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Hurricane Katrina underscores Children’s Sabbath this year

 


Hurricane Katrina underscores Children’s Sabbath this year

Sept. 14, 2005

By United Methodist News Service

The Hurricane Katrina disaster that struck the U.S. Gulf Coast has been accompanied by powerful images of the plight of children—images that will be in the minds of many congregations marking Children’s Sabbath this fall.

The 14th annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths is sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit, Washington-based organization. Many congregations, including United Methodist churches, set aside a Sunday during the fall to focus on justice for children living in poverty.

The third weekend in October — Oct. 14-16 this year — has traditionally been designated for Children’s Sabbath, but the date “is totally up to the discretion of the congregation,” said the Rev. Sally Jo Snyder, a United Methodist and director of the Children’s Defense Fund.

The United Methodist Board of Discipleship’s Web site notes that, in the church, the event is observed Oct. 7-9.

“Last year, we had over 10,000 (churches) participate around the country,” Snyder said. Of all the denominations and religious organizations that participate, United Methodists lead the way in number, she added.

The need for focusing on children’s concerns is urgent, Snyder said.

“We want to really build a movement for children in the 21st century, which sadly we need,” she said.

In the United States, 9 million children are without health insurance,” she said. Many children are born into a “cradle-to-prison pipeline,” she said, noting that a black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison during his life.

The Children’s Defense Fund is responding to the Hurricane Katrina disaster by helping children and families through its offices in Tennessee, Mississippi and Texas, and its national headquarters in Washington. “We are helping displaced families locate their loved ones, working with other national organizations, such as Feed the Children, to identify where their resources can best be used, and coordinating with state and federal officials to identify the needs that children in particular have and will have as they work through this crisis,” the organization said.

Many of the people most affected by the hurricane and its aftermath were poor people.
“We do not want to simply send all of these people who deal with extreme hardships every day back to the same life that they had before the hurricane,” the organization said. The hurricane disaster is an opportunity to “lift our most vulnerable children and families to a place where they can lead the lives to which they are entitled.”

The Children’s Defense Fund’s Web site, www.childrensdefense.org, has information on how congregations can get involved in responding to children’s issues as well as resources for Children’s Sabbath and year-round ministries.

Those resources include a 260-page manual, National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths Manual: Putting our Faith into Action to Seek Justice for Children. “The manual tells everything you need to know,” Snyder said. The book provides materials for use in worship services, study groups, newsletters and bulletins, and educational programs for adults, youth and children.

Details on ordering the book and other information about the Children’s Defense Fund are available on the Web site or by calling Snyder, (202) 662-3579.

News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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