Sunday, September 7, 2008


Here is a letter that we'll be sending out over my signature early in the week. It is addressed to those who have presented their children for baptism at our parish between about 1998 and 2005.

Dear friends in Christ:

It’s that time of year again: back to school time for families with school aged children. Our children may or may not be excited about their return to the classroom, but we parents are well aware of the importance of education in preparing them for adult life.

Our Book of Alternative Services includes a prayer that schools may be “lively centres for sound learning, new discovery and the pursuit of wisdom.” That, surely, reflects the hope of every parent as we send our children off to begin the school year.

I’m writing to remind you of one other aspect of your child’s education – their Christian education.

Our regular Church School program at St. James will begin again on Sunday, September 14, 2008, in conjunction with the regular 10:30 service.

There are a lot of good reasons for you to register your child in our Church School – and, of course, to bring your child to Church. For the purposes of this letter, I will only refer to two.

There is a direct correlation between Church attendance and higher grades. That may seem startling, but that is what a recent US study shows. Children who go to Church regularly have higher grades, lower drop-out rates and are more likely to feel like they are part of their school community. They also breathe easier, live longer, are better behaved and more well adjusted. You can find the LiveScience article online (

Okay, so that was several good reasons all rolled up in one. But here is the other reason: because you promised.

A few years ago, you came to St. James of a Sunday morning, bearing a precious bundle, and asking that your son or daughter be made a member of the Church through Baptism. At that time, you made certain affirmations and commitments on behalf of your child. You also made one commitment on your own behalf. The priest asked you, “will you be responsible that the child you present is nurtured in the faith and love of the Christian community?” And you answered, “I will, with God’s help.” Bringing your child to attend Church School allows the rest of us in the St. James family to help you with that promise.

St. James aspires to be a welcoming community, offering spiritual nourishment for all people. We look forward to seeing you.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Malcolm French
Interim Priest


Anonymous said...

I like it. Well done.

Tim Chesterton said...

Nicely put, Malcolm. I might just have to rip that one off.

Erin said...

How do people respond? do people come?

Malcolm+ said...

Thanks guys.

Erin, I'll let you know how it goes. We've never done this before, but we figure the worst that can happen is we spent less than 20 bucks and no one came.

Tim, plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.

Anonymous said...

Great letter Malcolm. Both offering encouragement and reminding people of the commitment they made.

Anonymous said...

If all those children arrrived for Sunday school, would your congregation step up to the plate and support the Sunday school program by volunteering? Any thoughts of sending a similar letter to the parishioners who promised to support the families?

Malcolm+ said...

Anonymous @ 6:48 makes a very good point. Perhaps not a letter. Perhaps working it into the sermon this Sunday as well as the sermon at baptisms.

Anonymous said...

I agree as well with anon. I'm not sure we've ever done a really good job of explaining and helping the congregation live up to their end of the baptismal promises.

I have toyed with the idea of having "mentoring" families from the congregation keep up contact and build relationships with the "baptismal" families.

Anonymous said...

In relation to Joseph's last comment: St. Paul here in Winnipeg, where I did my last placement, has started doing that sort of thing. Geoff Woodcroft the rector is working things so that everyone who is baptized will have a parish sponsor as well as any family or friends that they may chose. Then it becomes the responsibility of the parish sponsor to help keep the community connection between the parish and the newly baptized strong.

Fred Preuss said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tim Chesterton said...

Hey Malcolm, I was reminded of this post as I've been reading through Joe Walker's blog. Do you guys still do this, and if so, how is it going?

Malcolm+ said...

Well, success isn't always a quick thing. I don't think we've ever had anyone turn up directly as a result of the letter. I am intending to send one out this week - should have been last week, but I've been distracted by some health issues on the home front.