I Know You

. Posted in DCE's Blog

Our last CD meeting was at a restaurant in Germantown. As we were leaving, this young boy looked at me and said, “I know you. Do you work at Farmington School?” I said no and he looked perplexed.

Then William asked if he knew Mrs. Warren, the music teacher. He smiled and confirmed that he did.

That gave me just enough time to think and I asked, “Did you attend VBS at CPCG?” Once again he smiled and replied yes.

He and I were off talking about whether he enjoyed the week and would come back next year. He affirmed that it was a great experience and that he would want to attend next year.

It confirmed for me that in Christian nurture relationships are important. The children and youth may not remember after-the-fact exactly when they discussed a certain Bible story or theological concept. They will remember those teachers and leaders who were there for them Sunday after Sunday. Adults, too, are influenced by the way teachers and leaders relate to them – not putting them on the spot, accepting their thoughts and opinions, etc.  Relationships are important.

That boy was only at our church 5 days and in our storytelling center for 30 minutes a day. I didn’t ask him if he remembered any of the VBS stories. He obviously didn’t have time to associate me two months later with the church, but “I know you.” He really didn’t say, but I hope that knowing me spoke of good things for him.

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Thinking About the Nurture of Adults

. Posted in DCE's Blog

When I was 12, my dad was transferred and my family moved to Vermilion, Ohio; it's a small town right on Lake Erie and about 40 miles west of Cleveland. Immediately our family began to search for a church. There were no Presbyterian churches in the town and certainly no Cumberland Presbyterian church.

In the quest for a church, we discovered a denomination unfamiliar to us, the United Church of Christ. There happened to be two UCC churches in town. We visited the first of the two. The people were friendly. The worship service was good, but there were no children or younger youth in worship. As it turned out, Sunday school for children and younger youth was held during worship. That meant there was no worship service for children and youth and no Sunday school for adults.

At 12 years-of-age, I probably could have adjusted just fine to that church. I overheard my parents talking. My dad, in particular, voiced a concern for the arrangement. I suppose it could be said that it was just not the kind of arrangement to which he was accustomed. That's not how I heard it though. He seemed to be saying that there was a place for adults in Sunday school; adults still had things to learn.

Well, you probably guessed it. We wound up at the other UCC church which had a schedule more like the one we have here at CPCG.

I invited former DCE, Donna Heflin to share her thoughts about Sunday school for adults. Read her contribution to the DCE blog.

Why SS Is Important for Adults

As an adult, I have drifted from class to class -- not drifted because a wind blew me in that direction, but because of what was being offered and how that spoke to my life. So I guess you could say a spiritual wind did blow me in the direction of a particular Sunday School class. Sunday School has provided me a place to be with a smaller group of people to hear and express ideas that either comfort or stretch me: a place where questioning and disagreeing is permitted and encouraged and a place where rolling out of the chair laughter can be heard. During particularly stressful times in my life I've found a place of comfort in an adult Sunday school class. I married and had children late (by some people's standards). At CPCG you aren't viewed as incomplete because you aren't married/partnered or don't have kids.

I haven't found Sunday school to be a place where I felt compelled to race to find a particular scripture in the Bible first. In fact I've been known to have a brain freeze and forget an entire book of the Bible. You don't have to be a Bible scholar to attend. In fact sometimes the less you know can help because you don't have the excess baggage of particular ideas. We are constantly being formed in our faith journey.

All of these ideas of what an adult Sunday school class is are foreign to the ideas I grew up with in the church. As a child I thought when you become an adult you got all the answers to life's questions. It was shocking to discover there are actually more questions. As a child we did have "Sword Drills" where we raced to see who could find the most scripture passages first. What we didn't do was wrestle with those scriptures to discover how the passage spoke to our everyday lives as Christians. We were given lists of things to remember. But we weren't given the connection between those lists and the actions of a Christian life.

Why should you attend an adult Sunday school class at CPCG? People like Richard Raines and Blake Chappell will greet you with a warm smile making you feel welcome and accepted. You will have the opportunity to hear Frank Ward and Dudley Condron share ideas using word pictures you've never imagined. Jim Shannon might appear as a judge introducing the class to a lesson on "Judges". Teachers like Linda McGroom , Joyce Grimes and Davis Gray spend time preparing to introduce you to a Bible passage or concept in a way that can be remembered and drawn upon during the week.

Feel free to drift into the Adult Sunday School Class you choose. See Adult Class selections here.

Donna Heflin
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VBS - And What Will They Remember?

. Posted in DCE's Blog

VBS is over at CPCG for 2012. It was a creative, tiring, fun-filled week! As Bill and I prepared for our storytelling center, I did some reminiscing about my own VBS experiences.

I remembered my mother working in VBS. We’d start out early picking up other kids to attend. I thought about others in the church who taught me music, crafts, etc. I remembered the time that my mother’s clay Jacob’s well sort of melted onto my zippered Bible. Of course, I remembered the kool-aid and the homemade cookies. It was a rural church and I remembered standing in the cemetery waiting to process into the sanctuary to do the pledges to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible; not all my memories were pleasant ones!

What will our children remember from the week? Maybe, like me, they’ll remember Ocho and DC, some of the songs, Bill trying to pass himself off as John the Baptist, a favorite craft, a particular explosion in science, snack time and games, or how the church looked.

Years down the road, those memories will fade. So, what will they remember for the long term? First, they’ll remember the overall good feeling about the week. Like me, they may think about the people who worked in VBS and, as they mature, they’ll come to understand that these people put themselves into their roles because of their own faith and commitment. They may not remember talking about the faith of Naaman’s servant girl; after all, they’ll hear that story many times in many settings – Sunday school, worship, camp perhaps. Admittedly they won’t remember that they heard a particular Bible story in VBS; somehow though, through God’s spirit and the people who put their faith into action, these children will have “caught” some of what it means to live the Christian life. What more could we hope for! Thanks be to God for VBS!

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A Measure of What We Do

. Posted in DCE's Blog

As you are aware, the children in our church have been involved in Mission Mondays. Many of us have only been able know about their experiences by hearing adults report on them or by talking to some of the children who have been involved.

Sunday was a bit different; we walked into the church to see bags and bags of groceries in the C. E. building—some 81 sacks. While I was on vacation during this time, I knew the children had delivered bags to the neighborhood and that Saturday was pick-up day. Seeing all those bags excited me about the response from English Meadows. I suspect the children and adults working with them shared that excitement and were thankful for the neighborhood's generosity.

I was expressing appreciation to Jaime Groce, who is on the Outreach Ministry Team and spear-headed the effort. He said, "We helped the children to know that they provided a way for people to respond to a need."

As we start a new Christian education year in September, this gives us something to ponder.

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A Village Called CPCG

. Posted in DCE's Blog

May has been a month of reminders to me about the nature of Christian nurture. It begins before birth actually and continues throughout life. It involves many people. It's complex and it's simple.

My first reminder was the blessing service. The father of one of the graduates stood and expressed appreciation for all who had been involved in his daughter's Christian growth; he said, "It takes a village." True. It began though with those parents – the way they lived their lives, the things they did and said in her growing up years, the values they exhibited, their expectations, their own involvement in the church. Fortunately, there were people in the church ready to help – her teachers, her youth leaders, and those in the congregation who were interested in her, talked to her, and shared her life. It went beyond the congregation to camps, conferences, and mission trips offered by the presbytery and denomination.

Then, we came to last Sunday. Three of our youth had been confirmands, going through the mentoring process. They stood and were introduced by their mentors. Certainly, it was clear that unique relationships had been formed during this several-month process. As they professed their faith and became members of CPCG, I said a silent prayer of thanks for them, their families, their mentors, their pastor, and this congregation. Yes, it takes a village.

It's a good time to think about who "in this village called CPCG" helps to nurture you. It's a good time to think about your "role in this village called CPCG." It may be a time for a prayer of thanks. It may be a time for re-commitment to being a contributor to "this village."

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