Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me,

and do not hinder them,

for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Matthew 19:14 (New International Version)

 

The role of Children’s and Family Ministries at St. Luke’s is to support parents in raising their children to have a strong, deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  We serve children and their families from infancy through 12th grade.  Everything we do is founded on Scripture, with an emphasis on how to apply the timeless truths presented in the Bible to our own lives TODAY!   We try hard to keep God's Word fresh, alive, interesting, and relevant.

 This channel is your gateway to more information about the topics listed below:

  •  Our Nursery Ministry--we offer a safe, healthy, and nurturing experience for all the precious children ages 0-5 whose parents are participating in our services and programs.
  • Christian Education for Children Toddlers-5th Grade--join us on B.L.A.ST. [Bible Learning Adventure STation] Island as we learn about God through art, drama, cooking, games, theater, and even computers!
  • Worship for Children Toddlers-5th Grade--special worship experiences geared for our younger members are offered each Sunday: Little Liturgy for toddlers, and "Rite K" for our elementary-aged kids
  • Safeguarding God’s Children--this program ensures that our children, youth, and adults are aware of and protected from abuse.  All volunteers are required to take 6 hours of training on this topic and have a current background check on file with the church in order to serve in children’s or youth programs.
  • Vacation Bible School--join us every June for our annual VBS.  Registration opens in February for volunteers and their children, and on March 1st for all others.  See the link on our home page to sign up! 
  • Children's Christmas Pageant--dress your elementary-aged child as an angel, a shepherd, or an animal as we reenact the Nativity! Watch for details in November!
  • Volunteers in Children’s and Family Ministries--we can't do this ministry without the dedicated support of dozens of volunteers. Please let us know if God is calling you to help

 Check out the Youth Ministries page to learn more about our programs for the youth of St. Luke's [6th-12th Grade].

With questions, comments, concerns, or to volunteer to serve in any of our programs, please contact our Director of Christian Education, LoriAnn Lavallee, at 512-266-2455 or by e-mail.

 Sharing the Meal:  Including Children at the Lord’s Table at St. Luke’s on the Lake

 Every Sunday, St. Luke’s on the Lake invites all baptized people, regardless of age or instruction, to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. However, Easter Sunday seems to be special in this regard, as we not only embrace many people who would not normally attend at St. Luke’s, but also see a number of our Parish children receiving Eucharist for the first time.

Because we no longer offer specific, yearly, formal instruction for children in this Sacrament, this article sets out to answer frequently asked questions about this practice. If you wish for your child to take her First Communion on Easter Sunday (or any “particular Sunday” for that matter), please consider the following questions and answers.  As always, please contact LoriAnn Lavallee, Director of Children and Family Ministries or our priests, should you have further questions or if you would like to borrow some instruction materials to use at home.

 

 Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: When is my child allowed to participate in Holy Communion?

A: When your child is baptized, he is full initiated by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s body, the church - and is at that moment eligible to participate in Holy Communion.

 

Q: Years ago, St. Luke’s required that children receive formal instruction before taking their First Communion. Why did we decide to make this change?

A: What we have done in changing this tradition is “tear down the wall” by removing an artificially imposed barrier between the children of St. Luke’s and the altar rail. We have stopped arbitrarily excluding those who have a right by baptism, to be included. We have returned the responsibility for the decision about a child’s First Communion and how it should be handled to that child’s most important spiritual shepherds, his or her parents.

 

Q: But won’t a child’s “First Communion” lose its special meaning?

A: Not at all!!! Parents now have more influence than ever about when and how to mark their children’s First Communion Day. They can make it as important as they wish. They can invite family members, recruit prayer sponsors, give First Communion gifts, have a celebration at their home ... we encourage parents to mark this milestone in any way that is meaningful for them. And St. Luke’s will continue to provide a special certificate to the children commemorating the occasion of his/her First Communion. So let us know too! Just contact the Church office or LoriAnn.  If we know about it, we will also publish it in our monthly newsletter.

 

Q: But what about instruction? How will my child learn about the meaning of Communion?

A: In several ways:

From you, his or her parent and most important spiritual teacher. The Children’s Ministry team has identified books, pamphlets, and other resources for parents to use at home and in the pews in on-going instruction/conversations with their children about Communion. Copies of these resources are available in the Sanctuary for use during the service. There are also copies available for review and checkout – please just let the office or LoriAnn know.

 From his/her church family:  The children of St. Luke’s will continue to receive age appropriate instruction about Holy Communion through many avenues, including Rite K, Sunday School, Confirmation classes, and special programs.  We also will have periodic one day trainings (specifically directed as Eucharist Training), such as the one we experienced last summer.

 

Q: What if I don’t want my child to take Communion yet? Won’t he feel excluded?

A: Depending on your child’s age, it is possible that he may feel excluded as they watch their friends receive (though no more so than he has felt in the past). It is your responsibility to explain to your child why he is not allowed to take Communion yet. It may be something like, “I am your parent. I am your spiritual guide right now and I want you to take your First Communion when I think it will be more meaningful for you” - or whatever you wish to say. We support each parent in his or her decision in this matter. St. Luke’s has returned to you more individual control over your child’s spiritual life, and will continue to offer education and resources to help you.

 

Q: What if my child does not want to take Communion?

A: Some children may feel shy, intimidated, overwhelmed, or fearful about taking Communion. No child should be forced into the practice. Instead, continue to instruct her about the meaning of the Eucharist, and be sensitive to cues she may give you that they are ready.

 

Q: Will my child understand what he is doing when he takes Communion?

A: Even very young children are able to understand that sharing the bread and wine is something special. A deeper understanding of the mystery of the sacrament is a lifetime’s work for all of us, and one that will never be complete, however old we are. The important point to consider is whether we ought to view taking communion as a ‘prize’ which we earn by passing a class, or whether we should see it as a free, gracious and unconditional gift from God.

 

Q: Will children take Communion seriously?

A: Children respond to the mood and atmosphere around them. The vast majority of children will take their lead from the way the adult members of the congregation - and in particular, their parents behave as they receive the bread and wine. Receiving Communion is a very powerful moment, and the power is certainly not lost on children - in fact they have an openness to the Holy Spirit which many adults find hard to recapture.

 

Q: So, even infants are allowed to take Communion? But how?

A: Yes! Parents may break off a tiny bit of their own wafer and give it to the child. Wine is optional, but if chosen, the parent may dip their wafer first, offering that to the child before consuming the rest.

 

Q: What if I don’t want my child to have wine?

A: Children may receive bread only and still be full participants in the Sacrament. You may also teach your child to receive from the cup with her mouth closed so the wine just touches their lips.

 

Q: My child is gluten free. How does St. Luke’s deal with that?

A: We provide gluten free wafers (wheat, corn, nut and soy free-they are rice based) upon request. Just let the office know (or even the priest at the altar rail) and the alternate will be given. All wafers are consecrated along with the regular wheat versions.

 

Q: So what should I do when I want my child to take First Communion?

A: We suggest the following approach:

1) Select a date and begin to build it up for your child as a very special event.

2) Begin to help your child understand more about the Liturgy of the Table by explaining to him/her what’s going on in church at an age appropriate level. Use the resources available in the Sanctuary to help you.

3) If you wish, identify resources to be used at home with your child as well. Suggested resources are available in the Narthex or from Christian Ed for review and checkout. Once you find resources you like, information on how to purchase them for yourself is also available.

4) If you wish, recruit special friends from the church family to be praying for your child and be present for First Communion. Invite friends and family. Plan a celebration. Select a special commemorative gift for your child.

5) Practice at home by role-playing the mechanics of taking Communion with crackers and juice. Show him how to place their hands to receive the bread. Note to your child that if he is small, it is easier to receive the cup if he is standing, rather than kneeling. Practice with him how to sip from a cup held by someone else (most children already know how to do this!). If your child has the manual dexterity (probably not until at least age 5), you may teach him how to intinct, or dip, the wafer (younger children don’t have the dexterity needed and may drop their wafers in the cup). If you wish your child to receive wine, it is a good idea to have them taste wine at home first. As you practice with your child, talk with him or her about how special Communion is.

6) When you go to the altar rail, have your child watch you receive Communion.

7) Please notify the Church Office of the date of the child’s First Communion so we may prepare a certificate and change your child’s status in our database (a requirement for our Parochial Report). Notification cards are available in the Narthex.

8) After your child’s First Communion, continue to teach about the meaning of the Sacrament. Learning about the mystery of Holy Communion is a lifelong process!!

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