Rev. Kara Swartz
Today my youngest was ill and I am currently snuggled on the couch with her without feeling guilty for not sitting behind my desk. You see as a dual Minister family, my husband and I have pretty hectic work schedules but we have each been finally blessed with church’s that understand the needs of a young family and are willing to help us be both Ministers and Parents of young kids. They allow us to have fairly flexible schedules and accept that we might run to get milk or take care of a sick child during the ‘normal’ workday because we have meetings each night that week and a Fair on Saturday, plus the normal Sunday worship and activities.
We have experienced the church where our kids were not welcomed to be a part of worship or even youth activities because they were considered too young. The minister’s children were not welcomed! It made us seriously take a step back and view whether we as young adults were welcomed and we eventually realized we were not.
We currently have not just one but two church families, so how each church reacts to our kids and their needs is important to us as their ministers. We place such a high importance to how the church reacts to our kids due in part to the congregation I served through my first pregnancy. They were incredibly open and accepting of us as new parents. They made concessions for my pregnancy by having a stool brought it for me to preach from, the elders took over the house or hospital calls to those who were seriously ill. They also unconditionally loved our daughter once she arrived. It was a small church with no nursery and so they just held her while I did service. They had no issue with her being there and our new and different needs.
One of my elders reminded me on a particularly rough Sunday that Jesus came as a baby, so how could they not revere each one that came into the building even if they were squalling the whole time. It has stuck with me and been something I continue to appreciate in other church’s I have served, that unflappable acceptance and the knowledge that every child when they walks in the doors needs to know “you are loved.”
Rev. Kara Swartz, is an Ordained Minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She is a graduate of Lexington Theological Seminary with her Master’s of Divinity. An Ohio native, her undergraduate degree is a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications from Ohio University. She is married to the Rev. Chad Penhorwood, also an Ordained Minister, and they have two young daughters and a dog, Toodles.