Category Archives: Christian Education Archive

Cairn Connects – Week Five of Great Activities for Campers (and wanna-be campers) at Home

Thank you Robynne (Mapes) Howard for another great week of camp activities for kids to connect with this week as we continue to social distance at home. Check out the Camp Cairn website (http://ilovecamp.org/cairn-connects.cfm) for all the details that tell you how to get online with the camp staff for your Cairn Connects activities of choice.

Enjoy your week everyone, and sing ‘Our God is an Awesome God’ one day this week for me.

As an aside, when JP (Cheshire) and I (Rumples) walked the Camino de Santiago a few years ago, we would sing every camp song we ever knew at the top of our lungs late in the day to keep us going to the end of our day’s journey. When we made it to our evening’s lodging we’d always get asked, “Were you guys singing out there?” Yup – we were, and loved every minute of it. Thanks to Glen Mhor and Iona for keeping us company on our journey.

Great (and free) Resources for Faith Formation @ Home

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Many curriculum publishers are graciously offering free curricula and resources for churches and families to take advantage of during this time when we’re all learning from home. Some are even developing special resources that shift teaching from a classroom leader to everyone in the family exploring and learning together. What follows is a curated list of some wonderful offerings that are theologically Presbyterian and Reformed and place the educational emphasis on family conversation and wondering together. Enjoy exploring some of these great offerings for your church and family.

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A Communion Service for Home Use

Marjorie Thompson, in Family: The Forming Center, says that “rituals are embodied ways of celebrating God’s presence in the midst of ordinary life.” Life doesn’t feel very ordinary these days, and the idea of celebrating communion in our homes instead in our church home with our church family feels just little bit strange. We wonder if we should hold off celebrating communion until we can gather in our churches once again. I wonder if these unusual days invite us to come to the table now more than ever before. We need to remember that God is with us and will not abandon us. Through the ordinary stuff of bread and wine we need to taste and see that the Lord is good.

And so we offer to you a communion service for celebration in your homes. It comes out of a request that John-Peter and I film a short, intergenerational communion service for Morningside-High Park Presbyterian Church for Easter Sunday morning. We filmed it in our home with Alex Fensham and Holly Boyne, also members at MHP, who live in an apartment in our home. So please, feel free to use it at anytime throughout our time away from our church homes.

Easter blessings, John-Peter and Tori

Easter Greetings

Friends and colleagues in the synod,

A week or so ago we had an email from a colleague who jokingly said he never thought he would give up church for Lent. Likewise, yesterday a friend said that after all the years of feeling that going to the Good Friday service was hard, she realized that not going was going to be even harder. It is difficult to know how to respond in these days. 

When everything else has been stripped away, even going to church itself, we are still left with the enormity and wonder of the resurrection. Recall that the resurrection did not happen in a church building and that the first witnesses were three frightened women. In many ways our story this year is their story, or the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus; Jesus revealing himself by walking alongside us and identifying himself in the breaking of bread. 

This Easter season we are grateful for you. We are grateful that in the midst of uncertainty and fear that you continue to lead with courage and faith. We are thankful for church leaders, ordained and lay, who are serving their communities in countless ways. We are praying for you and for your churches, for health and safety, but especially for a profound sense of wonder at the love that enfolds us in the resurrection of Jesus.

May you and yours be touched profoundly this Easter by the simple and wonderful truth of our faith,

Christ has died

Christ is risen

Christ will come again.

May our risen Lord bless and sustain you,

With gratitude,

John-Peter & Tori Smit

A Palm Sunday Chapodcast for Families

Families with children, join Crash and Zucchini for a special Chapodcast celebrating the joyful parade of Palm Sunday. Gather together your coats, a green wavy thing, and some paper and a marker and then open the attached video link to hear the wonder-filled story, sing out your loud Hosannas, and offer your prayers to God with all of your worries and thanksgiving.

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A Smorgasbord of Unrelated (But Really Great) Resources

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I’ve been collecting a number of links to great websites/blogs/articles over the past couple of weeks that I think represent some of the best we can be doing, following or gaining insight from as we practice social distancing and stay home in our efforts to flatten the curve. I had hoped I could weave them into an article along the way, but for one reason or another, they never quite fit the article themes I was working on. I don’t want them to be lost in the shuffle, so I’m posting them all here in the hope that one or two might also resonant with you.

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Cairn Connects – Online Camp Activities Everyday

Camp Cairn is our amazing synod camp tucked in the woods of the Muskokas, sitting on Echo Lake. Knowing that families are looking for things to do while we’re social isolating, camp staff are generously providing a full schedule of camp activities everyday of the week. These activities are for all kids, whether Camp Cairn campers or kids wondering what church camping looks like. Check out the attached schedule and sign in for a great day at Camp Cairn.

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