lot easier to clean up before they get stepped on.
7. Take breaks. Obviously, a screaming child needs a break from the liturgy. It’s perfectly fine to get up and take your child out of the Nave (worship space) at any time they need it. There are chairs and toys in the Meeting Room, at the other end of our main floor, past the kitchen. In nice weather, a walk outside can help too. Our Childcare Helpers, who hang out in the Peace Corner at the back of the Nave, may be able to take your child for a break while you stay in worship.
8. Take a tour. Allowing the children time to explore and learn about the important elements of the sanctuary will relay the importance of entering the sacred space with reverence. If you’d like a guided tour, talk to Rev. Miranda. She loves talking with kids about church.
9. Talk with others. If you feel like your kids are having a difficult time, chat with other parents to ask for their advice after the service at hospitality. There’s a lot of collective wisdom out there!
To the other adults present, may we suggest:
1. Smile. Glares and even unfriendly glances can really hurt. That parent is doing his or her best.
2. Remember those adults in your life who taught you about your faith(assuming you were once a child), and honor their willingness to teach and to welcome you by doing the same for a new generation.
3. Be like Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:21-38): thank God for raising up a new generation of saints in the sight of your eyes!
For any questions, concerns, or ideas about children in worship, talk to Rev. Miranda after church or contact us through the website! And thanks for bringing your kids to church!