A web search of the biggest trends that will affect children in the USA this year, 2023, reveals that the following categories are the biggest concerns for our youth and children: school safety and violence prevention, mental health, and wellness and learning recovery. These concerns are followed by the climate crisis and rising inflation that greatly affects those already living in poverty. Our kids and youth are in a mental health crisis.
According to the American Psychological Association, “School connectedness—the degree to which young people feel that adults and peers at school care about them and are invested in their success—is a key contributor to mental health. Youth who felt connected during middle and high school have fewer problems with substance use, mental health, suicidality, and risky sexual behavior as adults (Steiner, R. J., et al., Pediatrics, Vol. 144, No. 1, 2019).
St. John’s is not a school, but we are a community. In fact, we are an incredibly strong and healthy part of many families’ lives, and those families trust us each week to care for, educate, and love their children. As a parent I can attest that the struggle to get kids up, dressed, and out the door for church on Sundays is real. But I can guarantee that these parents bringing their children to St. John’s week after week for Children’s Choir, church, Children’s Chapel, Godly Play and Sunday School know that their kids will be supported by a loving community.
We have the great responsibility as Christians to guide and love our children. We can show our guidance and love by showing up for their events, volunteering in their classrooms and as their mentors and leaders, greeting them at coffee hour and supporting their programs through our funds, prayers, and positive feedback. We are blessed to have so many people caring for our children! Sunday, May 14th we will thank our children’s music and CYF volunteers during the 9am service and with a cake and small gifts at coffee hour. Please take time to thank all these amazing people who are doing the work to make sure our children know they are loved and accepted.
Connectedness in our community happens when a critical mass of people works towards a common goal. Our goal is to raise our kids with a strong, spiritual foundation built on acceptance and love. To that end, please pray about how you can help our kids feel connected at St. John’s. We always need Children’s Chapel volunteers (also, this time together is just plain fun!). We are also having meetings to discuss how to update our Pilgrims and Sunday School programs – please attend those or share your thoughts We also need volunteers for Godly Play, Sunday School, Youth Group, Pilgrims and Confirmation classes next school year. Further, we need volunteers to help run summer programs like our park play dates and Peace Frogs camp. Finally, we need your prayers and your great ideas and your love. The reason St. John’s has so many programs for their children and youth is because of the passion you have for our children and families. Thank you, St. John’s for being a safe space for our kids to grow, learn and connect!
Minister of Children, Youth, and Families