Methodist Educators Focus on Youth

Hundreds of Christian educators, Sunday school teachers, Vacation Bible School leaders, nursery workers and volunteers in children’s ministries gathered in Nashville, Tenn., for Focus ’05 – a biennial celebration for those who work with children within the United Methodist Church.

"Focus, is about paying attention to children who run for their lives every day, and it is about paying attention to children who are right among us,” said the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, chief staff executive of the of the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship that sponsored the event. “It is about paying attention to the spiritual formation needs and concerns of children here and around the world.”

As she opened the July 26-29 gathering, she described the participants as people who “love children, who teach children, who know what it is to be taught by children . (who work toward a) sustainable future in which God's reign, God's future is made real in the lives of all of God's children,” according to the United Methodist News Service.

Accordingly, children took part in the event as liturgists, greeters and ushers. One 8-year-old participant, Breanna Long-Wheeler, said she would invite a friend to Sunday school by saying, "It's a really fun church, and you might meet some new friends."

Her mother Leslie Long, the associate pastor at the Bridgeview United Methodist Church where Wheeler is from, said “there are always things you can learn” through Sunday School and through a new congregation.

"Just because you become an adult doesn't mean you opt out (of Sunday school)," said Lon. “There are always things you can learn." Sunday school is also about "building community (as well as to) educate folks, to have folks who are new Christians as well as coming from different faith communities."