Celebrating the gift of ministry with children, even as the church changes around us.

Children's hands rest on a globe they surround.
Credit: Courtesy of CAM
Excited to see old friends and make new ones.   Frustrated that we aren't going to do all of the same activities that we did last year, especially the ones I was really good at.   Hopeful to experience God's grace in a safe, fun, and nurturing environment.   Anxious to see how I will fit in.   Happy to learn new ways to be together with people from diverse places and homes but share many of the same rituals as I do.   Worried about how good the snacks will be this year.   Those are just some of the hopes and fears of the 4- to 11-year-old children attending the 94th, and perhaps final, session of the Bay of Quinte Conference's Annual Meeting [CAM] hosted at Grace and Trinity United Churches in Napanee, Ontario starting Friday, April 27, 2018.   These kids' parents and grandparents, who are CAM delegates, probably share many of these hopes and fears, with the added uncertainty about what United Church of Canada's regional governance will look like in practice this time next year.   I volunteer as one of the adult leaders supervising the Children’s Program & Kids at CAM. For two-and-a-half days we are entrusted with these kids' care, while their parents and grandparents attend to the business of the session.   It is two-and-a-half days of ups and downs: songs of joy and howls of fury; hoots of laughter and cries of anguish; acts of kindness and pouts of indignation.    It is life, concentrated.   Come Sunday afternoon, after the closing worship celebrating new ministries, we are completely exhausted and profoundly heartened. We will regret that we don't have another few hours to spend with these great kids. We will not be able to wait to get home to sleep in our own beds.   I started volunteering primarily to provide care for our one-year old child so that we and my spouse, an ordained minister, could share the experience together as a family. This will be our child's seventh Bay of Quinte CAM. This CAM will most likely be the last time we will meet in this way after the 43rd General Council this summer.    In what way will we gather in the future? We don't know.   But, this much I know. We are called to be the church.    It is a gift.   Now, I better go and pack those snacks...   —This year's Bay of Quinte Conference Annual Meeting is occuring a month earlier than usual, to accomodate extra planning time for the 43rd General Council. GC43 is being co-hosted by Bay of Quinte Conference in Oshawa, ON this July. The author's home congregation will be hosting the children of GC43 Commissioners and is looking forward to seeing these kids make new friends from across the country. Following this weekend's CAM, the author will write a blog entry describing their perspective of this year's session. Later this year, the author's will also write about their perspective on their congregation hosting children of the GC43 Commissioners.
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