By: Pastor Mary Beth Hartenstein

There is lots of activity happening at Hope United Church of Christ these days involving children and youth: students coming and going throughout the day as the preschool/daycare is in full swing, piano students coming and going for their lessons, and preparations for opening of Sunday school. Children and youth are in and out of our building six days a week, participating in a variety of activities of learning and discovery.

Over the last several years, we have continued to see and experience an increase in the number of children and youth who participate in our Sunday school program. From our youngest participants, at three years of age to our eighth grade students, we have nearly forty students who may be here on any given Sunday as part of our Christian Education Program. This is very exciting! This is what we have prayed for, hoped for, dreamed about – a growing program involving our children and youth.

Yet with that excitement, there are also challenges. Having adequate, appropriate and safe classroom space for the children and youth has not always been easy to find and provide, while being attentive to the other needs that exist on a Sunday morning: meeting space for our adult education class, fellowship group space for conversation, and the hustle and bustle of the busyness of preparing for worship.

In order to try to accommodate all of the above mentioned needs, a few changes are taking place, which we hope will provide a place and a space for all who come and join with us on Sunday mornings. First, you will notice that the entryway will have some conversation spaces, which are arranged in different ways that we hope will allow more sharing of stories and news and appear warm and welcoming to all. Next, the adult education class will be moved to the small classroom that is just off the entryway. Creating a cozy and inviting space for the discussion of topics related to faith is our hope in offering this space. Our Sunday school program will be using four main areas for their classroom needs: the nursery, the preschool room off of the fellowship hall, the Conference Room, and the large room across from the church office (formerly known as the Family Room). Our Confirmation class will meet on Sunday evenings and use the Conference Room as its main location.

It is a busy and exciting time as the month of September begins and along with it, many programs and opportunities for our children, youth and adults to engage in the chance to learn and grow and discover the stories of our faith and how God is active in the world and our lives. May we embrace the newness of this chance to enjoy learning and being in fellowship with one each other.