Rev. Katherine Raley
A couple of the things we care a lot about at First Christian, Colorado Springs are radical hospitality and being welcoming to all. Our website intro sums it up: “We have a strong commitment to children and youth, we seek to practice ‘radical hospitality’ and to accept folks wherever they are on life’s journey. You’ll never be told what you ‘have to’ believe, and, perhaps most important, everyone is treated with respect and dignity; no one is second-class and all are truly welcome!” We live out these commitments. The trouble is, sometimes volunteers have been maxed out, and radical hospitality is hard to do with tired workers. A couple years ago, we found ourselves really wanting to be radically hospitable and truly welcoming to all children and youth, but the workers had been pushed to the limit, and new folks coming in didn’t have a lot of experience working with rambunctious kids, and were honestly, and understandably, worried about managing behavior.
So we took a new approach, and it has made all the difference. We decided to hire Sunday School teachers. Yep, that’s right. It may be new, but we think it will become a trend, just as hiring nursery workers has become the norm in many congregations. We collected applications, and have now had two wonderful teachers for close to two years.
But our radical hospitality and welcome to all wouldn’t be complete without lots of continued volunteer commitment from the congregation, as well. Each teacher needs an assistant in her classroom, for both teacher and child safety, and the congregation fills these roles excellently. Eight volunteer assistants rotate each month, and their involvement gives the kids in Sunday School the picture – they’re important to the adults of the congregation. The assistants get to know the kids, become more comfortable with classroom management, and are involvement with spiritual development – both the development for the kids and for the adults (because really, did you know that Bethlehem means “house of bread”??).
Rev. Katherine Raley serves as Associate Minister at First Christian Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Yes, she appreciates living in Colorado all the time! (Especially since she fell in love with rock climbing!) While she is currently moving away from direct responsibility for family ministries and more into growing community partnerships, she sees ministry with all ages as vital for the mission of the church to grow and spread God’s love to all.