Children and Youth Ministry Update from The Rev. Francesca Fortunato
Dear Park People,
It’s been a busy and exciting Advent and Christmas season with the Park Sunday school community. After our Thanks-giving-and-Receiving Swap Meet Party in November, we were all about preparing to prepare the way for God. (Note: I have always thought of Advent as the season of preparing-to-prepare; there’s so much preparation involved!) In response to the Advent scripture readings and discussions, we did dramatic play to get into the spirit, made Christmas tree ornaments, jingle-bell bracelets (for joyful noise) and Christmas cards to share the season’s love with our dear ones.
On December 23rd, the children stayed in the service, with me and their Sunday school teachers, Ms. Glenda and Ms. Laura, and participated in the festivities, by setting up the manger scene with a snugly tucked-in baby Jesus doll, and by playing percussion instruments during some of the songs. I was very glad that the children had an opportunity to be seen and heard!
On December 30th, we will be getting ready for another Sunday with children participating in the service; Epiphany! We will read and discuss the story of the Magi, and the reasons why they felt called to make the long journey, to offer gifts to the infant Jesus. And…if we went on that journey with them, what sort of gifts would we want to bring? Then, we will make beautiful crowns to wear, in emulation and celebration of those Royal Visitors. The children will be encouraged to make more than one crown, each, so that they can offer crowns to people who don’t have them, when they come to church on Epiphany.
The biggest news from children’s ministry world, at this time, is that the construction has finally progressed to the point where it’s safe for us to be back under the Park Avenue Christian Church roof, after a couple of months in a rented classroom at Regis High School, ‘though our permanent room is not yet ready for us to occupy. On December 24th, the children had their Christmas Eve party in the walkway behind the altar, which is now clean, with new walls and ceilings, and fresh carpet. We can stay there until our room is ready – probably before the end of January.
By the time that most of you read this report, it will be near my first anniversary in the position of Children’s Minister. I started my prep work in the office at the Manse on January 11th 2018, and spent my first Sunday with the children on January 14th. I had been “warned” that there would be a lot of challenges around the use of space, since I was starting at a time of heavy construction work, and, indeed, there were, but there was also so much joy. Children can grow a lot, not just physically, but intellectually, creatively, and spiritually, in a single year. I’ve been blessed to witness all of these kinds of growth, in our loving and close-knit community, and my delight in the children is constant, along with my pride in their kindness and eagerness to be of service.
I hope that all of you have had joyful and inspiring Christmas celebrations, in church, and with loved-ones. After spending the morning of 12/24 with the Park Sunday school children, I went to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with my wife,The Rev. Lynn Walker, and my dear friend, The Rev. Valerie Logue, to lead a Christmas Eve service for my parish at the Saint Nicholas Assisted Living Home, where I have been a Chaplain since 2010. On Christmas morning, Lynn and I went to Warwick, New York, where we attended church with our nephew, Paul, and then went out for a festive Christmas lunch with him. Now, I am back to my dance and fitness teaching work (yes, I taught a class on Boxing Day, ‘though I don’t teach boxing) and preparing my Sunday school curriculum for January.
Blessings and joy to you!
Rev. Francesca Fortunato: Children’s Minister