Children’s ministry is a vital part of age level ministries in all congregations and annual conferences. The article that follows provides an overview of the work happening in Estonia Methodist Churches as well as an update on how these ministries have been impacted by COVID-19.
The Coronavirus and the emergency situation have affected church life and also the children’s ministry. The Sunday School lessons were canceled because of the restrictions.
Some congregations (Tallinn congregation and Agape church in Pärnu) started to broadcast the sermons and lessons for children online. Sunday School teachers sent information about Children Bible apps and links to age-appropriate content to their Sunday School children.
The Sunday School teachers had three online meetings in Zoom. The team of Sunday School teachers asked the children to read stories from a Children’s Edition Bible about Jesus meeting disciples after the resurrection and to make creative artworks about the stories. Many wonderful works were sent: drawings, a video, a 3D picture, and a comic.
During Mother’s Day week, the Sunday School teachers asked the Methodist families to send photos taken on Mother’s Day. The works and photos are also available on the Estonia UMC Facebook page.
(update shared by Marjana Luist – Assistant District Superintendent)
January 18th was a Vision Day for the Estonian Methodist Church children’s ministry co-workers. Fifteen enthusiastic children’s ministry leaders, as well as Robert Tšerenkov and Urmas Sassian from the Church Council, were present. There were workers from closer places (Tallinn, Keila, and Tapa congregations) and farther areas (Pärnu, Tartu, and Reeküla congregations). Experiences were shared by those leaders who primarily work with children whose parents are church members as well as those who work with children whose families are not connected to the church. Both provided interesting ideas and enthusiasm. I was really delighted with the open and inspiring atmosphere. If somebody had an idea about how to help another congregation, then they avidly shared it. Participants also asked regarding opportunities to go and learn about children’s ministry in other congregations.
It was really uplifting to hear about the evangelical children’s ministry in Pärnu and Reeküla. Robert shared the larger vision of our church and helped us to remember and be assured of how important children and children’s ministry are in the work of God’s Kingdom. The Bible also teaches about the significance of children’s ministry (Proverbs 22:6). Children need Christ the same way as adults. The time when the conviction of sin comes is different. Children are very receptive and open to God. Most people accept Christ in their youth. The most important thing is definitely not just going to Sunday school or Children’s Church, but to teach them personal fellowship with God. Children’s ministry secures the consistency in our congregations – today’s children are tomorrow our youth and adults.
Those and many other thoughts we heard and discussed together. The Vision Day provided new inspiration and ideas for doing our ministry even more courageously and on a bigger scale. For me personally, the vision of children’s ministry became clearer and wider as it grew from my own congregation’s work into the network of children’s ministry workers across Estonia. The children’s ministry leaders will meet next time in March at Pärnu Agape UMC.
(Update by Lea Kübar at St. Luke’s UMC in Tartu with translation assistance by Kaarel Lilloja)
Pärnu Agape Methodist Congregation has a great tradition of organizing Children’s Summer School every summer. This is a four-day city camp where children hear the good news about Jesus in a suitable form for children. This year (2019), we had more than 80 children over those four days, and there were more than 50 children present each day.
A lot of children also means a lot of organizing team members so that every child would get attention. Therefore, we were very happy to have volunteers from Asbury friendship church in Tulsa, U.S.A., helping us in addition to our own volunteers. It was a pleasure to see how even little children did not hesitate to connect with people of unknown language since the language of smile and friendliness functions even without words.
Preparations for the Children’s Summer School started already a year ago when the dates and overall theme were decided upon. As the event was approaching, more specific preparations began, and a few thousand little details were cut out for children in the Summer School to glue and make crafts of; new ribbons were prepared for worship dance workshop; portable soccer goals were made for outdoors games.
I especially delighted in a very good atmosphere. Children were enthusiastic; they listened and watched the message as well as participated in different activities. Teachers and assistants gave their best. God granted His presence and blessing. Through the examples of Bible characters such as Elijah, Peter, John, the widow, and the rich man, various important truths became clear: set important things first in your life; trust God – He will take care of us; God hears prayers and answers – in better ways than we can ask for. Thank you to all of the participants and assistants! Thank you to the Lord!
(Update from Külli Kuusemaa from Agape UMC in Pärnu)