Take a look at your children and then take a look a the world they are growing up in. Our work is cut out for us.
It used to be that we could count on the surrounding culture to reinforce what our children needed to learn to grow into stable adults. Today the opposite is true. Raising stable children is getting much harder.
I am acutely aware of how difficult it is to raise children — how to teach them right and wrong, how to instill values that will keep them from self-destructive behaviors as they grow older, how to affirm and encourage them, how to help them discover who they are and more.
The Church is a key part of their development and can help you help them.
We Welcome Children at St. Peter's
At St. Peter's we are building a culture that welcomes the children. We want to help you help them. If church is a place where they want to go, then we know through their activities and interactions with their peers, their self-identity as Orthodox Christians will grow and they will be more equipped to avoid the many destructive forces in our culture that could otherwise harm them.
Children learn relationally. They listen to their Sunday School teacher because they like her. They listen to their priest because he likes them. They come to church because they get to see and interact with their "church friends." This is good and necessary because it is true.
As a result, a lot of our work is practical. We know for example that we have to put the boys to work. To that end we have ordered more altar boy robes (they arrive the first week of May) so the boys can work on the altar. We will have activities and events for them knowing that the events foster deeper friendships among them. We also know that we needed a better Sunday School room so we built one.
Things Parents Can Do
What can you do? Bring your children to Church. This Easter Season we have several events designed for your children.
Lazarus Saturday — Saturday, April 23 9:30am
Bring your child to Divine Liturgy. Afterwards we will have a pancake breakfast, hear confessions, and make the Crosses for Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday — Sunday, April 24 Palm Sunday 9:30am
You children will see the Church decorated with Palms and be with their friends at the Brunch that follows.
Holy Unction — Wednesday, April 27 6:30am
This is a longer service but a very memorable one. The memory formed is the anointing at the end of the service.
Taking Christ Down from the Cross — Friday, April 29 3:00pm
This is an afternoon service, visually rich, and lasts about an hour. Christ is taken down from the Cross and placed in the tomb. The service is short. Consider taking you child out of school that day to attend.
Pacha — Great and Holy Pascha 10:00pm
Good for older children but the later hour and length makes it difficult for younger ones.
Agape Vespers — Sunday, Sunday, May 1 1:00pm
This service incoporates the highlights of the Pascha Service (candles and singing mostly) in ways that younger children love. It is also short. Following the service we will have our Pascha Dinner and an Easter Egg Hunt for the children.
My promise to you is that if you faithfully bring your children to Church, I will do what I can to help them. I have adults on the team who understand this too and work to make the children feel welcome and contribute in ways that will foster their growth.
They include Sunday School teachers, cooks who make the food for events like the Lazarus Saturday pancake breakfast, men who built out our new Sunday School room, people who contribute funds for the Altar Boy robes, women who adopt the teens into the Choir, and more.
We have 13 children in our parish with most of the growth in the last three or four months. We want to make St. Peter’s a place where the children are welcome, parents are supported, and our young people can develop the self-identity to help them flourish and succeed.
We pray for God’s blessing and help.
Yours In Christ,
Fr. Hans Jacobse