Kids Prepare the Way

Date posted: Thursday 06 December 2018

“How many of you know that you have friends in a place called Pawaga?”


This is the question that Pastor Jon Yurk asked two dozen children (and their parents) at Trinity Lutheran Church in North Branch during worship on a recent Sunday morning. As part of their weekly Story Time he told them about their relationship with Pawaga Parish in the Iringa Diocese, reminded them that people in Pawaga pray regularly for people in North Branch, and asked them to promise to hold the kids (and adults) in Pawaga in their prayers. It was a simple but vitally important action for the life of their congregation-to-congregation relationship and our larger synod-to-diocese one as well.


As I travel around the Saint Paul Area Synod and visit congregations of all stripes and sizes, one of the recurring questions I encounter has to do with ensuring that care for our companions and this network of relationships is passed on from one generation to the next. For me and for leaders on the Iringa Committee, tending to relational sustainability is a key concern that deserves our full attention. For me and for leaders on the Iringa Committee, this is a place that we’ll look to you - congregations and leaders - to experiment and help us all find our way forward.


Last month, on the southern edge of the synod, Pastor Heather Roth Johnson and members of St. John’s global mission team worked with their Sunday School teachers to introduce kids in Lakeville to their peers in Muhanga. Rather than route me to an Adult Forum between services they asked me to visit with the kids. After a quick and lively Q&A, they were dismissed to make musical shakers and work on Tanzanian coloring pages. During each worship service the children led the collection of a ‘noisy offering’ to collect funds for a medical dispensary. At the end of the second service they were invited to the front to shake their shakers with glee during the sending song. It was loud. It was joyous. And it was another way forward. (For those wanting to learn more, here's their lesson plan for the day.)


Looking to the future, in early 2019 the BKB Scholarship and Education Committee will be sharing an opportunity for Sunday School kids across the Saint Paul Area Synod to help put a roof on a school building in Iringa. It is a project that will not only tend to one of the stated priorities of our companions but will also give our young ones opportunities to meaningfully engage and support their peers in concrete and specific ways. It too is another way forward.


And how is it by you? What are you doing with youngsters and youth to connect them with their global peers? What are you trying and learning that can be shared with others? In your experimenting, where are you finding energy, joy, and life? You too can help us find a way forward.


With gratitude and joy,



The Rev. Peter Harrits

Director of Bega Kwa Bega & Assistant to the Bishop