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Pastor's Pen: The Future of Children's Ministries

Town Hall Meetings on January 6 and 13

I remember the day that my son Thomas was baptized. At the time, I was working as the general manager at a McDonalds in Charlestown, Indiana. I had the dubious honor of managing the night shift the Saturday before. As a result, by the time of the worship service, I was running on just a couple hours of sleep and lots of caffeine. There are photographs of me holding Thomas on that day with huge raccoon circles under my eyes.

These days, I know the liturgy well enough to know what I promised on that day. However, due to my lack of sleep, I must admit that the worship service is something of a haze. There is only one part of the service that I distinctly remember. The Reverend William Rogers turned to the congregation and asked this question:

“Do we the members of the Church of Jesus Christ,

promise to guide and nurture [this child]

by word and deed,

with love and prayer,

encouraging him to know and follow Christ

and to be faithful member of his Church?”

The entire congregation responded, “We do.” At the time, I thought, “Thank God, because Sara and I are over our head on this one. We can’t do this parenting thing on our own.” In our Presbyterian tradition, the entire congregation serves as godparents. No parent should believe that he or she is alone. Over the years, I have been grateful for those congregations who stood by me as I struggled to be a father. Christian brothers and sisters have lifted me up again and again when I have fallen.

The question that we ask the congregation at every baptism is the foundation for all the children and youth ministries in the church. Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Confirmation classes, youth group, and the rest are about supporting parents in the guidance and nurture of our children.

First Presbyterian Church of Norwalk has lived out this commitment in the past, and we are dedicated to keeping this promise for the future. In 2019, we are taking some time to reexamine our ministries. Are we meeting our full potential in service to our children? By fall, we hope to kick-off the new program year with clarity of purpose and some reenergized volunteers.

After worship on January 6 and 13, we will be holding town hall meetings in the Great Room for parents, grandparents and everyone else concerned about our kids. We want to know about your hopes and dreams. How can we best support the parents of this church in the spiritual development of our children?

By God’s grace, First Presbyterian Church will keep our promise to this generation of children and the next.

Grace & Peace,

James Hodsden

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