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Upcoming weekend marks 26th annual observance of Children’s Sabbaths

People of all faiths encouraged to commit to improving children’s lives

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Oct. 20–22 marks the 26th annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths, a time for people of all faiths to devote to, and unite in, their concern for children, commit to improving children’s lives, and advocate for justice on their behalf. The 2017 Children’s Sabbaths theme is “Moving Forward with Hope: Love and Justice for Every Child.”

The national observance of Children’s Sabbaths is sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund. The 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) called on Presbyterians to work with partners in the U.S. and abroad to improve the quality of education for 1 million children by 2020 through the Educate a Child, Transform the World initiative. Alonzo Johnson, convener of the initiative and coordinator of the Presbyterian Committee of the Self-Development of People, said this year’s theme focuses on the importance of being vigilant adults who promise to nurture, protect and advocate for children.

“We can do this by providing alternatives to violence and responding to issues of poverty, failing schools, and other crises that prevent children from living lives of dignity and self-determination. Children’s Sabbaths reminds us that we are called to renew our commitment to justice through love, advocacy and compassionate service to all children,” said Johnson.

In an upcoming Minute for Mission, Johnson shared a personal experience as a mentor and pastor to a youth group. The week after the Sandy Hook massacre, he suspended one of his students from group activities for bringing a BB gun to the group as a “prank.” This same student was shot several weeks later; thankfully he recovered but a friend did not survive. The incident served as a wake-up call for this individual, but Johnson noted many others are not as fortunate.

“It is extremely difficult to imagine the pain of the parents of a young man and many other young people whose blood cries out from the ground due to violence. When I think of my student I also think of Psalm 99,” said Johnson. “It is a reminder that the church is a gift of God’s grace and that we are called to be ‘lovers of justice’ in establishing equity and righteousness in being tireless advocates for young people. Our faith communities should be sanctuaries where young people can find love, refuge, and protection so that all our children can experience hope.”

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Visit the Educate a Child webpage to learn more about how your congregation can get involved in education ministry, including a downloadable toolkit to help jump-start an education-oriented ministry or provide new ideas to enhance your existing program. Hope for the Future, Answering God’s Call to Justice for Our Children is a book which offers meditations and reflections for creating a better world for children. Its author draws on more than 25 years’ experience working with the Children’s Defense Fund and is available from the PC(USA) store.

The Children’s Defense Fund also provides free resources for planning and worship.


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