Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Children and the Holy Eucharist

All baptized Christians are welcomed at the Lord’s table, and the Episcopal Church does not designate a specific age in which children are to receive communion. Holy Comforter does offer a special “Study of the Holy Eucharist” in First Grade Sunday School, but children do not need to complete the class in order to partake of the Sacrament. Parents are encouraged to meet with a member of the clergy if they have questions or concerns about young children and communion. Any member of the congregation, adults as well as children, may receive a blessing instead of communion by simply crossing their arms across their chest to indicate their preference.

The 9:00 and 11:00 services on Sunday morning are where children and youth have opportunities to serve as assistant ushers and lay readers. One of the priests leads Children’s Chapel during a portion of the service (in St. Mary’s Chapel), and when the children return to the Sanctuary, they kneel at the altar during the Great Thanksgiving.

Children enjoy ritual and have an innate wonder at the majesty of a liturgical service of worship—they are naturally liturgical beings. We strive to nurture their loving relationship with God. During both the 9:00 and the 11:00 services, Children’s Chapel is held in St. Mary’s Chapel. Children should follow the Children’s Cross (“dove cross”) just prior to the Gospel reading. A priest gives the homily during the 9:00 Eucharist and a lay leader conducts Chapel during the 11:00 Eucharist. Children hear an age-appropriate homily (usually based on the day’s appointed Gospel reading), sing songs, pray, and learn reverence and respect for the sacred space in which we worship. The service is interactive, and the children are called upon to light the altar candles, collect the offering, and contribute to the discussion. Two children are also selected to bring the offering to the altar upon return to the Sanctuary (assisted by adult ushers).

As in all lessons of life, children look to their parents to be a guide during worship. We encourage parents to help their child follow the service by using the Bulletin, Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnals.

For the younger children, "The Sunday Paper" worship bulletins are available from the ushers. We also have shelves of Bible storybooks and crayons located at the back of the Sanctuary. You may wish to bring small books or soft toys from home.

Nursery

Childcare on Sundays for children through age four is available from 8:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.  The nursery is located on the lower level below the Sanctuary. We are blessed with an experienced and loving nursery staff, headed by Carole Hamric. Parents are encouraged to pick up their children after the Great Thanksgiving, and bring them to the altar for Holy Eucharist.

Childcare is also provided for many other church activities as needed.