As the state of Ohio continues to navigate COVID-19, we at Epworth - and specifically within the Children's Ministry - want to assure you, as volunteers and parents, that we strive to take every consideration and precaution to safely interact with your family, as well as our dedicated volunteers, to ensure everyone's health and well-being to the best of our ability. Furthermore, as schools look to develop their re-open plans for this fall amid increased cases of COVID-19 cases in our area, we wanted to update you all on where we are at this moment.
Recently, we sent a survey to over 200 parents and over 50 volunteers asking for feedback as to what you would like to see at this time. Thank you to everyone who participated in sharing feedback with us! Of those that responded, nearly 90% indicated that they are not ready to send their kids to in-person programming. Additionally, only 3 people indicated they were willing to help lead the children’s groups if we do return at this time. I think the message is pretty clear: Parents are leery to send their children because little kids aren’t great at social-distancing and masks and volunteers are not comfortable leading children yet. Without volunteers or children to lead, Epworth’s families aren’t ready to take that step in on-campus children’s gatherings yet.
Considering your feedback, we are shifting our start to the new program year to offer virtual opportunities for Epworth’s Kids. In addition to providing 2 weekly online worship opportunities for your families, we will continue to source the kids at home page, epworth.com/kidsathome with content for parents to use to have faith based conversations with their children. Additionally, our exciting Bible Camp At-Home experience will continue through the end of August.
For families who are ready to attend one of our on-campus family worship services, we are providing weekly worship bags at the entrance to the sanctuary for your children to engage with during worship. These materials change weekly and the two types of bags are designed with both younger and older children in mind. Simply pick one up for each of your children on your way into worship, and then return the used bag to the designated stand so we can ensure each child gets a fresh, clean bag to use.
Be affirmed that as we all navigate these unusual times, there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to what you feel is best for your family. We celebrate that every parent, and family is doing what they feel is best for their family right now and that falls on a spectrum of comfort with face-to-face interaction. Some of you are ready to return to in-person worship and some of you are not. That is okay!
In this time of showing love for our neighbor and our church family by continued social distancing, please join me in praying daily for our medical facilities, our communities, as they work to slow the spread of this virus. Also, pray for our children, whose lives continue to be disrupted by school cancellations and a hiatus from extracurricular events. Pray that they are able to understand that while this certainly feels unfair, and is hard to understand why “all the fun things” are canceled, that those in leadership making these tough decisions are not doing so haphazardly.
Lastly, may we pray for parents who continue to struggle financially due to lost wages and increased childcare costs, and most importantly those who are battling this virus and for the families of the critically ill. May we rest in the arms of our Lord and redeemer knowing He is with us and for us through all our days.
We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated as to when on-campus children’s programming will return. Please know that our goal is to continue to find ways to connect with your kiddos in this season - in whatever way works best for your family right now. Parents, please tell your kiddos (whom I love with my whole heart) that I miss them more than I can express and that I am still here for you and for them in any way I can be!
With faith, hope and love,
Director of Children and Family Ministries