But I Like My Friends in Ur! Don’t Overlook the Children Whose Parents Itinerate
What do we do when our child sobs through the last worship service at the only church they have ever known? What if they have a difficult time adapting to a new school system? How do we help them when we move them from a town with three stop lights to a city of a million people? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. All I know is that children should not go unnoticed in a process to which their parents have been called.
I do have few thoughts born of experience. Parents, make sure there is a housewarming present just for your child. Put it in their new room before they get there and be excited with them when it is discovered. Our son found a Buzz Lightyear in his room one year and he loved that doll! Be sure you have answers to questions they will inevitably ask about school, “Yes! It is close enough to ride your bike there!” Try to meet new neighbors ahead of time. They can be an invaluable part in helping your children adapt.
Clergy families are not alone in living an itinerant life. Parents may be the first responders, but the churches who receive clergy families are a huge part of this transition. Who in the church can immediately reach out to the preacher’s kids: other children, a Sunday school teacher, or youth leader? Staff Parrish, please make sure this happens! Our 21 year-old son still has a stuffed animal (patched and mended) given to him by a VBS director when we moved as he turned three, but don’t tell him I mentioned that. Parsonage committees, allow children to pick the paint color for their new room. Our daughter chose purple during one move and the committee did not hesitate.
Today, I give thanks for clergy parents, for churches, for neighbors, for schools, for individuals who love clergy children. In my mind, you may just be the most important people in the world. COVID19 makes this more challenging, but your role in their lives is still as important. Preacher kids may have liked their friends in Ur, but you can be a church for which they will one day give thanks; a church that helps them adapt to circumstances beyond their control; and, most importantly, a church who will help them love Jesus.
To hear more WNCC clergy share the challenges and joys of their experiences moving within the itinerant system, listen to to the latest episode of the Means of Grace podcast here.
Resources for Vital Congregations
GBHEM Leadership Resources
A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist
RESOURCES TO CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY:
The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:
- Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
- Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.
We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org.