Youngsters Learn to Lead at Children's Candlelight Service


At St. Paul’s UMC near downtown Houston, children are learning to lead worship. They serve as ushers, greet worshippers, hand out bulletins and candles, make the announcements, share the offering prayer, and tell the Nativity story.


Children of all ages get to choose a role to serve when they are in charge of worship each December at St. Paul’s UMC, Houston’s Children’s Christmas Candlelight worship service. “The service is a wonderful opportunity for children to practice being worship leaders,” says Ellen Edwards, Director of Children’s Ministries. The children serve as ushers, greet worshippers, and hand them bulletins and candles. The young readers make the announcements, pray over the offering, and help tell the Nativity story. Acolytes light the altar candles and pass the light while worshipers sing Silent Night.


This unique service includes children from the congregation, St. Paul’s preschool and the after-school program. Children as young as three – in unlimited numbers – can be shepherds or angels in the background, and fifth graders step in as Mary and Joseph. The children’s choirs sing from the choir loft, involving larger numbers of elementary students. “Since all of the children get to come forward to bring an offering of food, toys to share, clothing or money to the altar and light a candle, many youngsters are quite happy to be in the congregation,” adds Ellen.


This popular tradition will occur again at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, December 22, in the Sanctuary and draws many visitors from the community.


“Every role is highly valued, and children learn that they have gifts to offer in the worshiping community,” said Edwards. “The congregation always includes many people without children of their own since the service is so reverent and beautiful.” While even the youngest are welcome to the service, childcare is also provided.