Observing Children's Sabbath

– 50th Anniversary

The Children’s Defense Fund

The National Observance of Children’s Sabbath is always designated for the third weekend in October. This year, it is October 14–16, 2023. The UCC has established it to be on Sunday, October 15th. However, many places of worship participate on alternate dates—other weekends in October and even different months—for various reasons. What’s most important is finding a date that will work for your place of worship. As you celebrate, we encourage you to share information with Children’s Defense Fund so we can connect efforts across dates, locations, and traditions.

The multi-faith Children’s Sabbath weekend engages places of worship across the country in focusing prayers, worship, education programs, and action on learning more about the urgent problems facing our nation’s children. By exploring sacred texts and teachings that call us to love and protect children, Children’s Sabbath encourages communities to respond with outreach and advocacy and, most importantly, inspire new, year-round action to improve the lives of children.

Some Children’s Sabbath celebrations are community-wide, multi-faith gatherings; others occur in individual places of worship. Together, we are inspiring change that will improve the lives of children!

A Children’s Sabbath weekend typically has four elements:

1 – A service of worship or prayers, during which the divine mandate to nurture and protect children calls us to respond to the needs of children today;

2 – Educational programs, during which people of all ages learn more about the needs of children today and the sociopolitical structures that keep children in need, explore the sacred texts, teaching, and traditions that lead us to serve and seek justice for children and develop specific, active responses to help children;

3 –  Activities that immediately engage participants in compassionate service to help children and in action to seek justice (such as writing letters to elected officials); and

4 – Follow-up actions that use the inspiration, information, and motivation of the Children’s Sabbath weekend to lead individual members and places of worship into new, effective efforts to improve the lives of children in the congregation, community, and nation throughout the year.

View a video of the Children's Sabbath Sunday held at Riverside Church, New York City, on October 16, 2022.

Worship is at the heart of the Children’s Sabbath.

In worship, we praise God, who has blessed us with children and charged us with their care. In worship, we hear again the prophets and their warnings against injustice and their call to do justice. In worship, we renew our commitment to follow Jesus, who said to welcome the children because in doing so, we welcome him and not just him but the one who sent him. As we go forth from worship in the power of the Holy Spirit, may we continue to praise God with our work to nurture and protect all children.

See suggestions and resources for planning a Children's Sabbath worship service

I want to get involved in the Children’s Sabbath movement. Where do I start?

Reviewing these Children’s Sabbath resource materials is the first important step in getting involved in the Children’s Sabbath, so you are already on your way!

Find the planning steps in the “Planning Your Children’s Sabbath Celebration: Ideas for All Faiths” section on CDF'S website.

One of the first decisions you and those who join you in the planning will need to make is whether to plan a Children’s Sabbath just for your place of worship or to join with other faith communities or denominations to plan a multi-faith or ecumenical Children’s Sabbath in your community. Either option is a valuable way to participate. Determining what is right for your place of worship this year would be best.

These Children’s Sabbath resource materials provide planning suggestions, promotion ideas, worship resources, educational resources, activity ideas, and suggestions for building on your Children’s Sabbath to help children throughout the year.

What if my place of worship can’t participate on the designated dates?

Choose an alternate date! While it’s great to celebrate on the same weekend as thousands of other places of worship, what’s most important is to participate in the movement at a time that works for your place of worship.

Even if you have been celebrating Children’s Sabbath for many years, checking out the Children’s Defense Fund can be very helpful to your worship and advocacy experience for children. Please consider getting your congregation involved in this essential observance, even if you have no children in your church life. Showing your community that you care about the lives of children can make a significant difference in how your congregation is perceived and how you see yourselves. What could be more powerful than celebrating and supporting the young people in our world? 

Used with the permission of the Children’s Defense Fund


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