This week's reflections focuses on Matthew 25:35, 40: “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in… Whatever you did for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Hearing children's voices
Posted in Faith
This is a message from the KCO Team and the Intergen Team.
Children are a vital part of the life of the Uniting Church in Australia. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year, we asked children attending KCO 2017 (25-26 March) at Victor Harbor to share their hopes and prayers for the Uniting Church.
Hearing our children’s voices is an important part of being in community together.
In response to the Royal Commission regarding our past and current respones to child abuse, the Assembly has created a National Child Safe Policy Framework. One of the key areas highlighted, is the importance of the child’s voice being heard. By doing so, children feel valued and not ‘taken for granted’. It breaks the potential for a child to be seen as vulnerable and open for abuse. By hearing the child, they then can speak up when safety is an issue and know where, how and who they can speak to about any concerns they have.
Over the coming year there will be further resourcing for churches in this area. If you currently have ways that you enable children to share their concerns and ideas or participate in decision-making in your church community, please share this with us to assist with equipping other churches. Please email the Intergen Team firstname.lastname@example.org by mid-August.
Each camper at KCO was invited to take a white sticky label and write their prayer or hope for the Uniting Church – although we suspect some leaders wrote a few of these prayers too! If children were unsure about what to write they were encouraged to chat with their leader or to draw a picture. Amongst the varied prayers, hopes and drawings are a number related to the future of KCO and the possibilities provided by Adare Camp and Caravan Park, the location of KCO in 2017.
The children’s prayers and hopes covered a variety of topics. They prayed for:
- churches to love God and help others know Jesus, and that people would praise God
- churches to welcome and support refugees and the poor
- the Church to be multicultural and intergenerational
- more camps and programs for children and youth
- playgrounds and play spaces, more crafts and singing
- God’s creation, including pets
- more care, peace and hope for our world
- more chocolate in church!
These prayers reflect a deep heart of care for the world, the church and for God. Our children are disciples today and we need to ensure we listen to them, their prayers, hopes and concerns and we need to be willing to learn from them now. Children can show us adults God’s ways and grow us as disciples too as we live and learn, share and serve together in Christian community.
What happened next?
The children’s sticky note contributions have been used to create posters in the shape of the Uniting Church logo and were shared during the Uniting Church’s 40th anniversary celebrations. The posters were displayed during the Presbytery and Synod meeting held at Adelaide West Uniting Church from 23-24 June, and formed an important part of the anniversary display and celebrations at the meeting.
The posters are now on display in the foyer of the Presbytery and Synod office (Level 2, 212 Pirie Street, Adelaide).
Congregations are invited to borrow these posters for use in their own displays or activities. Please email the KCO office on email@example.com with your name and contact details, church name and the week you would like to collect a poster.
A few of the children’s hopes and prayers for the Church:
"I want the Uniting Church to look like... nice, kind, caring, kid-friendly, encouraging, totally awesome, really fun, interactive services."
"More children, more craft, adventure playground"
"That they will continue teaching people about God and Jesus"
"Dear Lord, may the Uniting Church become a home for refugees."
"Dear God, I pray that you can keep all the members of the church safe. Amen! :)"
"happy, friendly, strong, camps, support missionaries"
"Pray that the church will still love God"
"Lots more chocolate x1000000"
"Dear Lord, I pray that you can make the churches all over the world learn something about you that they never knew about you. Amen!!!"
"More activities and explanations for kids at church."
"The Uniting Church could continue to run camps for kids and teenagers. They could also open up charities and money for refugees and people who are less fortunate. We need to care for everyone in the entire world with our money."
"Lots more youth activities. Bouncy pillows at every church. Pets at churches."
"Dear God, Please help the Uniting Church. Amen."
"Dear God, please bless everyone in the church. Please make more people come to our church. Yay church! I love church!"
"I hope that the church excepts and supports multi cultural and people with different ethnisity!"
"Dear God I hope the churches will increase so more people want to know you."
"Dear God thank you for KCO. Thank you for my family."
"I pray that in 40 years Uniting Churches will still be loving Jesus."
See more examples – and images of some of the prayers – in the KCO section of the Uniting Church SA website here.
More from Faith
For thousands of years now, missionaries have been willing to undertake thankless tasks in overlooked corners of the planet, serving unknown people for no material reward, often with little discernible effect. Are you willing to be numbered among them?
Church members across Australia this year have celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Uniting Church in Australia – but the Church is not the only one marking a milestone. This article shares the story of Pattie Iles who celebrated her 100th birthday earlier this year.