The two boys and seven girls have made themselves comfortable on this sunday morning in the parish hall in lahm. Louis, benjamin, hanna, jana, leonie, marie, lisa, marina and christin sit in a circle on soft cushions on the floor. In front of them they have placed their harvest baskets. In the middle of the round carpet is a rough candle decorated with christian symbols and the inscription "kinderkirche". There is a cross and a children's bible next to it.
Benjamin is allowed to light the candle. "Who knows what we are celebrating today?", juliane eidloth from the kinderkirche team asks the following questions. Everyone knows the answer: "harvest thanksgiving and church consecration." "Right! It's our church's birthday today," says, says the supervisor. "Birthday, where are the presents?", a little wise guy wants to know. Juliane eidloth replies: "you are the gifts, you are the most precious gifts for the dear god. And he is very happy that you are all here today."
70 services for the little ones
About every three to four weeks, the children's church takes place at the same time as the sunday service in the parish hall in lahm. "The children's church has existed since 2007 in lahm and wilhelmsthal, where it is also held about once a month in the sisters' house in wilhelmsthal. There is also a children's church in effelter, but it was introduced a little later than here", says eidloth, who together with sandra kittel, katja hoderlein and manuela schneider forms the children's church team. Since the founding, about 70 such children's churches have been held so far. It is aimed at children up to and including the second grade. From the third grade onwards, the children should only attend the "adult church", especially as preparation for their first communion. "We always discuss with the parish priest the occasion or theme for which we are holding a children's church – for example, the feast of the scapular. We like to get involved in the christian life of the village. We sing, pray and do handicrafts with the children", declares eidloth. The content of the children's church is largely thought up by the team itself. "We are guided by texts from the gospel. We prepare them in a child-friendly way so that the children can understand them better. We also get ideas from templates that are available for such lessons. But these are only suggestions for us. We prefer to create a direct connection to the everyday life or environment of the children," says eidloth, she says.
Thanksgiving is, of course, a celebration of giving thanks. So the children, together with their caregivers and some moms and dads, sing happy songs of thanks, sometimes even with little "dance interludes". "What do plants need to grow??", ask the caregivers. "Sun, rain and earth, the children know. They were allowed to put the rays of a sun next to the coarse candle. They also place or lay a bowl of soil and water and a small grain bush next to them. "But the plants also need people who take care of them and look after them. But above all, they need god, who gives us all this in the first place, the caregivers tell and read to the children from the story of the creation. Then they give the boys and girls a little basket with bread sticks. They share and then eat the bread together – very quietly, very consciously. "We also want to share bread in the 'adult church' later on", says eidloth, and all the children are really happy.
The bread is shared
Suddenly there are footsteps. About 25 minutes of children's church have flown by. Two altar boys stand in front of the door to pick up the children. The children's church enters the parish church together and joins in the preparation for giving. Lisa and jana tell the faithful all about what they did today in children's church. Then the boys and girls distributed the bread, which was again eaten together – but this time not only by the little ones, but by all the guests of the wonderful little "birthday party".