M.E. Steelman • Transitional Children’s Coordinator

The last eight months have reminded me of the beauty of change.  Looking back to the beginning of March, I see our tried and true structure of Children’s Ministry here at Derry.  We gathered weekly for Sunday School, worship and KIWI, biweekly for Pilgrims, every Tuesday for choir rehearsals, and occasionally on other days for special events and fellowship opportunities. Life was good.  We had things under control.  We lived with a comfortable, routine schedule.

On Saturday evening, Nov 7, families gathered in the Sanctuary for a short worship service and retelling of the story of Esther. Here M.E. Steelman helps Kazmir Gawron prepare the table for worship as his mom, Elizabeth Gawron, looks on. The next family service will be offered at 5 pm Saturday, Dec 5.

Fast forward eight months and here we are.  We still have worship and Sunday School and fellowship opportunities, but they certainly are different. We are slowly starting to have more routine weekly events at Derry. Worship and Sunday School have a new feel, but are happening. Pilgrim Fellowship is now an outdoor ministry in the late afternoon on Sundays. KIWI no longer happens during worship time:  instead it has expanded and our time together is Sunday afternoon. Choir rehearsals are not a weekly event for families right now, but we are including music in our fellowship times.  And we are now offering a variety of worship services, including a special service for families to come and enjoy together.

While so much has changed for Derry Church, and specifically, Derry’s Children’s Ministry over the last eight months, that change has offered us the chance to really look at ministry programs and appreciate all the wonderful blessings they bring to Derry Church, our congregation and our families. Change is HARD!  The last few months have been a wild roller coaster ride, and Mrs. Steelman is NOT a roller coaster person. However, this ride has been special.

When we are in our comfort zone and keep with our regular routine, we often find ourselves feeling busy and not having the time to pause, reflect and evaluate how things are going. When life came to a halt in March, I found myself with a lot of new, and quite honestly scary and overwhelming, free time. That free time gave me the chance to dream and plan. That time gave me the chance to evaluate how each program was going. That time gave me the chance to answer the question of “Why?” for each of the many pieces of Children’s Ministry at Derry.

The “Why?” is easy… God. Each Children’s Ministry program that Derry is blessed to offer gives families and children the opportunity to grow their faith. The last eight months have offered me, the church staff and the Christian Education Committee the gift of time to think about our programs and learn what programs are needed for TODAY. Often we find ourselves keeping programs going simply “because we have always offered them.” But is that what Derry needs?

I look at these last eight months and am thankful for the chance to actually pause everything! We finally have time for meaningful conversations with planning teams and members of Derry to learn what Derry Church desires as we help one another grow our faith. We have time to think about each program we have at Derry and determine if it fits for Derry Church today. We have time to create new programs to help one another grow our faith. We have time to figure out what WE, as individuals, need to grow closer to God.  

I pray this time apart from one another has offered you the chance to reflect and learn what you need for yourself and for your children as you grow closer to God. A friend recently reminded me that at times life can be like a junk drawer.  Our lives become overwhelmed and cluttered with “junk” — things we hold on to or do just because we always have or feel we have to. These strange days are blessing us with time to declutter our lives and start fresh with activities and programs that bring us true joy and bring us closer to God. 

I look forward to gathering with you soon, either online or in person, to continue on our faith journey together. Until then, please know that you are surrounded by my thoughts and prayers.