By Michelle Foster
What is Children’s Sabbath?
Sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund, the national observance of Children’s Sabbath is an annual, multi-faith holiday that celebrates children as sacred gifts of God and provides the opportunity for communities of faith to renew and live out their moral responsibility to care, protect and advocate for all children. This year’s Children’s Sabbath is scheduled for Oct. 19.
Through the service of worship, educational programs and congregational activities, you can affirm what your place of worship already does with and for children while challenging members to take new actions and commit to new efforts to meet the needs of children in your community, state and our nation. In some communities, all of the local congregations work together to sponsor a multi-faith service open to the entire community.
To guide and resource local churches in their Children’s Sabbath celebration, Children’s Defense Fund produces a Children's Sabbath manual. This year’s manual, When Will We Hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Call to End Poverty in America? focuses on answering Dr. King’s call to build and be the blessed community where all children can live out their God-given potential.
I want to get involved in the Children’s Sabbath movement. Where do I start?
• Begin with prayer. The success of the Children’s Sabbath — its ability to stir the hearts and minds and hands of people to nurture and protect children — ultimately relies on God’s grace.
• Order your Children’s Sabbath manual. This manual provides planning suggestions, promotion ideas, worship resources, educational resources, activity ideas and suggestions forbuilding on your Children’s Sabbath to help children throughout the year. To order your manual, contact me at 601-354-0515 ext. 28. This manual is made available to you at no cost.
• Determine the format of your Children’s Sabbath. Decide whether to plan a Children’s Sabbath just for your congregation or to join with congregations of other faiths ordenominations to plan a Children’s Sabbath in your community. If you feel led to organize a community event, contact me. I will connect you with others that expressed the same call in your local community.
• Secure support from appropriate religious leaders, staff or committees. In addition to obtaining approval for planning a Children’s Sabbath, do some preliminary investigation into potential sources of financial resources for your Children’s Sabbath.
• Recruit a committee to plan the Children’s Sabbath and activities leading up to and following it. Involving a broad range of people brings a wealth of gifts and experience, builds greater excitement and “ownership” of the Children’s Sabbath throughout the congregation and community.
To learn more about the national observance of Children’s Sabbath, visit www.childrensdefense.org/Childrens_Sabbaths.
Foster serves on the conference staff working with Safe Sanctuaries and family ministries.