We at the Office of Family & Young Adult Ministries wish you a blessed Holy Week!
As we move into the busy time of Holy Week, we encourage you to pause and consider the true meaning of this season. Below, you can hear the reading of a poem, written by Vinita Hampton Wright, that may help with this reflection. You can visit the original webpage, from Catholic publisher Loyola Press, here.
We at the Office of Family & Young Adult Ministries wish you a blessed Holy Week!
In the weeks following our previous blog post about new Pennsylvania background check laws, the Diocese has received many questions about these new laws and how it is to be applied in our ministry contexts. Diocesan staff are in continual conversations with legal counsel and legislators about the details of this law and its effects on parishes and groups in the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
More comprehensive resources are currently in development, but here are some initial clarifications on the new laws:
Who is included in the background check requirements?
Not all adults in the church require background checks. The Diocese recommends that the following individuals be screened, upon the start of their positions (either volunteer or paid):
In addition, we recommend that every adult who, in their position, has the potential to be alone with a child, should undergo appropriate checks. Note that if the adult is an occasional volunteer (i.e. once a month, one or two special events, etc.), they are not included in the law.
When must background checks be implemented?
All employees and volunteers new to their positions must undergo these background checks. The law is unclear as to whether or not current volunteers and employees are included in this law. We suggest that all parishes begin by running checks on all employees who work with children and youth, as they are covered by this law effective December 31, 2014. Once all employees have been screened, then we suggest parishes move on to volunteers. Starting July 1, all volunteers must be screened every 36 months.
Further questions and answers are available on a FAQ page at www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov. We encourage you to visit the page and look through the answers included in the FAQ.
Further Diocesan resources, including complete checklists and guides for parishes and literature for your church are currently in development. These materials will be sent to parishes as they become available.
All Clergy are encouraged to attend one of two upcoming Clergy Day gatherings, where we will cover new Diocesan policies and procedures on child protection in detail. These events will take place on April 22nd at Trinity Church, Solebury and May 13th at Trinity Church, Swarthmore. You can learn more about Clergy Day and register for the event on the DIOPA website.
If you have any other questions about these laws, don't hesitate to contact one of us:
Thank you for working with us to protect children, youth, and families in the state of Pennsylvania!
Have two youth hold up a blanket as if it were a curtain. Separate the group in half and have them stand on opposite sides of the blanket. Each group picks one team member (very quietly so the other team can't hear) who goes and stands right behind the blanket, where they cannot be seen by the other team. On the leader's count, the blanket drops. The two members try to be the first to shout the other's name. The first person to yell the name correctly gets one point. First team with 10 points wins.
Blinded Four Corners
One youth volunteers to be blindfolded and stand in the center of the room. Once they are in place, the other players must stand in one of the four corners of the room. They must find a corner as quietly as possible within 10 seconds. If they have not reached a corner at the end of 10 seconds, they are out. Once they are in place, the player in the middle points to a random corner, and all those standing in that corner are out. To ensure fairness, the other players cannot go to one corner, make noises and then quickly move to another corner. If no one is in the selected corner, the players have 5 seconds to get to another corner before a new corner is selected.
Name That Tune
A youth volunteers to tap out the rhythm of a popular song using a wooden spoon. They should start out with very easy songs, such as Row Your Boat, Jesus Loves Me, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and the like. Other players guess the song. Hints can be given about what the song is about, but try not to make them too obvious.
Many of you have heard about City Camp, our diocesan day camp program. However, did you know that the Diocese of Pennsylvania also offers scholarships for students to attend overnight camp at Camp Arrowhead?
Camp Arrowhead, located on the Rehoboth Bay in Lewes, DE, is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware. Each year the Diocese of Pennsylvania sets aside scholarship funds for students to attend Camp Arrowhead programs. Overnight programs are available for children and youth in second through eleventh grades. Program lengths and activities vary, based on age and session.
The Diocese of Pennsylvania will typically provide a 1/3 scholarship for camp tuition, upon request. When you register your student for camp, request financial aid information, and be sure to mention that you are from the Diocese of PA. Additional scholarship funds may be available, based on need and funding. Scholarships are available for all students who attend camp during the summer!
Each parish should have received a 2015 Camp Arrowhead brochure in the mail recently. If you did not receive a brochure, or would like additional copies, please contact us directly and we'll get some sent to you!
Camp Arrowhead will be hosting an open house on April 26th from 2 PM to 4 PM. Visiting camp is a great way to introduce your family to the activities, property, and staff! If you are unavailable to attend the open house, you can always call camp to set up a tour.
If you have any questions about Camp Arrowhead, or about the Diocese of PA's scholarship fund, contact our office.
Movie in a Minute
Break the larger group into teams of 4-6 people. Give the teams ten minutes to come up with a one-minute (no longer!) skit which represents a movie that the leader (or a larger audience, if possible) must guess. When the time is up, have each group present their skit to the audience. For a twist, you can provide silly props that the teams are required to incorporate. Materials: props, if you want them.
Have the group sit in a circle. Have one person to volunteer to leave the room. This person is the "psychologist". While they are gone, the rest of the group needs to come up with a shared "problem" for the psychologist to diagnose. Possibilities include:
-Everyone thinks they are on the moon
-Everyone is afraid of the color the psychologist is wearing
-Everyone is thinks they are about to start their first day of kindergarten
-Everyone thinks they are late for something important
Once the "psychologist" comes back in, the players must act out the problem, being careful not to be too obvious. The "psychologist" gets three guesses to figure out the problem.
Five people are selected from the larger group. The leader writes one letter on each hand (totaling 10 hands), spelling the word SUMMERTIME. This group is then given two minutes to form as many words as possible by putting their hands in the correct order and showing them to the audience. To make the game more competitive, you could have two teams competing at once.
On, Tuesday, March 3, several of us from the Office of Family & Young Adult Ministry cooked and served at the first Darby Dinner.
The dinner took place at the Recreation Center in Darby. Our healthy meal of vegetable stew, wild rice, salad, and fruit (among other delicious sweets!) fed approximately 20 hungry youth and adults. Many of the youth joined us after an afternoon of playing basketball.
Check out the gallery below to see photos from the evening!
Despite the icy, rainy evening, we all had a wonderful evening filled with delicious food and meaningful conversations!
Darby Dinners will take place at the Darby Recreation Center on a regular basis. The program is seeking individuals, families, or groups to help cook and serve meals at the dinners. This would be a great project for a youth group or outreach ministry!
For more information on the Darby Dinners or to sign up your group to cook, contact Doris Rajagopal. You can get in touch with her by contacting our office.
Prayer stations are a reflective, experiential worship experience that can be meaningful for adults and youth alike. These stations are the heart of Nightwatch, where we use them in the context of a Curated Liturgy (you can learn more about this by visiting our Nightwatch webpage).
In the last month, the Youth Ministry Office has taken prayer stations on the road, providing parish families and youth groups the opportunity to experience this form of worship in their own contexts. Here are two examples of prayer station services, adapted for individual parish ministries:
1. Ash Wednesday at Church of the Good Samaritan, Paoli
On Ash Wednesday, families at Church of the Good Samaritan, Paoli engaged in experiential prayer stations during their children's Ash Wednesday service. Each prayer station was adapted to be appropriate for younger children and their parents. Story Bibles and cards, simple prayers, and hands-on learning created a space for children and their parents to explore the stories, themes, and practices of Lent. Each family also created a take-home bag with reminders of each station, meant to promote continued reflection and conversation. Check out photos from this service in the gallery below:
2. Youth Group Worship at Trinity, Gulph Mills
Once a month, Trinity Episcopal Church, Gulph Mills holds a Eucharist service for its youth. This Lent, we brought Lent-themed prayer stations for the middle and high school students, along with their adult leaders. Prayer stations were explored by participants in the midst of a Eucharist service, during the Liturgy of the Word (similar to the way we set up Nightwatch). The prayer stations were very similar to the ones used at Good Samaritan, but they were written for an older age group. Look at the gallery below for some photos of these stations:
Prayer stations can travel to your parish, too! We love sharing these stations with communities and families that might not otherwise get to experience this form of worship. We will bring the program and supplies; you provide supplemental worship resources and participants. Our staff will work with you before, during, and after your event to create a meaningful experience for your parish and community. We will be available some weekends during the 2015-2016 program year for travelling prayer stations. Contact us to schedule a date, or to learn more about this travelling resource.
Have you ever experienced prayer stations at a diocesan youth event? Which ones do you remember, or were meaningful to you? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!
This week's Friday Resource Highlight is the first of several reviews of apps that may be useful for your ministry. This one is about Remind, which we love at the office!
Youth ministers have a lot of information that must be communicated to students and parents in a timely manner. We all know how hard it can be to keep all the necessary information organized and ensure that everyone has received what they need.
Remind is a great resource for these issues! It is a large group text service, originally developed to help teachers communicate with students and parents. In our office, we use it to send our Holy Herald messages during Advent and Lent. For youth ministry, it proves especially useful because:
You can find out more about Remind here. Overall, our office highly recommends it!
Have you used Remind before? If so, how do you like it? Are there any other group messaging apps that we should consider? Tell us in the comments section!
Here's this week's selection of games for you to try with your youth group! Enjoy!
Have students sit in two lines facing each other and holding hands. A leader stands at one end with a coin. At the other end is a small object (ball, pen, this can be almost anything small). One line of students is "heads" and the other is "tails". The leader flips the coin and shows it to the two students on their end of the line. The student whose coin-side is flipped responds by squeezing the hand of the person next to them. They then pass the squeeze down the line until the person at the end picks up the small object. Once they've reached the end, the line rotates, with the person next to the leader moving to the other end of the line. The first team to fully rotate back to the first player wins the game. Note: There are many ways to shake this game up a bit. For instance, the player at the end of the line can be blindfolded, or the small object they pick up could be "gross" in some way Materials: a coin and whatever small object is handy
Have the group sit in a circle. Instruct each student to come up with a simple sign they can make using their hands, but making no sounds. Examples include a swipe across the forehead, pulling on their ear, etc. After signs are chosen and shared so that everyone is aware of each other’s signs, one person volunteers to be in the middle. They close their eyes and count to ten. While they do so, the signs begin. A starter makes their sign and then “sends” a sign by doing the sign for someone else. That person “receives” the sign by making their own sign then “sends” by doing the sign for someone else. The person in the middle watches the signs being sent and received. They can turn and move around the circle as needed. When they think they know “where” the sign is, they can guess who has “it.” If they are right, they trade places with the person who was caught. They can ask as often as they like until they are right.
Tap It Out Telephone
This one is played just like the classic "Telephone". But, instead of sitting in a circle and whispering, have two (or more) teams stand in straight lines and draw the word on the next person’s back. The first team that gets to the last person and has the correct word wins.
Many youth leaders and clergy have called our office recently inquiring about new Pennsylvania state policies regarding background checks and mandated reporting practices, specifically about how these new laws apply to parishes and youth ministry volunteers in our diocese. Below you will see a brief overview of these new practices and implications for parishes.
New Pennsylvania state laws now require the following background checks for everyone who works with children and/or youth (including volunteers):
All background checks must be completed at the time of first hire, and then every 36 months after.
Each of the individual background checks does require a fee, and may be completed through different online sources.
New mandated reporting laws expand the definition of "mandated reporter." Under new laws, all individuals (paid and unpaid) whose involvement with youth and/or children requires them to accept responsibility of a young person are now mandated reporters. This definition now includes clergy, ministers, and spiritual leaders. All mandated reporters are now required to complete a 3-hour Mandated Reporter Training. This training can be done online, or groups can arrange for an in-person training for a fee.
The diocese is in the process of rewriting its Safe Church policies and creating further documents for parishes to use in their ministries. Until these new resources are distributed, you can find more information (including links to additional reading material and websites where you can perform background checks) on the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania website.
Click on this link to see immediate diocesan resources on Background Checks and Mandated Reporting.
Be on the lookout for more information about these changes in the coming weeks. Until then, contact us directly with any questions you may have.
Thank you for helping us provide safe environments for children, youth, and families in our diocese!