It took me by surprise this week that the schools in my region were back in session. Where had the summer gone? As teachers set up their classrooms and families purchase their school supplies for another year, what are some ways that the church can be involved in supporting this yearly transition?
Many churches do a blessing of backpacks. You can find resources for this here, here, or here. These can be meaningful times of connecting church and school, so children know that God is with them wherever they go. But are there other ways that those who teach and those who learn can be lifted up at the beginning of a new school year?
For children and youth there may be mixed feelings about returning to school. For those who work with children, Carolyn Brown gives us some insight into the questions children may be asking as they return to school and a litany that may help them on the tough days in her Worshiping with Children blog post from 2011. Youth may experience even more anxiety about attending middle school or high school, than those going to elementary school. David Henson on the site Patheos, shares a liturgy that incorporates these conflicting feelings of beginning a school year, by weaving together Scripture and responses. This blog from 2013 may be of use to youth leaders and others who want to acknowledge this transition.
Finally, there seem to be very few resources for churches to use with those who teach beyond the walls of the church. In the United Kingdom, there is an organization called Pray for Schools that offers some inspirational prayers for teachers and staff. Church Year.net also offers some links for teachers, but they consist mainly of prayers for the teachers to pray regarding their students or schools rather than commissioning them in their important role.
I wonder how you make the connection between school and church in worship, in teaching, and in ongoing service. Let us know either here or on the Facebook group.
Kathy Dawson, Associate Professor of Christian Education, Columbia Theological Seminary