As a mother of small children, I do not agree with Mrs. Curtis’ June/July opinion about the presence of young children and how their noise level should be handled in church (“Hosanna, Loud Hosanna!”). I do not view my 13-month-old’s voice as “noise pollution.” He is old enough to understand that if he fusses he will get to leave church and walk around, not having to participate in the service. How will he ever learn to sit still in the pew if he’s never there because he’s in the nursery? Also, he is not old enough to understand why he’s encouraged to talk (most of which is babble) everywhere except for one hour on Sunday. “Shhh!” is not a word he understands yet.
I know Lutherans like to sit in the back of church. However, if you find children a distraction or a bother, consider moving out of your comfort zone and into a pew near the front of church.
Furthermore, Mr. Curtis says that “crying bothers everyone.” I do not agree with this statement. I fully believe that a quiet church is a dead church. If you do not hear crying babies, it means your church is not growing.
I think churches should do more to encourage attendance by parents with young children. My husband and I have attended numerous churches across the country. Few of them have much for nurseries, and even fewer of them have areas where mothers could comfortably breastfeed.
Also, I would encourage others in the congregation to offer help to families in church who seem to have their hands full. My husband travels a lot for work, which leaves me seven months pregnant, trying to handle an active 13-month-old. I am not sure I would be able to attend church if I had other young ones as well, especially if I know I’m being viewed as “noise pollution.”
I appreciate the discussion on the topic of children in church but have to admit I was somewhat saddened by the article. First, I am a father of three children, one 7 and a set of 5-year-old twins, and I understand the hardships of parenting and church. But what I found missing from the article was encouragement. There were a lot of what-we-should-dos offered when we are bothered by children in church but no mention of encouragement for the fact that the parents are faithful to worship with their children.
Maybe there are congregations that are intolerant of children, which is unfortunate, but I have never been in a service where children were viewed as a problem. I am not sure what kind of message is sent to a parent who is asked to leave or a mother who is asked to stay home on “shut-in status.”
Can children become loud? Yes. Can that be a distraction? Somewhat. But I just wonder if that is the true issue, or is the intolerance of the bothered the true issue? Praise God for the children who are in church and feel inclined to communicate! Keep it up, parents of younger children! Attending church is taught by doing such–attending church!
Mark Loder, Vicar
Trinity Lutheran Church
I am very disappointed in the “Loud Hosanna” article that ran in the June/July issue of The Lutheran Witness. While some of the ideas offered were good (like bringing quiet toys for your child), I felt the article was very harsh. We want to embrace our children in the Lord and teach them at a young age that church is important.
One point that really bothered me dealt with ushers and noisy children. I don’t feel that an usher should ever tell a parent to remove their child from the service. I understand that when a child is being very noisy, others might have trouble hearing. However, God does not value one person above another no matter their age. It should be left to the discretion of the parent when their child should be removed. If a church really wants to help parents with children feel embraced and wanted, they should provide easy access to things that can help the experience go well. Some churches offer Kiddie Bags that children can use during the service and children’s bulletins that the kids can use during the service and also take home with them. My church offers these things, but my 2-year-old is overwhelmed by them; so I bring one little cloth doll and her blanket.
Churches can even offer a Worship for Wigglers class to help parents see that their children are welcome in the service and to give them ideas on how to get the most out of their worship experience.
I would hate to think that a visitor to our churches or a new member, or even a lifelong member who now has young children, would read this article and feel they have to keep their children super quiet or else they are not welcome, or that an usher is going to come and tell them to leave. That kind of attitude can hurt our Gospel message.
In my opinion, the June/July issue of The Lutheran Witness ought to be required reading for all couples in pre-marriage counseling with their pastors—and then again sometime during those blessed months of pregnancy!
I would also urge that Rebekah Curtis’ article, “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna,” be inserted in our parishes’ worship bulletins at least once a month.
Rev. R.R. Krueger, Emeritus
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