Springfield Creates COVID-Safe Kid Connections
COVID-19 meant online church at first and then no children’s Sabbath School classes, even though members could gather at church in limited ways. “How can we get our families and especially our children involved in church?” Lutz Binus, Springfield (Oregon) Church pastor, was wondering.
He had an idea: to take Sabbath School to kids. He and a couple helpers got the Sabbath School papers together and some treats and started visiting each family with children regularly. Pretty soon the children were the first at the door when their pastor arrived.
As weeks turned into months, Binus started wondering if they could do a family worship time. He imagined filling 30 minutes of worship time with stories, songs and special features involving the young families. The Sabbath School teachers got excited about the idea, which kept everyone safe but still involved. They helped prepare fun craft and activity bags for every family. Whether they were able to come to church or watch the program at home, every child could participate.
These family worships had themes. One month they covered the adventures of Paul, while another whole month focused on creation miracles. The Nativity theme included angels, shepherds and the birth of Jesus with different families and children taking turns to dress up as the characters of the story.
During the special Christmas service on Dec. 26, 2020, one family with young children, including a baby, dressed as the Nativity participants. The three older boys dressed as wise men and the newborn baby brother, Theodore, acted as the baby Jesus and “no crying he made,” just like it says in the Christmas carol. The parents played Mary and Joseph. The story featured the wise men, the gifts (presents) and how they followed the star to find baby Jesus to give Him their gifts.
Storyteller Cheryel Whitsell involved all the children as they followed a lighted star and an angel to see little baby Jesus quietly resting in his mother’s arms. The three young "wise men" were perfect gentlemen during the presentation. “Theodore,” Binus explained, “actually means ‘gift of God.’ So, your little boy is your gift from God, and Jesus is God’s gift for all of us.”
It was a very special service with carols, sermon, lights and joy — just what we all needed during this time of the pandemic because "the people walking in darkness have seen a great light ... . For to us a child is born" (Is. 9:2,6).
Church families have been important to these projects. They have been involved in creative ways, like putting together Bible stories with Legos or sharing their rock collection during creation story time.
Now the Sabbath School teachers are planning for the next months’ activities and programs — “The Circle of Love” and “Hosanna to the King” — with the hope that soon the children can all be back safely in their different classes.