When considering how to engage families in the story of the resurrection this year, our team wanted to focus on a family activity that respected our current congregational safety guidelines. I happened to be on the launch team for ‘Twas the Morning of Easter by Glenys Nellist and saw that the publisher was offering to send us printable files for a small fee for an Easter story walk. I was immediately drawn to this idea as a way to give families an Easter activity that focused on the resurrection!
To make the walk more engaging, we combined it with an egg hunt, but we wanted to avoid the traditional plastic junk and candy. I consulted the Hope4CE Facebook group for ideas, and one member, Cheryl Moles, suggested “bunny money,” which is fake money that would be used to vote on donations to mission organizations. The team loved this idea, and so our simple plans were complete.
We printed and laminated the story pages and affixed them to reusable corrugated plastic signs to display them in our courtyard. Eggs were filled with “bunny money” (colorful plastic Bible verse coins), along with four prize eggs with a ticket to redeem for a copy of the book. We printed information about the mission organizations that our kids are most familiar with on labels and put them on jars on a table at the end of the walk, along with resurrection story packets to take home. Sidewalk chalk instructions and arrows completed our set up, which ended at the same place as our annual flower cross was displayed.
Based on the social media photos and the number of items, we estimate about forty kids completed the story walk, and their adults loved how it allowed them to focus on the joy of the resurrection and showing Jesus’ love in the world! One of the best parts? At cleanup, we realized that we had not generated any trash! We ended up donating about $200 from our children’s ministry budget to six organizations, which is close to what we would have spent on candy and prizes.
We have deemed this activity a covid-keeper; we developed it to comply with covid safety guidelines but decided that it will be incorporated into our annual Easter opportunities for the children in our congregation.
Our Church Family Moment is another covid-keeper. When we first went online, our senior pastor came up with this idea. In the bulletin, I print a few ways for folks of all ages to engage with the scripture through art, games, journaling, or other activities. One of us presents these ideas during worship along with a short synopsis of one of our scriptures for the day. Although have now begun to worship in person, this brief part of the worship service has quickly become beloved and given worshipers ideas to incorporate into their faith life.
Finally, I have been sending parents an email every Saturday with various resources for them to engage with the scripture at home and a link to my virtual office for the week. I had long wanted to send parents regular communication, but I hesitated to add to their already bursting inboxes with more events and information that was already in the weekly church email. This has given me a great opening to include resources for Christian parents to engage in difficult conversations about events in our world, nation, and community.
The pandemic has been a time of great tragedy and loss, and while I would not use the term “silver linings” for such a terrible cloud as covid, it has given us the opportunity to create new things. While I am excited for us to be able to gather in-person with our congregations again, I am so hopeful that we will have learned new ways of being the church that will stay with us for much longer than the pandemic.