November 2023 article from Bishop’s Office — The Church of Sts. Andrew & Matthew in Wilmington (SsAM) regains momentum with Youth & Young Families (YYF).
Emphasizing the importance of children feeling loved and valued in the life of the church, the Rev. Patrick Burke said that young people at SsAM are invited to participate in worship services by coming up to the altar, and an acolyte training program is planned. Burke is encouraging the lay leaders of Children’s Chapel and Youth and Young Families to create consistent programming aimed at engaging young people in the life of the church and its ministries. The approach is to connect individual youth and their passions with what is going on in the parish and the larger community. For example, young people participate in the monthly peace and justice walks, and youth have been interviewing their elders to capture their stories. More social activities including a camping trip and artistic programs are being planned. Burke explained that the overall goal is to show young people how to live out their faith in the public sphere. Pictures below are from a recent movie night!
In October of 2022, Children’s Chapel began to take place on the second and fourth Sunday of each month at the 10:30 Sunday service.
We started small. At first, we only had about six children, but we quickly grew. We begin with a short prayer. We then pick a word to focus on that will stay with us from October until May. This year our word is “family”. Each week we meet we introduce another word and ask the children to tell us how that word is important in a family. We read part of the Readings for that Sunday, and we talk about what it means. We try to do a craft each time because the children love them but sometimes there isn’t time. We sing songs, we read Bible stories, and we have seen a film or two. We do all this in about 30 minutes when it is time to say a prayer of thanksgiving and begin walking upstairs as quietly as we can.
We bring the children back to their families when the Peace is taking place. That way they can share the Eucharistic Celebration with their parents. We began to walk in the side door to the sacristy and sometimes sing the song we sang that day. Some of the children have gone up to stand at the altar and have a greater understanding of what is happening during the Eucharist. After receiving Communion, they return to their parents. Not only are they learning, but they also feel more engaged in the community.
Youth and Young Families (YYF) has also begun to have activities which are not only geared to our teen population but to families as well.
This year alone, they have had a pizza party, they have participated in the Walk for Peace and Justice (and made their own really nice signs), have gone to Sight and Sound in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, are planning a camp out, have had a movie night, and have lots of other good ideas.
This group of enthusiastic young people is beginning to be seen more and more at SsAM. However, we could use more people to be true stewards. We need funding to help with providing activities — teen stuff can get expensive. We need people to help them create things such as a craft (something for the peace garden), making a recipe for everyone to share, or taking a walking trip around our community or to a specific location. There are lots of things they can do.
The youth of our parish are so important, and we don’t want to lose them.
It is time for us to grow our parish and the best way to do that is by welcoming our young families and our youth. We are so fortunate that we have so many wise people among us. They can tell our youth about Civil Rights, about how things were in the past and compare that to how they are now. They can help them learn how to make things slowly change. Additionally, they can also answer their questions.
Right now, our world is spiraling out of control, and we know our young people have many questions about what is going on. It is a job we all need to share. We are all young at heart; there is so much we remember. We don’t always realize how important it is to reach out to our youth. Children are our hope for the future so let’s get busy!
—Nana Soto and Mary Lou Edgar