Sunday School News by Rev. Francesca Fortunato: Children and Youth Ministry Leader
Second half of January 2018
I am delighted to have begun my children’s ministry journey with The Park! My first Sunday with the children was January 14th, and, on that day, I also took a moment on mic, to introduce myself to the adult members of the congregation. For those who were not present on that date, I will summarize: I’ve been doing children’s ministry for over ten years; this is my fourth Manhattan congregation to serve, in this capacity, and I hope to be at The Park for many years. Children’s ministry is, by nature, a part time position with most congregations, and, in my “other life,” I am primarily a dance and fitness instructor, working, primarily, with students over 60, in the Senior Fit Club program at Asphalt Green. My wife, Lynn, and I, live in Washington Heights, with our cats. You will learn more about me as time goes by, but now, for the news about the children!
During my first Sunday with the children, there were five present, ranging in age from three to nine. On January 21st, there were ten children, ranging in age from three to eleven, including one five-year-old newcomer. Our lesson on the 14th was based on the story of Jesus’ baptism by John. We talked about the meaning of baptism, as a symbol of “washing away” past mistakes and making a fresh start. We then made collages about the “waters of baptism,” using stickers depicting aquatic creatures, combined with our own drawings.
On the 21st, we had our first full program, with a children’s liturgy, including candle-lighting, intercessory prayer, and hymn-singing (I was delighted that there were so many enthusiastic singers in the children’s community; no need to coax anybody to praise God in song)! Our scripture was about the calling of Jesus’ first disciples. We talked about the reasons why so many people were eager to follow Jesus, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. (I reminded the children that “disciple” means “student,” and that every child and adult in the church is a disciple). Afterward, we did our response activity, which was a game of Follow-the-Leader, in which every child who wanted to lead (most did) could take a turn. We encouraged the leaders to make themselves fun and easy to follow, as Jesus was, and is!
I can’t conclude this report without lifting up the wonderful, dedicated ministries of our two Sunday school teachers, Laura Feliz and Glenda Flannory, both of whom have been serving the children at The Park for many years, and who provided me, not only with excellent collaboration in the children’s ministry, but also answered all of my questions patiently and thoroughly. I feel so blessed to have both of them on our children’s ministry team!
Our final Sunday school lesson for January will be about the healing ministry of Jesus and His disciples. We will discuss the practice of healing prayer, and how it can be helpful, for ourselves and for our loved-ones. Then, we will make “Get-Well” cards for people we know, who are suffering from illness or injury, and write prayers for them in the cards.
Our Sunday School theme for February 2018 will be Love and Community. Stay tuned. Meanwhile….
Blessings, well-wishes, and high hopes!