A Heart for Children’s Ministry at All Pilgrims: Programs and Outreach Expand

Ever since I started attending All Pilgrims in 2006, we’ve had a heart for children.  In congregational discernment meetings people said “We  want our halls to ring with the sound of children’s laughter.”  In our recent congregational survey, members of All Pilgrims said that outreach to families with children is one of our top priorities.  And in a recent worship service, Pastor Greg asked people to write their desire to contribute or serve on a piece of paper and bring it forward as an offering.  One of the most frequent hopes expressed on those slips of paper was to serve children, including homeless children.

This fall, we will begin to stretch and open ourselves to welcome more children into our congregational life in a variety of ways.  Our Worship and Wonder program, which serves kids ages 4 to 10 will now share its space with Seasons of the Spirit, our program for kids between 10 and 12.  Volunteers are also preparing to create “busy bags” – drawing materials, puzzles and other quiet entertainments — for children to use in the sanctuary.  The bags are for children of parents – including visitors – who prefer to keep children with them in the worship service.

These programs, along with our nursery, professionally staffed by Simone Downing, are all expressions of our desire to serve children and their families.

And yet, these programs are just containers, for something that expresses the real heart of All Pilgrims.  It is what’s shared in them that makes All Pilgrims childrens’ programs different.  Our understanding of the Gospel is one of radical welcome and inclusion.  As a result, our programs offer children and their families a place to explore their own experience of the divine and a community that welcomes them “just as they are.”  Children who participate in these programs come to know that they are loved by God, are part of a “great family” of people with a shared “story” of God’s role in their lives.  They are encouraged to explore and ask questions, to engage in Mystery.
As we live into our call to be a church of radical love, welcome and inclusion, we have dreams for additional programs for youth (middle and high school) including inter-generational mission trips both here in the U.S. and abroad.  We also hope to offer a Winter Carnival; an indoor event for Capitol Hill children and the children of homeless families.  If you are interested in being involved as a youth participant or adult helper/leader, please email Kathleen Hosfeld at hosfeldk@seattleu.edu for additional information.One of the most important parts of a child’s experience at All Pilgrims is to be part of a community that is committed to – as our mission statement says – “breaking down of barriers of all kinds” – economic, ability, racial and ethnic, educational, and more.

— Kathleen Hosfeld,  Chair, Spiritual Formation Committee —

All Pilgrims Safe Child Policies: All of those who work in our nursery and children’s’ programs  – paid employees and volunteers — receive abuse prevention training and a background check.  Nursery attendants are also required to have current Red Cross certification.