St. Martin has much to offer children. For our size, we have a good number of kids; on any given Sunday during the school year, children make up a quarter of our attendance. And because St. Martin is a small congregation, adults and children know each other, and are able to build intergeneration relationships in a way that is unique in our culture today.
We have many ways at St. Martin that we engage with the children:
Weekly Sunday School
During the school year, we offer Sunday School every week for kids pre-K through 6th grade. Usually, the kids start in class, and join the rest of the congregation for the end of worship, at which time there is also a children’s sermon with Pastor Johanna. On communion Sundays, the kids are present for communion. One Sunday a month (3rd Sunday), we have Family Worship, during which the kids remain with the whole congregation in worship for the entire time. We believe learning to worship is an essential part of their religious education, so we do what we can on these Sundays to help them learn, including having the kids serve in leadership roles (usher, greeter, lecter, assisting minister, acolyte…). On these Sundays, the children’s sermon appears earlier during the liturgy, providing something for the kids to notice during the rest of worship and keep their attention.
The children’s sermon is a chance for Pastor Johanna and the kids to engage in a conversation about Scripture that is tailored especially for them – but usually it is a time when we all learn! This is also when the kids bring forward their offering. The kids voted this year to put their offering toward buying mosquito nets for Africa, to prevent malaria.
Kids in Worship
We also always welcome kids to remain in worship if they prefer, and encourage the kids to worship in whatever way works for them (even if that means wandering up and down the aisles!). To help kids and parents who want to remain in worship, we have a Kids’ Corner set up in the back corner, where kids under 5 can sit quietly at a table and color or play, and parents can sit with them and participate in worship. (Also know that, if they get more unruly than you’re comfortable with, we have a staffed nursery during the school year, too!)
Vacation Bible School
Together with our partner congregation, Bethlehem Lutheran Church (1767 Plank Rd), we put on a fun-filled week of Vacation Bible School, when the kids learn about faith and the Bible through music, crafts, drama, science, games, and thematic snacks. This year we are also working with the Bayview Y; kids can be transported to the Y for their afternoon summer camp program (for an additional cost). Watch this website for more info as the time for VBS draws near.
First Communion Class
When kids start asking about what communion is and what it means, it is probably time for them to learn about this most sacred act that the church does together. Pastor Johanna meets with kids and families and they learn about the sacrament, what it means, how it works, and the logistics of it.
Since Lutherans generally practice infant baptism, the baptismal promises are made by the parents, not the baptized. By 7th grade, it is time for these young members of the church to learn about this faith into which they were baptized, ask critical questions, figure out what a life of faith means to them, and then to affirm their baptism in the Rite of Confirmation before the whole congregation. Taught by Pastor Johanna and adult volunteers, confirmation classes are offered each year, one Saturday a month for three hours. After two years of instruction on the Small Catechism and the Bible, the kids are confirmed on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit – to each of these young members, and to each of us. Confirmation class is done jointly with our covenant partner congregation, Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
Our youth group, made up of kids from 6th grade to 12th grade, gathers monthly for activities ranging from social events like going out to movies and discussing them, to pool parties and Harvest Festivals, to service projects… We are excited to see how this youth group will develop. Come be a part of it!