St. Mark’s motto, “many members, one body” could read “many members and ages, one body.” Last week was Youth Sunday. The children and youth were on hand to assist with all aspects of the service. They served as greeters, door openers and ushers. They also read scripture, played instruments and assisted at the altar.
“Youth Sunday is a reflection of who we are as a church – many ages, many backgrounds,” said member Lana Fitzgerald. “This service was wonderful,” said member Shirley Woolaway. “The children, youth and their teachers did a wonderful job.”
The service was the culmination of Christian formation for the first to fourth graders known as the Littles. Their classes are called Godly Play: A Montessori based open classroom with hands-on manipulatives.
“It gives children a language for their spiritual life,” said Director of Christian Formation for Young Children, Kathy Campbell. “Godly Play is based upon the recognition that children have an innate sense of the presence of God. All they lack is the appropriate language to help them identify and express it so it can be explored and strengthened.
In addition to the Christian formation classes on Sundays the Littles and their families gathered twice a month for a shared meal and an occasional outing. Once a month the Rev. Dr. Kyle Bennett, St. Mark’s rector, led the children on Fr. Kyle’s Mystery Tour.
“We learn about the mystery of God’s love for us,” said Bennett. “This is something you never really graduate from.” The tour was a way to introduce the children to all the aspects of worship. Once a month they met with a different ministry within the church. The Littles were introduced to Altar Guild members who shared what it takes to prepare the Eucharist. Another time they met with the Acolytes, the ministers of worship, to learn what it takes to be an acolyte, and how they serve God, the parish and the priest. The Parish Administrator also gave them a tour of the offices and explained how everyone functions.
“The tour helped the children understand the flow of the services, and why we do what we do in our praise and worship,” said parent Jessica Dawson.
The final tour for this school year was on May 17 and the church lady was there. Dr. Ron Doiron, St. Mark’s director of music gave the tour. The children rang the church bell and explored all areas of music ministry from the organ, to the handbells, to various percussion instruments. He showed them the technology he uses with the organ and each had the opportunity to sound the organ. For many the best part of the tour was sounding the organ. He also introduced them to the handbells and showed them various techniques. The tour concluded with more hands-on fun as the children experimented with the various Orff instruments that are used to teach children music. There is nothing like being in a small room with a dozen children playing with percussion instruments.
“It is their church too,” said Doiron. “They need to know that someone is playing the music and in time they can participate themselves.”
The Church Lady also asked the children what they learned about God this year as they munched on pizza and an assortment of vegetables.
“I learned about God’s power,” said eight-year-old Elsie Prodanov. “He can do anything in the world. I also learned that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He forgives our sins.”
Andie Strohm, age nine, learned that “God will always have a plan for you. Six-year-old Easton learned that, “Jesus always knows what you are doing in life.”
McKinley Champau, age nine, enjoyed the many stories, songs, learning about Jesus and the Bible. “God’s always with us and he looks over us,” she said. She understood the meaning of Easter and Christmas. “Easter is about celebrating that Christ rose from the dead. He died on the cross for all our sins to go away. Christmas isn’t about presents; it’s about Christ’s birth.”
“My children are much more inquisitive about God’s relation ship to their everyday lives,” said mother of two Ashley Lupo. “They say ‘what would God say about this?’ ” They also have a heightened awareness to be good stewards and to be charitable.
Mother of two Elizabeth Strohm appreciated both the opportunity to get spiritual guidance for her family and to socialize with like-minded parents. “The children have a good time and are nurtured spiritually,” said Strohm.
“We are just regular people following God and helping each other,” said Kristen Champeau of Naples. “It’s nice to have people to lean on.” She also appreciates the warm environment and how easy it is to talk to Fr. Kyle.
Although classes have concluded, the Littles’ families plan to keep in touch and get together over the summer. Additionally, three church members, Jessica Dawson, Emily Roch and the Rev. Sue Price recently completed 18 hours of Godly Play training and will be the new story tellers when classes resume in the fall. Plans are also underway for Vacation Bible School. See the calendar section for details.
Kathleen Tuttle, a Marco Island resident since 1987, has written articles for various nonprofits for more than 25 years. She is a community volunteer, former science teacher and microbiologist.
New Life Community Church of God
Alcoholics for Christ, a new ministry for victory over addictive lifestyles, meets 6:30 p.m., Fridays in the fellowship hall. For information call Mike at (313) 530-3395.
Marco Lutheran Church
Splash, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Sundays in the Family Room. Parents and children from birth to five years old gather together to learn about Jesus and meet new people as they are equipped to be their child’s spiritual leader. Parents will receive take home tools to provide practical ways to reinforce what was learned during the session as well as a free “The Big Picture Story Bible”.
Marco Presbyterian Church
A weekly Friday morning Women’s Summer Bible Study, “Discovering the God of Second Chances” begins 9 a.m., June 3, in room 10 in the Fellowship Hall. The study based on the book “Discovering the God of Second Chances” by Kay Arthur and Pete De Lacy will focus on four Minor Prophets – Jonah, Joel, Amos and Obadiah. Newcomers and experienced Bible students will find insight and inspiration as the authors highlight the striking similarities between the twenty-first century and the times of these prophets. Books are $7 and will be available the first day of class. For information contact Bonnie at 389-0759.
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOLS
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Camp St. Mark’s, entitled “Passport from Jesus: “God Is Everywhere”, 5 to 7 p.m., June 13 to 17 for rising kindergarten through the fifth grade. Free. Kid dinner at 5 p.m. followed by special music, storytelling, games and crafts. There will be a closing assembly at 5 p.m. on Friday with a Family BBQ wrap up party.
To register call 248-7461or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marco Presbyterian Church
Children age five to ten are invited to learn about God’s unconditional love at “Pandamania: Where God is Wild about You” Vacation Bible School, 5 to 8 p.m., June 20 to 23. Free. Simple supper at 5 p.m. There will be drama, crafts, games, music and interactive Bible lessons. Parents are invited to attend 9 a.m. Sunday School and 10:30 a.m. Worship followed by Vacation Bible School’s celebration BBQ on June 26. Call the church or visit www.marcochurch.com/VBS2011 to register. Register by June 13 and get a free Pandamania music CD. Registration will also be available at the door.
First Baptist Family Church
“Kickin’ it Old School,” 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., June 27 to July 1. Call the church to register.
New Life Community Church of God
“Shake it up Café”, 3 to 6 p.m., July 18 to 22. Call the church for information.
San Marco Catholic Church
Children are invited to learn about Jesus at “Inside Out and Upside Down on Main Street: Where Jesus Makes a Difference Every Day”, 9 a.m. to noon, July 25 to 29 in the Parish Center. Call the church or visit www.vacationbibleschool.com/sanmarco to register.