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 Easter Egg Hunt, Trick-or-treat for UNICEF party, and Christmas Eve pageant. When the activities allow, they are invited to join with the Elementary Group for lunch and outings (such as a visit to the zoo or CMoE). Children ages 3 and up can also participate in our Vacation Bible School in the summer. At 9:00 on Sunday mornings, we offer Sunday school programming for toddlers (18 months - 3 years) and pre-schoolers, as well as nursery care for those who are younger. Our church nursery is staffed each Sunday morning, during 10:15 AM worship, by volunteers who care for these children as they interact together and grow up as part of our greater-church family.
The Elementary Group (grades K-5) is led by the Children's Ministry Coordinator. They meet monthly during the school year for lunch and a fellowship outing. Activities have included: roller and ice skating, trips to CMoe, indoor rock climbing, and trick-or-treating for UNICEF! We also have a fantastic Children's Church program on Sunday mornings, where K-5 kids participate in their own worship service. They sit with their parents at the beginning of worship, and after the Children's Chat, they go downstairs to our Chapel, where an ongoing curriculum is taught by a rotation of caring church members. Children in this age group participate in Vacation Bible School each summer and also receive Bibles and begin participating as Acolytes during worship.
Our Youth Group (grades 6-12) is led by our Youth Ministry Coordinator, Pastor Emily Slade. 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 Famine and mission trips), fundraisers to support their missions, fellowship activities, and of course...food! Youth in 7th and 8th grades also begin Confirmation. Bethlehem values their input, and many of our youth are 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.
Below is a video of a mission trip in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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 2017.
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.
Vacation Bible School
Each summer, Bethlehem hosts a Vacation Bible School. This summer was a Superhero theme, "Hero Central VBS" from Sunday, June 25 - Thursday, June 29.
Children from Bethlehem and the Evansville community came together for this fun week of events. All children and their families were invited to join us for dinner each evening from 5:30 - 6:00 PM, before the crafts, games, songs, and skits by their favorite Bible School characters begin! The program ends at 8:00 PM.