September Rector's message
Neither school nor one’s parents can teach you everything you will need to know. I specifically recall being taught to iron in the college laundry room: I knew the simplest parts, but not how to crease pants or shirts. The history of Sunday School as most of us have known it isn’t a particularly long one in the timeline of Christian history, only becoming widespread after WWI. The origin of the practice was a mission of teaching literacy and feeding for underprivileged young people, it wasn’t for the families of a congregation. The expectation was that households, what we would now consider private schooling, and tutors were teaching and shaping the faith. How well this was lived into varied widely, especially if the parent’s own understanding was limited. Coming out of the horrors of the world wars there was a notion that like having a child take music lessons will encourage music appreciation, Sunday School could inoculate a child from vice and evil and do the lion’s share of shaping lifelong faith. The people who led and loved and sang through the boom era, and did so as faithful disciples of peace, we give thanks and praise for them and for their living witness to God.
This ongoing pandemic era and the necessary choices it has demanded for the well-being of children has given us a huge gap of time to think and pray about the realities of this generation of young people and how we can best invite them into becoming lifelong learning disciples of Jesus. We have a plan to try something new. It may be something that is just for now, or it may be a bold (quietly bold) new way to get back to what matters - the shaping of faith, the sharing of the love of God. Starting in October we are offering a weekday night all-ages Christian education and formation encounter that we are calling Holy Unplugged. No screens, period. It will have dinner, all-ages teaching using the Godly Play method (yes Godly Play can be for adults too), age-based groups, then finish up with family-friendly Compline (which basically means pajama prayers). Holy Unplugged is a winding down in the presence of God and community. It is a night to not have to cook, it is a chance for parents of even babies to begin to learn and grow in their own faith. I have found tremendous fruitfulness from similar experiments at two previous parishes. I trust that it can be a blessing here.
All ages are welcome and invited to Holy Unplugged on Wednesday evenings, however, we also need your help reaching out to your friends and neighbors who lean on Jesus and want their children to know the sacred story. This isn’t just for ‘us’. Some of this plan may need to adapt based on what happens with this fresh wave of pandemic grief, however, we will be using Mussleman Hall for Holy Unplugged. And with the two exhaust fans and all the windows open it is just as good as being outside. Plus, if we need it, earlier this summer we were able to reuse some of the sound equipment that we replaced in the nave, and Mussleman now has a built-in sound system!
So you may be wondering, what happens with the time between the Sunday Services. The thing that we are not ready to try yet, my daydream, is some sort of ‘hot breakfast’ and either guest speakers, or fun conversations about the texts of the day. Perhaps by wintertime. For now, we will be having our Rite Questions Youth Confirmation series, which anyone is welcome to join in with.
For all the horrors of this era, there are also opportunities, movements of the Spirit of God that are leading us to try fresh ways of learning and growing across all ages. I give God thanks and praise for the possibilities that are built on a long history of love, hope, and hospitality. We don’t already know everything we need to know to walk with Jesus in the days ahead, but we do know that we walk with him, together. As safely as possible.
- Reverend Jane Gober