Children at St. Mark's
Children are formed in the ancient patterns and rituals of Sunday worship, and are welcome here! We find that children absorb the rhythms and power of the liturgy even when they are much too young to know what the words mean!
For those wee ones who enjoy a parallel activity, we provide "Busy bags" with crayons and color pages (often reflecting something from the day's Scripture readings), and such. And those who choose to, regardless of age, enjoy lively participation in liturgical tasks throughout the service.
We don't look to our children as the future of our church—we know they are our church right now, no less than our adult members. And that is reflected in our worship: depending on the child's age and temperament, (s)he may serve as Acolyte, Lector, Chorister, Bell-ringer, Torch-bearer, Music-maker ... there is a place for each one!
We encourage children and their households to join us for our monthly "Welcome Table" Eucharist at 5pm (1st Sundays)—a shorter service with more opportunities for movement and active participation than the Sunday morning service. There may be story-telling and crafts. And afterward there's pizza and ice cream! What's not to love?
At the end of the evening we send home age-appropriate formation info and activities, keyed to one of the marks of Episcopal/Anglican identity, and/or some of the month's Sunday Scripture readings, and/or something from the month's calendar of the church year—because formation happens 24/7.
This just in! "...we now have a large body of longitudinal research that makes it very clear how faith is transmitted across generations. Parents and clergy alike may be surprised to learn that parents are the most significant influence on whether and how their kids grow into a life of faith. Home is where the transmittal of faith happens, and it happens through ordinary life practices, not through preaching, rites of passage, or programs. I hope that the church begins to use this knowledge to strengthen and equip parents. I hope we take advantage of the fact that church is still one of the few places where we intentionally bring people of all ages together, and rejoice in knowing that aside from parental influence, the other two most significant factors that contribute to kids growing into an adult faith are participation in worship and connection to other adults in the faith community," from Wendy Claire Barrie, author of new book Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents. You can read more about the book here.
And—another sample of the sort of material you're likely to find over at "Grow Christians," here's a recent blog post from them about engaging children in the Bible.) You may also find helpful suggestions and resources at Vibrant Faith at Home.
The takeaway in all this, as Barrie reminds us, is home is where the transmittal of faith happens, and the other two most significant factors that contribute to kids growing into an adult faith are participation in worship and connection to other adults in the faith community.
Finally, an experience of immersion in Christian community happens most intensely at a setting such as Camp Cross, the center of our diocese's youth ministry. St. Mark's regards this as so important a piece of faith development that we ensure each of our children have access to Camp Cross, regardless of the family's ability to pay.