Church for and with children
The greatest wealth of a congregation is its children. This is a treasure that to be cherished and fostered—whether in special services for children or singing together or planting a garden. Here are some inspiring ideas to imitate.
Divine service for children
A divine service for children and their teachers took place in the district of Algrange in France on 27 May. The topic of the service was “The good Shepherd”, and the officiant based the service on John 10: 14–15: “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” It was an interactive service and he developed the focal points together with the children. For example, he asked, how we can follow Jesus. “By speaking with Him and keeping His commandments,” was the answer from the children.
Even in times of virtual divine services, the New Apostolic Church Canada makes sure that its Sunday School and Pre-Sunday School children are well taken care of. Before a divine service, they can go to the Church’s website and click through until they find the activity page for that specific service, which they can fill out or colour in during the service. This makes it easier for the children to ask their parents, Priests, or Sunday School teachers after the service what they may not have understood and to talk to them about what particularly touched them.
Music without borders
There were 9,400 kilometres between them, but even so they were very close when they sang together. Two children’s choirs, one from Wiesbaden in Germany and one from Cape Town in South Africa, met on Zoom at the beginning of April. The children talked to each other in mix of English and German and sang songs together. One child from Germany said, “It was great to be able to sing with children from South Africa.” The South African children not only learned a little bit of German, but also the Cup Song, in which the cup game is used as the song’s percussion. The South Africans in turn taught the German children the traditional Cape Town song, which turned out to be a real earworm. “It was cool to be online in Africa,” one of the German children said at the end of the joint rehearsal.
To finally be able to make music again together following the pandemic, the Committee Pastoral Care for Children of the New Apostolic Church Western Germany developed a plan to promote singing and music-making with children. The name of the initiative is “Music with Children. How to go about it after Corona?” Choir directors, as well as anyone who enjoys making music with children, can register on the online training portal of the New Apostolic Church Western Germany. During the training, participants will be made familiar with the teacher’s folder for the German children’s songbook Stimmt mit ein, will learn voice training stories, and how to make instruments themselves and then incorporate them. Music is an important aspect of religious education, supports personality development, and promotes fellowship.
Children bring spring to the church garden
Marigolds, daisies, spices, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and even a tangerine tree… The church garden of the congregation in Barcelona in Spain is bright and beautiful. In April, the Sunday School children and their teachers met to spruce up the garden and welcome spring. The children went to work with great joy and paid attention to their teachers’ instructions. To make sure that the garden will continue to bloom so beautifully for a long time, the children were divided into teams to take turns in caring for and watering the plants.
The children of the Woodlands congregation in Durban, South Africa, have already got an ahead start for this year’s Thanksgiving Day. They thought it would be a good idea to launch their planting project “My little garden” early. On a sunny day in April, the Sunday School teachers set up raised garden beds in front of the church, and the children planted the seeds. After the service, the adults marvelled at the beds of onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and many other vegetables to be. There was not much to see yet, of course, but the children had created little flags and labelled them, indicating what they could eventually harvest.
Thirty-eight young brothers and sisters took their confirmation vow on 1 May 2022 at Kumasi Central Congregation and received a blessing from Lead Apostle Samuel Oppong-Brenya. The divine service was based on Hebrews 13: 15–16: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good for such sacrifices God is well pleased.” The Apostle said that the best sacrifice, one that is pleasing to the Lord, is doing good to our neighbour. “Let your good deeds be evident so that others can see you as their saviour.”