Faith communities and Children First
St. Louis Park congregations have kept the asset-building spark alive during the time since Children First was created in the community.
Some of the joint activities have included:
- Core Values Statement – Shortly after one pastor heard about Children First, a meeting was called inviting all leaders of congregations to hear about this philosophy that was sweeping St. Louis Park. The group determined what their unique role could be. What resulted was a Core Values Statement for Children in St. Louis Park. A group created it with both Christian and Jewish representatives.
- Keeping Children Safe from Sexual Abuse in Congregations – Later a workshop on keeping children safe in congregations was offered. The workshop included information from an insurance company as well as representatives from congregations who had their own manuals with policies including a volunteer screening form.
- Building Assets in Congregations – Another training was offered that dealt with congregations’ roles in building assets. Search Institute conducted the training. Teams of people from 15 congregations attended.
- Training for Religious Education Teachers – A very simple packet about religious education teachers’ roles in asset building was sent to each congregation to include in their teacher training. Materials for this packet were taken from Search Institute’s publication “Building Assets in Congregations.”
Examples of what the faith community is doing
- A church started The Magic Attic, a once-a-week enrichment program for students at a local grade school. The program is run by church volunteers and includes an enrichment class (i.e., wood carving, cake decorating, drama), a snack and a ride home if needed.
- Another congregation did a simple thing that sends an important message to youth. They provided young people nametags just like the ones adults receive.
- A synagogue hosted a Mitzvah Mall, where congregation members young and old learned about community involvement opportunities.
- A pastor writes “Parent Pages” for the congregation newsletter, which covers topics such as setting boundaries and helping with homework.
- A youth group has discussed the assets. One student in a school program heard about assets and exclaimed, “I’ve already heard about this as my church.” (The power of redundancy!)
- A churched forged a special relationship with a local grade school providing for needs such as winter boots and mittens.
- A pastor connects youth with caring adults in meaningful ways.
- A church conducted training for staff and members.
- Another church reviewed its programs in light of the 40 assets causing them to restructure the Sunday School program so children have contact with multiple caring adults.