Young Disciples at FCC
Children are valued here, and they are vital participants in all aspects of church life. The Young Disciples program is designed to help our young people understand their inherent self-worth as children of God, and to extend that recognition to others. Young Disciples are encouraged to develop their personal talents and to mature into responsible members of the community working for good. Like adults, they join in the seasonal traditions that connect generations in this historic congregation, and they engage in meditative and worship practices appropriate for their ages. Even our youngest members are encouraged to begin their own journeys of discovery: learning to question, discern, and even disagree as we explore our Christian faith and heritage in an open and accepting environment.
Young Disciples learn that all people, not just Christians, are God’s children. Interfaith friendships are especially encouraged as First Christian is one of the founding members of and a strong advocate for the Carbondale Interfaith Council (www.cdaleinterfaith.org). Some interfaith education is intertwined throughout the church year. As we learn to understand who we are as Christians and what gifts we bring to the world, we also respect and learn from the gifts of other faiths.
Our Sunday worship begins at 10:30 a.m. and children come to worship with their families and participate in ways such as acolyting and reading the call to worship. “Engaging the Word” is a children's moment during worship that illustrates the day's scripture in a way children can understand and also provides background and context that enriches adult understanding. During the sermon and prayer part of worship, elementary-aged children leave for Sunday School workshops. We start our time together with music, and then separate by age groups to visit different workshops with activities related to the theme of the scripture and the church season. Workshops include games, arts & crafts, drama & AV, computer and storytelling. Nursery care is provided for infants and toddlers. Youth ages 12 and above participate in adult worship and help lead the workshops for younger children. They also join together for Youth Group from 5-7 p.m. Sundays.
Children are taught from the progressive curricula, “Seasons of the Spirit,” (www.spiritseasons.com) a lectionary-based resource created by an international team of writers and editors representing denominations from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, and the UK. Emphasis is placed on living out Jesus’ call to love our neighbors, and children do that in fun annual events such as Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF. Typically, the children’s offering benefits other kids whether across the world or next door through organizations such as Heifer, International (www.heifer.org), Good Samaritan Ministries (www.goodsamcarbondale.org), and The Boys & Girls Club of Carbondale (www.bgc-cdale.org).
Young Disciples are active in special events throughout the year including Fall Fest, a church carnival that First Christian has hosted annually for more than 60 years. Activities at FCC flow with the liturgical calendar and include the Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) Pancake Supper. This kick-off to Lent is one of many events throughout the year that foster strong intergenerational relationships here. Children are important participants in the worship services of both Easter and Christmas. Children are integral to intergenerational worship services such as the Hanging of the Greens, when the entire church community helps to decorate the sanctuary, and Palm Sunday, when the children help re-enact the palm procession of Jesus into Jerusalem. The Advent Dinner and Play is among the most beloved events, and children perform a Christmas play and receive a visit from St. Nick. The Young Disciples' participation in community events run the gamut year to year, and past projects have included participating in the Carbondale Lights Fantastic Christmas Parade and the Carbondale Boat Regatta, and creating collaborative works of art for the Interfaith Week Children's Art Exhibit.