At St. Dunstan’s Church we offer a variety of ministries for children from birth through 5th grade: Christian Formation (Sunday School), Children’s Liturgy (kid’s church), Children’s Special Events (e.g. Nativity Pageant), Children & Youth Choirs, Sacrament of Holy Baptism, program for Special Needs children called GRACE, and Nursery Childcare. The purpose of Children’s Ministries is to support your family as you bring up your child in the Christian faith. We support your effort to:
- Bring your child to church to worship God;
- Teach them about the Bible;
- And to help lead your children into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.
Children’s Christian Formation (Sunday School)
Sunday School classes for children ages two through 5th grade are offered from 10:15 to 11:00 a.m. each Sunday. During the school year from September through mid-June, there are four grade levels for children. The Toddler 2-year class is organized to help our little ones take their first steps in learning about God and the Bible. Kids enjoy Bible story time, crafts, & snacks. Ages 3 through Kindergarten (Level One) and Grades 1 through 3 (Level Two) participate in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd classes. Catechesis is Bible-based and Montessori-inspired; it focuses on prayer and helps the child discover the love of God. Catechesis has Montessori Biblical Workstations, connecting children with church life through role play. Grades 4 and 5 (Club 45) uses a variety of curricula to capture the attention of this transitional age group, such as “The Story” by Max Lucado, to study the Bible. Club 45 also participates in serving others, through various outreach projects.
We provide a caring environment for infants through age five that is staffed with professional childcare workers. Personal pagers alert parents when they are needed. The Nursery is open Sundays from 8:30am – 12:15pm during the 9:00, 9:01, and 11:00 services. It is located in the north end of the Bentley Education Center (BEC). Childcare is also provided for other service and events, such as Sunday Night Live programming.
“An Experience of God, Not a Lesson about God”
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) Christian Formation Process is based on the premise that children innately have the desire to draw near to God, and to nurture this relationship they need adult guidance as well as the inner guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this sense, The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) is not a traditional Sunday School curriculum, but instead is a particular way of journeying with children toward God.
CGS seeks to involve adults and children in a common religious experience through which all persons develop an authentic faith relationship with God. The Catechesis is grounded in scripture and liturgy, using the self-teaching principles of Maria Montessori. As one church member put it, “It is allowing the kids to have an experience of God, not a lesson about God.”
The classroom is set up as an Atrium, a spiritual environment that is more like a place of worship or a retreat center than a traditional classroom. It is perceived as holy ground where Christ may be encountered in Word and Action, a place where children are invited to experience God’s love for them, a place for community and worship where the spiritual life of the child is nurtured, and a place for prayer and conversation with God.
The silence and reverence practiced within the Atrium allow for and help children to focus on and listen to God. The Atrium has been referred to as “a space where God and the child can come together and fall in love.”
In the Atrium, the adult helpers are not called teachers but catechists because the premise of CGS is that the Holy Spirit is the teacher and the catechist simply provides the child with the necessary tools and assistance.
Examples of materials found in the Atrium would include an altar and related furnishings, Baptismal font and other liturgical items, maps of Israel and Jerusalem, miniature environments representing the elements of the parables and historical events from Scripture.
The catechist’s role is to prepare the environment and to make presentations that evoke a response from the child rather than pour in information as in traditional instruction. The motto of CGS is “Help me fall in love with God by myself.”
For more information on the Catechesis model for children’s spiritual growth, visit the National Organization of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd website.
Sunday School for children age 2. Every Sunday the children learn about one story from the Bible. To help them learn, the kids enjoy Bible story time, crafts, & coloring sheets to match the Bible story, and snacks (typically apple juice boxes & teddy grahams).
“Club 45” is Sunday School for our Fourth and Fifth graders. We use a variety of curricula to study the Bible and how it relates to their daily lives, such as “The Story” by Max Lucado, and “Dr. Jones and the Secret of the Lost Keys” the life of Moses with an Indiana Jones flair. Throughout the year, the children participate in a variety of Outreach Projects to help others in the community. This year they created Christmas cards and Easter cards for our elderly parishioners, which were mailed out to these shut-ins.
God Rejoices for Adults and Children with Exceptional needs. This year-round Sunday morning program is held from 9:00 am – 11:00 am. GRACE Family Ministry provides an appropriate worship and learning atmosphere for children with special needs – while providing their parents and family the opportunity to worship and serve in other ministries on Sunday mornings. GRACE is available during our 9 am worship services and our Sunday School hour. A team of church volunteers and paid staff provide supportive and caring experiences for the special needs children. GRACE ministries is equipped to serve children with mild to moderate disabilities. The mission of GRACE ministry is to share God’s love with children who have special needs, and to enable them to become an active part of God’s family.
At St. Dunstan’s, we strive to help our children to understand our lessons and prayers, as well as to learn the meaning woven into all aspects of our church service. A large congregational service geared towards adults can be overwhelming to smaller children. We offer Children’s Liturgy during the 9:00 traditional service in the Nave and the 9:01 Contemporary Service in the Parish Hall. This “kid’s Church” is for children ages 3 through 2nd grade. Children leave the service before the Bible readings, exiting with their adult Liturgy Team leaders to the Bentley Education Center. Children’s Liturgy is an age-appropriate simplified version of our service: lessons, kid’s sermon, prayers, offering, and peace. The children rejoin their families midway through the service just after the Sermon and Announcements in time to have communion with their parents.