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St. Matthew Lutheran Church 4101 Washington St. NE Columbia Heights, MN 55421 Website: Phone: 763-788-9427 The Mission of St. Matthew is to Connect people to the love of Christ, Nurture people with a faith centered in Christ, and Empower people for Christian living in the world. Children’s Ministries Handbook St. Matthew Lutheran Church 2016-2017 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

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St. Matthew Lutheran Church

4101 Washington St. NE

Columbia Heights, MN 55421


Phone: 763-788-9427

The Mission of St. Matthew is to

Connect people to the love of Christ,

Nurture people with a faith centered in Christ, and

Empower people for Christian living in the world.

Children’s Ministries Handbook

St. Matthew Lutheran Church


“A new commandment I give to you,

that you love one another:

just as I have loved you,

you also are to love one another.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples,

if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Topic Page #

St. Matthew Children’s Ministries 3

Children’s Ministries Opportunities 3

Classrooms 4

Arrival & Dismissal 4

Sunday School Openings 5

Sunday School Curriculum 5

Special Class Breakouts 6

Wednesday Education Schedule 6

Teen & Adult Bible Classes 7

Servant Opportunities 7

Focus Verses -Memory Work (explanation) 8

Worship Attendance 8

Monthly Focus Verses 9

Movie Days 10

Discipline Policy 10

Guests & Attendance 11

Attendance & Memorization Awards 11

Children’s Advent/Christmas Worship Service 12

“52 Key Chapters” 12

Children’s Ministries Calendar 13

Supply & Support 14

Children’s Ministries Team 14

Mission and Service Projects (General) 14

Year-Long Service Projects (Specific) 15

David’s Christian Learning Center 15


D a v i d ’ s C h r i s t i a n L e a r n i n g C e n t e r ( D . C . L . C . )


D.C.L.C. is a licensed year-round Christian childcare and pre-school that is a mission of St. Matthew Lutheran Church.

D.C.L.C. is not under the St. Matthew ‘Children’s Ministries’ umbrella. The program is directed by Julie Sventek and as-sistant/teacher, Sam Struzyk.

For more information about D.C.L.C. visit the website at: or call 763-789-4030.

‘ S h a r e t h e L o v e ’ g i f t s

‘ P r o j e c t L i n u s ’ a n d

‘ B l e s s i n g s B a g s ’

Since our focus this year is to be ‘Known by Love,’ several of our on-going offerings/service projects are below. Further details will be provided as each project is introduced to the Sunday school families. Congregation support is welcome for each of these pro-jects.

‘Share the Love’ gifts: During the Sunday school opening, children will be encouraged to make small gifts of non-melting candy attached to a ‘blessings’ tag. They will be asked to look for someone they could give one gift to each week.

‘Project Linus’ distributes homemade blankets for children in need throughout the United States. There is a local Twin Cities chapter that distributes blankets to local hospitals and charity venues. We will be working on tying blankets during our Sunday School opening time period which will go to a Project Linus distri-bution center. Blankets can also be made at home. Additional information can be found on the Twin Cities Chapter page of the Project Linus website.

‘Blessings Bags’: While our big packing event takes place in January (date tbd), items for Blessings Bags will be collected all year. Items include, but are not limited to: travel sized toiletry items, small laundry packs, quarters, snacks (dated 2018 or be-

yond), small devotionals, Bibles or prayer books, decks of cards, gum/mints, hair combs and doodads, etc.—anything that could be a blessing to someone in need.

S u p p l y & S u p p o r t

Children’s Ministries are administered by the Children’s Ministries Coordinator (Brenda Hugo) under the supervision of the pastor and the Discipleship Vision Board. The program is supported by several of the lay leaders of the Children’s Ministries program. This group is charged with the responsibility of assisting parents with the Christian training of their young families. We welcome constructive comments.


Chi ldren ’s Ministr ies Team

Weekly we use crayons, markers, tissues, pencils, glue sticks, etc. in our classrooms. We gladly accept donations of basic school supplies to stock our workshops.

We may have additional specific supply/support needs for our programs. Watch the “Newscene” and weekly bulletins for ways in which you can help.

Mission and Serv ice Projects

We would like to encourage the children to help support Chil-dren’s Ministries mission and service projects. There will be several mission projects throughout the year. Current mis-sion projects will be announced in church bulletins and news-letter (“Newscene”).

We challenge children to support mission projects for the following reasons:

Help children learn to see beyond themselves to the world around them.

Educate children in the diverse manner and areas (locally/globally) in which the Church is doing ministry.

Provide opportunity for children to be directly involved in the mission of the church and to share Christ’s love.

New ideas of how the children can be involved in mission and/or community service are welcome. Please share them with any Children’s Ministries Team member.

St. Matthew Lutheran Church is a member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

St. Matthew Children’s Ministries is established to assist parents in the Christian education of their children (Birth-Grade 6). Through Bible instruction and application St. Matthew strives to nurture faith development which is begun in the child at baptism.

Parents, please offer your prayer support and involvement for the Children’s Ministries staff as they are also praying for you and your children.

At St. Matthew, children can participate in a variety of Christian education programs. Watch the weekly announcement bulletin, monthly St. Matthew newsletter (“Newscene”) or call the church office at 763-788-9427 for further details.

Sunday School (age 0-6th gr.) Sundays 9:30-10:30 a.m.

Summer Sunday School (age 2-6th gr.) 9:00-9:45 a.m.

Hand in Hand (grades K-4), Wednesdays 6:45-8:00 p.m.

Supervised Gym (for class participants), Wed. 4:30-8:00 p.m.

Confirmation (grades 5-6), Wednesdays 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Kindersong (Age 4—Kindergarten), Wednesdays 5:00-5:28 p.m.

Children’s Choir (grades 1-7), Wednesdays 5:30-5:58 p.m.

Youth Choir (grades 8+), Wednesdays 6:00-6:45 p.m.

Vacation Bible School (for families) Date tbd (evenings)

Teen Ministries (grades 7-12) Sun. a.m. and Wed. p.m.

(See calendar/schedule inserts)

Ch i l d r e n ’s M i n i s t r i e s

O ppo r tun i t i e s

3. St. Matthew Chi ldren ’s Ministr ies

Sunday school (Sept.-May) starts promptly at 9:30 a.m.. Please make every effort to have your child in his/her classroom by 9:30. Please do not leave your children unsupervised in the classroom. (Summer Sunday School begins at 9:00 am.)

Sunday school dismissal is at 10:30 (Summer, 9:45). Please avoid going into the classroom to pick up your child early unless it is absolutely necessary, as this is disruptive to the rest of the class.

Wednesday evening classes: Confirmation: 4:30-5:30, children’s choirs: 5:00-7:00 (3 groups) and Hand in Hand: 6:45-8:00.Teen ministries 6:45-8:00.

For the safety of the children, please do not instruct your child to meet you across the street, at your car. Please come inside the building to pick up your child. It is safest to meet your child outside of the classroom or in the gathering area outside the worship center; however, if this is not possible, please designate another area inside the building at which to meet.

Sunday School

Faith Play (birth—age 2) This class is suspended until in-terest makes it possible to reinstate it.

Early Learners (birth—3-year-olds and a parent or respon-sible adult) meet in the day care toddler classroom across from the lounge (main level).

Rotation SS—Children age 4 (by Sept. 1)—4th grade gather in Classroom 211/212 (upper level—education wing) for the opening. From there they will be dismissed to their class-rooms (also on the upper level) for the weekly workshops.

Sojourners—Children in Grades 5-6 gather in Classroom 211/212 (upper level—education wing) for the opening. From there they will be dismissed to their classroom (also on the upper level) for their studies.

Wednesday Classes

Hand in Hand—meets in a classroom on the upper level

Confirmation classes meet in the Willer Rm. or Pastor ’s office

4. Classrooms

Arriva l and Dismissa l

C h i l d r e n ’ s M i n i s t r i e s C a l e n d a r

Throughout the year there are special dates of which to make note. Mark your calendar. You won’t want to miss out! See separate calendar insert for further details.

Sept.7 (Wed.) Hand in Hand and Confirmation classes begin**

Sept. 11 Education Year Kick-off Sunday

Sept. 18 First Sunday in new Fall classes

Nov. 27 Holiday Weekend (movie day)

Dec. 18 Children’s Advent/Christmas Service

Dec. 25 Holiday Weekend (no movies)

Jan. 1 Holiday Weekend (movie day)

Jan. 4 (Wed.) Hand in Hand and Confirmation

classes resume

Jan. 8 SS resumes

Feb. 5, 12, 19, 26 SS Break Out classes (Rotation)

Apr. 14 (Fri.) Good Friday Family Service and

Easter Egg Hunt

Apr. 16 Holiday Weekend (no movies)

May 7 Confirmation Sunday

May 21 Year end SS Review

May 28 Holiday Weekend (movie day)

June 4 Summer Sunday school begins

5 Great Evenings of Summer!, Vacation Bible School! (date tbd)

** Hand in Hand and Confirmation dates on pg. 6


Each year Sunday School students have the opportunity to tell the story of Jesus’ birth and lead the congregation in worship.

This year’s Advent/Christmas Service will take place on:

Sunday, December 18th at the 10:45 a.m. worship service.

Mark your calendars and plan to attend!

Plans, at this time, are to use an all-in-one format where all of the preparation for the worship service will take place during the Sunday school period (early start at 9:00 am instead of 9:30) the morning of the worship service presentation. Families and friends are invited to participate with prior registration. Watch for registration dates/details in the weekly announcement bulletins in November.


Chi ldren ’s Advent/Chr istmas

Worship Service

“52 Key Chapters ”

The entire congregation will be encouraged to read fifty-two key chapters of the Bible this education year. Pastor Hugo has developed a reading schedule to follow.

Children are also included in this activity. Readers can read the weekly chapters for themselves, and non-readers can have the chapter read to them. Reading it together as a family could be a great bonding experience. Each chapter can be read all in one sitting, or be broken up to read a portion of the assigned weekly chapter each day.

For those who like a more focused reading experience, Bible journals will be provided which include suggestions for your journaling pleasure.

The “52 Key Chapters” will be highlighted in all areas of Children’s Ministries each week; sometimes as the main focus, sometimes as a discussion apart from the lesson of the day. Reading it at home will give your child confidence to participate in these group discussions.

Each week students age 4 (by Sept. 1) -6th grade join together in Room 211/212 (upper level) promptly at 9:30 a.m. for a short opening to Sunday School. At this time, birthdays and baptism birthdays are recognized, information on the current Sunday School mission project is shared, God is praised with music, and prayers are offered. Students won’t want to miss the fun music and announcements so please make every effort to be on time. Parents are welcome to attend these opening sessions (approx. 10-15 minutes).

(EL students do not take part in these opening sessions.)

Faith Play: This class has simple lessons for the little ones, from birth to age 2 and their parents. After a brief time with the children, they separate, if willing, to a connecting room with care givers while the adults continue with a devotion or themed Bible study. (This class is suspended until interest makes it possible to reinstate it.)

Early Learners: This class for 2-3 year-old students is self-contained but follows the same themes as the Rotation SS Students use age appropriate stories, games and activities. (Younger children/parents are welcome!)

Rotation Sunday School (Age 4 (by Sept. 1)-4th grade) uses a rotation workshop model. A variety of rotation/workshop resources are utilized. Over a period of 2-4 weeks, students focus on one theme or story. Center Workshops are developed based on the curriculum to include drama, movie, arts & crafts, games, cooking or science, etc.. Each week students will participate in a different workshop with age-based, Biblical activities connected to the theme/story.

Sojourners (Grades 5-6) will follow a multi-year curriculum journeying through the Bible. Time will also be spent discussing the ‘”52 Key Chapters of the Bible.” Students should bring their own Bibles to class. Bible journals will be provided for them.

5. Sunday Schoo l Openings

Sunday Schoo l Curr icu lum

The Age 4 (by Sept. 1) -4th grade Sunday school students will have special topical breakouts during the month of February. The purpose is to allow a special teaching focus apart from the thematic workshop format.

Break Out Topics (Feb. 2017)

PreK/Kind. - Love

1st Grade - “The Lord’s Prayer”

2nd Grade - “God and Me”

3rd Grade - Introduction to the Bible (Bible presentation)

4th Grade - “Introduction to Confirmation”

(Faith Play, Early Learners will focus on the “Key Chapter” of the week, and Sojourners will continue with their curriculum.)

First through fourth grade PARENTS are asked to participate weekly in their child’s breakout sessions. These are important classes in the next step of your child’s faith walk. Please plan to attend.

S p e c i a l C l a s s B r e a k o u t s

Hand in Hand and Confirmation classes meet Wednesdays, breaking for Thanksgiving, Advent/Christmas, Lent/Easter and the summer months. They will meet on the following dates.

Set 1: Set 2:

Sept. 7, 14, 21, 28 Jan. 4, 11, 18, 25

Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26 Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22

Nov. 2, 9, 16

Set 3:

Apr. 19, 26

May 3**

** Final dates subject to change.

W e d n e s d a y E d u c a t i o n S c h e d u l e


Children are encouraged to bring visitors to Children’s Ministries classes. The Children’s Ministries Team hopes that each student will strive for regular attendance.

At the beginning of the Sunday School year each child will have his/her photo taken which will be used for various projects throughout the year, one of which is to make an attendance name tag for children in Grades PreK-6. When a student arrives each week, he/she should find his/her tag, and have it punched at the “ticket desk”. In this way, we will keep track of attendance. Upon the fifth Sunday of attendance, a certificate, which can be used toward an award from the awards cabinet, will be given.

If you miss Sunday School at St. Matthew but attend a different church, please bring back a Sunday School visitor’s certificate or a church bulletin with the date on it and you will be given attendance credit at St. Matthew.

Incentive toward regular attendance is offered by the Children’s Ministries Team through a program of attendance awards. Each five weeks of attendance at Sunday School and/or Hand in Hand is recognized with an attendance certificate. These certificates can be saved and redeemed for the awards in the display cases in the hallway outside the pastor’s office.

Memorization certificates will also be given for memorizing portions of Luther’s Small Catechism. These certificates can be used in combination with the attendance certificates toward awards from the cabinet.

A t t e n d a n c e & M e m o r i z a t i o n

A w a r d s


Guests and Attendance

D i s c i p l i n e P o l i c y

It seems strange to outline a discipline policy for programs that take place in 60-90 minute bursts, however, if and when it is needed, it is comfortable for all involved to know the procedure.

Our ministry team is understanding of differing temperaments among children and expects no two children in class to be the same. The loud or overly excited child is accepted as he/she is, just as is the shy quiet child. Fortunately our class sizes are manageable enough where all children can get the needed attention of the “Shepherd” and workshop leaders.

If the behavior of any student interferes with the learning of the others in class, the following steps are taken:

a) A private word in Christian love between teacher or Shepherd and student, explaining why the behavior is unacceptable.

b) If it occurs a second time during the same hour, the student is given a short time-out period with the Children’s Ministries Coordinator and the parent is alerted to the situation so support can be given from home to correct the specific behavior..

c) If a child’s behavior continues to be disruptive, a parent will be asked to attend the class with the child.

A separate policy is in place for use of the gym.


Sundays that fall on holiday weekends often make it difficult to staff the Sunday school program, as well as being typically low attendance Sundays. On many (but not all) of those Sundays, Christian family movies will be shown in an upper level classroom during the normal Sunday school hour. Holiday/Movie Sundays for 2016-2017:

Sept. 4 (Labor Day) Jan. 1 (New Year’s)

Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving) Apr. 16 (Easter, no movies)

Dec. 25 (Christmas, no movies) May 28 (Memorial Day)

Jul. 2 (Independence Day)

Movie Days

A number of opportunities for Bible study are offered for teens and adults on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, and other days/times. We encourage teens and parents to include themselves in some kind of group Bible study on a regular basis. The clearest way God speaks to us is through His Word. What a blessing and privilege it is to study His Word.

In addition to group Bible studies, all are welcome to personally journal through the “52 Key Chapters of the Bible.” Journals provided upon request.

Teens: Kids in Grades 7-12 participate in regular Sunday morning Bible study at 9:30 am. (Summer: 9:00) Teens also gather on Wednesday evenings for Bible study and other fun events and service projects throughout the year.

Adults: Bible studies on Sunday mornings at St. Matthew take place from 9:30-10:30 a.m. (Summer: 9:00-9:45) Other Bible studies during the week are listed in the church announcement bulletin and “Newscene”. You may call the church office for further information.

S e r v a n t O p p o r t u n i t i e s

You are invited to share your gifts/talents and your love of Jesus with the children at St. Matthew. Opportunities may exist in the following areas:

Sunday School Workshop Leaders and Shepherds

Substitutes for Sunday School and/or Wed. evening leaders

Hand in Hand co-leaders (Wed. evenings)

Wednesday supper help

Gym supervisors (Wednesdays)

Vacation Bible School (recruiting early spring)

Summer Sunday School Leaders

Children’s Message Leaders (during Sunday worship)


Contact Brenda Hugo (via church office) if you would like additional information about any of the Children’s Ministries activities/events at St. Matthew.


Teen & Adult B ib le C lasses

Putting God’s Word to memory is important. Through memorization, children (and adults) remember God’s love and commands throughout daily living. Committing to memory these verses will provide your children with valuable resources for times in their lives when they need to draw comfort from God’s Word.

The theme verse on the front cover of this handbook will be the basis of ministry throughout the year. It is our goal that by the end of the year, all students will know the theme verse by memory. We will regularly review the verse and talk about what it means for us in our daily lives.

Each month for the EL-Rotation SS Groups will have a specific Focus Verse. It highlights the Bible theme(s) we are studying and is a way to remember the main topic of the month/year. On the next page are the Focus Verses for the year. Please work with your child to instill God’s Word in his/her heart.

Additional memory challenges from Luther’s Small Catechism are also available. Upon completion of memorizing portions of the catechism, students earn award certificates which can be saved and redeemed, along with attendance award certificates, toward gifts from the awards cabinet outside Pastor’s office.

Sunday school and Hand in Hand are Christian education programs. Although the classes do include periods of devotion and prayer, they are not worship. The Children’s Ministries Team encourages parents to include children in the church worship experience on Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings, and Wednesday evenings during Advent/Lent, as regularly as possible. Only by attending often will the child become familiar with worship and be comfortable knowing what is expected of him or her. Worship isn’t taught, it is caught. It is an action we do in response to God’s love for us. The strongest role model for a life of worship is to regularly sit next to a parent in church.

W o r s h i p A t t e n d a n c e


Focus Verses/Memory Work (Explanat ion)

2 0 1 6 - 2 0 1 7 T h e m e / F o c u s V e r s e s

Theme Verse “A new commandment I give to you,

that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35

Monthly Focus Verses ESV (English Standard Version) translation

Sept. - Theme Verse (above)

Oct. - “For I am sure that neither death nor life, ……. nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Nov. - “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

Dec. - “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Jan. - “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Feb. - “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Mar. - “Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

Apr. - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

May - “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2