National Observance of Children's Sabbaths®

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Mark your congregation's calendar now to participate in the 27th Annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® Celebration, "Realizing Dr. King’s Vision: Ending Child Poverty," October 19-21, 2018. Save the date now and begin conversations with other congregations and community groups for how you might partner.

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Why Participate in the Children’s Sabbath? Sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund, the National Observance of Children's Sabbaths weekend  unites faith communities of every religious tradition across the nation to:  

  • raise awareness of problems facing children and families in our nation (such as poverty, gun violence, and lack of health care);
  • explore the texts and teachings in each of our religious traditions that call us to nurture and protect children with love and justice;
  • engage people of faith in immediate and long-term action to nurture, protect, and seek justice for children.

This celebration is a part of a broader children's movement that aims to unite communities and religious congregations of all faiths across the nation in shared concern for children and a common commitment to improving their lives and working for justice on their behalf.  In that respect, it is bigger than the efforts of any single congregation and it makes a difference far beyond the designated weekend as places of worship continue reaching out and speaking out to make a difference for children in their communities and across the nation.   

(Note, the Children’s Sabbath is different than a Children’s Day, Youth Sunday, Tot Shabbat, or other occasions your place of worship may already celebrate.   All of these are important and valuable. The Children’s Sabbath is distinct in its focus on serious, urgent problems facing children in our nation, intergenerational participation, action-oriented follow-up, and linking places of worship across traditions nationwide. We hope you will celebrate both!)  

What Happens on the Children’s Sabbath? Many places of worship plan a Children’s Sabbath during their customary time for worship, prayers, education, or other gathering. Some connect with one or a few places of worship for a collaborative celebration and events. Still others connect with as many faith leaders and places of worship in the community as possible to plan a multi-faith, community-wide celebration.  

Most Children’s Sabbaths involve some of the following elements:

  • Service/Worship/Prayers/Faith Community Gathering focused on children, justice, and the moral/spiritual/ethical imperative to nurture, protect, and seek justice for children;
  • Educational  programs for all ages (e.g., during religious education classes, one-time forum, special speaker)
  • Advocacy and hands-on service activities during the Children’s Sabbath weekend (or just before or after) to meet immediate needs of children and raise a voice for justice
  • Long-term, year-round action to care and seek justice for children and families. (Don’t forget to plan for these lasting actions! This is a central aim of the Children’s Sabbaths.)  This might include strengthening an existing program in your place of worship, starting something new, or joining with other places of worship or community organizations to make a difference in the lives of children.

When Is It? The National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths is designated for the third weekend of each October—October 19-21, 2018 (and October 20-22, 2019). However, many places of worship participate on alternate dates –other weekends in October and even different months—for a variety of reasons. What’s most important is finding a date that will work for your place of worship, and sharing information with CDF so we can connect efforts across dates, place, and traditions.

How Do I Get Involved?  Check out the free, downloadable Children’s Sabbath resource manual to learn more about the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths, planning steps, a wealth of resources for various religious traditions, action steps, and more. Click on “Planning a Children’s Sabbath in Your Community” to do so.

Planning a Children's Sabbath in your Community

CDF produces an annual National Observance of Children's Sabbaths Manual which may be downloaded free of charge. We ask you, however, to complete the brief questionnaire in Connecting with the Children’s Sabbath to help us know who the materials are reaching and what you might plan.  

Although the National Observance of Children's Sabbaths weekend is traditionally held the third weekend of October, the worship resources, prayers, actions, and other resources in the Children's Sabbaths manual may be used throughout the year. Please download this year's resources below.

Welcome to the 2017 National Observance of Children's Sabbaths

Planning Your Children's Sabbath: Ideas for all Faiths

Promoting Your Children’s Sabbath: Ideas for All Faiths (including bulletin inserts)

Christian Worship Resources for Children's Sabbath

Jewish Resources for Children's Shabbat

Resources for a Multi-faith Children's Sabbath Celebration

Multifaith Discussion Outline for Children’s Sabbath

Action Ideas for the Children's Sabbaths Weekend and Throughout the Year

Daily Devotional Guide for 2017 National Observance of Children's Sabbaths

Connecting with Children's Sabbaths

Right Now: Please take a moment to complete a short questionnaire. Your responses will help us know who is receiving the Children’s Sabbath materials and how you might use them—even if your plans are preliminary or later change.

After Your Children’s Sabbath: Email information, a description of your Children’s Sabbath, or attachments (such as a sermon, bulletin, or newsletter article) about your Children’s Sabbath to Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris, CDF’s Senior Religious Adviser, at Please indicate whether we have permission to share your resources (with credit) on-line or in future Children’s Sabbath materials. 


The National Observance of Children's Sabbaths Celebration is supported by Catholic Charities U.S.A., the Islamic Society of North America, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., the National Assembly of Bahá’ís in the U.S., the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, the Union for Reform Judaism, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and more than 200 other religious organizations and denominations.