This Little Light of Mine…I’m Gonna Let it Shine!
Sunday mornings at First Presbyterian Church are full…for all ages. As a congregation, we seek to nourish our spiritual practice, to exercise our faith, to worship God, and to let our lights shine! While we are learning and practicing together, we also have fun together, sharing the stories and times of our lives, and being a support to one another. For the children of our church, this ‘being together’ looks something like this:
Children’s Sunday School
Every Sunday, from September through June, Children’s Sunday School meets from 9:30-10:30. From 9:30-10:00, Christian Educator, Kimberly Fais, leads a time of singing and story-telling for children 10 and under. At 10:00 children are dismissed to their age-appropriate classes. We offer classes for three and four year olds, five to seven year olds, eight to ten year olds, a Middle School class, and a Senior High class. Each class is taught by amazing congregational volunteers, and the lessons are guided by some fabulous PCUSA resources: Wee Believe, We Believe, Surveys for Youth Adults, and Faithfully Asking Questions, respectively.
Children in Worship
After the weekly Time for Children during Sunday worship, children ages 10 and under are invited to Children in Worship. CIW gives children the opportunity to explore and respond to Biblical stories in age-appropriate ways. CIW mirrors much of what adults experience in regular worship: the children hear a Bible story and a short Minute for Mission; they share joys and concerns and pray together; finally, they respond to God’s Word through artistic expression. This expression takes many forms: craft, dance, music, service, play and drama**.
**A special note on the Children in Worship Players: Martha Smalley, a long-time congregant and church volunteer, has gifted FPC with dozens of wonderful plays. She writes and directs short, funny, and very imaginative plays for children, based on stories and characters of Scripture and society. Children ten and under are invited to participate in these plays, which occur at the beginning of the Advent season, and then again in late-Spring. Rehearsals for the plays take place during the Children in Worship time on Sunday mornings.
A confirmation class is offered for youth in grades 7-9 every other year. The class invites these young people to learn more about Christian faith and the Presbyterian Church tradition as they seek to confirm their baptism or to be baptized into church membership. The class, when offered, meets weekly over dinner for conversation and study. Participants are asked to read a scripture lesson in worship on one week and to offer a personal reflection on the passage. In addition, each confirmand writes their own statement of faith to present to the Session upon their desire to be confirmed. The class is confirmed during a worship service which includes a special prayer and the bestowing of a stole.
Middle School and Senior High Youth Groups
Every month, the middle school and senior high youth groups gather for various activities and fellowship. These gatherings foster a sense of connectedness across grades, niches, and cliques. Establishing healthy and safe church relationships is essential to the spiritual lives of our pre-teen and teenagers; the youth groups’ time together endeavors to nurture these relationships. When we gather, we do a lot of talking and eating. Often we pursue activities like ice-skating, apple-picking, and game playing. When we studied the rise of Christianity in medieval Europe last year, we took a ‘field-trip’ to the Cloisters in upper Manhattan.
We also struggle together to make sense of how our lives of faith have an impact on our daily lives at school and at home, how our faith orients us to our city and the many people who inhabit it. This past fall we endeavored to grasp the complexities of homelessness and hunger in New Haven together, with help from YHHAP (Yale Homelessness and Hunger Action Project) and Columbus House (a New Haven non-profit transitional living organization).