Small Church -- Great Faith and Fellowship!
“Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” Matthew 10:40)
As part of our ongoing journey in faith, we engage in study and practice rooted in Christian tradition. Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” (Matthew 10:40) As such, early Christians shared in the apostles’ teachings, prayed and broke bread with one another. At St. Francis of Assisi that tradition continues for children, youth and adults. Through our Sunday School offerings, small groups, and educational and formation programs we care for each other, our common life, and grow together in our faith. We invite you to explore these wonderful offerings as we trust you will find your personal experience of faith.
“Christian formation is the lifelong process of growing in our relationship with God, self, others, and all creation. Every experience in our lives can provide us with the opportunities to express our faith….” (Episcopal Church.org)
At St. Francis, we have weekly programs for children (three year old through fifth grade), youth (sixth through the twelfth grade) and adults. In addition to these offerings, for children we have Children’s Church in conjunction with the 10:30 service and, seasonally, activities like Vacation Bible School for ages three through the fifth grade. For adults, there are a number of group activities at the church and in the community.
Children and Youth Activities
"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do." Isaiah 42:16, NIV
Traditionally the Episcopal Church has tailored the teaching and learning about God’s blessings to the ages of the recipients of the message. St. Francis of Assisi follows this practice with offerings for children, youth and adults. Each of these areas offer both traditional Sunday School offerings and programs and activities occurring on other days or in other surroundings.
Children are always welcome to attend Sunday and other services held at St. Francis of Assisi. Other churches have separate rooms for children so they don't disturb the service...we do not! Nearly every Sunday we are reminded of the joys of life through the sounds of small children in our Sanctuary, where they are welcomed, valued, and experience the love of the community.
Children come to us full of wonder and joy. Most already know something about God. The task of the church is to nourish the seeds of this understanding and help children strengthen their relationship with God. Episcopalians do this through stories from the Bible and Episcopal traditions. Children are involved in everything St. Francis of Assisi does, and their presence is a joy. At St. Francis, there are many possibilities for children, parents, and the larger community. Adults involved in the activities of children and youth are required to complete Safe Church Training before they are permitted to proctor events. For more information, contact the church office.
EYC (Episcopal Youth Community)
EYC is a program common to many Episcopal churches for youth in grades 6-12. The program is open to all. You do not need to be an Episcopal to be a member of EYC. EYC activities are many and varied. One activity might involve watching a movie with a good message. On another day, an EYC youth might be working with Homeworks to repair a disadvantaged person’s house or they might take Thanksgiving meals to the Boy’s Farm in Newberry. Activities with younger children might also occur. It would not be unusual for EYC to help with Lent and Easter celebrations. Some years, EYC participates in the Souper Bowl charity event. What EYC does is limited only by the desire of those belonging. Join, and see. As this note is being written, the youth are considering participating in a mission trip to Ecuador. In the past, they have helped the diocese efforts in Cange, Haiti.
Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
These scouting programs are hosted or supported by St. Francis but are not affiliated with the church. Historically these programs have taught good values that align well with the Episcopal traditions and beliefs. At times, these organizations have had a presence at St. Francis and at other times St. Francis associated youth have integrated with nearby programs. Details on each program offerings need to be addressed to the appropriate scouting organization. The link to the Boy Scout program in Columbia SC is to the Indian Water’s Council. The corresponding link to Girl Scouts is Girl Scouts of SC from Mountains to the Midlands.
The love of Christ is in evidence at St. Francis on every Sunday when the nursery for children younger than three years of age opens during the 10:30 service. These children are loved and nurtured by an experienced staff.
St. Francis has a curriculum-based Sunday school program with offerings for ages 3 through adult. Sunday school typically begins when public school starts and runs throughout the academic year. Classes begin at 9:30 and end at 10:15. Children have class placement that generally aligns with the local public school curriculum in that elementary school, intermediate/middle school, and high school have unique offerings each Sunday.
Children’s Church is a unique worship experience option for young children. It happens when the 10:30 service is occurring in the sanctuary for adults and older youth. Children’s church is a scaled down version of the larger ceremony in a way that appeals to young minds and active bodies.
Summer Youth Activities
Every summer St. Francis endeavors to give children some engaging, active, motivating activities. These activities include Vacation Bible School and Summer Camp.
VBS (Vacation Bible School): Typically VBS at St. Francis occurs in early June for children 4K through the 5th grade. It is typically an evening event on Sunday through Thursday evenings. Dinner is provided. VBS is open to all children in these age groups regardless of their church affiliation, if any. Information may be obtained by contacting the church office. Once registration opens, a registration link will be found here on this web site.
Summer Camp for Area Children: Summer Camp is a program begun by St. Francis for youth in the local community. In 2018, St. Francis partnered with the ICRC Crooked Creek Park to hold three summer camps for 20 children at each session during the month of July. The participants range in age from 6 to 15. Details of this and future encampments can be obtained by contacting Crooked Creek Park.
Adult Religious Programs
St. Francis of Assisi has a wide range of adult programs. Some are simply social activities to allow members of the congregation to get to know each other. Other activities have a focus on religious study and inspiration. Some occur at the church and others happen at homes or businesses. If you are interested in any of these offerings, please make the church office your first point to contact. They will be happy to direct you accordingly. Here is a quick summary of the focused religious events:
Adult Sunday School
Sunday School at St. Francis is not just for children. The parish normally has two Christian Formation options on Sunday morning between the church services (suspended during the summertime). The offerings are as varied as the interests of the participants demand. As examples, the programs for the Fall of 2018 are “Caring for Creation” and “Discussions on the Good News.” Caring for Creation examined current environmental issues from a Christian perspective. Discussions of the Good News focused on interesting thoughts found in the Bible such as “Is God a jealous God?” or “Who were the men on the roof?” Please call the church office for details on the current offerings and information on how to participate.
Cursillo is a diocesan sponsored activity intended as a time to experience living in a supportive Christian community. In the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, a Cursillo Weekend follows a three and a half day schedule that begins on Thursday evening and concludes on Sunday. The core curriculum is common across the country. Weekends include talks, meditations, a Eucharist every day and some locally developed activities. The Episcopal Cursillo Weekend is not a retreat. It is an opportunity to meet clergy and laity seeking to strengthen faith. It provides an environment to experience the reality of the gift of God’s love through shared prayer, individual meditation, worship, study, fellowship, laughter, tears, and unconditional love. Click here for details on our local Cursillo.
Discovery Weekend is a three-day event that helps one understand God’s purpose, grow in His Love and prepare you to live out the Great Commission – “Go and make Disciples.” It is held at the church. This weekend experience is offered by laypersons and clergy who share their faith, commitment and lives with participants through food, fellowship, small talks and worship. Typically the weekend begins with dinner and activities on Friday evening. The group then reconvenes for breakfast on Saturday for a full day of activities. The weekend concludes with a light breakfast and final comments before going together for 10:30 am Sunday worship service.
St. Francis currently has two small groups meeting regularly at homes of the group members or at the church for bible study, prayer, discussion and fellowship. One of these groups is a daytime group, and the other is an evening group. Both are open to anyone.
Adult Fellowship Programs
In addition to activities highly focused on deepening one’s faith, St. Francis has some activities intended for fun and fellowship. Once again, here is a quick summary:
Church Chicks: Ladies, here is your monthly opportunity to eat, socialize, and support each other. Typically very well attended, the times and locations vary by month.
Feast Groups: Whereas Church Chicks is a “girl’s thing,” Feast Groups are for couples or singles who want to meet church friends or meet new friends. There are several groups and each group manages when and where they meet and eat. Sometimes it is at a home, sometimes it is an evening out to a restaurant.
New Initiatives: Recent additions to the social schedule include an “Excursion Group” through which parishioners take trips to a variety of special and seasonal venues together. In addition, a new knitting and crocheting group has started so that more prayer shawls can be made to support that ministry while providing a fellowship opportunity.