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Connecting Worship and Back to School

We bring thanksgivings of our minds—
for learning that has come through the experience.
for print and pictures that stimulate us to inquire
and know more of your world,
for those who teach us in formal and informal ways,
freely sharing their knowledge and understandings.

— Excerpted from a prayer of thanksgiving in Worship & Daily Life: A Resource for Worship Planners (Discipleship Resources, 1999), p. 24 Copyright © 1999 Discipleship Resources. Used with permission.

If Christians are to be a sign of the reign of God in their daily lives and if worship is to be the place that reminds us that we were baptized to show forth the reign of God in daily living, then what a great opportunity most every congregation has to connect worship and the time of the year when students, teachers, and school staff go back to school.

There are some good resources for you to use in planning worship that pays attention to helping the congregation make the connection between worship and "back-to-school" time and to help the congregation pray for those who are returning to school this fall.

  1. Check the resources in The United Methodist Book of Worship, particularly:
    • "An Order for Commitment to Christian Service" (591). This service could be easily adapted for inviting students, teachers, administrators, and other school staff to come forward for prayer and commissioning as learners and leaders in the venture of education. If you have a large number of students and school staff, you may want to acknowledge the children and youth in one point and school staff at another. Along with the pastor, have the lay leader, perhaps some children and youth, and parents (representatives) lay hands on the teachers and school staff being consecrated.

    • A prayer, "At the Beginning of a New School Year." (535) Note the hymn suggestion.

  2. Look at the wonderful little book Worship and Daily Life (out of print, but available from amazon.com). The introduction by Doris Rudy has some good illustrations about why paying attention to going back to school is important to those who give their lives to service as educators. Pay attention to the use of other elements of worship offered in this volume, such as "Thanksgiving and Praise" (see pages 30-33 especially), "Petitions," "Intercessions," and "Sending Forth." Worship and Daily Life was designed for connecting liturgy to the life and ministry of the baptized.

Daniel Benedict retired from the Discipleship Ministries in 2005.