A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR J.C. AUSTIN: Involving Everyone in Worship

The sacrament of Communion is both a command and a gift to the church by Christ, and is one of the central acts of worship that we do together as a congregation. Here at First Pres, we celebrate Communion on the first Sunday of the month so that it is a regular part of our worship life.

Communion is intended to be an act of the whole church, a way of binding us together with each other and with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. With Sunday School running concurrently with our worship services, our growing group of children has not been part of that Communion experience.

So, the Worship and Discipleship Committees decided that we needed to do something different on Sundays with Communion. For starters, we decided not to hold Sunday School on Sundays when Communion is happening. That way children can be a part of the full service, worshipping with their families and the whole congregation, and joining in the experience of Communion. In fact, our Sunday School teachers and Rev. Sue Bennetch worked together in Sunday School to help the children better understand what Communion is and why we share it. At the beginning of March, we began this new practice at both services, and it was wonderful to have children joining in.

In addition to welcoming children in worship, though, we want these services to be more accessible and engaging for children. So we are experimenting with two ways of doing that. First, you may notice that we use more prayers and songs with repetitive elements to them, like refrains, particularly at the 10:30 a.m. Traditional service. This is so children who cannot read or are just learning will find it easier to participate. And second, we want to incorporate children’s leadership in these worship services. So last month, we had two youths leading elements of the service like the Call to Worship and the Prayer of Dedication over the offerings.

This Sunday, the children from Sunday School will be giving the Children’s Chat! We’ll be looking for other ways to incorporate children and youth into leadership on Communion Sundays in the coming months, so if you have children who would be interested in serving this way, please email the Worship Committee or me and let us know!

Grace and Peace,