Children play an important role in our communities and in our churches. We encourage all Uniting Churches to have a special focus on the children in the congregation, in their extended families and in the community at least once a year.
Children’s Sunday is not a part of the traditional church calendar. It is an offshoot of Australia’s annual observance of Children’s Week, during the fourth week in October.
What is Children's Week?
Children's Week is an annual festival which is celebrated during the month of October and includes Universal Children's Day which is held always on the fourth Wednesday of October.
A diverse range of events and activities are organised at national, state and local levels. These focus the attention of the wider community on children, their needs and achievements. This is something Christians are called to do all year long, as we serve the children in our own communities and advocate for voiceless, underprivileged and hurting children throughout the world.
Thousands of children and their families around Australia are involved in activities and events during Children’s Week, through schools, playgroups, childcare, kindergartens, cultural groups, libraries, departments and community groups. It is appropriate to add ‘churches’ to that list.
See www.sachildrensweek.org.au for more information about Children’s Week.
Here are ideas and resources for churches to engage with Children’s Week.
Connecting your church with Children's Week
In planning your church’s observation of Children’s Sunday, find out what children in your congregation and neighbourhood are doing in their schools, playgroups, Scout groups and other organisations during Children’s Week. Find a way to support and encourage these activities, eg
- If you have a suitable hall, offer it to organisers of Children’s Week activities to display a gallery of photographs of children involved in Children’s Week activities or ‘museum of displays’ of Children’s Week projects. You might have a number of openings of the gallery/museum for the public. Consider selling dessert to people who come to the display and donate the proceeds to a special child-welfare project.
- Integrate reports of children’s week events into your worship, learning, and or fellowship activities during the week.
- Encourage children from your church to invite friends who have been involved with them in Children’s Week activities and projects to come along to your celebration as a part of the week.
- Encourage grandparents, aunts and uncles and other adults to ask young relatives and neighbours about any activities or projects they have been involved with during Children’s Week — and invite them to come along to your worship celebration.
- Send letters of appreciation from your congregation to organisers of Children’s Week events and activities in your community — and invite them to your celebration service.
Connecting with children in your church
- Hold a special after-worship morning tea with lots of creative food that the children will enjoy. Encourage members of the congregation to talk with (not to) the children.
- Launch an ongoing program of intergenerational buddies. Ask for volunteers of the 'grandparent' generation of the church to commit to making a specific child in the church feel that they are special and that they belong. The buddy will need to remember the child's name, actively seek to get to know them, be a listening ear, speak with them each week at church, send a card on their birthday and at Christmas and be genuinely interested in the child. If they spend any time alone with the child, they will also need to meet the Duty of Care requirements of Uniting Church SA as explained in the Called to Care resources. Visit: http://sa.uca.org.au/called-to-care/
Prayers for children
Children's Sunday is a great time to focus on the joys of being children and the joys of parenthood. As a community we should be thankful for the joy that children bring. Also pray about some of the negative factors that influence children and families such as poor nutrition, abuse and neglect, ill health, lack of education and lack of safety due to violence or war.
There are prayers for children in the ‘Service of Thanksgiving for and Blessing of a Child’ in Uniting in Worship 2 (pp 322, 323)
For a range of parents prayers for their children, see http://www.2heartsnetwork.org/parents.htm
We pray for the children: This powerful prayer encompasses concern for all children, everywhere. See http://www.salsa.net/peace/prayer13.html for the words with slides