2013-2014 Children & Youth Program
- Over the last 8 months our parish conducted a re-visioning process to re-invigorate our children and youth program.
- Vestry Leaders reviewed and approved this new program at their May 2013 meeting.
- On Sunday, June 2, the program and its elements were presented to the parish as part of the sermon.
- Following is a summary of the presentation:
Four Key Outcomes
Parish families identified these key goals for the Children & Youth Program at Ascension. The program will help children become:
- Biblically Literate
- Aware of Episcopal traditions
- Equipped with a spiritual ‘toolkit’
- Aware of moral / ethical life of faith
What we mean by Biblically Literacy expands through the years of the program. Initially children hear and retell the stories of the Bible. Later they begin to see the “moral” or “lesson” of the stories and sayings of scripture. In junior high they begin developing the capacity to hear layers of metaphor and image that connect scripture to their daily lives. In the Confirmation year, youth focus on Jesus Christ and the central meaning of Holy Week and Easter. Finally, senior high delve into the historical contexts in which scripture was written to see the Bible as a fully human creation infused with the Holy Spirit.
Episcopal traditions are woven into the program, such as the format of prayers, the seasons of the church year, and the importance of Baptism and Eucharist. Teachers use the Anglican “three-legged stool” of scripture-tradition-reason in their approach to material. Hallmarks of the Episcopal way abide, such as comfort with ambiguity, a trust that people seeking faith by questions hear answers in prayer, and prominent use of the Book of Common Prayer.
Children are introduced to a variety of prayer and spiritual practices fitting to their age which help them recognize and grow in their relationship with the Triune God. They learn to find God in the world and in one another and to see themselves as called by God to be the church. Youth finish the program by creating and exploring a rule of life.
Moral-ethical Life of Faith
Children explore moral issues of their own life at age-appropriate levels centered on the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, generosity, faithfulness, and self-control. They learn what it means to live as a Christian in the world, and they develop the capacity to critique their daily life and the culture, social groups, and institutions of the world in light of the gospel.
SUNDAY– infant to 8th grade
9:00 to 10:00 a.m.
- Ages 4 to 7: Godly Play Class, hearing and telling Bible stories
- 3rd to 8th grades : Informal gathering time with arts, music, discussion; rich with intergenerational opportunities
10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
- Ages 4 to 7 Children’s Chapel (rejoin families for Holy Communion)
- 3rd to 8th grade worship with families for entire service
WEDNESDAY– 3RD to 8TH grade
5:00 to 6:15 p.m. Youth Choir
6:15 to 6:45 p.m. Dinner
6:45 to 7:45 p.m. Living the Good News Classes – Three groups: (3rd/4th), (5th/6th), (7th/8th )
9th grade CONFIRMATION class (day/time to be determined)
Ages 4 to 7: Godly Play
Godly Play is a Montessori-based curriculum that uses figurines and sets to help children learn the foundational bible stories. It trusts that children have a natural capacity for spiritual connection to God and it fosters this connection by inviting children to explore the Christians stories with their imagination. www.godlyplayfoundation.org
3rd to 8th grade: Living the Good News (LTGN)
LTGN follows the weekly Sunday readings used in worship by most Christian churches today. It helps children explore the themes of these readings at an age-appropriate level. Developed more than 30 years ago by Episcopal educators, it has been tried and tested, updated and renewed and continues to provide an abundance of ways for children to engage and learn about their faith. www.livingthegoodnews.com
3rd to 8th grade: Youth Choir and Informal Gathering
Our award winning youth choir not only teaches children musical skills, but also opens them to the rich tradition of Anglican music and worship. The Sunday morning informal gathering is a “hang out” time that fosters community between children and with adult members.
9th grade Confirmation
9th graders begin study in September with fun, community-building gatherings and light study to ensure students are prepared for later in-depth learning. Through class discussions, field trips, engaging ministries of the church, a retreat, and journaling, youth explore the historic Christian faith, how their community lives it today, and how God speaks to each of them individually. Each youth has an adult church member as a prayer mentor to offer added support. Students learn about the baptismal covenant and the vows they will choose to confirm. The Confirmation liturgy is held in May.
10th to 12th grade
As confirmed members of the church, senior youth help create their own program and are encouraged to serve in a parish ministry. The program seeks to help youth discern their gifts and plan how to pursue developing those gifts in high school and beyond. Optional experiences enrich the program, such as leading the Teens Encounter Christ retreat becoming a Peer Minister, and serving on a Guatemala Mission Team.
The backbone of the Ascension Children & Youth Program is passion and consistency, both in its teachers and in participating families.
Teachers commit to at least two days of training each year plus training to be Safe-Church certified, (required of all volunteers who work with children in the Episcopal Church). They prepare lessons each week, teach and nurture their students, and build relationships with children through the year.
Our Children & Youth Director supports teachers to work together as a community to make a strong, collaborative group. With the Director, teachers help evaluate the program and curricula periodically and to refine and strengthen it.
Working with children and strengthening one’s own faith through teaching is the fullest compensation for volunteering, but Ascension recognizes the size of commitment teachers make to the program. For this reason, teachers receive a $100 / month gratuity.
Would you like to serve as a teacher?
Currently, families who participate in the Youth Choir and Youth Dinner are asked to make a donation to offset costs.
Our Vestry (parish leadership team) is reviewing our policy regarding program fees and will make a decision this summer.
Whether any fees are asked or donations suggested, our Vestry is committed to make sure the program is accessible to any and all children who want to participate.
For more information, please contact:
Mindy Boynton, Director of Children & Youth Ministry
651-439-2609 x. 13; mindyaechurchorg
The Rev. Buff Grace, Rector
651-439-2609 x.11; rectorbuffaechurchorg
Lori Allaire, vestry member