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.