Children and Youth Ministry Update from Rev. Francesca Fortunato

April 3rd,2020 Categories: Latest News
Dear Park People,
It is my practice, at the end of each month, to write a report summarizing the month-that-was, in our children’s ministry community. As I strive to summarize March 2020, I will be very intentionally seeking the “silver linings,” in what has been, for most children and adults – not only in this community, but our city, state, and country – a month of intense challenge and change.

As March began, we had just become fully aware of the extent of Covid-19 dangers, and the necessity of altering our behavior, for the health and safety of all. We were practicing social distancing, under the church roof, by staying 6 feet apart, refraining from touching each other, and doing extra washing/sanitizing.

As March went on, we realized that, in order to model best practices, we needed to take our ministries entirely online. What that has meant for the children’s ministry community, is that we are having children’s worship and Sunday school by Zoom Meeting. For me, that meant learning to use an online resource that I had no experience using. Stephanie Wilson was very patient and kind about teaching me, and, though we had some glitches early on, the technological issues seem to be solved, at this point.

For the children and their parents, it has also been necessary to learn some new things, in order to make Zoom work for us, as a community. The children are learning how to keep themselves (and anything they want the rest of us to see) in frame. They are learning how to take turns talking, so that everyone can be seen and heard (something that’s good for in-person groups, as well, but is absolutely necessary when meeting online). There are things we can’t do, when we’re all seated at computers (the dancing and active play that had been incorporated into Sunday school lessons are not possible in this format) but, for the most part, we are continuing the Park Sunday school traditions. We light electric candles and pray/sing our children’s liturgy. We read our Bible stories and discuss them, as the principles relate to our lives. And (perhaps most importantly) we share our experiences, feelings, and hopes, as we continue to build strong friendships, even from a distance.

As we have gotten used to using Zoom, attendance in Sunday school has actually grown (one of those “silver linings,”) because a few children who had moved too far away to make attendance at the church easy, have been able to return to Sunday school online. There are also some other really cool things about meeting virtually. Last Sunday, after I took out my children’s illustrated Bible, a couple of children decided to show me their own bibles! One child showed the rest of  us his artwork, taped to his bedroom door. And the children all got to meet my youngest cat, George, who decided to climb up on the table next to the computer, during our time together!

This week, the children will be making paper palm fronds (thanks to Rev. Stephanie, for her wonderful instructional video) to wave during our Palm Sunday worship. Going forward, I will continue to think, pray, and strive for ways to keep the church experience engaging and inspiring for the children, as we celebrate Easter, and the whole resurrection season.

The picture illustrating this report is from one of the Easter activities that the children were given to do, at Easter 2019. It expresses, for me, a hope for the simple joys of church life, with our wonderful children. God and Love; inseparable and ineffable, yet utterly real, and all-pervasive.

Blessings and well wishes, hopes and prayers for all of us!
Rev. Francesca Maria (Miriam): Children’s Minister