Kids in Church

By Ritalee Walters, Spirit of the Wilderness Episcopal Church

Our daughter has been receiving communion and worshipping at our church since the age of one or two. She is free to sit at a small table in front of the altar and color, or play with Play Doh or toys. She is hugged and kissed at the sign of peace, carries up the gifts, walks around with collection baskets, rings the church bell, sings along when she knows the melody or words, holds hands with our whole congregation for the Our Father, and puts out the candles at the end of service. She snacks, plays with other kids, sometimes asks to use the bathroom or go home during the service, and is always welcomed, blessed, encouraged, and treated like a full member of the church. The driftwood and stone crucifix on our altar was made by a member when she was five. Whether kids want to snuggle close to their parents or play with other kids, a variety of church experience is open to them. I like that she sees women in positions of power within the church, and all marriages sanctified. She sees people show up regularly to express their love of God, each other and creation.

By Mary Ellen Ashcroft, Spirit of the Wilderness Episcopal Church

I've been bringing grandchildren to church regularly. When they visit me up in Grand Marais, they often ask if we can please go to church, and I have to explain that church doesn't happen all the time. Once when I asked Henry (then 3) why he liked church so much, he said, "I bring up the bread." Old soul that he is I was walking past St. Mark's Cathedral with him (newly 5) one day and I said, "Henry, that's where your Babka got ordained." "What's ordained?" he asked. "You know how Babka does some special things at the front of church..." After a pause, he said, "I must be ordinated too because I carry the sticks and bring up the bread." He (and my other grandchildren) love church because they feel that they are a part of it.