Intergenerational interaction is important to us!
At Bethlehem, family members and other adults from the church are involved in our youth's activities. We believe when adults and young people participate in activities together, it creates a mutual benefit for our youth AND the volunteers who engage in their lives, allowing them to grow together in ways that they cannot grow separately.
Children, birth - age 5, are always welcome at Bethlehem! Each year the children are invited to participate in our February Faith Fest (ages 3 and up) and the Easter Egg Hunt. Children ages 3 and up can also participate in our Vacation Bible School in the summer. Our nursery is staffed during the school year at 9:00 on Sunday mornings and all year for the10:15 AM worship by Bethlehem staff member who care for these children as they interact together and grow up as part of our greater-church family.
The Elementary Group (grades K-6) is led by the Children and Youth Director Margaret Eberhart. Children in this age group participate in February Faith Fest, Vacation Bible School, Family Night during Advent, receive their Bibles at eight years of age, and begin participating as Acolytes during worship.
Our Youth Group (grades 7-12) is led by our Children and Youth Director Margaret Eberhart and Niki Traylor. They currently meet together several times a month in the Youth Area they helped design. In addition to a weekly Sunday school class, their activities include: spiritual development, mission (such as the 30-hour Feast and mission trips), fundraisers to support their missions, serve at United Caring Services, fellowship activities, and of course...food! Youth in 7th and 8th grades also begin Confirmation. Bethlehem values their input, and a youth member services as a representatives on our Church Council and ministry teams. They also participate in leadership roles during worship services. We believe that one of the most important things young people can do as they prepare themselves for adult living is to connect with others to discern the gifts God has given them and to find ways to use them to do God's work - both at home and in the world.
Additional Faith-Enriching Children's & Youth Programs
We have an exciting confirmation program for our seventh and eighth graders. It is a special time for our young people to explore and deepen their faith, as they engage in meaningful discussion and a variety of challenging and enjoyable activities. The "re:form" guide we use approaches teens in a contemporary way. It is drawn from their own life experiences and makes them curious about spiritual questions. In addition to this, we include the history of Bethlehem and the United Church of Christ itself. We encourage them to not only learn about their own faith, but also develop a deeper relationship with our church and what it means to be part of the Bethlehem family. This program is offered every-other year. Our next Confirmation class will begin in fall of 2023.
A long-standing tradition at Bethlehem is the presentation of a Bible to our eight year-old children.
Each child is given a memory verse that they share with the congregation when they receive their Bible.
Acolytes at Bethlehem Church bring the light of Christ and Word of God forward to symbolize their presence among us. During the closing song, acolytes carry the light of Christ and Word of God out to symbolize our need to take these into the world as our ministry.
In addition, they assist the ministers with baptisms and other special rituals. It is a very important role in the church’s ministry. Children in fourth grade and higher serve as acolytes. You can learn more with this video.
Vacation Bible School (ages 4 - rising 7th grade)
Vacation Bible School was held June 19-22, and the theme this year was Mission: Deep Blue Sea. Their final night they had a visit from Kona Ice and and final "sea" foam party.