Worship & Faith > Faith Formation
Cherokee Park United Church is committed to creating a welcoming environment for children and youth. We believe children experience important aspects of faith such as acceptance, belonging, and love long before they can give faith verbal expression. Therefore, being sensitive to the needs of children is important at the earliest of ages. There are a variety of ways in which we respond to those needs.
Worship - We want children to feel they belong in the worshipping community. Their ability to experience God's presence is not limited to their ability to understand everything that is going on around them. At very early ages, they find meaning in different aspects of the service. Children are regularly involved as participants and leaders in worship. They lead songs and moving prayers, help interpret scripture, and serve as liturgists and acolytes. Young children often dance in the aisles during the gathering music to celebrate the beginning of church service.
Recognizing that some parts of the service will hold their attention more than others, pads of paper and pencils are provided for children to draw and doodle. Worship bags with quiet toys are also available at the front entrance.
A special room just off the sanctuary exists for parents with very young children who may feel a need to step out for part of the service. The room has a speaker so the parents may continue to feel a part of the worship.
Some parents prefer to let worship be a time for younger children to play. A well resourced nursery with a paid attendant is available during both the Sunday School hour and worship time for children through kindergarten age. Each week one parent volunteers to assist in the nursery.
Sunday School takes place on Sunday mornings from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. for children beginning at age four. The curriculum materials are compatible with the theological orientation of Cherokee Park United Church. They emphasize God's love for all people, God's justice in the world, a broad range of images for God, and openness to the questions children and youth bring to faith. Parents are periodically asked for input on their children's Sunday school education and involvement in church. There are a couple of opportunities each year for parents to participate in intergenerational learning with their children. The Sunday school children and youth lead an entire worship service each Spring.
Confirmation is offered for youth in eighth grade and up and is done jointly with other area UCC or Presbyterian congregations. Confirmation is designed to engage the youth with their own spiritual questions in hopes of helping then come to a place where they are ready to affirm faith for themselves. The classes are held once a month on a Sunday afternoon, using a mini-retreat model. In addition, two overnight retreats and a summer mission trip are part of the confirmation experience. The confirmation experience and work done on the mission trip is shared with the congregation during the celebration of the end of the confirmation year.
The confirmation curriculum includes Our Whole Lives, a sexuality curriculum for youth designed by the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association. The pastor of Cherokee Park United Church, Youth Directors and other caring adults lead confirmation. Written by professional sexuality educators, the programs provide accurate information for parents, teachers and pastors to use with young people to help them learn about sexuality in the affirming and supportive setting of our churches.
The program helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their relationships, health and behavior in the context of their faith. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. It provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills and understand the social, emotional and spiritual aspects of sexuality.
Sunday morning at Cherokee includes an Adult Forum, which takes place during the 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Sunday School hour. The Adult Forum is discussion oriented and typically centers around a book that participants are reading at the same time. Books discussed in recent years include Jesus and the Crucified People by C.S. Song, Overcoming Our Racism by Dearal Wing Sue, What Jesus Meant by Eric Kolbel, and God's Politics by Jim Wallis. Other learning opportunities for adult include annual retreats and various evening video lectures from progressive scholars. Recent video series include "Saving Jesus from the Religious Right"," Countering Pharaoh's Production-Consumption Society Today", "Victory and Peace or Justice and Peace."