by the Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

August, September, and October have meant a return to (masked, socially distant, well-sanitized) in person ministry. I wanted to share with you some (but not all) of what children, youth, and families have been up to together.

Bev Kirk noticed this week that our 9th graders in confirmation are articulating an almost-universal tenderness toward their families. Mom inspires my faith, one said. My grandfather taught me how to pray, another told us. My aunt gave me a book about God that I cherish (because my aunt gave it to me, and also because it’s actually interesting), another one said.

Christine Hides noticed this week that our 5th and 6th graders have started offering up genuine, affectionate prayer requests. We prayed for lots of hard things this week, one said.

Greta Connor noticed that we are being so creative and have so many options for families. We are truly reaching many families in flexible adaptive ways, she said.

Amy Castino noticed this week that our preschool chapel matters to our 3 and 4 year olds. They carry God home with them all weekend long, she said after being handed a drawing from a 4 year old on Monday morning that said “CHAPEL” in big 4 year old script, with a drawing of Amy and I (glasses for Pastor Katie, of course), and Doogie (Bill Evertsberg’s puppy) together with kids on their yoga mats in the memorial garden.

Kate Revord noticed that our 7th and 8th graders are longing for community. We’ll have to offer two sessions of youth group, she suggested last week after hitting capacity 3 weeks in a row.

Silvi Pirn noticed that our high school students are longing to serve. Yes, you can come paint a mural in the manse, she said to one of our young artists. Yes, you can come by after school in small groups to work on our college care packages, she said to our IMPACT fam longing to be together. Yes, let’s be together. Yes, let’s care for one another, the wider community, the earth, and those who are suffering.

I am deeply grateful for a wide, kind, generous team of people bringing kids and youth together this fall. Reach out if you’d like to hear more. God-moments and stories of gratitude abound.

About those named above:

—Bev Kirk is a church member who has volunteered to lead ninth grade confirmation for the last 10+ years and is grateful to be able to serve in socially distant joyful ways this fall.

—Rev. Christine Hides is our resident Methodist Deacon and Director of Christian Education who leads all of our online and in person socially distant Sunday School programs that have been re-imagined as Family Faith Formation during COVID-19, and she also leads Middle School Youth Group with myself, Chris Johnson, and a small cohort of amazing 8th grade volunteers.

—Greta Connor is on our Children’s Ministry staff and has a background in teaching art, which means our kids are benefiting from her creative, kind, patient, community-centered perspective.

—Amy Castino is our Preschool Director who has been working double time (at least) to get A Joyful Noise Preschool off the ground this fall, to great success.

—Kate Revord is a church member and college senior who transferred schools to be closer to home, who is working for us in Youth Ministry this fall, bringing joy and passion and light.

—Silvi Pirn is our Director of Youth Ministry who oversees the Junior High Youth Group, the Senior High IMPACT mission program and a ministry to young adults called “Theology on Tap.” She’s moved her office over to the Warwick Manse this fall to create a COVID-19 friendly youth hub, and I’m sure she’d welcome a visit from any of our current or former youth!!