Approaches to having children in Quaker meeting for worship

[NOTE: I wrote this as a comment on Wess Daniel's post, "Thoughts on Bringing Children to Meeting for Worship."

[His article in turn also refers to Kathleen Karhnak-Glasby's excellent article in Friends Journal, "Bringing Children to Worship: Trusting God to Take Over from There."]

Green Street Monthly Meeting, our liberal unprogrammed Friends meeting in Philadelphia, is looking at how to better integrate the children with the rest of the meeting -- though I doubt we're ready to ditch Firstday School.

A commenter on Wess's post decried the practice in some unprogrammed meetings of having an occasional "all-ages" meeting that is poorly conceived, and a "poor hash." I can certainly imagine being in an otherwise-unprogrammed meeting that did a semi-programmed one poorly. However, I wanted to share some of my recent experience of the last two years.

Green Street has the children in Firstday School for the first 45 minutes (in two groups, elementary and middle school aged), and to worship the last 15 minutes. The teens generally come to meeting for worship.

On the 5th Sundays, a few times a year, we have a mostly programmed meeting for worship. It's definitely a hash, and a tasty one at that!

The one or two I've attended were led by a Friend who grew up expecting to be a minister in another tradition, so has some ability to lead worship; and more important, who is now a high school teacher, with a real gift for drawing young people at many different ages.

One 5th Sunday I missed featured my older son singing a Green Day song ("21 Guns") with his peers playing electric guitar. Since he has never sung with those peers before or since, I'm sorry I missed it. (And it's not like we're about to organize a worship band or something; I have personally never seen anything more high-powered than an acoustic guitar or a violin, usually around the year-end holidays, at this meeting myself.)

The warmth of the greetings at rise of meeting and expressions of joy following these semi-programmed meetings are enough to reassure me that we are saying something quite positive about our worshiping community. To me, it needn't imply anything negative about expectant waiting worship the other 48 Sundays a year.

1 comment:

Rachael said...