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by Doug Brendel
Are the kids enjoying church?
It could happen.
Ascension Memorial, the 150-year-old Episcopal Church in Ipswich, has launched an innovative new weekly service designed to both by and for young people.
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“Sundays @ 5” is coming – well, no surprises here – on Sundays at 5 p.m.
With a creative 30-minute format (including drums and a gong) followed by a fun community activity (think more on the lawn), [email protected] offers families a chance to refocus and start their week without them. complications of attending a traditional Sunday morning church service.
Byfield resident Joanna Suomi says her 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son enjoy the “very participatory” format.
“I haven’t heard ‘We’re bored’ or ‘Should we go?’ “, she says.
The calendar is essential for the Suomi family.
“The timing works really well,” observes Joanna. “It’s Sunday afternoon, and most of our sports and other obligations are over. We have time to relax — and it’s a very relaxing service.
Ipswich resident Jenna Lees-Rolfe agrees. [email protected] is “a time for the whole family,” she says. “Weekend commitments seem to be taking over.”
Her four- and six-year-old sons like the new approach to the church. Six-year-olds, she says, are “at that age where they question everything, but they also invite magic.” [email protected] provides the magic – starting with the gong.
As for her four-year-old, Jenna adds, “If he wants to run around a bit or makes noise, that’s not a bad thing. Mothers find it difficult to bring their children to church – they are afraid that they will misbehave and disrupt. It is an inviting format for children of this age. It’s a weight on my shoulders!
The Episcopal Church generally follows a centuries-old worship format, but Ascension leaders felt an adjustment was needed for families struggling to get to church on Sunday mornings — and for children and young people who find it difficult to relate to the conventional liturgy.
“Coming out of the pandemic, we wanted a way to engage more fully and freely,” says Ascension rector Reverend Brad Clark.
[email protected] started as a monthly experiment. “The response has been so positive that we have moved to a weekly schedule,” says Brad.
Each week’s service focuses on a unique theme that connects children to spiritual concepts without being “ecclesiastical.” (In October, for example, there will be ghost stories!) The services also offer activities, such as making “rain sticks.”
[email protected] is “more family-oriented” and “kid-oriented” than a traditional church service, says Joanna. She also likes the program’s “emphasis on protecting our environment and our neighbours”.
“Especially after the pandemic,” she adds, “it’s a great way to come back and reorient ourselves to our larger community. It’s not just about being Episcopalian – it’s also about being human and connecting with people in a positive way. It creates meaningful relationships… It’s a message of love. It just goes back to basics. It takes away what may be really insignificant and brings us back to the important.
[email protected] takes place at Ascension Memorial Church, 31 County Street, Ipswich, and is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Reverend Brad Clark directly via [email protected] or (978) 356-2560.