The late Rev. Bill deHeyman along with fellow clergy, lay leaders and I met regularly 15 years ago to envision a new worship offering for St. Thomas’ Church, which we named First Steps to Worship. We created this because we saw many families have their children baptized, try valiantly to bring newborns to church with them and realize that neither their infants nor they were able to get much out of worship that was principally geared towards adults and older children.
Hence, we created First Steps to focus on the worship needs of families with children ages 6 and under. Under Pastor Bill’s leadership, this service blossomed, and hundreds of children and parents have been blessed by it over the past 15 years. It’s not unusual for us to have 50 attend this service on any given Sunday fall through spring and we normally have 100 attend on Easter.
From time to time, however, members of the First Steps community have said that they did not feel like full members of our church community. Some have sensed that the church at times treated this worship service like a step-child. Our desire is for First Steps participants to feel like full members of our church and treat them and this service as such.
Hence, we are planning to change the name of First Steps to Worship to The Family Table starting on Sunday, September 10th. We have selected this name to ensure that our worship offering for families with young children is no longer seen as an “introductory” or “lead in” worship service and therefore less than a significant and meaningful worship experience for our parish family.
Our clergy, staff and Worship and Arts Commission like the title of The Family Table and thought that it embodied what we are trying to do.
We are fully committed to this service. The Rev. Liz Costello and I plan to attend and take turns leading each service, unless one of us is ill or out of town. Emily Given, our Director of Parish Participation, has been a wonderful support to this service and Erika Bower, our Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries, will offer children’s homilies from time to time and is very supportive as well.
Michael Smith, our Minister of Music, is working behind the scenes to support and assist the service, and Lara Muscelli does a wonderful job of leading our music and working with Michael to plan it.
We also hope that the name and concept of The Family Table may broaden this service slightly and ensure that families with children as old as 8 or 10 may attend, if they desire. Worshippers are always welcome to transition to our 10 a.m. service when that appears to be the right choice for their family or Faith at Five.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me directly or to let the Rev. Liz Costello (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jim Pasquarella (our Vestry Liaison to First Steps and soon to be Vestry Liaison to The Family Table – email@example.com) We look forward to serving your families and you in any way that we can.
With every blessing,