When children are baptized, we all say, "We welcome you into the Lord's family." Then we applaud this momentous occasion.
Children never are too young to come to church. You and your children are very welcome at St. John's. We realize that bringing children, especially babies and toddlers, can be very hard work ...and it always seems as if your baby is crying the loudest!
We want coming to St. John's to be a happy experience for you and your child or children. Some of the information here will be of more value to you than other parts but we recommend looking at it all regardless of the age of your child. Our hope is that some of the information on this page will help make being in church easier and more enjoyable for your whole family.
You and your baby
If your baby is settled, please feel free to remain seated even if others are standing or kneeling. Don't be concerned if your baby cries. If you need to walk around to settle your child please feel free to do so. Often walking down the side aisles or in the back of the church will soothe your baby. The clergy are parents too and are comfortable with the "joyful noise" of children!
How to help your baby enjoy church
Feel free to bring quiet toys for your baby to hold. And why not sit at the front of the church instead of at the back? Older babies may like to watch the active parts of the service. Tell them when something different is happening. Some babies are attracted by the light shining through the stained glass windows or by the flickering of the candles.
Babies may also feel pleasure in being held close as a parent sings, and in hearing the music of the service.
Already your baby will be absorbing the atmosphere of worship and, apart from the occasional "off day", will quickly accept his or her time in church as part of the rhythm of life.
You and your toddler
A service can be quit a long time for some preschool children. If your child is restless and decides to go for a walk-about in the middle of the service, then it may be best to allow him or her to go and have a look around. You are likely to see other children exploring! Please follow your little explorer to make sure he or she is safe. There is a staffed nursery available with plenty of toys for your child if you would rather take them there. Ask an usher to show you to the nursery.
How to help your toddler enjoy church
We encourage you to sit up front. Since children learn by imitation, encourage your toddler to imitate what you are doing- holding a book and standing beside you singing, sitting or kneeling at prayer times. Point out what gestures the priest is making at the altar to draw attention to what your child is seeing.
If it is a service of Holy Eucharist, take your toddler to receive a blessing or the Eucharist. Even tiny ones quickly recognize that this is a special time for themselves and the people around them.
How to help an elementary aged child enjoy church
Prepare by reading the scripture readings beforehand. You can find the readings for next Sunday here on this website. Help your child find the hymns in the hymnals and to follow the text in the prayer book or in the bulletin.
If your child asks questions, and you don't know the answer it is fine to say, "I don't know the answer. Let's find out by asking the priests. They will give us the answer or lead us in the right direction to find the answer."
And please remember...
We consider that whenever children are in our church, they are not there to, in some way, be "coped with" or "put up with".
On the contrary, they are members of our congregation and are present in worship as part of their own faith journey. Even when they are absorbing themselves in a favorite book, they are absorbing the atmosphere of worship. We can encourage them to be further included by finding ways of involving them and drawing their attention to what is going on, even if it is only for a few minutes: "Watch!", "Listen!", etc.