The Mission of Christian Education at Good Shepherd is to join with children and youth in worshiping God, guiding all to our common journey of faith as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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Young Children

A professionally-staffed nursery is provided every Sunday of the year for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. This program aims to provide a safe and happy place for young children to begin their church experience, feeling God's love through nurturing caregivers and smiling friends. All our nursery staff are CPR and First-Aid trained. During the school year the nursery is open from 9:45 AM until 11:30 AM to accommodate parents attending the 10:00 am service. During the summer schedule, when there is one Sunday service at 9:00 AM, the nursery opens at 8:45 AM. There is also a cozy Infant Room with rocker and changing table located downstairs off the Common Room. Children may remain in the nursery for the duration of the service, or if they wish, families may bring their young children into church for Communion or a blessing at the altar.

Children learn about our worship by regular attendance and participation. Introducing children to the Bible and the liturgy helps them develop a language for prayer. Sitting near the same place in church each Sunday will give your children a sense of security and routine. Consider sitting either in the front or near the center aisle so they can clearly see the activity in the sanctuary. Familiarize them with special features such as the decorative art, stained glass windows, organ, and furnishings. As they grow, children will learn what is expected from observing the adults around them.

Communion is for all baptized Christians, including even very young children. We invite all children to come to the altar with their families to receive communion or to receive a blessing. Having children share in the holy mystery reminds us that we are loved and accepted at Christ's table. Eucharistic instruction is an ongoing part of our education program. We respect your decision as to when your child begins to receive communion.

The ordinary noises of children are expected. However, sometimes despite our best efforts, children may not settle into the rhythm of the service. When this happens, you may choose to take your child out of the service for a break. If the weather is nice, try the front steps; sometimes, a little fresh air in a quiet place can calm an anxious child. You may also try taking your child to the toddler area immediately downstairs. If nothing works and you are at your wit's end, you can always try another time. We will be here.

Youth

Sunday Church School for children and youth takes place during the first half of the Sunday service; while the scripture is being read, a sermon is being given the children are receiving similar, age-apropriate instruction. After the sermon, the children and their teachers join the congregation for Eucharist. Children are also encouraged to be active in the common worship by volunteering to be "acolytes."

  • Biblical Literacy. We teach the stories of the Bible and think about what they teach us. We then learn to interpret these timeless stories and apply them to our own lives.

  • Inclusion. We continually re-form a community of love and acceptance. We help each other grow in faith.

  • Outreach. We volunteer to serve. Through our outreach programs, we teach care and compassion for others. We also develop Christian humility.

  • Confirmation. We encourage teenagers to prepare for their Confirmation. Confirmation is a mature commitment to Christ — our own reaffirmation of the covenant made at baptism.

  • Reflection. We want everyone to deepen and explore their relationship with God. We hope each person continues passing on that knowledge and experience.

Youth Confirmation Classes are offered as a two-year program which generally begins when students are in eighth or ninth grade. The preparation for Confirmation focuses on our baptismal vows. These vows summarize our Christian identity and our responsibilities as followers of Christ. This group meets for dinner several Sunday evenings during the fall and spring for fellowship and discussion. In the spring, we go on a weekend retreat at the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center in Greenfield, New Hampshire. The Confirmation Service, during which class members are accepted into full church membership, is held in May or June of the second year of the program. All the while, our confirmands are active participants in parish life: serving as acolytes and ushers, teaching Church School, taking roles in the dramatic reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday, and participating in worthy causes in our community. Young confirmands complete the confirmation process with the realization that they never "graduate" from their baptismal vows; those vows require the best that is in each of us and are a source of unending grace and strength throughout our entire lives.

Youth Forum for pre-teens and teenagers occurs once per month after the 10:00 am Sunday Service. This allows them to be part of worship, and then to be part of their own group. They play games, read the Bible, and discuss questions they may have. This time allows them to deepen and explore their faith, and get to know others their age in church. It is an excellent preparation for Confirmation.

Youth Group Activities, from fifth grade and above, are invited throughout the year to participate in organized activities and events. These occasions include service projects, an afternoon of snow-tubing, or an evening of bowling and pizza. Recently, they have been focusing on a service project: snack-making for St Stephen's After School Program.

Adults

Adult Forum gathers after the 10:00 a.m. service from September to May, beginning after Coffee Hour at 11:30 and ending promptly at 12:30. Anglican Christianity, of which we at Good Shepherd are a part, has always valued human reason and intellect alongside scripture and the traditions of the Church. To this end, we offer regular opportunities to learn about and discuss a variety of topics relating to the life of faith. Our conversations range across Christian history and practice, religion in contemporary life, theology, spirituality and the Bible. Adult Forum sessions usually last about an hour with a presentation by the Forum leader followed by discussion and questions from the participants.

Bible Study at Good Shepherd welcomes anyone who is trying to understand what it means to follow Jesus. Some members have studied Scripture for many years; others describe themselves as beginners. Some are secure in their faith; others struggle with their beliefs. But for the time that we're together, we assume that the answers to our hardest questions are to be found in the person, life and teachings of Jesus, whom we know as the Christ. Each week we focus on the four Scripture readings for the coming Sunday. Study questions help members to consider their own responses to Scripture before we explore the passages together. We use the historical context of each to imagine who the original audience might have been and what they would have heard in it, as a way of asking how God still speaks to us through it in a very different time. We note how the material has been shaped by human editors, but we constantly find the Holy Spirit working through it to inspire and challenge us. Discussions are wide-ranging, surprising, sometimes profoundly moving, and often great fun. Come when you can, on Tuesday nights from 7:00 to 8:30 in the Loring Room. For more information, contact Louise Conant at 617-864-0558.

Readings
Advent I-Last Epiphany 2018
RCL Lent I-Pentecost 2019

Confirmation is "the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop." The Book of Common Prayer, p. 860. Adults who are interested in being confirmed, or if already confirmed in another denomination, received into the Episcopal Church, should send an e-mail to Father Dan, the Director of Christian Education.