“I volunteer at South Church out of gratitude for
what South Church means to me and my family.
We know that whenever we see the spire in the
sky, we are home, in more ways than one. The
volunteer positions I have had over the past 10
years, from teaching Sunday School, to
storytelling at VBS, to serving on the CE Board,
to being a Deacon, have, quite honestly, nudged
me out of my comfort zone and taught me that
I have gifts I never dreamed I had. And when
my teenager looks at me and says, 'Mom, I love
South Church', how can I not want this faith
community to thrive? How can I NOT
- Laura Rex, Deacon
Confirmation Class 2013
Christian Education Mission Statement
Christian Education at South Church embraces the tradition of love and justice narrated by the Scriptures, embodied in the life of Jesus Christ, and sustained by a spirit of radical welcome. We nuture the development of faith by encouraging sincere contemplation and loving outreach, in order to prepare and empower people of all ages to engage in the world in which we live. We celebrate milestones of faith across the continuum of life.
Parent Volunteer & Teacher Schedule Signup SHEET
Children and Worship
Participation in worship is one of the important ways children learn and grow in faith and is an integral part of the whole Sunday School program. In worship we learn to live with gratitude for the past goodness of God, in joy as we recognize God’s continuing presence, and in hope for a future which will bring God’s purposes to fulfillment. We learn by belonging and participating. Children need opportunities before they become adults to learn not only how we worship, but also to find out what it really means for them.
During the school year, children, Pre-kindergarten age and older, attend the first part of the Sunday worship service with their families. They are present for hymn singing and special music, prayers, scripture readings, our two sacraments — baptism and communion, and a brief children’s sermon. After the children’s message they are dismissed to their Sunday School classrooms.
Intergenerational & Children's Worship Services
Children participate in the entire service during intergenerational worship Sundays. These include Anniversary Sunday, the 5pm Christmas Eve Pageant, the Sunday after Christmas service, Easter Sunday, and Children’s Celebration Sunday at the end of the school year. Nursery care is provided for children under the age of four.
On the last Sunday of some months, children in grades K-6 participate and take leadership in their own Children’s Worship Service in Fellowship Hall. On these mornings, teachers and youth go directly to their classroom at 10:30am, instead of worship, where they prepare for their leadership responsibility in the service before coming to Fellowship Hall at 10:45.
Sunday School is primarily relational – the curriculum is just one of the many “tools” teachers use to help their students develop a closer relationship with God as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ through their relationship with one another. “Faith is caught, not taught.” During the fall, our Bible-based curriculum focuses on Old Testament stories, while winter and spring sessions are devoted to the New Testament. The Seasons of the Church Year and milestones of faith are also emphasized and celebrated.
So that children will be in the same grade in church school as in public/private school, we ask that parents use September 1st as the date for determining grade level, beginning with the Pre-K/Kindergarten class.
As in all loving families, one of our priorities is to make sure each child is well cared for and safe. In compliance with our Safe Church Policy, church school teachers and other children/youth ministry volunteers must submit a CORI application. We also require at least two adults to be in each classroom when children are present. In addition, our class sizes necessitate we pay special attention to a few details concerning arrival and dismissal policies to ensure the children’s safety and parental peace of mind.
Arrival and Dismissal
Pre-Kindergarten thru High School children start out in worship before being dismissed to Sunday School at approximately 10:45am, right after the children’s message.
Sunday School usually lasts until 11:45am. Only those in Grades 5 through 12 are dismissed from their classrooms at 11:45am without their parents present. Young children in Nursery through Grade 4 should be picked up by a parent or authorized person, right after worship.
Nursery (birth to 4 years old)
Nursery care is available for children up to 4 years old. Our volunteer nursery coordinators recruit parents and other members of the congregation to staff the nursery each week. They all do their very best to ensure a loving environment for our youngest members. In addition to registering their child for the nursery, parents are encouraged to complete an information sheet yearly so that our staff and volunteers will know how to best care for their little one.
- Nursery aged children are expected to arrive and depart the classroom attended by a parent or responsible adult or sibling.
- The child’s name, parents’ name, and the location where they usually sit in the sanctuary are written in the “Sign-in Book” in the nursery.
- A beeper system is available in the nursery for parents who are concerned about their child’s separation anxiety, health issues or other worries.
- Children must be picked up immediately after worship. Before departing, the responsible person initials their name in the “Sign-In Book.”
Remembering our baptismal promise… Please consider being a nursery rocker in the Nursery during church worship hour. Volunteer “rockers” will assist nursery caretakers and parents, so the responsibility is simply to rock a little one or perhaps read a story and share this special connection with the youngest members of our church family.
Preschool - 6th Grade
We are pleased to continue for a second year our new curriculum Gather ‘Round: Hearing and Sharing God’s Good News. This program nurtures children and youth to become followers of Jesus: people who know and love God, interpret God’s word, belong to God’s gathered community, and share God’s good news. Based on a four-year Bible outline, all hear the same story each week, with texts abridged in age-appropriate ways for younger children. Various options for learning draw on a variety of intelligences, so that all have the opportunity to use their core strengths to develop other intelligences as well. Open ended conversation starters and a strong peace and justice component make this curriculum a good fit for South Church!
In addition, a church, home connection is provided through the Talkabout, a weekly bulletin insert/monthly calendar which includes conversation starters, activities, prayers, and Bible trivia all based on the Bible story explored each week. The church/home connection is further enhanced when parents teach or assist in their child’s classroom. We ask that all parents assist twice each season during the school year in their child’s class. This year’s units include:
Special topics, projects, and celebrations take place throughout the year in addition to regular Sunday school lessons and worship, including:
- Fall - God's People: Scattered & Gathered
- Winter - Meet Jesus the Messiah: Stories from John
- Spring - Living in the light: Stories from John continued, plus a special unit on environmental stewardship.
- Pre-K/Kindergarten will have a celebration party at the beginning of the school year and will be presented with a Read and Learn Bible in celebration of their entrance (soon to be entrance) to the wonderful world of reading! In the Fall, they will learn about Worship, Baptism and Communion.
- First/Second Graders spend part of the Lenten season learning about prayer and memorizing The Lord’s Prayer which they will lead during worship during Lent. They continue to learn about the various aspects of worship and become increasingly familiar with our traditions and liturgy.
- Third/Fourth Graders are learning about how the Bible came to be and are beginning to navigate their way around it. In the Fall, Third Graders are presented with a NRSV bible in worship as they take leadership in the service and recite Psalm 23. They and their families also attend a special pancake breakfast that morning with our Senior Pastor, John Zehring.
- Fifth/Sixth Graders serve as Acolytes in worship. They also take greater leadership during Children’s Worship Services and the Sunday School Mission Outreach.
Our 7th/8th grade teachers are excited about sharing their faith and passion for teaching with this particular age group. They consult with the church staff to locate biblically based resources that match the maturity level and interests of their students. Inspiring curriculum is important, yet not as important as the relationships that are formed in the classroom. Teachers emphasize the Holy Spirit working through people and their lives, not the curriculum.
High school aged youth are encouraged to attend worship and take leadership in the service in a variety of ways. Opportunities include greeting and ushering, liturgical readings, prayers, children’s sermons, drama, storytelling, and special musical offerings. They may also join the hand bell and/or Sanctuary Choir.
Youth may also attend a special Sunday School class in the third floor Chapel during the Sunday school hour each week, except for the first Sunday of the month, when all stay in worship. Adult facilitators and youth lead thought provoking discussions about the Christian faith and its relationship to life. Various books, videos, news articles and field trips will be used to enhance conversation, spiritual growth and a sense of community.
Sunday School Mission Outreach
We encourage our children and youth to experience the blessings of giving by introducing outreach and stewardship as part of our response to God’s love. They can experience this in a variety of ways. In Sunday School a special time is set aside each week for prayer, thanking God for our blessings and remembering those in need. The children are encouraged to contribute an offering that they themselves have earned or collected. Heifer Project, International is this year's focus outreach.
All children in the fifth and sixth grades are eligible to serve as church acolytes. The office of the acolytes was established early in Christian history, around 250 AD. Samuel is considered to have been the first acolyte. Acolytes in South Church bring Christ’s light in the sanctuary to remind us of God’s presence by lighting the altar candles for worship and extinguishing them to bring the light out in the world.
Ninth grade is a major transitional time for most young people. It is the first real opportunity for adult introspection regarding a variety of life decisions. This is also a special time for young people to consider the foundations of their faith as they are invited to participate in South Church’s confirmation program. Potential Confirmands are given an opportunity to explore and deepen their faith as they engage in meaningful discussion, exploration of their spirituality, and a variety of challenging and enjoyable activities. Former high school Confirmands are also welcome to attend!
At the end of the program, those who wish to confirm their Christian faith and their membership in South Church in Andover will be given a special opportunity to do so with the support of the congregation.
Summer Sunday School
Worship and Sunday School begin an hour earlier at 9:30am. Nursery care is provided for the youngest children. Elementary aged children attend the first part of worship, as usual, but instead of moving to separate classes, all meet together in Fellowship Hall or outdoors for a special new program each summer. This past summer the children enjoyed gardening, games and Gospel stories under the shady trees outdoors.