From a Distance
In this time of Covid-19 we tell our children and youth they need to keep their distance from friends and family members. But one place where social distancing, or any other form of distancing is not necessary, is in our relationship with Jesus Christ. That close relationship never changes, pandemic or not. The need to grow in our faith never changes, pandemic or not. And the need to better understand the scriptures never lessens, pandemic or not.
So, for those whose responsibility it is to nurture the faith formation of children and youth, following are suggestions to minister “from a distance.”
Summer Sunday School
Although most churches take a break from Sunday School in the summer months, this summer might be a good time to change that format. We are hearing a great deal about “zoom fatigue” and certainly numerous comments from parents who say they really don’t need one more thing to “teach” their children. So perhaps the summer months are a time to offer a combination of honest-to-goodness mail as well as online resources for our children.
One Sunday School teacher recently began sending weekly postcards to her students with a greeting and Bible verse for them to look up. A parent shared the excitement of their child as each week they anxiously awaited the mail to arrive and then parent and child would look up the verse. Simple. Effective. “Unzoomed.” Remember, ‘tis a gift to be simple. Following are a few links to online Sunday School curriculum and material you may consider:
(Shine at Home – resources for early childhood and multi-age)
(virtual Sunday School)
(intergenerational resource for home Sunday School)
(click on “resources” for simple activities/discussions to accompany books)
(youth studies, LinC: Living in Christ)
(adult and youth free resources)
Vacation Bible School
Vacation Bible School began in the 1870s as an educational and cultural program to keep children busy in the summer months. Then in 1898 it moved on as an outreach to immigrant children in New York, finally growing into an international movement in the 1920s. Historically, VBS encouraged not only the faith formation of participants, but also served as leadership development for volunteers and a primary evangelistic movement for communities. The focus of VBS has changed over the years yet remains one of the most anticipated weeks of a church’s ministry. So how do we “do” VBS from a distance? Following are two possibilities:
(Variety of resources including a sample of the new virtual at-home VBS material – Compassion Camp – available June 9)
(Three day “home backyard” VBS for families)
For a variety of reasons, it is being suggested that Sunday School should be the last program to return when our churches re-open. That means we need to give greater attention to “teaching moments” in worship as the worship time will become the child’s Sunday School. “Learning packets” can be placed on the pews in designated areas where family clusters sit. (A zoom training session entitled “Sunday School in the Pew” is being developed by Marie Couts.) Following are materials that can be used to create worship packets for children.
(This site contains worship resources for summer. Additional free resources available by joining their email list.)
For additional online resources in the area of summer Sunday School for children, teens or adults, VBS or “Worship as Sunday School”, contact Marie Couts, [email protected].
From the Editor: Thank you to Marie Couts, Director of Christian Education for the Eastern District, for providing this article.
Even as the usual travel schedule for BWM staff has been disrupted since March, we have been able to remain in close contact with all of our global partners. As partners like Peru and Honduras deal with outbreaks and travel restrictions, BWM has responded with emergency funding to help meet immediate needs and prepare for the long term. Funding has helped purchase food for people in rural communities cut off with the closure of usual supply chains, and helped to cover increased medicine costs faced by the Ahuas Clinic. Even as BWM sends support, we have been flooded with messages of support and prayers from global partners for the situation in North America. Please visit MoravianMission.org for the latest news, and for ways to help support this ongoing work.
Sr. Linda Wisser, a 2020 graduate of Moravian Theological Seminary, has accepted a part-time appointment to serve as Interim Pastor at the East Hills Moravian Church in Bethlehem. She began her work May 18, with some overlap time with outgoing pastor Br. Derek French, who will begin his ministry as pastor at the Nazareth Moravian Church at the end of May. Please keep Linda and her family, along with the East Hills congregation, in your prayers at this time of transition.
Br. Frank Crouch, Dean of Moravian Theological Seminary, began a year-long sabbatical on May 8 that will be followed by his retirement. Frank has served the Seminary under call from the Southern Province for 24 years. Please be in prayer for Frank in this time of transition. We give thanks for his faithful leadership and wish him God’s blessings as he continues his research into the complicated history of Moravians and slavery.
Br. Craig Atwood, currently professor of Moravian Theology at the Seminary, has been named Interim Dean of the Seminary during this transition time while the institution conducts a national search for the next Dean. Please be in prayer for Craig as he adds this leadership responsibility to his work.
Br. Sam Gray, currently Director of Mission Outreach for the Board of World Mission, has accepted the call to serve as Pastor of the New Philadelphia Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, NC. Sam, who has served the Board of World Mission for 16 years under call from the Southern Province, will conclude his work there on June 12 and begin his pastorate at New Philadelphia on June 28. Please be in prayer for Sam, the Board of World Mission, and the New Philadelphia congregation at this time of transition.
Three Acts of Love for Moravian Dads
By Vince Holbrook
Here are three acts of love most Moravian fathers can afford to leave their families:
- Join the Moravian Widows’ Society
It can provide a lifetime of financial benefit to your widow.
- Prepare (or update) your Will
Our free Estate Planning Guide can help your organize your thoughts for your favorite Moravian attorney.
- Have an Advanced Directive
Get your Free Five Wishes document here, courtesy of the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America. Enter the code MMFA2020 for your free copy. In many states, this document can become legally-binding once it is signed and notarized.
Sunday, June 7, 2020 at 11:00am ET
Nola Knouse and the MMF staff will hold a special service featuring Moravian music on June 7 on Moravian Church Without Walls (please see below).
Many Moravian congregations across the U.S. and Canada will be hosting online worship during this time of social distancing. Be sure to check in with your local congregation to learn more about local church services. For a listing of online services please click on the below link:
In addition, Moravian Church Without Walls (MCWW) will offer a virtual service open to all at 11:00 am ET on Sundays. To join the service, click this link:
Liturgies and Hymns
The Interprovincial Board of Communication continues to update its offerings of liturgies and hymns from the Moravian Book of Worship and other worship resources. Check the “COVID19 Resources” section of www.moravian.org for added Word and PDF versions of liturgies, organ and choral recordings for hymns, and other resources to help congregations plan and present online or alternative worship services. Don’t see something you need? Please reach out to Sue Kiefner ([email protected]) or Mike Riess ([email protected]) with any specific requests.