Luke 2: 40
Children learn by watching and listening. They watch adults practice their faith, and then emulate those practices in their own life; they listen to adults who don't have all the answers, and then learn it's ok not to have all the answers, too. We believe that parents are the primary evangelists to their children, and we believe that the congregation has role into that formation, too.
Because of this, Ware Church has intentionally set up its Christian Formation program to not separate children and youth from the adults in the congregation, but to provide space for them to be together. We welcome children and youth fully into all that we do and have physically created spaces that are welcoming for all ages.
First, we want kids to be present in worship! In our Historic Church, we have enhanced our pew lay-out so that there is a soft space for toddlers and children to move more freely, and have created a space to hold strollers and carseats for infants. We want them to learn the rhythms of standing and kneeling, picking up a hymnal and singing, and humbly going forward to receive the Eucharist. We want them to be next to their parents, so that they can watch and see others participating in the same actions. Children and Youth are invited to participate in the liturgical life of the Church by serving in age-appropriate capacities of acolyting and lay reading. We do have a nursery staffed for Pre-K aged children and younger on Sundays.
In our Parish Hall, we have a space dedicated for children to explore - and we always have space for them at "the adult's table." Our adult life-long learning program is facilitated so that every age is able to participate in a way that they can. Conversations are led in a way that is accessible for adults and high school and middle school students. For elementary aged students, we have an interactive Montessori style class to help instill the basics, so that they are ready to engage in mature conversation with they are older. The Rev. Scott Parnell, our Rector, taught middle and high school theology for ten years prior to accepting his call to serve at Ware, as well as served as a full-time youth minister. It is with this passion and experience that we intentionally welcome all into the conversation.
There will be times and places for age-specific conversation related to where our children are in their development. And, the emphasis we put on it, is being together.