Children & Youth Update 6.9.20

Dear All Angels’ Family, It isn’t hard for adults to remember their child-selves eagerly awaiting summer vacation. My current angry-jumping-out-of-my-skin-screaming-on-the-inside feeling seems like a first cousin to that longing for languid summer days. Check out All Angels’ kids eager for school to be over. Kids might be looking forward to summer because they think it … Continue reading “Children & Youth Update 6.9.20”

Dear All Angels’ Family,

It isn’t hard for adults to remember their child-selves eagerly awaiting summer vacation. My current angry-jumping-out-of-my-skin-screaming-on-the-inside feeling seems like a first cousin to that longing for languid summer days. Check out All Angels’ kids eager for school to be over.

Kids might be looking forward to summer because they think it means…summer.  The rest of us are wondering what on earth does summer mean in 2020?  

Normally, All  Angels’ in June is chock-a-block full of celebrations of rites of passage:  we host high school seniors at the rectory, blessing them with words of affirmation and prayers for hopeful futures; we praise 5th graders and 8th graders advancing; a parish picnic makes room for the new Egg Tosser Winner Crown; parents of 5th graders host an ice cream sundae party for children; Sunday School prizes are distributed. Reading this list, I am stunned by the sweetness and Mayberry-town-ness of it all! OH MY GOSH! No wonder children and youth are happy at All Angels’.  Doesn’t that sound like the loveliest June EVER?

Sociologists describe it took only one generation for native Inuit communities to forget how to hunt whale. Easy access to food shipped from the lower 48 arrested this cultural tradition. The Covid-19 crisis has interrupted the “way we do church.” Zoom and FB livestreaming have handily sustained our access to one another much like truck routes connected Native Alaskan communities with food sources.

I don’t know if I can torture this analogy further, but I’ll try.  We’ve discovered that all calories are not the same.  Non-local, non-traditional foods lead to obesity, heart disease, and so on. Is our high Zoom diet (like a high carb diet) affecting our spiritual health? Is it diverse, comprised of all the food groups?

And THAT is what Jack, my colleague in children and youth ministry, and I are asking this summer.  Our vision for Children & Youth Ministry is the same whether we are swimming in Covid-19 or not: be a community where young people are prioritized, grown into leaders, connected by relationships of warmth in order to become the best neighbors living out Jesus’ message.  Since our 2016 Sticky Faith work with the Fuller youth Institute, we’ve grown as a church in living out this vision.  We pursued turbo-charged focus in our 2019-20 Growing Young Cohort.  The onset of a pandemic doesn’t change what we want, just how we pursue it. 

We’ll wrap up the ministry year with as many approximations of normal life as we can muster on Zoom.  During July, we’ll adopt a lighter footprint, connecting with kids and youth in ways that allow us to stay connected and to listen.   We need to listen to what is being said and not being said. During August, the children and youth themselves will keep the lights burning, with the help of some fresh volunteers.  Jack and I, though, will pivot, and don oxygen masks a.k.a take vacations!  Our prayer is that both listening and breathing will attune us to God’s voice and lead us to good plans for the September ministry launch. 

Do you want to be a summer volunteer? Contact me.

Pray for Us

While the world seems to change every 48 hours and September seems a long way off, it seems likely we will be launching a non-contact ministry year for children and youth. Would you pray for us? We want to see the possibilities and opportunities right here, right now.  How shall we prioritize young people?  How will we extend opportunities to lead and grow? How do we nurture relationships especially relationships that draw us closer to Jesus? How do we engage our young people as the hands and feet of Jesus, faithful and true?

With love,

Mary Ellen

Author: Mary Ellen Lehmann

Director of Children & Youth Ministries at All Angels' Church in New York City. Mary Ellen and her husband, Mike, have been married 30 years, and have four children. Several of them are adults.

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