As Jesus lovingly welcomed little children, so do we! Children are the most precious gifts our Creator entrusts to us. We enjoy having children at worship services and encourage their involvement in the life of the church. Age appropriate Sunday School classes are held immediately after the weekly church service. Our goal is to ensure that each child experiences the church as a safe, healthy and nurturing place where they know they are wanted and treasured; a place where they can laugh and have a blast with God as they joyfully grow their faith.
Children's Church - J.A.M. (Jesus and Me) Zone
Children are always welcome in worship with their families. Young disciples, ages three through the fifth grade, have the option of attending J.A.M. Zone (“Jesus and Me” Zone Children's Church) following the Children's Message in worship on Sunday mornings. J.A.M. Zone is a high energy, kid focused celebration of God's love and grace, designed to nurture each child's personal relationship with Jesus.
What to Expect
Each J.A.M. Zone may appear to be a totally spontaneous experience, but in fact, they are carefully planned, multi-sensory programs built around a different Christian theme each week. The children experience the lesson / message in a variety of ways: through prayer, music, stories, puppet CD's, and games, etc. They sing kid themed, contemporary Christian music. The high energy nature of the music often draws the other adult leaders, Jeff and Dana, onto the stage with Kellie, kickin' it with the kids. With all the energy that gets expended, snacks are a very welcome part of the program, too.
It is hard to imagine a more delightful and inviting place for children to learn biblical principles and moral values than the J.A.M. Zone. The walls depict a variety of Bible stories including Noah's Ark, David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale, Moses Parting the Red Sea, and Jesus Speaking to Zacchaeus. The murals were lovingly painted by members of the congregation as a gift to the children of Carrier Mills First United Methodist Church. The church's carpenters also gave of themselves to construct a sound booth that appears to be a hot air balloon. Other caring adults shared their time and talents in the installation of a new sound system, Power Point projector, and colored lights. To the delight of children and adults, alike, new cotton candy and snow cone machines were added to the space. The transformation of the J.A.M. Zone took four months and was paid for by money the children collected and donations from members of the congregation.
Parents and grandparents are welcome to join in the J.A.M. Zone fun on any Sunday. The more the merrier!
Christian Education - kid sized and joyful faith!
Christian Education (Sunday School) plays an extremely important role in the spiritual growth of our children. Classes meet immediately following worship and Children's Church. They combine fellowship and fun with age appropriate lessons about God's love and forgiving grace, the life of Jesus and Bible heroines and heroes while helping each child to grow in his or her love for all of God's children around the world. The classrooms for first through fifth graders are located on the lower level of the church.
Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22 : 6 (New International Version)
"Change the World" through Missions & Service
Each week in our worship services our little ones challenge us to help them "Change the World" by collecting our loose change. They convert these seemingly insignificant donations, a penny here, a dime there, a quarter once in a while, and pretty soon we're talking "real money" (to paraphrase the late United States Senator Everett Dirksen), into big acts of true faith by using them to help fund mission and service projects locally and throughout the world! In fact, each week our youngest Christians, God's favorites, garner $40-50 to support their missions activities.
What do they do with their pennies? Sometimes they buy supplies for their own Children's Church ministries. But, more often, they simply turn around and redistribute their funds to children in tougher spots nearby and around the world. With their funds they have purchased school books for children their age in Liberia ... children who have very little compared to us. Their monies have also gone to assist other children and their families in the depths of the African continent.
They have given generously to an orphanage in Los Cedros, Nicaragua ... where children their age and infants are cared for and loved. These orphaned, abandoned, or abused Nicaraguan boys and girls have nothing to their name. The donations made by our children are especially significant as Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere: more than 50% of the population is unemployed, and 60% of the population lives on less than $1 (one dollar) per day.
Local projects supported by the children of Carrier Mills First United Methodist Church include donations to animal shelters, to try to keep animals from being "put to sleep", and to "Operation Smile". They purchase Christmas gifts and school supplies for area families in need. They also give funds to families within the community who are struggling with the huge financial burdens that come with treatments for cancer and other life-threatening or debilitating illnesses.
And, sweetly, but humorously, our smallest members have even shared some of their mission funds to help enable their older teen siblings and friends to attend the Dare-2-Share Outreach Conference held annually in Saint Louis, Missouri.
In short, our youngest members are good and faithful stewards of the resources they're given. Their compassionate giving reflects their desire to be steadfast followers of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We hope that you will join with our littlest disciples and us in striving to "Change the World"!
Vacation Bible School (VBS)
Click here for 2015 Info & Forms
This special children's ministry is held for one week in either June or July. It is open to all children ages Kindergarten through 5th Grade. VBS themes change each year, but most utilize a rotational teaching model that presents each night's lesson in song, story, a game, a mission DVD and a craft. Each evening session begins with a light supper at 5:30 pm and concludes at 8:30 pm. Our VBS invites in children from throughout our regional area, and serves as an outstanding “front door” for our smallest souls to meet the love of their Creator!
Summer Church Camp The Illinois Great Rivers Conference offer a variety of summer church camps for children and families. Many of these are overnight camps (weekend or a full week) and are held at United Methodist campgrounds located throughout Illinois. The camps are designed to nurture spiritual development and appreciation for all of God's creations while having loads of fun. For more details on camping opportunities for kids and families, click here.