Last Sunday, a handful of families in my meeting decided to try online Children’s Meeting (our First Day program for children) and worship together online. It was a last-minute decision to fire up my Zoom account and see how it worked. We posted the information on Facebook and sent out a quick email on the meeting listserv. Two hours later, when we gathered across households, we were joined by a former attender now living in Seattle, and three other PYM families who had seen the Facebook post. We came together across miles and even time zones to share songs, a reading, queries, and waiting worship. Listening to the quiet ticking of a clock in my house, that reminded me of so many meetinghouse clocks, I watched on screen where children were snuggled up with parents on the couch or coloring at the kitchen table next to adults with their eyes closed in worship. One child unmuted the laptop microphone and shared vocal ministry. In the stillness of us gathered, what rose in me was the reminder that our children are watching and learning from how we approach this time.
While adults in families are establishing new homeschool routines, managing children’s time online, and finding ways to stay connected to friends and neighbors, our meetings can be sharing ways to stay spiritually grounded and in community. Some meetings will try online programs and worship, and may invite others less tech-ready to join. There is a new, public group on Facebook, “Valiant Together: Sharing Quaker Religious Education Support and Resources During COVID-19” where Friends are sharing stories about how they are approaching First Day programming, including free resources for supporting families and children (the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative has added an associated website page for resource sharing). In coming weeks, there will be more teaching material specific to Quaker religious education at home and online, as we find our footing to generate and share new ideas. Included below are links to pieces that seem like they might be helpful in these early days of the pandemic.
Resource Sharing Conversation: Tuesday, March 24 at 1:00 PM, there will be an opportunity for Friends serving in children and youth religious education programs to gather for a conversation about what we’re trying, what we need, and how to support each other in this time. Please register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Our children are watching and listening, giving us an opportunity to model flexibility and innovation, deep care for one another and our meeting community, alongside faith and hope. Each week will bring new pastoral care and resource needs as we navigate this time — let’s be present to one another, and gather together in the ways we can.
Illustrated Ministry is making coloring pages available for free during this time. Sign up for free, weekly downloads, like the ones below.
How to help your college student cope with a semester cut short by coronavirus (helpful for high school, as well as college students)
Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus (middle school)
How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus (preschool and elementary)
and, just for fun . . . 30+ Virtual Field Trips for Families (and meeting communities!)
ADDENDUM 3/20/20: Link to a guided lesson plan for families to use at home. The focus of the lesson is creating space for worship at home, and to remember, hope, and be present to where we are now. There are two ways to share: one uses a book, and I’ve included a YouTube link to see the book read if it’s not in a home collection.
Melinda Wenner Bradley, Youth Religious Life Coordinator