Children's Ministry

Every Sunday at the 10:30 service, just before Communion we see the young ones cheerfully and comfortably filing into the nave of the church to join the Eucharist. They have been downstairs in the basement level having their own private service of sorts called Godly Play.

This new form of Sunday School was introduced to St. Paul’s in 2009 with the arrival of our current Children’s Ministry Director, Lindsay Knight, who has allowed God’s work to be pour into all of her heart, mind and soul. Prior to this, there was a period of time where no SundaySchool took place due to the lack of children present. She says, “When I came here, there wasn’t much for children. I knew I would be a mother someday and I wanted my kids to be able to have something.” That vision was the result of a single act of love, and it inspired and motivated Lindsay in a way that ultimately encompassed all of God’s children. The faithful leaders, teachers and volunteers have cultivated the program, and the Children’s Ministry has expanded substantially in recent years. God’s work proliferated!

So what exactly goes on in Godly Play? The young parishioners gather together to listen to a Story; Sacred Stories from the Old and New Testament, Jesus’ Parables, Saint Stories or Focal Stories during the Advent and Lent seasons. At the end of each storytelling, the groups collectively ponder “Wondering” questions.

Children are natural contemplatives. They often point out things they already know from deep within their hearts or experience joy in a place of wondering and are equally delighted when they come to their “A-ha” moments. They have time to come back to these stories again and again by using the same Story materials and manipulatives (simple objects used in Godly Play) during their “Work Time”; they bring to life whichever pieces of the stories that have brought the most meaning to them at that time. Then, they gather to prepare the “Feast” where they communally give thanks and share some plain crackers and a small glass of water. Lastly, they end with an intimate closing prayer and blessing and are sent out into the world as they continue to shine their God given light.

When the class is told that it’s time to clean up, signaling the arrival of the closing, they always respond with, “Aww, already?” Isn’t this wonderful? The children at St. Paul’s are excited about Sunday School. They love Godly Play and take pride in owning their own space in being part of the greater Body of Christ, but it doesn’t end here. This body also extends beyond the youngsters; Godly Play teachers.

St. Paul’s has a dedicated group of about twenty teachers who are vital to this ministry. Genie Koenker shares, “I think it’s very important for especially the preschool-age to hear these stories that I think are the foundation of our faith. They should hear these stories over and over again.” Another seasoned Godly Play teacher, Linda Tiffany said, “I love telling Bible stories to the children and help them grow in their Faith.”

Moreover, it is appropriately called “Children’s Ministry” because the children are the ones who are truly ministering to the teachers and to the rest of us. This is evident from Ann Edmonds testimony: “For me, it has shifted my own spirituality because I’ve gotten to go into the story surrounded by children and their questions. It’s a really Sacred Space in my life and another unexpected gift. And when I work with the other teachers, I also get to see another perspective of the story. I certainly think it’s important for the Church because kids bring their parents to church.”

The Children’s Ministry also comprises of: the Nursery for our nestlings, the fun Fall Festival and the popular Vacation Bible School which both overlap into Community Outreach, and Parent’s Night Out where children spend social time together.

For a wonderful comprehensive overview about Children’s Ministry, please CLICK HERE.

For more information about Godly Play or serving as a teacher (training provided), contact Lindsay Knight: Lindsay@stpaulsbellingham.org, 360-749-3308.

Whenever we witness and treasure the little ones as a part of God’s Kingdom, we ourselves find great cheer and comfort within our own hearts and we give Thanks and Praise.