Worship Services & Saint Mark Children
ALL children – of any age – are welcome in and encouraged to be present at worship services, either at 9:00 a.m. or at 11:15 a.m.
During both services, there is a “children’s time,” an opportunity for children of all ages to come to the front and interact with the Children’s Minister or another adult in an abbreviated message, usually based on the lectionary readings for that Sunday. Children who are not yet in Kindergarten or younger may be taken to the infant, toddler, or preschool nurseries immediately following the Children’s Time in the service. Please see the pages on “How To Help Your Child Get the Most Out of Worship” for opportunities for children who are in Kindergarten and older to learn about and participate in worship services.
For both worship services, there is a Children’s Worship Table. The table has Worship Bags with crayons, colored pencils, clipboards, pipe cleaners, and a teddy bear to keep your child involved during the service. PLEASE RETURN the Worship Bags, teddy bears, crayons, and clipboards to the table immediately after the service. (You may explain to your child that the teddy bears “live” here, but will be waiting for them again next Sunday!) Also, in the Children’s area on the first floor, there is a Reading and Meditation Room (Room 112) with books children may borrow to use during the service. Please make sure your child returns any borrowed books to Room 112 after the service.
In the pew racks, you will find a brochure, Making Room for Children in Church. This is a guide to assist you in teaching your child about worship and in helping your child feel welcome at worship service.
On the first Sunday of each month (and at other times, according to the liturgical cycle), Holy Communion is a part of the worship service. EVERY child is invited to participate in this service with his/her grown-ups. Parents who want to include their youngest children in this sacrament are asked to quietly leave the service prior to the "Great Thanksgiving" section of the liturgy, and pick their child up from the nursery and return to the sanctuary. Read more about your child participating in Holy Communion.
Help Your Child Get the Most
from the Worship Service
The Children’s Council and the Worship Staff encourage full inclusion of children in all worship services of Saint Mark. If your child is especially disturbed by changes and transitions, let the Children’s Minister know so we can make accommodations, when possible, for his/her comfort. We want your input and evaluation of the methods and opportunities used to make our worship services accessible for all ages. In the fall, there will be opportunities to learn more about our philosophy of Children in Worship discover, including a "Worship Readiness" session for Kindergarteners and their grown-ups. Please be attentive when these opportunities are publicized and make efforts to attend.
Here are some tips for helping your child participate in the worship service: .
- Enter the Sanctuary as a family. Introduce your child to the adults you greet. This helps your child know that he or she is a part of the worshipping community.
- Sit near the front so your child can see easily. Children tend to pay better attention and to participate more the closer they are to the front.
- There is a special edition of the worship bulletin made available each Sunday – usually, this is printed on blue paper. This child’s version of the worship bulletin includes explanations of each part of the service. Before the service begins, take a few minutes with your child to look over the order of worship in the bulletin. Comment on one or two things – unfamiliar or difficult terms, what the child should do at certain times, why an item is included, what meaning an item has for you, etc.
- Encourage your child to follow the order of the service. Ask your child to locate and read over the hymns ahead of time in order to identify unfamiliar words and phrases.
- There also are a few copies of “A Children’s Guide to Worship” on the table. Please feel free to borrow these to use during the service and to help explain “what we are doing now” to your child. And please return the book to the Worship Table after the service.
- Share your hymnal, bulletin, and Bible with your child.
- During the time when participants are invited to greet one another, introduce your child to the people you greet.
- Before the service each week, ask your child to be listening for something that answers the questions, “What do you learn about God? “ and “What do you learn about how God wants us to act?”
- Encourage your child to draw or color or read a book of his or her choice during the parts of the service when everyone is sitting. There are books on the Children’s Worship Table that a child can choose from, if he or she doesn’t bring a personal book.
- Encourage your child to volunteer for worship leadership roles appropriate for children, such as acolyte, greeter, usher, reader, and to participate in processionals on certain Sundays. Throughout the year, there will be training opportunities available for children who wish to serve in any worship leadership roles.