Children and Worship International

Reformed churches have been using the Children and Worship program for many years. Following the introduction of Children and Worship at the World Council of Churches assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998, the RCA has been working with its mission partners to make training and resources available to introduce the program around the world.

Children and Worship adapts well to a variety of cultural settings, presenting the stories of the Bible using simple wooden figures and engaging storytelling by a worship leader. Through this program, Children and Worship International has already made its way to South Africa and Mexico. Funds are still needed to provide training and resources for Hungary and Kenya and to fund the Spanish and Afrikaans translation projects.

South Africa

Edna Pick of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa was trained by Sonja Stewart at Western Seminary and by Marcia Floding, an RCA trainer. Now Edna is a trainer herself; in September 2002, at a training event held in Paarl, South Africa, Edna and RCA trainer Ellen Vellenga led thirty-five men and women and sixteen children in a Children and Worship workshop. Contributions from RCA members and churches made it possible for each participant in the workshop to go home with materials for at least two stories to present to their home churches. Materials for one Children and Worship center were supplied by the RCA, to be used for training events in the future.

Edna will continue to train Children and Worship leaders and give support for the program in South Africa. She also plans to translate Young Children and Worship into Afrikaans.

The Children and Worship program, which began in 1985, is designed to help three- to eight-year-olds deepen their love for God as they listen to and work with the stories of God. Worship materials include wooden figures and backdrops, felt underlays, laminated figures, and other accessories.

Japan

Missionary Nozomi Brownell assisted Mieko Sakon and Kazuko Nishibori in releasing a Japanese translation of Young Children and Worship, by Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman. Nozomi is engaged in training leaders to be Children and Worship storytellers. Her partner is the Nihon Kirisuto Kyodan (United Church of Christ in Japan), an alliance of approximately 1,700 Protestant churches that were first united by the Japanese government during World War II.

Children and Worship, developed by Sonja Stewart and Jerome Berryman (from the work of Maria Montessori and Sofia Cavalletti), is a multisensory approach to worship with young children. Enabling children to experience God, it provides a special place for them to discover the ways and meaning of worship; to learn how to transform ordinary place and time into sacred place and time, how to discover the quiet place within themselves to listen and to talk with God, and how to bring their experiences into dialogue with God in the biblical stories. These stories may lead to prayer, to awe and wonder, to a dwelling on the mystery of God.

Mexico

RCA missionaries Jaime and Martha Amaro translated Children and Worship materials into Spanish; Martha's translation of Young Children and Worship will be published in Mexico in the fall of 2006. Martha has also been leading Children and Worship sessions and training workshops in five Mexican states. She reports that the demand for these workshops is high: "There are waiting lists for more training sessions," she says.

The Amaros were trained by Sonja Stewart at Western Seminary in January 2003 and by Marcia Floding in July 2003. Through donations from RCA churches, materials for one Children and Worship center were provided for a training center in Monterrey, Mexico. Additional materials are being supplied for workshop participants. Funds are needed for ongoing training efforts.

The Children and Worship program, which began in 1985, is designed to help three- to eight-year-olds deepen their love for God as they listen to and work with the stories of God. Worship materials include wooden figures and backdrops, felt underlays, laminated figures, and other accessories.