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Area churches join nationwide religious observances to highlight chilren's needs
Seven area churches have announced plans to lift up the needs
of children during their worship services on Sunday, Oct. 17. Representing
four denominations, these seven congregations will hear sermons about
the needs of children and pray for them. Sunday School classes will focus
on the issues.
Tolt Congregational United Church of Christ, Carnation; Fall
City United Methodist Church; First Congregational United Church of
Christ, Monroe; Sammamish Congregational United Church of Christ;
Snoqualmie United Methodist Church; Community Church of Issaquah; and
St. Clare's Episcopal Church, Snoqualmie, will join thousands
of churches, synagogues, mosques, and congregations of other faiths
across the country in observing the eighth annual Children's Sabbaths,
taking place October 15, 16, and 17.
A potluck barbecue lunch will follow worship at Tolt Church, at
4851 Tolt Avenue, Carnation. Sponsored by the Carnation Co-op Preschool,
the lunch will include the dedication of some new equipment in the
church playground. The preschool purchased the equipment with grant money
received from the Snoqualmie Valley Community Network in recognition
of Washington State Children's Day, observed Oct. 10. The preschool
meets in the church's Social Hall weekdays during the school year. Families
are encouraged to bring dishes to share and grill; Tolt Church will supply
the beverages and the preschool will supply the grills.
The Children's Sabbath is designed to focus national attention
on the problems confronting children, and reaffirm the commitment
of people of faith to respond through prayer, raising awareness, direct
service, and advocacy. Sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund (CDF)
in cooperation with more than 200 denominations and religious
organizations, this year's Children's Sabbath is expected to involve tens of
thousands of congregations of many faiths.
This year's theme is "Wonderfully Made: Preparing Children to
Learn and Succeed." It focuses on the critical importance of positive early
learning experiences at home, in childcare, and in Head Start programs. It
also emphasizes the importance of strong schools and enriching
after-school activities for older children, and
the role religious congregations can play in helping children.
The Children's Sabbath will address the obstacles in children's
readiness to learn and succeed, posed by the poverty that blights the lives
of more than 14 million children in America; the lack of health
insurance that denies 11 million children preventive and sick care; and the violence
that strikes children, including 13 who die from firearms every day.
Parents continue to be the first and most important teachers in a
child's life. However, CDF points out that economic necessities require
many parents to work outside the home. Increasing numbers of children
spend part of their early years in settings other than their homes - in
childcare and Head Start. These settings also should be stimulating and enriching.
Today, 13 million children, including 6 million infants and toddlers,
are cared for by someone other than their parents who work outside the home.
One out of three children of working mothers are poor even though
their mothers work, or would be poor if their mothers didn't work.
According to Joan Sharp - who now is helping launch a
county-wide "Children's Initiative" for the
United Way of King County, after having spent the last five years at
Children's Services of Sno-Valley working on behalf of children - local efforts
are what make the real difference for children.
"Advocacy and policy change at the national and state levels are
important, but the real work of helping children and families succeed
happens neighbor-to-neighbor in communities," Sharp said. "If we don't
bring this issue down to the question of what each one of us individually can do
to help ensure the future by meeting children's needs today, we will
never get anywhere - no matter what happens in Washington, D.C.
"Given what an important part of family and community life our
religious institutions represent, the Children's Sabbaths are a perfect
vehicle for getting the message out where it will do the most good," Sharp added.
According to CDF information, countless older children are in
substandard schools without the resources, materials, quality, standards, or
expectations to help all children learn and succeed. Furthermore, CDF notes
that after-school hours represent another wasted learning opportunity for
many children. Experts estimate that nearly 5 million children are left
unsupervised after school each week. Left to their own devices, these children
are at risk for drug and alcohol use, sexual activity and pregnancy, crime and
"Great national attention is being paid to the potential disaster of
arriving at `Y2K' unprepared, with the computer-system problems
unsolved," said Marian Wright Edelman,
founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund. "A far graver threat to
our national stability and capacity to move ahead into the new millennium,
however, lies in the failure to prepare all of our children to learn and
succeed, and not to solve the problems in our educational and health-care
systems. The real peril lies not in one-time computer glitches, but in the enduring
impact of a failure to ensure that all our children are cared for,
educated, healthy, safe, and ready to learn and succeed in the new century."
National and local religious leaders are adding their voices to the
call to prepare all of our children to learn and succeed. "The Hebrew word
`Torah' means `instruction or teaching,'" said Rabbi David Saperstein,
Executive Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. "From
the earliest days, the Jewish community has valued learning and recognized
its sacred and practical responsibility to educate children. Today, we are
called to action so that every child may have the experiences at home, in child
care, in school, and after school that help him or her learn and succeed."
The Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary of the
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., concurs: "The
Church through the ages has recognized the importance of children's education
their spiritual education, to be sure, but also their secular education. In
fact, the American system of public education grew out of the Sunday
School movement. Working to see that all children are prepared to learn and
succeed through quality childcare and Head Start programs and
outstanding schools is an important expression of our faith and religious heritage."
Another central component of the Children's Sabbath will be
individuals and congregations making long-term commitments to help children.
These commitments may range from a congregation starting an
after-school program to an individual volunteering in a Head Start classroom.
For more information about any of the celebrations of Children's
Sabbath noted in this article, please call the appropriate church. Phone
numbers are listed in the phonebook.