Children’s Sabbaths Celebration2021-10-21T10:51:15-05:00
30th Annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® Celebration
Download 2021 Children’s Sabbath Resources

Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson at Historic Riverside Church

The people and leaders of New York City’s historic Riverside Church welcomed CDF’s President and CEO, the Reverend Dr. Starsky Wilson, as their morning preacher on October 17, 2021, in observance of Children’s Sabbaths. Watch the recording Dr. Wilson’s sermon here.

Children’s Sabbaths Celebration

The multi-faith Children’s Sabbath weekend engages places of worship across the country in focusing prayers, worship, education programs, and action on learning more about the urgent problems facing our nation’s children exploring sacred texts and teachings that call us to love and protect children, responding with outreach and advocacy, and—most importantly–inspiring new, year-round action to improve the lives of children. Some Children’s Sabbath celebrations are community-wide, multi-faith gatherings, others take place in individual places of worship. Together, we are inspiring change that will improve the lives of children!

The National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths is always designated for the third weekend of each October—this year, that fell on October 15-17, 2021. 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 we encourage you to share information with Children’s Defense Fund so we can connect efforts across dates, place, and traditions.

What is Children’s Sabbaths?

Many places of worship plan a Children’s Sabbath during their customary time for worship, prayers, education, or another 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 all or some of the following elements:

  • Service/worship/prayers/faith community gatherings focused on children, justice, and the moral, spiritual, and ethical imperative to nurture, protect, and seek justice for children
  • Educational programs for all ages (e.g., religious education classes, forums, special speakers)
  • Advocacy and hands-on service activities around the Children’s Sabbath weekend to meet immediate needs of children in your community and raise a voice for justice

Long-term, year-round action 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.

Tell us your Children’s Sabbath plans

  • Which of these do you plan to do?
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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 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

By participating in this multi-faith, nationwide celebration, people of faith gain the inspiration of participating in a larger movement for children and help amplify the voice of our faith communities calling for justice.

Note: The Children’s Sabbath is different than a Children’s Day, Youth Sunday, Tot Shabbat, or other occasions you may already celebrate. The Children’s Sabbath distinctly focuses on 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!

How do I get involved?

This video workshop, “Organizing a Children’s Sabbath as a Catalyst for Change” (recorded during CDF’s 2021 Proctor Institute), offers an overview of the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths (2:04 minutes) and guidance from experienced leaders for planning Children’s Sabbath worship (09:34), action (19:57), education programs (50:37), and community-wide, multi-faith engagement (1:05:00).

2021 Children’s Sabbath Action Guides

The 2021 Children’s Sabbath, “Where Does It Hurt?”: Listening to Heal Our Children, is encouraging three key actions for congregations and communities that can be held or initiated on the Children’s Sabbath weekend. The listening, learning, and acting with and for children and youths should continue throughout the year. Enter your email address below to receive detailed guides and resources for the three actions.

“Family Suppers” Community
Listening Projects

Child Watch Visits

CDF Child Watch Visitation
Program Manual

CDF Advocates’ Book Clubs
(ABCs)

Enter your email address to receive detailed guides and resources for the three actions.

Video Resources

Below you will find additional video guides to help you plan your Children’s Sabbath activities and actions.

Artist Joe Davis’ “Show Up”

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