By: Priscilla Andre-Colton
About two years ago we had a group of adults exploring faith practices using Dorothy C. Bass’ book Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People. They were thoroughly enjoying learning new ways to experience God’s presence in their everyday lives. One mom commented, “I wish we could do something like this with our children.” It got me thinking and searching.
Then I discovered Living Well: Christian Practices for Everyday Life, edited by John Roberto. It was exactly the resource I needed to work from to develop a series of workshops for our children. I pulled together a team of people, some of them from the adult class, and we went to work. Our Sunday morning schedule gave us the five Sundays following Easter to implement our plans. We chose five “practices” (there are twelve in the book) to create workshops for our children. They were all practices that the adults had examined in their study.
This is an outline of what we did.
Caring for the Body In this workshop we talked about Jesus coming in a real human body. We talked about our bodies being created by God and how everything God created is good—it says so in Genesis! We invited two yoga instructors from our congregation to lead the children in yoga exercises. Woven into their conversation was thanksgiving for how wonderfully God has created our bodies and the challenge to take care of these wonderful gifts we have been given.
Eating Well In this workshop we talked about how we eat, when we eat, with whom we eat, and how we get our food. We invited a nutritionist from our congregation to come and talk with the children about food–what’s good for us and what isn’t good for us, where food comes from, and how to prepare food. She then provided all the ingredients for a healthy bean salad and had the children make and enjoy it together.
Participating in Community In this workshop we invited members of our church’s Service and Justice Ministry to come and talk about the variety of ways our church reaches out and serves the wider community. Then the children decorated and packed “go bags” for our homeless breakfast program.
Praying In this workshop we looked at prayers in the Bible, drawing from the Psalms, the Lord’s Prayer, and Paul’s letters. The activities we chose came from Sybil MacBeth’s Praying in Color, Kid’s Edition. The children practiced three ways of praying: they used the clock prayer (examen for children); they made prayer gloves for the five-finger prayer; and they created doodle prayers.
Celebrating Life This workshop happened to land on Pentecost, so we had great fun planning a party to celebrate all the moments and events and milestones in our lives. We created a photo gallery of pictures from baptisms and communion, weddings and driver’s licenses, first day of school and graduation, birthdays and moving days, and all the liturgical seasons. The children decorated cupcakes and banners, and we finished with a brief ceremony promoting our fifth graders into the youth program. Quite spontaneously the children initiated a “popcorn” prayer to close out the series.
Priscilla Andre-Colton is a certified Christian Educator in the PC (USA), serving the Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, VA. She previously served churches in Pittsburgh, PA and Jacksonville, FL. She is currently secretary for APCE.