By Meredith Joubert, Member: Children and Poverty Task Force
On the third weekend in October, The United Methodist Church recognizes Children’s Sabbath, a time to reflect on God’s gift of children, and ways congregations can renew their commitment to care for, protect, and advocate for all children.
By participating in the multifaith National Observance of Children’s Sabbath weekend, you are part of a powerful, diverse multifaith voice for children spanning our nation and crossing all lines of income, race, ethnicity, and political party. What unites us is the belief that God calls us to protect children, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, and the conviction that our faith calls us to live out God’s justice and compassion. This inspiring weekend focuses attention on the urgent plight of children in our nation and calls us to put our faith into action to meet children’s needs through direct service and work for justice. Through the service of worship, educational programs, and activities, you can affirm what your church already does with and for children while challenging members to commit to new efforts to meet the needs of children in your community, state, and nation.
“The focus for Children’s Sabbath is to look deeply at the needs of children, those local and worldwide, and pray for them,” shares the Rev. Leanne Hadley, founder of A Time for Children that coaches United Methodist congregations in developing ministries with children. “The goal is to recognize the needs of children and pray; and during the prayer time, to discern where God might be calling us as the church and as individuals to act.”
Melanie C. Gordon, former Director of Ministry with Children at Discipleship Ministries, adds “Children’s Sabbath allows us the opportunity to take a fresh look each year at the needs of children in the neighborhoods where we worship, work, and live; and then discover ways to address or meet those needs as people of God.”
United Methodists have a long history of ministering to the needs of children. John and Charles Wesley taught the poor children of Oxford. “Works of mercy are part of our history as Methodists,” Gordon says, “and continue to be a central part of how we address justice issues in our world. This aligns with the purpose of the Children Sabbath—advocating for the quality care of all children.”
Churches are encouraged to raise awareness of children’s issues and to provide opportunities for individuals to develop and participate in ministries that benefit the children of their community and congregation.
The Children’s Defense Fund provides a wonderful free resource to help churches plan their Children’s Sabbath worship service. This year, the focus is on promoting our engagement in our democracy through voter education of important issues affecting children.
Download the resource here: https://www.childrensdefense.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Sabbath-2020_Action-Guide.pdf
Visit https://dscumc.org/children-poverty/ to learn more about Children & Poverty ministries around the Desert Southwest Conference.