Children and youth are an important focus of our ministry. We take our responsibility to affectionately nurture our children in the Christian faith seriously. Our program is directed by our Christian Education Coordinator, Janet Koostra, and our nine member Christian Education Board.
We provide Sunday School for ages 3 through 7th grade, during the same hour as our worship service. Nursery care is also provided during worship and other activities. Some Sundays children begin or even remain in worship and other Sundays they start out in Sunday School. Our schedule is clearly communicated through our weekly newsletter and on campus signs.
We love having children in worship with us and we are also committed to providing them a Bible based experience of Christian community based on their age level. We seek out and select the best and most appropriate curriculum we can find, often using our own denominational material. Children’s Christmas pageants, a week-long Vacation Bible School, and many other seasonal programs and activities add further opportunities for growth, involvement, and the experience of church for our children.
The Youth Group at First Congregational UCC, open to 6th through 12th graders, offers an engaging and diverse schedule of activities focusing on three main areas of interest: service, fellowship, and study.
Study takes a variety of shapes. We just completed a “New Year’s Resolution” mural. The collage-style artwork features pictures and phrases representing many resolutions. It is on display in the Fellowship Hall, and members and friends are invited to add their own resolutions to the piece.
The young people who make up our youth group have many diverse interests: hockey to horses, cross country to yearbook, piano to 4-H and FFA, tennis to art. But they share a love of friendship, a desire for service, and a church community that encourages them to explore their faith.
We love sending our youth to Conference, regional and national youth events. Our church supports these endeavors through the Bertsche Memorial Fund, which is is reserved and dedicated to children and youth ministries. In Summer 2013, our youth and chaperones completed a highly successful mission project in Monterey, CA where they studied and did good works with the area’s shoreline ecology.
Monterey, CA Mission Gallery
Camp Mimanagish, our Conference summer camp, occurs annually for 2nd graders through young adults. It also has other adult and topical camps. The campground is located forty miles south of Big Timber, up the Boulder River canyon in the Absarokee Mountains. We have a strong tradition of sending our children to camp, a practice supported by our Bertsche Memorial Fund (one-half the cost or more if needed). We also have a great history of adult involvement with our camp as directors, counselors and staff members. We love camp!
Upcoming events offer the opportunity for travel and retreat on both a conference-wide and regional basis. In early May, youth will form a vital part of the Montana/Northern Wyoming Conference Annual Meeting. Kids will share discussions, interact with guest presenters, play, and do a service project for the youth portion of this conference-wide event.
A second opportunity, the Western Regional Youth Event, will be held in Seattle in early July. UCC kids from across the west, plus Alaska and Hawaii, will attend workshops, worship services, social events, and mission activities as they make new friends and grow their faith.