Formation for Children and Youth at Saint Mark’s

At Saint Mark’s, we consider it a joy to share in the formation of children and youth as disciples of Christ. To that end, we offer a comprehensive formation program on Sunday mornings from September to June, from 10-10:45 a.m. 

We believe that the Christian faith is strengthened through both teaching and the experiences of daily life. We are keen to encourage and facilitate continued faith formation at home, outside of Sunday morning, by providing helpful materials and resources. We hope, too, that children and youth will participate in Sunday worship and educational offerings on a regular basis, so that their spiritual lives are enriched as much as possible.

As a parish within the Episcopal tradition, the Anglican understanding of faith through the lenses of scripture, tradition, and reason naturally guides a vision of children and youth formation at Saint Mark’s. We pray that our formation offerings will aid children and youth in joining together both heart and mind in their Christian life journeys.

As such we seek to

  • provide families with resources to engage in faith formation at home;

  • introduce children to the Christian narrative and the church’s liturgical life through prayer, song, wonder, and play;

  • give children a strong acquaintance with the Biblical text through engagement with Holy Scripture and individual, creative responses to Biblical stories;

  • encourage youth to explore the meaning of the Christian faith in the context of Scripture, tradition, and reason, as well as to engage in opportunities for service and outreach.

Christian formation for children is currently on hiatus for the summer. Registration for formation will take place during a potluck brunch on September 8. You can also register your child(ren) online here.

Formation sessions will resume on September 15.

Pre-Schola (birth until age 3)
Family Care Room (first floor of Parish House next to the Nursery

Pre-Schola is an opportunity for parents and their children to begin exploring the Christian faith together. Using a Scripture-based curriculum, parents and young children encounter major Bible stories at an age-appropriate level. Children are also encouraged to use their bodies to express their faith through song and play. Each week, families receive resources to take home so that faith formation continues throughout the week.

Formation Goals:

  • Begin to use the body as a means of worshipping and learning about God, through song and play.

  • Begin to encounter major stories of the Bible in a simple, age-appropriate way.

  • Begin to know that God loves his children unconditionally.

  • Encourage faith formation at home apart from Sundays.

Schola (ages 3-7)
Parish Library (second floor of Parish House) 

Schola is a unique Christian formation program that combines music, games, and storytelling to explore the Christian faith. In Schola, children work together with professional music educators to make a joyful and beautiful noise to the Lord, learning simple songs to sing together with their classmates and also as a family at home. Schola is also when children begin to encounter the larger Bible narrative in a systematic way in Godly Play, an imaginative Montessori-based curriculum that emphasizes wonder and play in exploring the great stories of the faith. While Godly Play is rooted in Scripture, it is deeply liturgical and sacramental in its understanding of the Christian faith.

Worship Goals:

  • Attend Mass regularly.

  • Learn to gain a sense of reverence in worship by listening, participating, and using the body in an appropriate way to praise God.

  • Learn how to receive Communion in a respectful and reverent way.

Formation Goals:

  • Deepen an understanding of God’s love for all his children, especially through the gift of his Son Jesus Christ.

  • Encounter major stories of the Christian faith, from both the Old and New Testaments.

  • Engage the imagination, wonder, and play in relation to an understanding of the Biblical narrative.

  • Memorize the Lord’s Prayer.

  • Become familiar with the seasons of the Church year.

  • Learn prayers to say at home: grace at meals and prayers in the morning and at night.

  • Learn how to use healthy vocal technique by singing songs of the faith. 

  • Learn about the sacraments, with a particular emphasis on Baptism and Eucharist (especially with regard to the Real Presence of Christ).

  • Be exposed to different postures for prayer.

  • Know how to respond to the salutation before prayers.

Young Discipleship (ages 8-10)
Choir Room (second floor of Parish House) 

Young Discipleship offers an opportunity for children to gain a more hands-on familiarity with the Bible as a text, while continuing to gain a deeper appreciation of the overall Scriptural narrative in conjunction with basic theological concepts. Children are encouraged to delve more deeply into Bible passages, as well as to learn where they are located within the Bible itself. Young Discipleship uses Weaving God’s Promises, an Episcopal curriculum with lessons spanning three years. While using a story from Scripture as the focal point of each session, Weaving God’s Promises also seeks to draw connections between scripture, liturgy, prayer, and daily living as rooted in the Anglican understanding of Christianity.

Worship Goals:

  • Attend Mass regularly.

  • Attend Mass also on other holy days and feasts in addition to Sundays.

  • Receive Holy Communion on a regular basis.

  • Participate fully in the liturgy.

  • Reflect on sermons and relate them to one’s life.

  • Begin to discern ways of participating in liturgical leadership roles.

Formation Goals:

  • Know how to find books within the Bible by becoming familiar with their ordering.

  • Know general characteristics of the Old and New Testaments.

  • Memorize the Apostles’ Creed.

  • Be able to name the four Gospels.

  • Encounter different genres within the Bible and understand the difference between them.

  • Learn ways to relate the Bible stories to everyday life.

  • Understand Jesus Christ as God’s distinctive revelation in the flesh, as Love Incarnate, and as the Savior of the world.

  • Begin to learn the basics of foundational Christian theological concepts: the incarnation, the resurrection, salvation/atonement, sin, reconciliation/forgiveness.

  • Explore the richness of the sacraments, with a particular focus on the importance of Baptism and the Eucharist (and Christ’s Real Presence in this sacrament).

  • Begin to understand more fully the connection between worship and outreach/service.

  • Learn about saints and other holy men and women.

  • Know basic information about the Episcopal Church/Anglican tradition.

  • Become acquainted with the Book of Common Prayer.

  • Participate in outreach and service activities, as well as Christian fellowship.

Connect (ages 11 and up)
Meeting place: Parish Hall; Class: Rectory

Connect is a formation program for youth. While allowing youth to continue to engage Scripture in a profound way, Connect invites youth to ask challenging questions about God and their faith, while providing a more in-depth understanding of the Episcopal tradition and the larger Anglican expression of Christianity. Youth are encouraged to put their faith into practice by engaging in occasional service and outreach activities. Youth also gather occasionally for fun group events.

Worship Goals:

  • Attend Mass regularly.

  • Attend Mass also on other holy days and feasts in addition to Sundays.

  • Participate in liturgical leadership roles.

  • Attend Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

  • Learn to reflect on the sermons in a meaningful way that engages with everyday life.

Formation Goals:

  • Understand important Christian theological concepts and terms: the incarnation, the resurrection, salvation, atonement theologies, sin, reconciliation/forgiveness of sins, grace, the communion of saints, the Persons of the Trinity.

  • Know the major divisions of the Bible.

  • Memorize the Confession of Sin from Mass (Rite II) and the Postcommunion Prayer.

  • Understand the arc of the liturgical year.

  • Be able to talk with greater complexity about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

  • Learn to wrestle in a critical and humble way with challenges of faith: the problem of evil, God’s sovereignty, the nature of Christ, ethical issues, inconsistencies in Scripture, salvation and atonement theologies, religion and science, doubt.

  • Go deeper into the Biblical text and learn to read it on multiple levels: historically-critically, theologically, and prayerfully.

  • Learn about major events in church history.

  • Explore in detail the sacrament of Reconciliation.

  • Strengthen one’s familiarity with the Book of Common Prayer.

  • Grapple with modern ethical issues using the lenses of Scripture, tradition, and reason.

  • Participate regularly in outreach and service activities.

  • Undertake a mission trip to expand one’s perspective of discipleship.

Youth Confirmation (ages 12 and up)

Youth Confirmation classes are usually offered in the spring, in preparation for the bishop’s annual visitation. Classes are generally held on a weekday evening, to be determined in consultation with participants’ schedules. In Confirmation, youth publicly affirm their baptismal vows and make a mature profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, with an intention to lead a life of Christian discipleship by God’s grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

For more information on children and youth formation at Saint Mark’s, please contact Father Babin.

Liturgical Ministries for Children and Youth

Guild of Young Acolytes

All children who are 8 years of age and older are welcome to serve as acolytes for liturgies at Saint Mark’s. Participating in this ministry does not pose a conflict with participation in the Choir of Boys and Girls. Training is provided as needed to accommodate the schedules of children and youth. For more information on serving as an acolyte, please contact Father Babin.

The Choir of Boys and Girls

The Choir of Boys and Girls provides children and youth ages 7 and up with outstanding professional choral training, music theory, leadership development, choir camps and trips, and a stipend for each chorister. It is also a vibrant means of Christian formation. Choristers participate as musicians on a regular basis at Mass and at Evensong and Benediction. For more information, please contact Robert McCormick, Organist & Choirmaster.