SUNDAY SCHOOL AND MORE!
Good Shepherd is the home of a vibrant and loving Church Family that treasures children of all ages. Opportunities abound for engagement in education, fellowship, service, and fun. This is truly a place for every generation to learn and grow in Christ, together.
Of course, Sunday School is our most visible offering, but we welcome children to join us in all of our events, even if they do not take part in classes.
Sunday School begins in mid-September, with our last class falling on Father’s Day in June. Class sessions start at 10:15 am; parents of pre-K through grade school children are asked to bring them to the classroom a few minutes early and help them sign in each week. Following the Offertory, the children are brought upstairs, and they process in together. Father Lance encourages everyone except parents to be seated, so that the children can spot where they are (this is supervised by both teachers and our ushers, to help assure that everyone gets where they need to be!)
One important variation on this schedule is that starting in October, the first Sunday of each month is FAMILY SUNDAY—no classes are held as we celebrate families of every age! On these days, all of our youth choirs perform. Parish youths read the Old and New Testament readings from the lectern , and lead us in the Psalms and Prayers of the People. Also, children are invited to serve as ushers (handing out Worship bulletins, bringing up the Sacred Elements, directing folks from their pews to the Altar for Communion. Father Lance gives a special kid-focused homily where he invites “all the children and short adults” to gather at his feet! It is always fun and heartwarming to learn about the Gospel from a child’s perspective!
The schedule of classes and Family Sunday services may vary slightly, generally during Advent and Lent (to accommodate special services that are offered at these times). Please check your Update/Newsletter/website for any changes.
For this year, children are divided into 4 different classrooms: pre-K through 1st, 2nd/3rd, 4th/5th, and mixed middle/ high school. Our demographics are always changing as the children grow–we hope to be able to resume a stand-alone middle school (6-8) class in the fall, and we will also determine in the fall whether there enough children to restore a separate pre-K. We are incredibly blessed to have teachers that are so flexible and adaptable to the needs of our children!
Speaking of teachers…this is an all-volunteer team of creative, warm, and giving folks! While some work with the same class each week, others will “rotate” in to teach once a month or so. We are also grateful to have even more folks who can substitute-teach.
Our curriculum is primarily lectionary based, so most often the children are learning the same Bible lessons that their parents are hearing upstairs. Our teachers also have the flexibility to offer sessions on special themes such as Lent or Advent, or to explore some classic Old Testament stories. A great example: last fall, the grade school-and-under kids gathered together at the beginning of class for several weeks and learned/memorized the Ten Commandments using finger gestures. Later, on a Family Sunday, they heard a homily about Moses from Father Lance, and they then taught the whole congregation the finger gestures!
We use a variety of web-based curriculum resources, especially Sermons 4 Kids (http://www.sermons4kids.com ) and the Episcopal Church’s Lesson Plans that Work (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/lesson-plans ). Feel free to check out these links, and explore what our kids are learning!
Parents are encouraged to sit in on a class if they would like. There are also windows in each classroom so that you can peek in to see how things are going.
If you are visiting, and would like your child to attend Sunday School or Nursery—please let one of our Ushers know (they are on hand to supply church bulletins right outside the Sanctuary)—these folks will help find someone to lead you downstairs to the appropriate classroom for your child.
We always welcome new teachers/subs into the fold. It may seem trite, but our rendition of the old credit card commercial’s motto still rings true: SEEING GOD THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD: “Priceless.”
For young children/families who opt not to attend Sunday School, we have activity bags available in the Narthex (filled with coloring books, crayons, and soft toys to help pass the time). There is also a quiet room available (in the back of the Sanctuary) with a sofa and chairs.
The church library has some fantastic picture books and more that you can borrow (either for the morning, or to take home). Sign-out cards are inside the book-covers, and a little basket sits right by the door to deposit the cards (a bin is on the floor for returned items). This is a hidden gem of our parish. Marilyn Nuffer is our librarian; new items come in regularly, so visit often!
NURSERY CARE is available each week for babies through age 3.
Moreover, we encourage involvement from all our kids through many church-wide events, such as our annual Church Picnic (field games and more after the Eucharist), the Blessing of the Backpacks (September), Lenten Activities Packets, Family Stations of the Cross, and of course our Christmas Pageant!
Children in older elementary grades are invited to consider becoming an Acolyte.
Our church is also blessed with an active and engaging Music program/ministry—youth choirs from 2nd grade through high school, Family Chime Choir, and an inter-generational brass ensemble that performs for special occasions! Your child does not need to be in Sunday School to participate in any of these offerings.
OTHER KID/YOUTH ORIENTED OFFERINGS!
YOUTH GROUP: 6th grade and up. Our gang takes part in many service activities, such as collecting and delivering cookies to both Webster Food Cupboard and Good Shepherd parishioners at Christmas time(caroling as we give them out), hosting our annual parish Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, prepping and selling memorial candles at Christmas and Easter, and more. This past February, we helped collect non-perishable food items for the “Souper Bowl Day of Caring,” and donated them to the Webster Food Cupboard…we are hoping to expand this outreach even further next year! The teens also gather for fun events, like bowling, mini-golf, etc. We have a small group currently, but we expect it to grow again, as the kids grow. All are welcome! Bring a friend!
KIDS’ NIGHT OUT: This is an innovative offering! —Several weekend nights a year, kids gather in the Fellowship Hall for games, crafts, food, or perhaps a video—and their parents get a chance to grab a movie or dinner on their own. This is a win/win scenario: supervised (and free) babysitting, and the kids get a chance to meet and play together in a warm, welcoming environment Here, too, we invite you to share this opportunity with friends! All are welcome!