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Be an Advocate for Children

During the Children’s Sabbaths this October

by Mary Beth Coudal

Children's Sabbath 2006 logo

As church calendars fill up, remember to schedule a Children’s Sabbath service for the fall of 2006.

People in churches, mosques, and synagogues will join together across the United States in October to celebrate Children’s Sabbaths. The sponsor of the Children’s Sabbaths, the Children’s Defense Fund, suggests holding the worship service from October 20-22, 2006. However, many United Methodist churches may have the Children's Sabbaths on October 15 as the General Conference designated the second Sunday in October for the occasion.

Which ever date is chosen, United Methodist Churches will share prayers with more than 20 thousand congregations that take part in the Children’s Sabbaths.

“There’s power when so many people are praying the same kind of prayers…We don’t often think we are advocates for children. This is one Sunday we can be,” says Rev. Diane C. Olson, Minister of Education and Discipleship, Fridley United Methodist Church, Fridley, Minnesota.

Every year Rev. Olson uses suggestions from the Children’s Defense Fund Children’s Sabbaths manual. This year Olson reviewed sections of the manual, entitled “Congregations Stand for Healthy Children: Bringing Hope and Healing,” prior to its publication and recommends it.

“I used it for years and years at First United Methodist Church at The Chicago Temple and last year at Fridley UMC. The congregation has been extremely excited by it. When I put the worship together, children are in leadership. It’s an opportunity to lift up the leadership of the children through scripture and song. I always ask a child to do a benediction -- the sending forth into the world -- it’s very powerful,” says Olson.

The Children’s Sabbaths manual contains worships, resources, and advocacy and activity ideas, drawing upon rich and varied religious traditions. In particular this year the focus is on advocacy for healthcare for all children. The photos show children exiled from their homes after the scourge of Hurricane Katrina.

This year and next, we will stand tall for the nine million children in our nation – one out of every nine—who do not have health care coverage…How can we live with that reality if we believe that each and every child is created by God?...

On October 20-22, the 15th annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths celebration, let thousands of congregations of every faith in communities across the nation and world unite to proclaim all children are precious to God and to us. Cry out for Katrina’s forgotten children and demand health and mental health care so many need after the storm. Proclaim our commitment to hope and health care for every child. Pray and sing and preach and teach. And act.

So says Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, in the first section of the 2006 Children’s Sabbaths manual.

“If a criminal is entitled to a lawyer, isn’t a sick citizen entitled to a doctor?” asks general secretary Bob Edgar, National Council of Churches, a United Methodist, who recommends the “excellent materials prepared by the Children’s Defense Fund.”

So, why are we to be advocates for children? According to the Children's Defense Fund, in the United States of America, each day:

  • Every 35 seconds a baby is born into poverty.
  • Every 51 seconds a baby is born without health insurance.
  • Every 3 hours a child or teen is killed by a firearm.
  • Every 6 hours a child is killed by abuse or neglect.

“How will you be a child advocate in the coming week?” Rev. Olson asked the Fridley United Methodist congregation during last year’s Children’s Sabbath. “The answers varied from, ‘I will love my own children more.’ ‘I will let my little brother play in my room.’ “I will take more time in the shelter.’ There are many things that one can do. We had more answers than people in the service,” reports Olson.

To order Congregations Stand for Healthy Children: Bringing Hope and Healing, National Observance of the Children’s Sabbaths Manual 2006, stock #3817, contact the Service Center at or call 1-800-305-9857. The cost is $10. 

For more information on the 2006 Children’s Sabbaths, call the Reverend Sally Jo Snyder, who is a United Methodist and oversees the Children’s Sabbaths program at the Children’s Defense Fund. Or leave her a message at (202) 662-3579 or email


See Also...
Topic: Advocacy Children Christian love United Methodist Church Youth
Geographic Region: United States
Source: GBGM Mission News

arrow icon. View Listing of Missionaries Currently Working in: United States   

Date posted: Aug 11, 2006