Photo right: Fourth-grader Colyn Chris regularly brings his new Bible to Sunday school at Faith United Methodist Church in Goshen, Ind. Photo courtesy of Faith UMC
If you attended church as a child, you may have received your first Bible from your church family. How old were you? Do you still have that Bible? The tradition of United Methodist churches presenting Bibles to children continues, often accompanied by meaningful activities.
While many United Methodist churches give Bibles to new third graders, Melanie C. Gordon, director of ministry with children at Discipleship Ministries (General Board of Discipleship), says there are other appropriate times to give Bibles to youngsters. She suggests giving youngsters a Bible at baptism and when families become members of a new church.
"I also think offering them a Bible when they begin kindergarten helps children see that the church is supporting them -- something which speaks to our Wesleyan heritage of supporting children's education."
A Year of Learning
At Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, N.C., third-graders receive their Bibles in September and then spend the year learning about them.
Myers Park hosts a Bible banquet a week before the children receive their Bibles. A rehearsal for the Bible presentation precedes a sit-down dinner for the children and their families, says Sarah C. Sumner, director of children's ministries. (Asked for tips about the banquet, Sumner quipped, "Don't serve spaghetti!")
On Bible Sunday, the children, usually more than 80, are divided into groups -- one group for each service - and the church presents the Bibles. "Presenting all of the Bibles at one service is too long," Sumner says. "Also, by presenting Bibles at all services, the day truly becomes Bible Sunday for all who attend." Click here to continue reading the story.