Suffer the children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16
Baptism is the sacramental rite of entrance into the life of the Christian community. We celebrate baptism at St. Mark’s when the full community is present in worship. We practice infant baptism and seek to impress upon the parents and sponsors of each child the importance of the sacred covenant they make with God when they bring a child forward for baptism. It is a rite, which sets the child’s faith formation in motion.
Attendance. The most important facet in developing a foundation for Christian beliefs is consistent attendance, regardless of the age it is begun. Families who attend church regularly find that their children look forward to being with their friends on Sundays and are less resistant to church because they have learned what to expect when they come to worship.
Worship is central to our existence as a parish and anchors our relationship with God and one another. We welcome all ages to our worship services (8:00 a.m., 9:15 a.m., and 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.), and we also offer age appropriate care and ministries for young children every Sunday of the year. For some parents, the distraction of a baby’s cry or the noise made by a young child in worship can be unnerving. We want all parents – visitors and members – to know that we understand that such distractions are a normal part of our life as a community of faith. We are creatures of habit, and children are no different from adults in needing to establish a routine and understanding of what should and should not occur during worship. The sounds of young children in worship are a welcome sign that St. Mark’s is doing its part for future generations
Nursery—Available for infants during 8:00 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. services as well as the 10:15 a.m. Sunday School and 12:00 p.m. Spanish Language Sunday School. It is staffed each week by Ms. Norma Cid, our nursery coordinator, who has been with us for over 17 years. We also have a group of parish volunteers who assist Ms. Norma each week. The nursery is found on the lower level of the education wing, room 112.
JAM (Jesus and Me)–Available for children ages 4-8 during the 9:15 a.m. worship service. JAM moves to 9:00 a.m. during summer. Stories from the Old and New Testaments are told using the Godly Play format. This age-appropriate worship experience is multi-sensory and provides children with an opportunity to sing, pray, listen and respond in their own way to God’s Word. They are guided to the sanctuary to join their families for the Eucharist. Children’s Worship is located in the undercroft (downstairs from the sanctuary) in rooms 123 and 124.
Allies—St. Mark’s newest addition to our Sunday School program is our Allies’ classroom. This classroom accommodates children with various learning disabilities. Teachers individualize their approach depending on each child’s special needs.
10:15 a.m. Sunday School—Our children learn the stories of the Christian faith in an atmosphere of love and safety, utilizing the Episcopal Church’s Weaving God’s Promises curriculum. This is an online curriculum will various activities to meet different aged children. Classes meet from 10:15-11:15 a.m. every Sunday, beginning in early September and ending mid-May. Children are grouped according to their school grade level and are led by teams of dedicated teachers. Newcomers are welcome to join at any time. Classes are located on both levels of the Education Wing. Children whose parents worship at 10:30 a.m. will be escorted to the sanctuary at 11:15 a.m. to rejoin their parents.
11:30 Spanish Language First Communion and Confirmation—Both groups meet before the 12:00 p.m. Sunday School to prepare for these important sacraments.
12:00 p.m. Spanish Language Sunday School—The Kindergarten-Second grade and Third-Fifth grade Sunday School classes at 12:00 are conducted mostly in Spanish. These classes use the Godly Play curriculum which allows children to respond to Bible Stories in a hands-on-way.
Service rounds out St. Mark’s vision of faith formation. We believe that service transforms us as well as those we serve. Sunday School classes engage in at least three service projects over the course of the year. Recent service projects have included
- Food Pantry collections
- Creating care packages for the local PADS organization (Public Action to Deliver Shelter)
- Participating in the annual Trick or Treat for UNICEF and United Thank Offering drives
- CROP WALK for Church World Service
- Making cards for children in hospitals
Additional Educational Offerings
Worship, Education and Service come together annually in our week long Vacation Bible School program. This year VBS is July 20-24, 2015. Click here to learn more and for registration information. For questions or if you would like to help, please contact email@example.com.
This perennial favorite offers time for Bible stories, skits, crafts, games, mission collections, music and dancing. We welcome children 4-incoming 5th grade from St. Mark’s as well as the community. High school and middle school youth assist as leaders for the younger children.
St. Nicholas Luncheon Benefit for the People’s Resource Center
Held in early December, this annual luncheon brings families together to share in the holiday spirit with the story of St. Nicholas. Families bring unwrapped gifts for the People’s Resource Center “Share the Spirit” program, and the luncheon is capped off by a visit from St. Nicholas himself.
The Annual Christmas Pageant
The Christmas story comes to life as the children bring its message to worship on the Fourth Sunday in Advent during the 10:30 am service. Rehearsals take place in early December.
Child Safety Policies
St. Mark’s is committed to providing a safe environment for children and youth. We conform to the Child Safety Policies set forth by the Diocese of Chicago by conducting annual training in the Keeping God’s People Safe program. All staff members and volunteers who work with children or youth are required to complete this training once every five years. In addition, a background check is required for all adult nursery workers, youth leaders and drivers of youth. All classrooms are equipped with windows and doors which allows anyone to see into them at all times. Additionally, we staff all classes with a minimum of 2 adults per session.