Devotional Subject: Children

Devotional Subject: Children

Child of Blessing, Child of Promise

Emily C. Heath

It's up to the adults in children's lives to lift them up, and bless them on their path. And Advent is as good a time as any to start. 


"The Little Things"

Matt Fitzgerald

When I was a child head lice got a kid stigmatized. Today head lice are the new normal.


Whispered in Your Ear

This, in essence, is what we whisper in the ear of anyone who comes to be baptized: "You are God's beloved." Those are the first words we hear. That is who we are.


Justice for Children

"I will pour down rain on a thirsty land, showers on the dry ground. I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessings on your children. They shall spring up like a green tamarisk, like poplars by a flowing stream." —Isaiah 44:3-4

boy-with-soccer-ball.jpgThe promise of God's blessings for children has been affirmed down the generations of faith from the time that God first promised to Abraham and Sarah that their offspring would be as numerous as the stars. Jesus not only welcomed the child, but asked everyone to enter into the eternal realm of God's blessings as children. Children are not only invited, but show us the way.

Children have the right to develop spiritually, intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally, and to live in conditions of freedom and dignity. Because children are powerless and often live with adults who are poor and have little voice, there is a tendency not to see or hear them. Too often, their basic needs go unfulfilled.

The United Church of Christ has a long tradition of affirming public policies that generate and distribute resources in ways that provide all people, including children, with the potential to live healthy and productive lives. The covenant of God is with all children of our nation and the world, not just with the children who share our church life.  

Homegrown Faith and Justice: Conversations on Faith Formation at Home

What is the unique role parents and guardians play in the faith formation of their families?  What are the joys and challenges parents encounter as they try to raise children with faith, empathy, a sense of fairness and the courage to act justly? How is the church supporting them, and how might we further support their efforts?  Join us for this conversation with a panel of colleagues on the intersections of faith formation, justice advocacy, and the unique role of parents as the primary faith teachers of children in day-to-day life. Learn about Homegrown Faith and Justice, a use-at-home resource for families that's been published thanks to a sponsorship from the United Church of Christ Minnesota Ashley Endowment Fund.  

Bullying and What We Can Do to Stop It

asian-pre-schooler.jpgBullying is a form of abuse of power, when one young person or a peer group abuses a vulnerable young person over a period of time.  Bullying happens among young women and young men, among boys and girls. It can be physical or emotional. 

There is evidence that a community or a school or a church can take steps to create a culture of respect that reduces bullying significantly.  As people of faith we are called to help our communities reduce bullying. Learn more.

Tracking Child Poverty

Child Poverty and Inequality... and Budget Cuts at State and Federal Levels.

Our 2012 Message on Public Education explores, in depth, how poverty impacts children's performance at school.

Additional UCC Web Pages that Address Justice for Children

Bullying: What We Can Do to Stop It

Child Care and Early Education

Child Poverty and Inequality... and Budget Cuts at State and Federal Levels

Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Children and Youth

Human Sexuality and Children

Public Education


Activity Sheets for Children

Children's Activities - May 26, 2013

Children's Activities - May 19, 2013

Children's Activities - May 12, 2013

Children's Activities - May 5, 2013

Children's Activities - April 28, 2013

Children's Activities - April 21, 2013

Children's Activities - April 14, 2013

Children's Activities - April 7, 2013

Children's Activities - March 31, 2013

Children's Activities - March 24, 2013

Children's Activities - March 17, 2013

Children's Activities - March 10, 2013

Children's Activities - March 3, 2013

Children's Activities - February 24, 2013

Children's Activities - February 17, 2013

Children's Activities - February 10, 2013

Children's Activities - February 3, 2013

Children's Activities - January 27, 2013

Children's Activities - January 20, 2013

Children's Activities - January 13, 2013

Children's Activities - January 6, 2013

Children's Activities - December 30, 2012

Children's Activities - December 23, 2012

Children's Activities - December 16, 2012

Children's Activities - December 9, 2012

Children's Activities - December 2, 2012

Children's Activities - November 25, 2012

Children's Activities - November 18, 2012

Children's Activities - November 11, 2012

Children's Activities - November 4, 2012

Children's Activities - October 28, 2012

Children's Activities - October 21, 2012

Children's Activities - October 14, 2012

Children's Activities - October 7, 2012

Children's Activities - September 30, 2012

Children's Activities - September 23, 2012

Children's Activities - September 16, 2012

Children's Activities - September 9, 2012

Children's Activities - September 3, 2012

Children's Activities - August 26, 2012

Children's Activities - August 19, 2012

Children's Activities - August 12, 2012

Children's Activities - August 5, 2012

Children's Activities - July 29, 2012

Children's Activities - July 22, 2012

Children's Activities - July 15, 2012

Children's Activities - July 8, 2012

Children's Activities - July 1, 2012

Children's Activities - June 24, 2012

Children's Activities - June 17, 2012

Children's Activities - June 10, 2012

Children's Activities - June 3, 2012

Children's Activities - May 27, 2012

Children's Activities - May 20, 2012

Children's Activities - May 13, 2012

Children's Activities - May 6, 2012

Children's Activities - April 1, 2012

Children's Activities - March 25, 2012

Children's Activities - March 18, 2012

Children's Activities - March 11, 2012

Children's Activities - March 4, 2012

Children's Activities - February 26, 2012

Children's Activities - February 19, 2012

Children's Activities - February 12, 2012

Children's Activities - February 5, 2012


Resources for Children

All creatures great and small, our loving God made us all! 

NEW Resources -- weekly activity sheets

 

S A F E   F U N   G A M E S

 Coloring Game - Simply move the mouse over the screen to "paint" images.  Try to make a butterfly or     anything else your imagination sees.

 
Sparkle Stars - Move your mouse over the screen to see "stars" follow your cursor.

 
Random Designs - Practice clicking your mouse buttons to change the colors of the designs. 


When you are finished with any of the games below, simply use the back left arrow (Alt + Left) to return to the previous page.

 
Drawing Pad - Simply use the pencil to sketch anything that you can imagine.


 
Matching Fruit - Match the fruit in this memory game, once they are all pair up, try again!


 
Marble Puzzle - This one is a little harder, hop one marble over another until only one marble is left on the board.

 


Children's Sabbath

[God] shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. (Micah 4:1-5)

Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil is an annual fall advocacy and prayer project of the Family and Children's Ministries partnership of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This year's vigil begins on September 14th, five weeks before the National Observance of Children's Sabbath weekend on October 17-19 sponsored by the Washington DC based Children's Defense Fund (CDF).

This year’s theme is “Precious in God’s Sight: Answering the Call to Cherish and Protect Every Child.” The 2014 Children’s Sabbath focuses on how we can ensure every child a strong start in life by investing in early childhood development. Needless to say, these are rough times for children and there are numerous other issues relating to children’s health and safety which need our prayer and advocacy. A free worship, faith formation and advocacy resource packet for Christian faith community can be downloaded at: http://www.childrensdefense.org/programs-campaigns/faith-based-action/childrens-sabbaths/. Thousands of congregations from multiple faith communities unite during Children’s Sabbath weekend to simultaneously witness for children through prayer, education, and worship.

As usual, this year’s Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil booklet written by UCC and Disciples faith leaders and edited by Disciples pastor Rev. Tim Graves will be available for download at: http://lightacandle.blogspot.com/ or available on Facebook at: “Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil”. Light aCandle daily meditations can also be received by email or the RSS feed. Also available is a brochure with tips for implementing the Light a Candle Vigil in your congregation.

It is important to note that our Family and Children's Ministries Light A Candle for Children vigil and advocacy program and the Children's Sabbath Celebration is a part of a growing children's advocacy movement that seeks to unite communities and religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and a common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf.

If you are interested in becoming involved our ongoing United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) children's advocacy efforts please contact one of our three Ministers for Family and Children's Ministries including myself, Rev. Dr. Kate Epperly (epperlyk@ucc.org),  Rev. Olivia Stewart Robertson (orobertson@dhm.disciples.org) or  Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove (obupdegrove@dhm.disciples.org).

You are encouraged to use and adapt the Family and Children's Ministries' Light a Candle for Children Vigil and Children’s Sabbath Celebration resources in whatever ways you feel are most appropriate for your congregation. Remember, a congregation does not need to have children among its active members to be engaged in children's ministry!

Kids2Kids

Visit the Kids2Kids website. 

KIDS To KIDS, a children's mission program that gives children in North America opportunities to learn about and serve children from other parts of the world.

Here you will find everything you need to create a memorable experience for your whole faith community. The program can be adapted for use in small or large congregations, in urban or rural settings with many or few resources and everything in-between. It can be held during the day or evening. It can be adapted for church school classes or other small group experiences including Vacation Bible School.

This curriculum is web-based so that it is available to all, free of charge!

Tell us what you think...


Bullying: What We Can Do to Stop It

Bullying happens at school.  It happens at church.  It happens in all kinds of communities, in fact in every community. 

Bullying is a form of abuse of power, when one young person or a peer group abuses a vulnerable young person over a period of time.  Bullying happens among young women and young men, among boys and girls. It can be physical or emotional. 

There is evidence that a community or a school or a church can take steps to create a culture of respect that reduces bullying significantly.  As people of faith we are called to help our communities reduce bullying.

General Synod 27, July 2009, passes resolution to support LGBT students in public schools and their advocates.  "Affirming Diversity/Multicultural Education in the Public Schools" seeks to create a progressive Christian witness in support of organizations that provide diversity education at school to build tolerance for all people, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families, along with people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, abilities, social classes and faiths. The resolution was sponsored by the Northern California, Nevada Conference, where UCC pastors who provide diversity education and public school districts that include information around gender identity and sexual orientation in their curricula have been harassed by organized protests and lawsuits.

Staff across several ministries of the United Church of Christ have gathered together resources on this page from a number of points of view.  Just as the reduction of bullying must be a collaborative endeavor, this page is our effort to bring the perspectives of several portfolios on the UCC national staff.

Resources from the UCC

Background and Definitions:

Reflections

Information from other Organizations

Books of Interest

  • Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies by Ellen Bass and Kate Kaufman.
  • Coming Out Young and Faithful, from UCC LGBTQ advocates Leanne McCall Tigert and Timothy Brown, and published by the Pilgrim Press, is filled with stories and information, including ministry and advocacy resources.  It will help individuals and faithful communities open doors of affirmation, love, and commitment to the needs of LGBT youths and young adults.
  • After 25 years living in Los Angeles, J. Kelly Poorman returned to the small Pennsylvania town where he grew up. He helped his UCC congregation to become Open and Affirming and he has written a book and a play for adolescents.  Check out his J. Kelly Poorman's website for more information about his books.

Videos

  • Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History from Teaching Tolerance of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This film is the true story of a student bullied through middle and high school in Ashland, Wisconsin, a student who later sued successfully for federal protection of his right to be protected at school.  The film's portrayal of bullying demonstrates what bullying is and what can be done about it.  It is disturbing without being sensationalized.  Very accurate portrayal of the target's suffering and the anguish of his family.  The case is successful: a hopeful story of empowerment.  Highly recommended for middle and high school use.
  • It's Elementary  is a wonderful film from Groundspark, formerly Women's Educational Media, that shows what happens when schools and teachers introduce the subject of homophobia in an age-appropriate way into elementary and middle schools.  In every location and for every child from first through eighth grade, students know about this subject and have misinformation they have gleaned from peers and the media.  The children experience a sense of relief to be allowed to discuss the fearful messages they have absorbed and to give up their fear as they separate myths and stereotypes from facts.
  • That's A Family!  also from Groundspark, lets children take viewers on a tour through their lives as they speak candidly about what it's like to grow up in a family with parents of different races or religions, divorced parents, a single parent, gay or lesbian parents, adoptive parents or grandparents as guardians.
  • Oliver Button is a Star  (now available for $5.00 from the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus) is the artistically stunning 56 minute video based on children's author-illustrator, Tomie dePaola's book, Oliver Button Is a Sissy.  As dePaola himself reads the story to a group of children, it is musically dramatized by the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus—spliced with childhood home-movie footage and current interviews with dePaola himself, arctic explorer Ann Bancroft, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, and make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin. dePaola's own illustrations are animated and spliced into the film as well. This video celebrates the extraordinary gifts of four children who were teased, bullied, and harassed because their interests and behavior didn't conform to gender-defined expectations.  We also learn about their parents and other adults who were their allies. 

Worship Resources

Prayer from the Hibbert Trust, in the UK, including the following words: "Bullies' words sting and slice through me. Bulllies' words twist into shapes that beat me and leave me like a trampled leaf... Help us to disentangle the knots of confusion and misunderstanding. To understand the hurts that others feel - that we have ignored. Help us to speak of what we feel. Help us to know when others need to speak so that then we can l listen." 
A LItany for Safety in Our Schools, by Rev. Bill Johnson


Bullying: A Theological Reflection

  

The best known parable of Jesus, the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:  29-37, is one that can be considered from many points of view.  Didn’t the ‘man’ realize that the path from Jerusalem to Jericho was fraught with danger?  Who were the ‘robbers’ and what motivated their destructive behavior?  And the priest – what did he learn in seminary?  Why didn’t the Levite, a worker in the temple, have care and compassion in his heart?

Bullying always involves three parties: a bully, a victim, and a witness or witnesses.  We can see these figures in the biblical story. The bully has, of course, already done his work and has left the scene before we arrive to watch. The beaten man in the road is obviously the victim.  In this story the focus is really the behavior of the witnesses.

The Good Samaritan demonstrates several positive traits when he cares for the beaten man. We want to plant these traits into our children’s hearts and minds---to help our children to absorb the truth of these words. The Good Samaritan stops; he cares for the man lying in the road.  The story is an empowering lesson about our responsibility to care for each of our brothers and sisters. It is also a lesson that runs counter to what children may hear and see on the playground, in school, on TV or even at home. 

In this story there are also important lessons about the inaction of those who pass by.   The priest and Levite may be experiencing widely varying feelings when confronted with the man injured along the road. Perhaps one of them feels aversion. Maybe the other fears that a similar tragedy might happen to him if he remains to assist the  man who has been beaten and robbed.  Perhaps in the future one of these passers by will be haunted by knowing he did nothing to help. 

The Parable of the Good Samaritan can be understood as a starting place to expose personal and societal forms of bullying.   Is what we hear on the playground, in the halls of school, what we read on Facebook pages so different than what we see acted out by adults in abusive political statements or from the pulpit, statements of racism, sexism, homophobia?

Jesus asks the lawyer: “Which of the three, the priest, the Levite or the Samaritan, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”  The lawyer answers:  “The one who showed him mercy.”  Jesus says to him, “Go and do likewise.”