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New children’s service at St. James bringing JOY

St. James Episcopal Church Rector Becky Coerper leads children in a prayer during the new JOY church interactive service on Sunday, March 4.

St. James Episcopal Church Rector Becky Coerper leads children in a prayer during the new JOY church interactive service on Sunday, March 4.

— The children will all come up to the front for a children's sermon and Communion and the children's choir sings the anthem. “They're involved in just about every piece they can be,” Smith said.

While the service is not mandatory for the children, about 30 participated last time and most are very eager to be involved. “They all want to have a part,” Smith said. “That's why we made it to include everyone at the procession and come up to the front for the children's sermon and consecration.”

Coerper mentioned that many people emailed her to say how appreciative they were to hear a sermon on a level that they could understand.

“For me, the concept was not that you dumb down worship so that it's appropriate for kids, but that the children bring a spontaneity and a delight that adults don't have. So they actually bring something to worship that we don't have otherwise,” Coerper said.

Kristen Rossi, a mother of JOY Church participant Will, had much the same sentiment. “I found [it] most enlightening ... that the sermon that Becky gave to the kids really spoke to me as a parent,” Rossi said. “Speaking from a Christian perspective, if the word is spoken to you, intended for a child's ears, and you hear them from an adult's ears, it ... resonates on an elementary level. As grown-ups we tend to make things more complicated.” She found that the benefits of JOY Church are both for the children and the adults.

As Smith put it, “Their enthusiasm is contagious.” As Director of Children's Ministries, Smith said she learns something every time she teaches the children.

“Jesus said 'Let the little children come' ... and I think as we grow older our learning can plateau in a way that we need to become more childlike,” she said.

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