Ministries with children and youth are supported by the Children and Youth Council, made up of parishioners who work to ensure that our younger members are involved in all aspects of parish life. Their mission is to empower children and youth to claim their place—now—as full members of the church community; to grow in the knowledge of our Christian religion; and to deepen their faith and moral development. We also have begun to include children and youth in our annual Stewardship Campaign. Click here for a link to the pledge card developed by children and youth this year. Our children are not our future — they are our present.
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
At the heart of our ministry to children is the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) curriculum, a religious formation program for our 55 children ages 3-12. This child-centered, exploratory curriculum is rooted in the conviction that children have a pre-existent relationship with God, which it is our privilege, as adults, to nurture.
CGS has been described as the intersection of two mysteries: the mystery of God, and the mystery of the child. This intersection occurs in the atrium, the name given to the place where children meet for catechesis. Catechists (Sunday school teachers) undergo a minimum of 90 hours of intensive theological training in preparation for their work. They are assisted by “atrium volunteers,” who receive less-intensive training to assist children in their learning, and to assure them of their value in our parish life. We practice CGS every Sunday, from September to June. At the end of their time in the atrium, children join the congregation in time to receive communion. This visibly affirms their central role in the parish.
Summer Sacred Arts.
During the summer months, children are invited to join our arts and crafts program, Summer Sacred Arts (SSA). The fun and creative activities for children have included painting, craft-making, singing, cooking, and even astronomy lessons! SSA focuses on celebrating our God-given creativity, and on appreciating the beauty and delight all around us. SSA activities are supported by parish volunteers, while catechists and atrium volunteers enjoy a season of Sabbath. At the end of each SSA session, children join the congregation for the Eucharist, just as they do during the church school year.
We are pleased to offer child care for infants and toddlers up to age three, in the Trinity nursery. The nursery is staffed through an outside contractor who provides professional child-care attendants. The nursery is a safe, pleasant, and spacious play space, with age-appropriate toys and activities, open every Sunday and during special events.
Youth in worship.
Throughout the church year, youth in grades 7 to 12 worship with the Sunday (10:00 a.m.) congregation, either sitting in the “youth section” or sitting with their families. Most Trinity youth serve as liturgical volunteers—acolytes, readers, intercessors, choir members, and tech assistants.
Trinity Youth Group.
All youth from 7th through 12th grades are welcome to participate in this group, which meets on alternate Sunday afternoons, from September to June, for activities and a meal. Youth activities include games, theological reflections, service projects, team building, spiritual practices, and the annual overnight “lock-in.” Youth group members also participate in intergenerational events such as Game Night and Trinity Youth Backstage. In addition to their regularly scheduled meetings, Trinity Youth have opportunities to participate in “enrichment” activities, including a Ropes Course, and an Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance, among other things. Currently, we also use elements of prepared curricula, including Animate and Way to Live, and we have used Journey to Adulthood and Rite 13 in the past.
High school youth are invited to explore the sacramental rite of Confirmation. We meet several times, over the course of several weeks, to consider what it means to make an adult commitment to living into our baptismal vows through the Episcopal tradition. Having been well-prepared through CGS and liturgical participation, we discuss Anglican history, theology, polity, current controversies, and spiritual practice. The purpose of this course is discernment; participants who feel called to be confirmed are prepared.
A welcome challenge.
Perhaps the greatest challenge foreseen by the council is a rapid expansion of our youth group membership, in the near future: potentially increasing from just over 20 members to 40+ in the fall of 2017, as children “graduate” from CGS into the youth program. Additional resources will be needed, financially and through the expansion of volunteer opportunities. Current youth (and their parents) have expressed a desire for an expanded program, with more diversity and structure.