Friends, it is simply a strange year. We are all doing things differently in every area of our lives—home, work, recreation, hobbies, extended family, volunteering, and, of course, church. Each of us brings different perspectives to the table, and our life situations mean that one family’s choices may not be practical or even desired for another family. As a result, coming up with a plan for church for this fall has been much more challenging than usual. Our working assumptions have been:
- A cornerstone of our faith is hearing, knowing, and delving into the stories. Our primary goal is to help your family deepen your relationship with Christ, and build a faith foundation for your children.
- Community and connections are important. We grieve that we cannot be together, and we are excitedly awaiting when we can be together again. In the meantime, we are building into our schedule time to gather virtually (for families, for children, for parents, and one-on-one as is helpful).
- Families’ lives are filled with many moving parts. We want to find natural ways for faith to infuse your daily life and daily practices—not create busy work or onerous activities.
- We know right now that our plans will not replace what we loved about Sunday School, nor will they be the right fit for everyone, but we hope that we can work together with families to partner in faith formation (for example, I am writing this article with one eye on the clock because I have a facetime call with a preschooler that I regularly connect with after her mom saw my offer, and emailed me to set up some calls).
A last thought before sharing an outline of our plan: one of the last gatherings we had prior to the COVID shutdown was a discussion with parents about the future of Qabats. I shared survey results of families’ perspectives as well as some of the history of mid-week programming at Third Church. At the end I asked, “If you were to create a program from scratch for the children of Third Church, what would it look like?” I keep coming back to that question, for both mid-week and Sunday morning, and I realize that the pandemic may offer us that very opportunity. What would you create for children? It is very possible that once we are living free of the constraints of the pandemic we will want to continue to minister in the tried-and-true ways that we all love. It is also possible that a new way will make itself known. I hope that we can be Spirit-led in faithfully paying attention to what new thing might be blooming around us in forming faithful Christians.
Sunday School, 2020-2021
Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible Curriculum
We are so excited to be taking part in this brand new Bible Curriculum developed by Presbyterian Publishing Corporation! This multi-age, flexible, story-based curriculum uses the Growing in God’s Love Children’s Story Bible, published in 2018. The lessons are adaptable to be taught in a variety of formats, and can be used in both virtual and in-person classes. As most families know by now, we will provide a Bible for each family to have in their home. A detailed letter will be sent the first week in September, but the basics are as follows:
- Sunday, 10:00-10:30am: Virtual Gathering via Google Meet for children or entire families to hear about our theme for the week, to hear a teaser of the story, and to have some connection time
- Monday morning: posting of information for the week to go along with the ‘lesson,’ including a brief outline of the story for families that would like to do more on their own, a video of the story being read and even some sing-along songs and activities aimed specifically at toddlers and young children.
- Wednesday, 5:30pm: Virtual Junior Choir with Associate Director of Music James Kealey, which will include music games and skills, community-building activities and a weekly check-in. Junior Choir will also be working on preparing a virtual choir piece to be presented during online worship in the coming months.
- Thursday, 9:00-9:30pm: Parent Check-In with Becky and James. This will be a very informal time for community-building among parents as well as time for questions and discussion around the week’s Bible story.