Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. -Matthew 18:5
We seek to provide spiritual formation for our children through education, worship, and connections in our community; to bring families together for formation, fellowship, faith, and fun; and to celebrate and nurture the spiritual milestones of our children.
What are the worship opportunities for Children at St. Thomas’?
Worship is the center of our church community, and as such, children are welcome at all of our worship services! If you are looking for a service geared specifically toward families with young children, check out Family Table. Intended for families with young children, Family Table meets every Sunday of the year at 10:30am in McCausland Chapel.
What is expected as far as behavior during worship?
Church is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn how to pray and get involved in a community activity around faith, and also a great chance to continue learning self-control and respect for others. Because this learning is a process, we understand that there will be wiggles and giggles, crying and sighing. There is a bench inside the Nave of the Church that is stocked with coloring sheets and crayons, books and quiet activities. Children are always welcome in worship!
How do I get my child involved with the Chorister program?
What an exciting question! For the Chorister program contact Michael Smith, Minister of Music. Chorister rehearsals begin (children age 8 and up) Wednesdays from 4:30pm-5:45 pm or Thursdays from 6pm-7:15 pm in Haas Hall. St. Thomas’ Parish Choir rehearsals are Thursdays, at 7:30 pm in Haas Hall.
What happens after church is over?
During the months of September through May, children and youth are encouraged to participate in Sunday school.
Godly Play 11:15am-12:15pm Pre-K-5th in the Beck Room
Breakfast + Bible 11:15am-12:15pm 6th-12th grade in the Upper Room
During the months of June through August, families may join us for Lemonade on the Lawn on the grove near the Church.
Are there Special Events for Children at St. Thomas’?
The year is full of special events for Children! St. Francis Day Blessing of the Animals, All Saints’ Day, the Christmas Pageant, the Annual Easter Egg Hunt, and Vacation Church School during the summer, just to name a few!
How are children included in Outreach?
All during the Church School year, children have the opportunity to get involved in the care and connection with people in need. Our biggest event in the annual PAC-A-THON where we pack between 15,000-20,000 meals through Rise Against Hunger. With ample Outreach projects happening within the life of the parish, children are always welcome to get involved, too. In the past years, Church School classes have taken on individual projects, as well.
What are the ways I can get involved with Children’s Ministries?
The Children, Youth, & Family Commission would love to help you plug into the vibrancy of the Children’s Programs here at St. Thomas’. There are opportunities for teaching, shepherding, project leading, Christmas Pageant helper, Vacation Bible School assisting, and much, much more! Contact Erika Bower, Children & Youth Minister, for more information.
What is Godly Play?
Godly Play is a method of a Christian education and spiritual direction for children. The goal of Godly Play is to teach children the art of using religious language – parable, sacred story, silence, and liturgical action – to help them become more fully aware of the mystery of God’s presence in their lives.
Godly Play was developed and classroom tested for more than twenty years by Episcopal priest, author, and teacher Jerome Berryman. The Godly Play method is currently being used in churches of many denominations throughout the world.
What makes Godly Play distinctive?
In Godly Play, we tell Bible stories to children to encourage them to enter into the stories and relate them to their personal experience.
Godly Play is concerned with the spiritual development of each child as an individual and with modeling the appropriate moral behaviors expected of people living within a Christian community.
In Godly Play, each class session follows the pattern of the church’s Sunday service, so children will have a deeper understanding and enjoy fuller participation in the parish worship.
How does Godly Play follow the service of the Holy Eucharist?
Each class follows the pattern of getting ready (Opening Acclamation), listening and responding to a Bible story (The Word of God), the feast (The Holy Communion), and saying goodbye (Blessing and Dismissal).
When we arrive at Sunday school, why can’t my child go into the classroom immediately?
We treat our Godly Play worship-education center as “sacred space”. A door helper waits at the door to help each child become ready to enter the room quietly. A child who arrives late will be admitted as soon as this can be accomplished without disturbing the circle of children.
What kinds of projects will my child do in Godly Play?
After a Bible story is shared with the students, the storyteller and children use “wondering questions” to reflect on the story together. Then each child chooses whether to respond to the story with art materials or play. Every child has a personal folder that serves as a spiritual journal. The folders stay in the room to hold students’ paintings, sketches, poetry, and other writing because often students will choose to work on a project many weeks before they feel it is finished. They may also take home any finished projects when they are ready. At the end of the year, each student will take any remaining work home.
How will I know if my child is learning anything?
The most important thing we teach in our worship-education center is how Christian people live and work together in community. Many parents who have children in the Godly Play program find that their children will begin to retell Bible stories – often in the car on the way home from church. Parents also report that their children “wonder” aloud at various times during the week about the meaning of the Bible stories they heard on Sunday.
Why don’t the students work at tables and chairs?
The Godly Play room contains shelves full of objects for the children to use – objects that make the images of our religious language come alive. St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh, it is the children to sit in a circle on the floor, literally surrounded by our religious language system. The multi-sensory materials used to help in telling the Bible story of the day can then be placed in the center of the circle, symbolizing the fact that God can be present and accessible to everyone – both the students and the adults. Working in a circle also helps us emphasize many aspects of being together in a Christian community.
What “existential issues” do children face?
Existential issues are simply issues that have always bothered people. Aloneness, what to do with freedom, fear of death, and the search for meaning in life are four of the existential issues that even young children wonder about.
Will my child enjoy Godly Play?
One of the goals of Godly Play is to create a safe space for children – a place where their ideas, opinions, and gifts are deeply respected. Because everything in the worship-education center is design for the children to use and enjoy, most children look forward to Sunday school each week.