Children's Faith Formation
Children's Faith Formation offers education and experiences for infants through fifth grade: Children gather in age/grade appropriate sessions during the Sunday Faith Formation hour, from 10:15 a.m.-11:15 a.m. in the CME (Center for Education and Ministries). Sessions are from mid-September to early June.
Early childhood and first – fourth grades use a thematic curriculum in which weekly lessons are steeped in rich sacred scripture stories combined with exploring the significant liturgical events of the Episcopal faith and its church seasons.
Godly Play/Kindergarten is a powerful, imaginative method for presenting scripture stories to children and allowing them to wonder and respond. The goal of Godly Play is to teach children the art of using religious language – parable, sacred story, liturgical action, and silence – to help interpret what happens in their daily lives. In Godly Play, we tell Bible stories to children to encourage them to enter into the stories and relate them to their personal experience. A Bible story is told using 3-dimensional materials to illustrate the characters or major themes of the story. A “wondering time” follows where children are invited to reflect on the story either aloud or to themselves. Each child may then choose to respond to the story with art materials or through play (working with the materials used in the telling of the story). In Godly Play, the session has a liturgical design, so children will also learn the etiquette of being in church. Each class follows the pattern of Opening Acclamation - getting ready, The Ministry of the Word - listening and responding to a Bible story, Communion - the feast, and the Blessing and Dismissal - saying goodbye.
Fifth grade is “Survivor!” with experiences specially designed as an interactive program that combines the knowledge of key Bible stories and church history with thematic games and activities, all the while growing the bonds of being in community that are essential for youth formation.
Little Lambs – Infants and toddlers on the first Sunday of each month year round join together for a playdate with their parents/grandparents. It includes a story, music and fellowship. Drop-in to room 121 of the CME; no registration necessary.
Registeration for Children's Faith Formation is free: Please register on any Sunday in the program year. Download form, complete and submitt to:
• Visit the Information Center table in the lower level of the CME, between 10:10 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday when classes are in session; or,
• Mail/deliver the form St. John’s Episcopal Church, Parish Life Center (PLC) Attn: Denise Vesuvio, 9120 Frederick Road, Ellicott City, MD 21042.
VBS - Vacation Bible School is for all - three-year-olds thru high school, with parent involvement and participation welcome. It is typically a week in late June filled with fun, faith, and fellowship. The program is comprised of chapel, biblical stories, games, music, arts and crafts for a traditional Bible School experience. Kids in Early Childhood – fourth grader are the “Campers”. Fifth & sixth graders register as “Counselors In Training” (CIT), and seventh and eighth graders as “Counselor Interns” (CI). High schooler and parents serve as the “Instructors/Counselors”. Because this program is wholly supported by volunteers, parent support is strongly encouraged .Discounted registration is offered to parent volunteers and/or early registrants. A few financial scholarships are available, contact Ms. Vesuvio for details. For 2017, we will have the "Galactic Starveyors" curriculum on June 19th-22nd from 4:30pm to 7:45pm dinner included. Contact Rachel Haak, our VBS Director, for more information.
Supervised Nursery – At St. John’s, wherever and whenever we gather in God’s name, every child is welcome in worship. If parents prefer, there are two offerings of supervised nursery care and soft space. It’s year round for infants and toddlers under three years of age during the Sunday 9:00 a.m. worship services and the faith formation hour in room 239 of the CME. Doors open at 8:45 a.m. Register at Nursery. (On Christmas, New Year, Easter or Memorial Day Sunday you are welcome to use the Soft Space; no supervised nursery service available.) Soft Space when visiting the Historic Church at any time, downstairs anyone may follow worship through the use of an audio system and screen. Families are welcome to take a quiet break during the service in this space, or stay downstairs for as much of the worship as preferred. There are chairs, hymnals, the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), changing table/supplies and maybe a few board books/toys.
Special Events: Throughout the year, children and their families participate in events and special worship services that celebrate the many beautiful traditions of the Episcopal faith. Samplings of these offerings are:
Advent One: The traditions of Advent touch hearts and open us up to the richness of preparation for Christ. On the First Sunday of Advent the community of children and their families begin the exploration and journey of this Liturgical season of wonder.
The Building of the Crèche on the Third Sunday of Advent in the 9:00 a.m. Contemporary worship in All Saints Hall by the children from toddler age thru kindergarten is a seasoned tradition at St. John’s. With music and the procession of the elements constructing the Crèche, the story of God sending forth Jesus is told. All children through kindergarten are invited to have a role in bringing the story alive.
Telling of the Traditional Christmas Story on the Fourth Sunday of Advent in the Historic Church’s 11:30 a.m. worship is a program where children from first grade thru middle school, in costume, tell the story of Jesus’ birth, while accompanied by the church’s youth and adult choirs. One rehearsal is held on a Sunday in December from 1:15 p.m. -2:15 p.m.
Lenten Preparation & Lent: Through various offerings leading up to and during the Season of Lent, children (and often with parents) are able to better understand this moment in Christ’s life, its meaning in our lives and its significant as Episcopalians.
Instructional Eucharist: It is a Saturday in Lent at 9:00 a.m. in Resurrection Chapel, Parish Life Center (PLC) This offering helps parents who you seeking to deepen their child’s understanding of the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, to become more comfortable gathering around God’s table, and to receive with joy the gifts God shares with us in Christ through the bread and wine. Led by clergy, the Instructed Eucharist is information and especially for children and parents. This worship/teaching is about 45 minutes and includes opportunity for all to be guided in receiving Communion, if they choose to do so. Each family receives a take home booklet.
Celebration of the Year! Children's Faith Formation concludes with a moment of recognition and festivity for the achievements of the children and their instructors. Each class showcases their educational rite of passage through presentations, songs and/or reenactments. Two events are held: the first Sunday in June for Early Childhood and Godly Play in the Media Center; and, the second Sunday in June for first – fifth grades in the Historic Church. All are welcome!
For more information or to have a conversation, please email Denise Vesuvio, Director, Children’s Faith Formation, or call 410-461-7793 x429.
The Children’s Formation Commission oversees all St. John’s ministries for children, including education (what we call Christian Formation, formally known as Sunday School) as well as the Nursery, Vacation Bible School, and Special Events for children from birth through 5th grade. The Commission focuses on children’s spirituality and involves children in all facets of worship and education. Many talented volunteers support children’s ministry, including a team of fifty teachers, five Christian Formation Table Coordinators, and many special event coordinators. In addition, three staff members work with children’s ministry: Clergy leader is the Reverend Jenni Ovenstone Smith 410-461-7793 ext. 120 and the staff contact is Denise Vesuvio. For more information contact: Denise or call 410-461-7793 ext. 120.