Five people were honoured for their work in the area of children’s ministry at the Centre for Excellence in Christian Education’s annual conference, held at St. John, York Mills on Nov. 7.
Archbishop Colin Johnson presented the Sladen Award to Lance Williams and Yvette Langevine of St. Margaret-in-the-Pines, West Hill, Elizabeth McCaffrey of St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto, Charlotte Orser of St. John, York, Mills, Jean Oldershaw of St. Paul, Innisfil, and Laird Moore of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Arthur, Ont.
The award, which recognizes excellence in children’s ministry, was named after the late Kathleen Sladen, a former parishioner of St. John, York Mills who led children’s ministry at the church and wrote several books on the subject.
About 40 people attended the conference, which featured a keynote address by the Rev. Stephanie Douglas-Bowman, the incumbent of Christ Memorial Church in Oshawa and a doctoral student at Wycliffe College. In her address, “Why Your Ministry to Children and Families Matter,” Ms. Douglas-Bowman shared findings from her research and provided practical ideas for children’s ministers and Sunday School teachers to take back to their parishes.
“What I really liked was that Stephanie combined theology with the practical,” said the Rev. Dr. Catherine Keating, one of the organizers of the conference. “Her suggestions were real. They were things she’s actually done and experienced, even with her own children.”
Ms. Keating, who is a deacon at St. John, York Mills, said that is one of the best features of the conference – it provides practical ideas that are also grounded in theology. “You don’t have to be a bionic children’s minister to do these things – anyone is able to do them, to implement these strategies. They’re real and they work.”
The conference included 10 workshops on a variety of subjects, including choosing the right curriculum, transforming the nursery, using simple objects as tools for instruction, ministering to children with disabilities, exploring the biblical and theological foundation for the place of children and families in worship, and intergenerational ministry. Local presenters included the Rev. Graham McCaffrey of Grace Church in Scarborough, the Rev. Jennifer Schick of St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto, and Brian Suggs of St. Philip-on-the-Hill, Unionville.
In addition to the speakers and workshops, there was plenty of opportunity for casual conversations and networking, said Ms. Keating. The conference also included lunch and free child care.
Ms. Keating said the conference is unique. “I don’t think there is anything like this in the Anglican community that really addresses children’s ministry to this degree. Our belief is that the whole foundation of the church stems with the children. The children bring their parents and friends to church, and if it’s a wonderful experience for them, the church grows.”
The conference, which is funded by the diocese, will be held next year on Nov. 5 at St. John, York Mills. The Rev. Canon Judy Paulsen of Wycliffe College will be the keynote speaker.
Anyone can nominate someone for a Sladen Award, which is given to a person in each episcopal area and to one person outside the Anglican Church. For details of the award and to learn more about the conference, visit the Centre for Excellence in Christian Education’s blog at www.thecece.org.