The goal of Christian Education is not only to know about God, but also to know God, and to grow in a commitment to worship, prayer, and service. St. Philip’s provides opportunities for people of all ages to experience God’s kingdom as loving, orderly, and joyful—and with a welcome to all. Christian Formation is never over; ideally, we spend our whole lives knowing and loving God in more and more profound ways.
Nursery and Sunday School
Nursery and Sunday School are offered at St. Philip’s every Sunday during our 10 am service. Our philosophy is to foster a warm and caring environment for our youngest parishioners, helping children to grow in their love of God and understanding of Christ’s teachings. Program teachings closely follow the Gospel readings, through instruction and special activities.
Children meet in our parish hall shortly after mass begins and return at the Sign of Peace. During the offering of the gifts, they bring up our weekly food donations for the Easthampton Community Center and receive Communion with the rest of the congregation.
They also participate in special projects during Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, focusing on our support of the Easthampton Community Center.
All teachers complete the Diocesan mandated Safe Church training and we maintain a policy of two teachers in each classroom.
Sunday School for School-Age Children
The Sunday School is open from mid-September through mid-June and provides for children from first through fifth grades. It is a parents’ cooperative, staffed by one experienced head teacher and one parent assistant. As with the nursery, all who care for children receive Safe Church Training—a program of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts to ensure that all understand how to care for and protect children. Also, all teachers and parent assistants also have a background check (CORI). Children begin Sunday School at 10am and rejoin the congregation before Holy Communion, so that they received communion with their families and the whole church. In this way, children are schooled in their faith and then practice their faith through participation in worship. Children with special needs are especially welcome as part of the Sunday School Program.
The Sunday School curriculum is provided by the Episcopal Church and lesson plans can be down-loaded by parents who want to participate in their children’s learning. Most Sundays the children’s lesson is based on the gospel and involves reading, talking, and a dramatic or crafts activity.
Music for Nursery and School Age Children
Surely, music making is a kind of prayer and the very youngest of St. Philip’s children have an opportunity to participate in the Children’s Percussion Ensemble, which performs on Easter. Ranging in age from 2 to 16, participants in the ensemble make a joyful noise and delight the entire congregation and, we trust, our Lord, for whose glory they play.
Preparation for Confirmation and Reception
Bi-annually, a program is offered by the Rector, in collaboration with parents, to prepare youth aged 16 and older for confirmation. These classes are also attended by adults who come to the Episcopal Church from other faith traditions and wish to affirm their new faith by being Received into the church. An essential part of preparation for youth is the choice of a service project, where they work together for the benefit of members of the community as an expression of their mature faith.
Join us on Sunday mornings at 9 am in the parish hall as we discuss the scripture lessons that will be read during the 10 a.m. service. The discussion is led by Father Michael. No preparation needed. Come as you are!
Adults choose a variety of ways to further their own faith development and to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the basic beliefs and liturgy of the Episcopal Church. For some, this means updating teachings from long-ago Sunday School lessons, for some it involves clarifying the personal and social meaning of faith in ways they’ve never considered, for some it involves setting aside a fear- and guilt-based faith for one securely embedded in the experience of God’s love, and for others it involves asking the questions and sharing the doubts that have previously kept them from being part of a church community.