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
3 thoughts on “Back to School”
I serve in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. We partner with our neighborhood school throughout the year. In August, we collect school supplies and back packs for the children whose families cannot afford them, bless them in worship and deliver them to the school. During the year our residents travel to the school to tutor and be listening partners as the children read to them. Many of the children come from large families whose parents are busy working two or three jobs. The individual time with older adults who want to hear their stories and spend time with them is precious to all involved. The children come to our community to share their gifts with the residents who cannot get out very easily because of mobility issues or health conditions. Our mutual partnership is valued by both the community and the school.
Thanks ffor a great read