Love The Children and Help Them Grow

Tomorrow is Confirmation Sunday at Northaven. That’s always a special day in the life of the church. But this year, the day will have even deeper roots and meaning for me, personally. Of the five kids we’ll confirm in their Christian faith, I will have baptised all of them. Emma will be tomorrow. All the rest from when they were infants, and from when I first came to Northaven.

Here’s a few pictures. (Yes, that guy in the white alb actually is me, first baptizing Zoe, then Bronwyn…)

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But the roots get even deeper. Dennise and me have known one of these kid’s Dads since we were at SMU. And Dennise has known another of the Dads since they were in high school. I did the weddings for two of these couples.

Brownwyn

So, as I said, the day will be filled with special meaning for me, personally. It’s an extremely rare thing for any Methodist pastor to be able to have this kind of connection with a group of kids like this, and I’m very aware of this. And deeply grateful.

KBBaptism

When folks join Northaven, they are asked the standard questions that all new members are asked. But, as you might imagine if you know Northaven, we’ve added a little to that liturgy too. In addition to the pastor asking questions, laypeople stand in the midst of the congregation and also ask the perspective new members some questions. One is “Will you seek out opportunities to grow spiritually?”

But my favorite is another. During the liturgy of new members joining, one of our children and youth stands from among the congregation and asks the question:

“Will you love the children and youth of this church help us grow?”

That’s what confirmation is about, really. It’s an outward and visible sign of this inward commitment that we ask of all church members…to help our children grow in their faith…to walk beside them and mentor them as they grow into wonderful young adults. Every single church member plays a part. From those who teach them Sunday School, to those who simply give them an encouraging smile in the hallway.

That commitment is especially visible on a special day like Confirmation Sunday. And I know I speak for all of us when I say that it’s been a great joy to love these children and watch them grow. And it will be even a greater joy to watch the young adults they become in these next few years too.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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