Special Edition - SUNDAY SCHOOL!
Beloved Community,

I am thrilled to tell you that Sunday School resumes October 6th at 9:00 am!  Some of you may wonder if the time is a typo but I assure you it is not.  The Vestry and I are committed to  offering a fun and educational program for the children of the parish, which means some changes.  

Since Carole's retirement, we have not been able to staff the program at the usual 10:00 time, so, with the assistance of three fabulously faithful women: Allison Walker, Theresa Scharff, and Sheelagh Clarke, I will be teaching, which means, for obvious reasons, we need to move the time.  Although perhaps not the optimal plan, a part of me - a HUGE part of me - looks forward to spending this time with your children.  So, while this means a different rhythm to Sunday mornings, it is one that will be enjoyable.   We will continue to search for a Lead Teacher, the three-hour/week paid position to coordinate the program. 

Time and staffing are not the only changes we've made. We purchased a curriculum, Spark All Kids, from Spark House, a leader in Christian education and formation resources.  Part of the Activate Faith series, Spark All Kids is a digital curriculum giving us access to literally thousands of resources.  And it is flexible, so we can begin with our current one-room Sunday School and transition seamlessly to multiple age-groups as we grow.

All of that is practical information.  Spark All Kids is fun! The children will learn about the themes, stories, and major characters of Scripture with a variety of activities, including exploring the Bible.  Beyond this learning, they will explore ways that can live their faith every day in the course of their usual activities. Each child will be given a Bible to take home, with the younger children getting the Spark Story Bible and the older children the the Spark Bible:NRSV  translation, which is the translation we use on Sundays.  There are "Family Pages" of conversation starters and activities you may choose to do with your children during the week, though these will not be "homework."

The last change is one that is as important as resuming Sunday School.  Beginning October 27th and continuing on the fourth Sunday of the month thru June 21st, our 10:00 service will be designated "Youth Sunday."  Showing our children in experiential ways that we welcome them in the most important activity of our common life: our worship, is one of the best ways to nurture their faith and Christian identity.  We're making some changes to the liturgy to make the service a bit more kid-friendly.  For the readings and prayers, we'll be using translations written specifically for children, not through a "dumbing down" but in language that is more familiar to them.  We'll make music choices with the children in mind, and the sermon will be adjusted as well.  We'll be inviting our children to be the ushers and greeters (parents will be the assistants), to read the reading and lead the psalm and prayers, and to acolyte.  As the children grow and are confirmed, we will invite them to be chalice bearers.  It likely will take the children time to get comfortable enough to accept these invitations, and that's okay.

We will continue to offer nursery care for infants and toddlers during the 10:00 service for those families who desire it, though we welcome children of all ages in our worship.  Consider sitting up front during the service.  Your children can see what's going on, which may help keep their attention and even lessen the wiggles, if wiggles are an issue. 

We know this is a lot of change and it will take time to grow into this revitalized commitment to your children. We ask your prayers and support, especially your willingness to alter the rhythm of your Sunday mornings, as we take this leap of faith together.

Peace & Blessings,

Office hours are Tuesday thru Friday, 10:00 am to 1:30 pm or by appointment.
Phone: 973.376.0668  
Fax: 973.376.4002
Website: ststephensmillburn.org
Main email: church@ststephensmillburn.org
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Doreen Schindler, Parish Administrator can be reached at ext. 32 or

The Rev. Paula J. Toland, Rector can be reached at ext. 21 or 
She is an occasional blogger at fromthestillness.