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Guest Post: A Reconciliation Prayer for Children

As many of us prepare services for September 26th with both Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30th) on our minds, we are wondering how to include our children into a time of reflection that can be difficult. Our dear friend Rev. Catherine T. Stuart, Regional Minister for Children, Youth and Young Adults for the three Atlantic Regions and Co-Minister for Ukulele Church, shares a prayer she wrote for this Sunday with us.

“I wrote this prayer as a recognition that Children and Youth, like adults, feel that reconciliation needs to happen in our communities. It’s not an easy way forward, and sometimes we don’t get it right. But Creator is with us, loving and holding us, giving us courage to keep working for love, peace, and justice among people and for all of Creation. It will be used in worship at Mount Royal United Church, located on Unceeded Mi’kmaq territory, in what Settlers know as Moncton, New Brunswick.”

A Reconciliation Prayer for Children

God, we try to love your world

as you would have us do:

to see all of creation

as good and sacred too.

Sometimes our view gets clouded,

and we lose our way.

Help us to say we’re sorry

and to mean what we say.

Let Jesus be our leader,

so that we might know your heart—

that your Spirit brings us courage

to work together, not apart.



Art in the Park

I want to tell you a story about vandalism, online comments and art. At its essence, this is a story about love.

Over the summer there were some instances of vandalism in my town. It was anything from leaving piles of garbage in public areas, to continually tipping over the port-a-potty at the local park to break the play equipment and pooping on the slide. Yes. Pooping on the slide. Wild, right? It was a pretty fair guess these were youth, and our town’s social media groups were filling up with photos and complaints.

Now, I was as annoyed as the next person. I actually live less than a block from the park that saw the worst of it, and my kid loves going there. Part of me absolutely understood how my neighbours were feeling but there was also this non-too-subtle tone to this conversation that had me deeply worried. There was a violence to the language of comments, and I felt as though our town was saying, quite loudly might I add, that we cared more about the park than these youth.

I’m sure all of you out there in ministry know how challenging the COVID-19 pandemic has been on our youth. It was brought instability and isolation into a situation that is already challenging. Being a teenager is tough, navigating bodily changes, peer dynamics and all the rest of stuff that might go on at home is nothing to laugh at.

Now, I’m going to tell you that what happened next was the most spirit moved thing I have done since March 2020. I felt a pressure building in my chest that told me something had to happen.

First, I wrote a newspaper article to the adults in our town, which you can read here. I urged them to think how we could respond with love to our youth who were hurting.

Next, I called my buddy. The local Pentecostal pastor and I are an ecumenical association of two in a town of just over 3,000. I told him I wanted to do something, something in the evenings at the park to tell the youth that we see them, and we love them, and we love our park too. He said he’d bring the freezies.

So, for four evenings before the start of school we hosted Art in the Park. It was only an hour long. We set up on the grass, gave out free freezies and I planned an activity for each evening. (Shall we use the buzzword: pop-up ministry!?)

We did beading, made cardboard and yarn ornament, created comic books from scratch, and made cardboard looms.

Some kids asked: “Are we doing this because someone pooped on the slide?”

My answer? “Sort of. Mostly we’re doing this because we know you guys are bored and we care about you.”

We had anywhere from 10-15 kids each evening–and truly the crowd was older children and tweens. But they had a blast making and talking. Parents brought their kids and friends invited one another. We had lots of repeats too.

I know it was a success because when they said, “What are we doing next week?” and I tried to explain we weren’t meeting next week they ignored me and replied, “Yeah, but what are we doing next week!?”

Look, this was not reinventing the wheel. I’m sure many of you have done something similar before. Planning wise the whole thing didn’t take much to put together, and, as I kept telling the volunteers, the activity was really just an excuse to get together.

These kids just wanted to be seen, to be heard. We wrote dumb stories, told silly jokes, and mostly made happy messes. The cardboard loom evening even devolved into a nerf gun war the likes of which I have never seen before…. (I blame it all on the Pentecostal pastor!) It was the best ministry I’d done since COVID began and it fed my soul to connect and talk about life with these young folks and their families.

It is a reminder that the best ministry is responsive and relational. It doesn’t need to be big and fancy. If there is love at the heart of it, if it sees a need and responds faithfully, then it’s absolutely worth doing.

Narrative Lectionary: October companion booklet

As I mentioned last month, my church has begun their journey with the Narrative Lectionary this September. Perhaps you’re using the companion booklet I created for our families, or have just heard about it from a colleague. In any case, whether you’re new to JG&G or back for more free content, I wanted to share the October edition of our worship resource.

We’re continuing to explore biblical stories in NL Year 4. Stay tuned for the November booklet since we’ve got content all the way up to the week before Advent!

October Worship Companion Booklet

Check-out the booklet version (11×8.5″) you can print and share with your families. Get the file!

(Don’t forget to print in landscape-mode, double-sided using short-edge binding).

Check-out the 8.5×11″ PDF you can share with families digitally. They can print pages as they choose. Get the file!

Guest Post: Orange Shirt Day

To inspire your Orange Shirt Day learning, our friend Dana has shared some different challenges using a theme of Listen, Learn & Respond… These are suggestions primarily for youth and young adults, but there are many of them which can be adapted for children.

(Colour Code: Green=Easy, Yellow= Moderate Challenge, Purple= Most Challenging)

At Church…

LISTEN: Watch Phyllis’ story with the Sanctuary lights off. (YouTube)

LEARN: Read out one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: 94 Calls to Action each Sunday as part of the service.

RESPOND: Give a cut-out orange heart to each person as they arrive, ask the congregation to write down one word or sentence that stood out for them when LISTENING. Collect the hearts and attach them on a string around the sanctuary, encircling the congregation. In the future, collect the hearts and in include them on the alter in a special container.

LISTEN: Ask a child or youth to read Phyllis’s story to the congregation.  Live or Pre Recorded.

LEARN: Use one or more of the TRC Calls to Action as a sermon focus.  Each Sunday, light an orange candle along with the peace candle on the alter.

RESPOND: Write letters to your elected officials asking them to support the 94 Calls to Action

LISTEN: Invite Kairos to come and lead your congregation in the Blanket Exercise.

LEARN: Set-up multi generational learning circles and invite the community.  Reflect on what Calls to Action have been implemented and what hasn’t.

RESPOND: Contact an Indigenous Friendship or Cultural Centre and ask how the church can support their work.  Be a leader and share the information with your community, encourage others to get involved.

And at home….

LISTEN: Watch Phyllis’ story on YouTube.

LEARN: If you have school aged children/youth in your life ask them what is a happening in their class about Orange Shirt Day, email the school if you have ideas of how to start something new! If not, research opportunities in your community to support orange shirt day.

RESPOND: Show your support by putting an orange heart in your window, making a lawn sign, wearing orange, tying ribbons to tree branches.

LISTEN: Check out the National Film Board’s collection of film clips and testimony of residential school survivors.

LEARN: Check your local libraries for books about Residential schools, if your local library doesn’t have any, send an email asking for some additions to their collection. We have some of our favourites here.

RESPOND: Create a social media video showing your support wearing something orange. Write a letter to your MP & MPP showing your supporting.  

LISTEN: Watch the Documentary “We were Children”.

LEARN: Research and attend a community event for Orange Shirt Day.  Make a social media post supporting it.  Use the #UCCAN hashtag!

RESPOND: Create Orange Shirt Day materials and plan an Orange Shirt Day event for friends and neighbours to help them show their support.  Share resources to make window and lawn signs, orange ribbon lapel pins, or decorate orange shirts.

Dana Ducette is the Minister for Youth and Young Adults in Eastern Ontario Outaouais Regional Council (EOORC).

Resource Shout-Out: Doodle Prayers

Every once in a while we come across a great resource we want to share with you. Here’s a new favourite from Selina.

I love using art in worship and meditation, but many folks feel like they’re not “artsy” enough to do it. That’s where Praying in Color comes in.

They offer simple instructions/methods for using doodles in your prayer life. These exercises can be done on your own, or as part of a group. They can be complex or very simple.

An intercessory prayer
A meditative way to spend time with God

For many folks who need to engage their bodies while they pray doodle prayers can be a way to connect their heart and hands. For those who need a little structure having a “method” to the madness of prayer can soothe anxiety. For the perfectionist, knowing their work is a private creation that doesn’t have to be beautiful can be relaxing.

This is a great resource for folks of all ages who are looking to cultivate their prayer life.

Check-out their free downloadable resources!

Have you tried this resource or something similar before? Let us know how it went in the comments!