THE REV. CHUCK CARROLL offers communion during a Family Eucharist service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick. In the background is the Rev. Ann J. Broomell, former transition priest in charge.

THE REV. CHUCK CARROLL offers communion during a Family Eucharist service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick. In the background is the Rev. Ann J. Broomell, former transition priest in charge.

BRUNSWICK — Since September 2012, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick has been offering a unique Family Eucharist each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. for kids ages 3 to 10 and their parents.

Intended to make church more “doable” for young families, the Family Eucharist offers young children and their parents a relaxed, casual setting designed especially with the needs of young children in mind.

The service grew out of St. Paul’s Christian Formation program, which offers church school from nursery through high school. Increasingly, however, church leaders noticed that families with young children were skipping church or leaving half-way through.

“It’s a scenario we’ve all been through before, as parents,” noted Kristin Agudelo, St. Paul’s Christian Formation director. “A young child’s attention span is only 5 to 10 minutes long, so they find it very hard to sit through long services. Even with a stack of coloring books or other forms of entertainment, it can be a real challenge to bring your child to church on a weekly basis. Our Family Eucharist is short — only about 30 minutes long — while still preserving all the essential elements of an Episcopal worship service. Plus, the music and general setting are aimed directly at young kids.”

Each week the Family Eucharist starts with children picking out their “jobs” for the day — handing out service leaflets, lighting candles, helping bring bread and wine up to the altar at the Eucharist, passing the offering basket. Throughout the short worship service, children are engaged with simple, upbeat songs (sometimes sung with hand motions), a children’s homily, and a chance to add their own prayers to those said by the priest. Because the service is held on the second floor of the church school building, a lift is available for persons with physical limitations.

After worship, there is a further chance for families to mingle during a kid-friendly snack time. After a 15 to 20 minute snack and play break, families have the option of sending children on to church school from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Classes are available for all ages: pre-K, K-2nd grade, 3rd- 5th grade, and junior and senior high.

Christian Formation for teens runs from 9:30-10:15 a.m., concurrently with the Family Eucharist. Teen programs at St. Paul’s are quite strong, with the high school juniors and seniors planning a pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland, this summer.

Nursery care for children 3 and under is available all morning.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, celebrating its 169th year, welcomes newcomers. Call the office at 725-5342 or visit www.stpaulsmaine.org for additional information on programs, nursery care, children’s and adult parish choirs, or Christian Formation for adults.


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