The program year is fully underway, and there is a real sense of energy and excitement. Church school has started smoothly, and it’s exciting that our large numbers have grown even more with several new enrollments. We currently have a total of 14 teachers who will be working with the four classes, including four who have undertaken the responsibility of being “lead teachers”, to ensure continuity from week to week. Having a number of volunteers who can act as substitutes of assistants allows all of our teachers to occasionally have a week off and worship with the congregation. This happens most regularly on Communion Sundays, when we have special programming and Children’s Communion in Allen Chapel, and the “regulars” have the week off.
We have already had a milestone moment in Church School. This past Sunday a large group of fourth grade students received their bibles during morning worship with the help of NHUCC Associate Conference Minister Richard Slater. Each bible was individually inscribed with the student’s name, and each enclosing a bookmark with a bible verse specifically chosen for that child. A few of our eleven (!) fourth graders were not able to be there, but they will be receiving their bibles in class with appropriate pomp and ceremony. Even a small rite of passage such as this can be both emotional and inspiring for parents, congregation members, and teachers. Most gratifying for me as their teacher this year has been the knowledge that these young people understand the significant of the volume that they are receiving. I was just as happy with the fact that even our three newest students have already integrated themselves into the life of the class in a very positive way. We will make good use of the bibles in the months to come.
Work is already underway to prepare for a much more significant rite of passage scheduled for the spring. We have had the first two meetings of our Confirmation Class, and are well begun. We have seven confirmands who will be studying and working together all year to prepare for the possibility of covenant church membership. These faith journeys will be enabled by seven dedicated adult mentors who have been willing to make a significant commitment of their time and effort. The process of matching confirmands and their mentors seems to have gone well, and after two meetings I have had excellent feedback. Some of these duos have wasted little time in getting started on the important community service aspect of the class, with two mentor-student pairs working at last week’s Community Dinner in White River Junction. Several more have plans to participate in the Crop Walk together.
We have had good beginnings in the area of Campus Ministry. I have been in touch with several incoming members of the Dartmouth Class of 2013 about their interest in attending church, and met several more at the Ice Creak Social sponsored by the Tucker Foundation during Orientation. We have had a number of underclass and graduate students with us these past few weeks (including three at our wonderful picnic!), and it is clear that the congregation is eager to acquit this church’s responsibility as a resource and spiritual home for Dartmouth students.
Finally (for now), we are eager to begin our new self-guided discussion course entitled “Healthy Children, Healthy Planet”, sponsored by Religious Education Board. There are still some spots for participants, and those interested should contact RE Chair Gail McPeek for details.
We have a great deal to look forward to in the coming months, having welcomed autumn with an eagerness for all of the learning and fellowship opportunities which lie ahead. Ordinary Time is hardly that in this church!
Director of Religious Education