Foundations of faith

News | August 10, 2023

St. Paul seeks to be a loving sign of God’s grace for kids and families.

Back-to-school time is on everyone’s minds and soon the classrooms around St. Paul will begin to fill again with the voices of small ones. In these rooms, seeds are planted. Seeds that help to guide and nurture growth, compassion, community, and love in our swiftly growing children. From the littlest in childcare and preschool to the kids in the children’s and youth programming, St. Paul staff and volunteers create intentional and purposeful programming for all ages and with all stages of development in mind.

It starts from the earliest of ages. At St. Paul we believe that children belong in worship but sometimes infants and toddlers, and their parents, need a break.

Some of the most challenging times as parents are those first few forays into childcare and St. Paul childcare coordinator Brittany Guy not only knows that, she’s lived it as well. As a former St. Paul preschool teacher and mom to a nine-year-old, Brittany has journeyed through the early stages of parenthood and knows how to bring comfort and peace to both the infants and toddlers and their families.

“A major goal for us in the childcare room is for everyone to feel like they have a spot in this church. When we give an infant a place they can feel safe, they can always count on that,” Brittany said. “It’s a challenge for parents, especially after being with their babies and younger kids nonstop during COVID, to walk away and trust us with this irreplaceable child. I’m beyond grateful they instill that confidence in us to be part of that separation journey.”

The learning ministries at St. Paul are alive, thriving, and growing. Maddy Carroll grew up in the children’s program at St. Paul and has since returned to lead as the Director of Children’s Ministries. Maddy brings her knowledge and passion for children’s ministry as well as new and innovative ways to engage young children.

“It’s important to start a foundation of faith understanding at a young age. We do our best to make the content understandable and interactive,” Maddy said. “Learning in the church with friends and family is so important. Kids have a lot of questions about faith and being able to teach them stories and concepts that are understandable to them helps answer those and further their faith lives.”

St. Paul youth ministry is is marked by five guideposts. Significance, transformation, identity, challenge, and memories. These guiding factors challenge, nurture, and grow the faith experiences of St. Paul youth.

As students enter their high school years, their experiences hit the road, taking steps outside of the church and into the greater world through increased volunteerism, mission trips, retreats, and time of connection as growing young people. (See pg. 8 & 9 for Kansas City mission trip photos)

Growing up
Anna (Mullen) Villareal spent her childhood growing up at St. Paul. She and her husband Nick were married here in 2015 and upon moving back to Iowa and welcoming their daughter Charlotte, their family of three knew St. Paul was the place for young Charlotte to grow.

“St. Paul has always been an important place for our family. The heart of St. Paul is its people. Their daily commitment to live the values of radical hospitality and courageous service played a critical role in bringing us to membership,” Anna said. “At St. Paul we know Charlotte will be surrounded by a loving, inclusive congregation where she is encouraged to explore all aspects of faith through critical study, active worship, and extensive service to others.”

Anna and Nick say they look forward to what the future will bring for Charlotte, for their family, and as individuals growing in faith.

“As Charlotte grows, we know that the weekly learning hour and singing in the children’s choirs will be cornerstones of our Sunday mornings, and donuts too,” Anna replied. “We look forward to fostering her developing interests which may lead to anything from instrumental music participation and weeding in the community garden to participating in yearly book clubs and advocating for accessible services for others. That is the remarkable aspect of faith formation at St. Paul, the endless opportunities to grow within oneself and the larger community of God; not only for Charlotte but for ourselves as well.”

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