An Overview of Our Ministry with Youth and Children
The educational ministry of the Seekonk Congregational Church is to nurture children and youth in their understanding of what it means to be baptized as a child of God and a follower of Jesus Christ. We seek to help each one GROW in faith by our worship and our learning together, supporting one another in community, and reaching out in caring service beyond our own walls.
Sunday Church School
Church School on Sunday mornings meets at the same time as Worship. There are two church schools: one at 9 a.m. and one at 10:30a.m. from mid-September through May. There is one (9:30 a.m.) worship service in the summer, and Church School is at 9:30 as well for children Pre-school-5th Grade. On the first Sunday of most months, the children and youth begin in Worship with family and then go to class. We also provide a year-round nursery program with a professional caregiver.
Passages on the Journey of a Child
This church believes it is essential to recognize our children’s faith development and growth through the years:
- Beginning in Second Grade, students are invited to serve as acolytes for the church services. This is an opportunity for them to serve the congregation as they light the candles symbolizing Christ’s light for the world.
- 2nd Graders attend a Communion Class from September to May and are honored at a Children’s Communion Celebration on the first Sunday in May. An illustrated Children’s Bible is given at their commissioning service in September.
- In Grade 3 the children learn Bible Basics and how to use the Bible.
- 5th graders have the honor of preparing the sanctuary on the 2nd Sunday of Advent in the Hanging of the Greens worship service. Rehearsal is the Saturday prior to the worship service.
- Confirmation from September – June is offered for 9th grade and older. An adult Bible is presented to those being confirmed on the day of Confirmation.
Once a month the children gather as a community for learning about the seasons and sacraments of the church year.
We use a variety of creative teaching resources appropriate for each grade level. Our Children’s Ministry Teams are encouraged to use additional resources such as drama, puppets, games, cooking, and other creative arts to enhance student-centered learning and growth in faith.
We offer child care for infants and toddlers every Sunday of the year. This is staffed by a professional caregiver and helpers.
Time is set aside in the classroom setting for the children to dedicate their offering to God for our church and its ministries. We encourage parents to help their child develop that spirit of giving by their regular participation and set the example for their adult years.
At times we select a mission project that ties into the Wider Mission of our church and teach more about those in need. We also encourage angel gifts and food pantry gifts at Christmas time.
Believing that worship of God in praise and prayer, outreach and community, is our most important way to honor our baptism, we seek to educate and nurture our children in the act of worship. As most children learn best by ‘doing’, we try to provide opportunities for children to worship with their families and witness the modeling of the whole congregation.
Inter-generational worship services are planned several times a year and generally include:
- Celebration Sunday in September
- World Communion Sunday the first Sunday in October
- All Saints Sunday
- Thanksgiving Sunday in November
- Hanging of the Greens Sunday in Advent
- Christmas Sunday in December
- Epiphany Sunday in January
- Ash Wednesday
- Palm Sunday
- Maundy Thursday
- Good Friday
- Pentecost in May or June
- Children’s Sunday
Communion: The Lord’s Supper
Seekonk Congregational Church UCC welcomes everyone of any age who loves / follows Jesus to come to the Table and receive the bread dipped into the cup. The Director of Christian Education, teachers and deacons nurture the children in their understanding of this sacrament and the 2nd grade Communion Class enhances their understanding.
This faith community celebrates infant baptism, (as well as baptism for all ages). Parents and the congregation promise, on behalf of the child, to nurture him or her into the Christian faith. The meaning of baptism is explored in the church school. All children who are baptized receive a pottery cup with their name and date of baptism on it. Confirmation for Youth (9th grade and above) enables the young person to affirm their baptism for themselves.
Confirmation is a year-long program (September to June) of exploring the meaning of faith in worship, community, service, and learning. Our Confirmation program is one of commitment and community as the Youth (9th grade and above) are in worship each week at one service and in class during the other hour. In addition they are required to do at least 30 hours of community service and participate in Mission endeavors and special events.
A mentor is assigned to each confirmand in September to be a guide and friend throughout the 9 months. In May the Youth present their ‘Faith Journey’ to the Deacons and Mentors and are confirmed early in June.
Our church seeks to provide opportunities for children and young people to be involved in choirs for special worship celebrations.
All ages are invited to participate in this joyous and meditative form of praise and prayer to God in special services such as Christmas Eve, Easter, Pentecost, et.al.
Special Events and Activities
Throughout the year, the Christian Education Committee sponsors a variety of activities to enhance our education program and the church year:
Vacation Bible School (VBS)
Held 4 days in August for preschoolers through grade six. VBS is Monday through Thursday from 9-Noon for a nominal fee. Many from our own church attend, and we open our registration to welcome children from the community. A closing ceremony on Thursday is a highlight for parents and friends.
Celebration/Welcome Back Sunday
A great intergenerational worship and faith community time with surprises each year.
An intergenerational gathering of food, fun, and friendship
This Coffee Hour happening is sponsored by the 8th graders and features special pancakes and food.
A time to create Advent wreaths and alternative gifts and cards
An opportunity for individuals and families of all ages to offer the joy of carols to those who are homebound and in nursing centers…followed by hot chocolate and cookies at the church.
On the Sunday before Christmas all children participate in the Christmas Tableau during the Lessons and Carols of Worship
Christmas Eve Service
This service is designed for families with young children as well as for all ages. Children and Youth participate in choirs, drama, readings, sacred dance and other aspects of this inspiring service.
Mardi Gras (Fat or Shrove Tuesday)
This event is often is held on the Sunday prior to Ash Wednesday with a variety of Fat Food! Suggestions are made to families and individuals of ways to enrich the Lenten Journey of the forty days before Easter.
Children’s Sunday Awards / Picnic
This is an intergenerational event that invites the whole congregation to honor the children and teachers followed by food and fun.
The Rhode Island Conference of the United Church of Christ (of which we are a part) sponsors many camping and retreat opportunities for children and youth at a variety of sites including Irons Homestead in Gloucester, RI. Information about the camps is generally available in the Spring.
Leadership of our Ministry with Children
Our Christian Education Program depends heavily on volunteers and their gifts of time and talents. We value all participation. Support and training are offered regularly. If you are interested in helping, please speak to the Director of Christian Education, Kristin Putney or any members of the Christian Education Committee
Policies and Procedures
Grade Level: Children are to be placed in the same grade as they are in school – unless there are unusual circumstances. For preschool classes, three and four year old’s should be the age before September 1st of the year they enter.
Confirmation is for 9th graders and older. Eigth graders may begin their community service hours while in that grade level and carry them into Confirmation.
Child Protection Guidelines and Boundaries, developed by our Christian Education Committee, are in effect for Church School and we strive to be a “Safe Space” for children and youth of all ages.
Outstanding attendance awards are given to children who attend Church School regularly. They are recognized on Children’s Sunday in June. Consideration is given for attending other churches while out of town.
Church School & Confirmation Registration
Each year, parents are asked to complete the Church School & Confirmation Registration Form to enroll their children in our Christian Education programs.