PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES
Whenever we baptize a child, we pray for them, saying: “Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.” (Book of Common Prayer, page 308)
In our prayer, we are asking God to be present with our children in the exciting, joyful, and sometimes scary adventure of growing up. We hope that God will strengthen our children for the trials they will face, give them wisdom in the choices they make, and a sense of joy in who they are and what they are becoming.
Through our youth and children’s ministries at St. Stephen’s, we seek to offer broad experiences of worship, learning, fellowship, and service. In an atmosphere of love, parents and the rest of the St. Stephen’s community are making God’s presence real for our kids and our families. Our prayer is that you will journey with us on this exciting adventure encountering God, and that you will find strength, wonder and joy as well.
We offer many ways for children and youth to grow up in the Church. Some ways involve becoming a part of our worship tradition. Some groups meet primarily for spiritual enrichment or education. Some activities we do just for fun and fellowship! We invite our children and youth to join these groups that bring us together into closer community in the household of God.
Programs for Children of All Ages
St. Stephen’s has many active programs for children in addition to our Sunday programs, including:
Sunday School at 10:00 A.M. downstairs in the youth room
Junior high (6th and 7th grade) and senior high (8th-12th grade youth groups meet on Sundays from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. at St. Stephens.
Our Vision for Children’s Ministries
The primary work of children’s ministry in the church is to lead children towards God: helping each child to develop a meaningful, prayerful relationship with God, to follow Jesus Christ’s path of love and forgiveness, and to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation and service in the world.
An effective children’s ministry in the church also has these goals:
To build for children the foundation of the Christian faith through three essential elements: Christian education (especially the knowledge and love of Holy Scripture), worship, and service to others.
To foster a sense of the community of faith by combining holy learning with fun activities and fellowship within the church setting;
To help children develop an appreciation for the diversity of gifts in all of us, and for the gifts that we all can offer to one another;
To encourage in the church not only a ministry to children but also a ministry of children to others;
To be advocates for children in their growth and participation both in church life and in their lives outside the church;
To integrate the children into the life of the church, and the church into the lives of the children;
To affirm and encourage the ministry to children by their families and by the church family, and to recognize that ministry to children includes ministry to their families, by offering parenting and other classes that nurture those who nurture children, and by offering inter-generational activities that bring together the whole family of God.
Above all, the church’s mission to children is to teach them how to live the two Great Commandments that Jesus Christ taught us:
To love God: We know about God’s love for us by learning our salvation history, the great stories of God’s saving acts from the Old Testament to the ultimate giving of Himself in Jesus Christ. Seeing the love and life that God gives to us, our most authentic response is to love God “with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength.” In practical terms, children learn to love God by worshiping him in joy and praise through participation in the church, taking part in worship services and learning to “be a part of the Church,” one Body in Christ.
To love our neighbors as ourselves: The life and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ are the cornerstone of our faith, guiding children in living out their love for God in their families, their community and the world. In practical terms, it is important that we teach our children to reach out, to serve others, to help those in need, and to share their love with the community around them. We can teach them that outreach is a natural outgrowth of their relationship with Christ and an integral part of the Christian life.