My current church has a long history of having a Children’s Chapel service during the main Holy Eucharist on Sunday mornings. It was an established practice and many of the families there came to expect it. It was done away with last year and replaced with an experimental third service of the Holy Eucharist that had an intergenerational bent. Many beautiful relationships and customs were formed during this year, but it became clear that both parents and children were deeply missing Children’s Chapel, so this year we have reinstituted Children’s Chapel.
I’ve been part of congregations that have used a Children’s Chapel model before so it wasn’t completely foreign to me, but I still had some trouble creating a new Order of Service for it.
Since Children’s Chapel begins at the beginning of the service of the Holy Eucharist and the children do not rejoin the parents until the Peace, I wanted to follow the form of the Service of the Word as closely as possible, while still adapting to the audience of Pre-K through 5th grade.
One particular issue I ran into was the Prayers of the People. Long, written prayers are difficult for young children to connect with, and if I have an adult volunteer reading the Prayers (from here on, POP) each week, the youngest children will interpret this as a precedent that the adults are somehow “better” at praying.
What to do? How do we get younger children to connect to the people and things we pray for each week as a body without just praying for them and hoping they are able to join their prayers to mine?
I was given the idea to use representational props by my associate rector. I loved the idea, but I was having difficulty coming up with props for more abstract prayers. Instead, I decided to use flat images, and found these wonderful photo cube frames on Amazon.
I then created templates on canva.com to create the images for each side of the cubes.
This way as changes to our government, clergy, and liturgical seasons happen, I am able to adjust to make sure the images are appropriate and colorful to match the season. Featured above, you will see one side of the “Church” POP! cube for Ordinary Time that features the Presiding Bishop, and one side of the “World” POP! cube for Lent.
The kids have decided these are “very cool” and instead of me praying first, I pass the cube around and each child prays for the items that the POP! cube is related to, and I finish up by praying last and adding anything I think is necessary. By having six different images, the kids are given a lot more to work with, so even the most nervous quiet child can at the very least pray for the clergy by name.