By Mary O’Keefe
Elementary school teacher Lisa Jenks remembers attending Sunday school at the Lutheran Church in the Foothills when she was 3 years old. She remembers the teachers and the friends that she made. Jenks is now paying it forward by teaching Children’s Sunday Church at Lutheran Church in the Foothills.
“We started this program in December. It [takes place] at the same time as adult church,” Jenks said.
The program is designed to help teach children biblical stories in a creative way, not just lecture to them, Jenks explained.
She also wants the children to feel that the program belongs to them and addresses what they are interested in.
Children place questions in a box in an area in the church called the Children’s Corner. The pastor answers the questions before they go to the children’s service.
“They ask questions like, ‘What is Jesus’ last name?’” Jenks said.
Jenks tries to bring a sense of fun to every Sunday.
“Fun and food,” she added.
For example, recently she used jelly beans as an educational tool. She used a jelly bean poem where “green is for the new spring grass, yellow for the sun above. Brown is for the soft earth where people sat hearing His Love.”
“And purple for the robe Jesus wore and red for the [wine],” Jenks said.
The children, ages 2-and- a-half to 12, begin Sunday in the adult service then are called by Pastor Bruce Johnson to the front of the church
“The whole idea of, ‘It takes a village,’ is true in this case,” Jenks said.
Dr. Aidyl Gonzalez-Serricchio, PhD, assists Jenks with the program and teenage kids help with the younger children.
At its core, the Children’s Church was started out of a love for children. It is financed through the Carol Slater Dahl Memorial. Carol was a member of the church for years and had taught Sunday school. She also volunteered with Girl Scouts and with local elementary schools. Carol passed away about a year ago. Her husband Roger said it was a natural choice to have this program supported in his wife’s name.
Jenks brings years of experience as an educator. She is a first grade teacher at Valley View Elementary and has a fine arts background. She is also active in the Glendale Teachers Association where she is one of nine teacher representatives being sent to the National Educators Conference. Out of 6,000 attendees from around the country, GTA sends nine.
“I hope to get more insight into education leadership,” Jenks said of the upcoming conference.
Jenks said she realized that the church’s Vacation Bible School was very popular but those kids who attended VBS weren’t there Sunday morning. She wanted to reach out to those children and as a mom she wanted a program her kids would enjoy and learn from as well. Her methods seem to be working as the Sunday Children’s Church has grown from about seven kids to 17 in the last few months.
“The kids are fabulous,” she said. “They are fun and I see them bonding with each other. They really want to be here.”
Parents do not have to belong to the church to have their children attend Sunday Children’s Church. All children are welcome.
The Lutheran Church in the Foothills in located at 1700 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada. Adult and children services begin at 10 a.m.