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Greetings! I am so excited to be a part of the community of Lutheran Church of Our Savior as the new Director of Youth and Family Ministries. My first few weeks here have been filled with a lot of introductions (please forgive me if you have to tell me your name again!). I’ve been focused on knowledge gathering as we on the staff, the council, and the church try to conceptualize what youth and family ministries might look like in the near future (this fall), as well as for the longer-term future of the church. To that end, I have been trying to reach out to the parents of elementary-age children and to Sunday School teachers to understand what works well with our Sunday School program and how we might serve the needs of our families even better. I have also been reaching out to high school students and their families as we look toward an end-of-summer planning meeting for next year to redevelop and rethink what Oasis (the high school youth group) can be and wants to be. And then there is Vacation Bible Camp, which is returning to in-person at LCOS for the first time in three years! What a summer it will be.

From my early discussions with Sunday School teachers and parents, I have begun to learn some interesting things. First and foremost, the Sunday School program at LCOS is a valued faith formation opportunity for young children. Parents love that it takes place within the church service itself, allowing separate time for parents to listen and focus on the sermon while children get age-appropriate lessons and activities. The Sunday School teachers themselves are a treasure of kindness, caring, and love for the children of LCOS whose time and talents are very much appreciated by the church community as a whole, as well as by the children themselves.

But there are also challenges faced by parents in this new age in which we are all living, including increased extracurricular and sport activities taking place on Sunday and the general busy schedule that all parents must keep. The starting time for the later service on Sunday mornings was cited as often problematic because it ran into other activities taking place that the children were also involved in, for instance.

As we look toward planning youth and family ministry for the fall, my goals are to be flexible, to increase inter-generational opportunities for socializing and for learning, and to be aware of and responsive toward the needs of families, both children and parents, who have been under a great deal of stress even before the pandemic began, but certainly exacerbated by the pandemic. I am looking at Sunday School curriculum that is thematic and may include opportunities to learn stories through storytelling, science, art, and drama, as well as planning opportunities for parents to socialize (without their children!) and to learn and to get to know one another better in our community.

The most immediate dates to remember include Vacation Bible Camp, July 24 – 29 from 1pm – 4pm for all children PreK – 5th grade. Older children are welcomed and encouraged as helpers!

Also, please save the date for Rally Sunday, September 11, which will include an opportunity to register your child for Sunday School and learn about the new curriculum, to meet the teachers, to meet the other parents, and there will also be a Ministry Fair, which will be an opportunity to learn about other ministries at LCOS if you are looking to get more involved in this amazing community. Perhaps most importantly of all, Mr. Softee will be on the property so that everyone can have a special treat!

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any feedback, questions, or concerns. I want to make sure that whatever is planned for youth and family ministries at Lutheran Church of Our Savior is truly what is best for the children, for the older youth, and for their families!

Sabrina LaBelle, Director of Youth and Family Ministries

Sunday School Volunteers Needed

We are looking for a few additional Sunday School teachers to volunteer on a rotational basis (not every Sunday). The curriculum and all training and materials will be provided. No special knowledge needed! Parents, if your child is attending Sunday School, please consider volunteering, even just occasionally. For non-parents, this is a great opportunity to get to know the next generation at Lutheran Church of Our Savior. If you are interested in more information, please email Sabrina LaBelle, Director of Youth and Family Ministries: smgvasta@gmail.com.