Children, young people and families are extremely welcome at Christ Church Cathedral. They are a very important part of our congregation. We have a comprehensive program for children, young people and families, through which we work to build relationships with them, strengthen their relationships with each other, and help them journey deeper and deeper into the mystery and love of God.
Children, Youth and Family Ministry Vision
In the spring of 2017, following consultations with children, youth, families and the wider congregation, a vision for the CYFM was developed. The vision for Children’s Youth and Family ministries (CYFM) at the Cathedral is grounded in the wider Cathedral vision/values of Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds. Our aim is to help children and youth embrace those values in age-appropriate ways, and grow into that more deeply over time.
The core of our vision is to help children and youth to know they are full members of the community, and grow in Christian faith and relationships with others through:
- open and affirming education, grounded in scripture, tradition, reason and experience
- intelligent discourse that can encompass a broad spectrum of ideas
- developing their capacity for informed reflection
- acts of compassion
- opportunities for service within and beyond the community
- understanding of justice
- exposure to and engagement with the arts (including music)
- participation in meaningful worship.
- opportunities for play
The full document can be found here (CYFM Vision Statement – April 2017).
The Cathedral offers children’s ministry during the 10:30 am service. Children’s Church is intended to be for children in kindergarten through grade 7, divided into two groups: grades K-3 (ages 5-8) and grades 4-7 (ages 9-12). These age boundaries are in place in order to be able to build age-appropriate curriculum, as well as to enable smaller groups. At the 10:30am service there is also Toddler Church: a supervised nursery space for ages 1-4.
Children begin Sunday mornings by gathering downstairs in either the Godly Play space or the Parish Hall any time after 10:15. A sign will be up in the downstairs hallway to indicate which age group will be in which room. Children’s Church leaders will be there to welcome them, and children engage in welcome activities or conversation while waiting for everyone to arrive. We begin right at 10:30. The children come upstairs at approximately 11:20 to join their families and the whole community for Eucharist. Children’s Church follows the same pattern of the liturgy upstairs: gathering, hearing the word, responding to the word through reflection and activities, and prayer.
We provide two curriculums that alternate age groups each week: Godly Play, which happens in the Godly Play space, and Spiritual Practices, which typically happens in the Parish Hall.
In the Godly Play space, we use Godly Play, which is a Montessori-based faith-formation program. Godly Play uses beautiful, hand-crafted materials to share Scripture and stories of our faith tradition. After this we ‘wonder’ together about the story and deeper meanings. Children are then invited to choose a centre at which to enrich their Godly Play experience. Centres may include art, craft, writing, reading, and story-telling activities, as well as games and puzzles.
Spiritual practices is a learning program that provides an introduction to different faith practices that help children to live out our vision Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds in age appropriate ways. Spiritual Practices will often incorporate adult members of the Parish sharing spiritual practices that are close to their hearts – music, art, drama – or may have a liturgical focus: baking communion bread, or preparing for a children and youth-led service.
There is a family lounge in the lower level of the Cathedral (“The Lounge”) which is staffed throughout the 10:30 service by qualified care-givers. Parents and guardians are welcome to leave their children there or to stay with them. If there are no child minders on a given Sunday, parents and their toddlers are welcome to use The Lounge as long as they remain there to supervise their child.
SPECIAL SPACE FOR CHILDREN
Some children prefer to stay upstairs with parents during the liturgy. There is a carpeted space designated for children at the front of the church, where there are opportunities for drawing, colouring, reading, playing games, and making puzzles in a quiet, respectful atmosphere. When we come back from Children’s Church, the children are invited to rejoin their families for communion and then, should they so wish, rejoin us at our designated space at the front.
We welcome children to participate fully in communion.
DURING THE 5.30PM ST. BRIGIDS EUCHARIST
Children and youth are a welcome part of the St Brigids circle. We are deepening ways to help children and youth connect with the liturgy and be part of the community by taking on active roles as they choose. For wee people, we provide a space in the circle with rugs, some quiet activities such as books, puzzles, creative materials and story materials. Please also feel free to bring some of your child’s favourite quiet activities, and snacks if they need them.
Every few weeks we have a Godly Play story for the whole community during the reflection time. This is an opportunity for intergenerational sharing and wondering together.
Youth groups meet every other Friday, 6:00 – 9:00pm. Junior Youth (grades 4-7) meet one week, Senior Youth (grades 8-12) meets the alternate week. Both groups begin with a simple supper and prayer, then the program may include games and activities, spiritual formation, conversations, excursions (to other church groups or events around the city), guest speakers or special projects together. Three retreats happen annually for senior youth members, on the Thanksgiving, Family Day and May long weekends.
Confirmation classes run annually for youth in their early teenage years to explore a wide range of theological questions and decide if they would like to be confirmed. Please see the weekly notes in the bulletin’s “Chronicle” or sign up for weekly email updates for a schedule and details about current youth programming.
WEEKLY EMAIL UPDATES
Anne Kessler is the Cathedral’s Children, Youth, and Family Ministries Coordinator. She sends out regular emails with information about what’s going on for children, young people and families at the Cathedral. The emails are aimed specifically at families, including families with nursery-aged children. They include information about youth programs, children’s church, confirmation classes, youth retreats, summer camps, family gatherings, interesting events around the city, and more. If you would like to receive these e-mails, just send a message to Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org.