Welcome to Cheryl Gärlick, Children & Family Minister
The staff and vestry of St Stephen’s Church is committed to supporting healthy family life grounded in values that nurture love of God, love of self, and love of others. St Stephen’s has since its inception shared a commitment to both Christian community and family life, which is why we were planted here in Orinda together with a grammar school (now our St Stephen’s Preschool). We continue to work to develop worship services and programs that welcome families and people of all ages and relationships to gather together for the sake of strengthening faith, developing spiritual practices, and sharing experiences that connect us to one another and to God in Christ.
Here are some volunteer opportunities!
From early September through May we have Sunday School for preschool through fifth grade children. Our “family” service is held each Sunday at 10 AM. The children are in Sunday School from 10AM until about 10:45. They will come up and join their families for the Eucharist. We also have nursery care year round on Sunday for babies and children under 3. All children are welcome to attend our Sunday School and activities.
Please know that the worship experience of your children is important to us. Children learn to worship by participating and we value their presence in church. We understand that they may not be quiet or sit still… but children will still be learning from watching their family pray.
Throughout the year, Nursery care is provided for children 3 years and younger from 9:45 am until the worship service is over. Also, we have an area for parents in our Brides Room at the right rear of the church, which has a restroom, comfortable seating, and a speaker connected to our sound system. Please know that we do not mind having babies in church, even crying ones, but this does provide one more option for parents.
Pre-K and Kindergarten. We start in the fall with Godly Play stories from the Old Testament. Godly Play is a method of Christian education and spiritual formation for children. In Godly Play we tell Bible stories to encourage them to enter into the stories and relate them to their personal experience. The storyteller uses handcrafted objects to focus the attention on central elements of the story. After the story the children are invited to “wonder” about the story and then are given a “response time” to work on creative projects. We also introduce a class prayer and enjoy music together.
1st/2nd Grade. We will have a mix of Old Testament Stories and Lectionary Gospel Lessons.
3rd Grade. We will start will start the My Bible class. They will learn about the Bible over the first seven Sundays and will be presented with their own Bible in church. This class will walk the children through the Bible and help them connect the stories of our faith together. They will learn how to look by verses and passages—in a fun filled and active participation class.
4th & 5th Grades. This class will use a Lectionary based curriculum—so the kids will be learning about the same lesson that their parents are hearing in Church that Sunday. Children in grades five and up can also become lectors for the 10:00 service.
In addition to our regular curriculum for our children we will be having each age level participate in a “milestone” and which will be celebrated in church. The program will celebrate and highlight the children’s faith journey as they grow in age and knowledge.
1st grade: Our first graders will memorize the Lord’s Prayer and will be given a special copy of the prayer in church.
2nd grade: Our second graders will learn about Holy Communion in a six week program in the spring. They will then take part in our Celebration of Communion in early June. This class will take place in Sunday School except one additional day will be scheduled for the behind scenes visit in the church and sacristy with the clergy.
3rd grade: We will celebrate our third graders completion of My Bible Milestone in the Fall. In the Fall, our third grade class will focus on learning about the Bible. This is a fun and lively class that helps them learn about how the Bible is put together, how to find a passage or story in the Bible, and we spent time connecting the stories of the people of God in the Bible to other stories in the Bible. In recognition of this milestone, we are presenting our third graders with their own Bible.
4th and 5th grades: Our fourth and fifth graders will support an outreach project during the year.
Join us for a different way to gather and grow in faith. Sunday Suppers are a periodic Sunday evening gatherings that welcome people of all ages to participate in learning, practicing, pondering, and investigating spiritual teachings from our tradition. Sunday Suppers always include sharing a meal together, and may include games, crafts, activities, music, prayers, and other ways to deepen and enrich our faithful participation in the teachings and practices of our religion.
We have made some wonderful changes and additions to our beloved re-enactment of the Christmas Story. If you enjoy singing, the Pageant has opportunities for solo and group choral singing of easy, treasured Christmas hymns. Children and Youth of ALL AGES are encouraged to participate. More information coming soon!