Children's Sabbath focus is justice
Many churches have a tradition of Youth Sundays where young people take leadership roles in the day, and of Children’s Day, when we celebrate children. The National Observance of Children’s Sabbath shares some elements of these occasions—providing opportunities for young people to participate in the leadership and giving thanks for the blessing of children. However, the Children’s Sabbath is unique in that all ages are involved in the leadership, it focuses on serious problems facing children and our call to respond faithfully to work for solutions , and it is a multi-faith event that engages places of worship across region, religion, and race to unite as a strong voice speaking out for justice. So even if your church already celebrates Youth Sundays and/or Children’s Day, participating in the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths will make a difference.
Most Children’s Sabbaths take place in a congregation during its customary worship and education time. Methodist congregations have been long-time participants in the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths. Here are just a few examples of how Methodist congregations joined the celebration last year:
- Memorial United Methodist Church in Thomasville, N.C., collected items for Thomasville Primary School as part of their Children’s Sabbath. They also planned worship using resources from the Children’s Sabbath including Prayers of the People and an Act of Commitment.
- Bon Air United Methodist Church, Richmond, Va., joined the celebration of the National Observance of Children’s Sabbath. Their speaker for the service was the Director of Communities in Schools for Chesterfield County. Families from Bon View School for Early Childhood Education, an NAC accredited ministry of the church, were especially invited to the service.
- The West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church encourages congregations celebrating Children’s Sabbath to make it an “Undie Sunday” by collecting new underwear to be distributed by the clothing closets of various mission projects.
- Wesley United Methodist Church in Morgantown, W.V., made the Morgantown Ronald MacDonald House the focus of their Children’s Sabbath caring response. They set a goal of filling the sanctuary with balloons on the Children’s Sabbath, with each balloon signifying a donation to the Ronald MacDonald House in honor or memory of someone.
- First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge, Tenn., the children drew covers for the bulletin, helped lead worship, 3rd graders received Bibles, and sang. Two weeks before the Children’s Sabbath they held a Pizza and Planning Party for the children to provide a fun and festive opportunity for children to learn about the roles they could play in the day and prepare for leadership.
- At Dallas United Methodist Church in Dallas, Tex., the children’s choir sang and there was a special skit involving the children. Their on-going efforts for children included providing a “Foster Parents Night Out” to give foster parents a break while the children were “happily entertained with Wii games, a Halloween cookie decorating contest,” and more.
It’s not too late to plan to participate in the 2012 Children’s Sabbath! Free, easy-to-use resources may be downloaded from www.childrensdefense.org. There you will find all that you need, including planning steps, promotion ideas, and suggested actions for all faiths. For the first time, two Powerpoint resources are included, combining images of children with words to provide a moving experience in the service of worship or in another setting.
Whether you participate on the designated weekend, joining with thousands all across our nation, or plan your Children’s Sabbath for a later date, don’t miss this opportunity to lift a faithful voice of concern and commitment as we pursue justice for children and families in poverty with urgency and persistence.