As I’ve been getting to know everyone and talking with you all about WUUC, one topic has come up from many different people in various ways; children’s participation in Sunday services. I think the most important thing to remember is that the presence of children in our church is a gift. They are a reminder that our congregation is growing, and children are the future of our church. It can be a challenge to integrate children into our services when we aren’t used to it. If you need some ideas on what you can do, there are yellow cards in the foyer of the church with suggestions for interacting with children in our sanctuary. A few items from these cards include:
- Be patient with noises and movement.
- Welcome children and give a smile of encouragement to their parents.
- Know where the activity materials are and feel free to offer them to children
For the Parents of Young Children:
- Relax! Mother Nature put the wiggle in children; don’t feel you have to suppress it in our church. All are welcome!
- Sit toward the front where it is easier for your little ones to see and hear what is going on. They tire of seeing the backs of others’ heads.
- Sing the hymns, pray and voice the responses. Children learn liturgical behavior by copying you.
Note that during our monthly multigenerational services, we offer an activity table at the front of the sanctuary. We are grateful for our Spirit Play teachers for providing activities and sitting with the children at the table. However, if a child needs to leave the sanctuary to go to the restroom, or if they are having difficulty regulating their behavior or emotions at the activity table, they will be sent back to their parents for assistance. If you have to leave the sanctuary with your child, please feel free to do so. But if you can, please come back. We believe children belong in holy spaces.
Keep in mind that the way we welcome and interact with children directly affects the way they respond to church, to the divine and to one another. In my short time here, I have been impressed with how WUUC includes children in all aspects of congregational life, and I look forward to continuing this work with you.