Children

Nativity offers diverse ways to nurture each child’s faith as it grows and develops.

The nursery is open each Sunday from 7:45am-noon for children ages 0-4.  For little-bitties, having parents retrieve them from the nursery and bring them to communion toward the end of worship is a great first step in faith.

IMG_1842Sundays at 9:30 during the school year, our two Godly Play classrooms, for children grades 3K-5K and 1st to 4th grades, are places to hear sacred stories, wonder together, and learn the faith through play. Rooted in the educational principles of Maria Montessori, Godly Play assumes that each child has inherent spiritual potential, and that given the right environment and preparation, each child will explore their spirituality freely.  Each meeting of Godly Play begins with an adult leader welcoming each child into a circle in a specially dedicated room where all the materials are within their reach.  Another leader tells the story of the day, using handcrafted props and symbols specially made for just this purpose.  After the story, the children are invited to ‘wonder’ with questions like “I wonder which part of the story you liked best?” or “I wonder which part of the story was about you?”  Once the wondering is complete, each child chooses his or her ‘work’ for the day.  They can paint, play with clay, or play with one of the stories.  The Desert Box is a big favorite!  After everyone’s work is complete, the children form the circle again for a ‘feast’ (a small snack), and then a blessing before departing.  In the words of the Rev. Jerome Berryman, the creator of Godly Play, the program “teaches the language of love, and it does it with love.”

5th to 8th graders meet for Christian education on Sunday mornings at 9:30 as well.  With the help of an adult leader, these young folks help to build the foundations of a lifelong faith by wrestling together with tough questions about the Bible, Jesus, the Creeds, and Discipleship.  Sparkhouse publishing’s curriculum re:form includes wonderfully engaging videos and a structure to think together over questions like “Why should I follow Jesus; can’t I just say I believe in him?” and “Can I be a Christian without going to church?”  9th-12th graders gather in the Lucas Library each Sunday at 9:30 for what is affectionately known as ‘Coffee Talk,’ a chance to chat about the week’s ups and downs with adult leaders of the congregation.

Sunday Night Youth Group is open to all kids from 6th through 12th grades.  Led by Youth Director Steve Iwanski, these gatherings typically begin with dinner at 5pm and at 5:30 shifts into programming that ranges from silliness to outreach to Bible study to prayer, and often all four!  This gathering of youth helps to put on the annual Nativity pageant, Halloween carnival, Easter egg hunt, and Vacation Bible School.  They also spend a week together in mission, having slept and worked in New Orleans and Sunflower County in recent years.

AcolytesAcolytes participate in Sunday worship services by helping prepare the altar for Holy Communion and by carrying the processional cross, candles, a book containing the gospels.  Beginning in the 4th grade and continuing through senior high school, all students are invited to serve in this role.  Serving in worship is a way for our young folks to learn more about how the church prays together and the traditions and symbols that link us back to Christians who have been praying the same way for centuries.  To be an acolyte students must participate in a yearly training session with Father Peter.

In addition, a monthly Wee-YC gathering is planned to provide fun and fellowship for children ages 1-12 and their parents.  These might take the form of an Easter Egg Hunt, a picnic in the park, or a movie night.  And in the summer, we also encourage our kids to be part of the summer camping program at Camp Bratton-Green, the Episcopal Church in Mississippi’s camp located just north of Canton.

For more information about Children’s Ministries at Nativity, contact Steve Iwanski at steve@nativitygreenwood.org.