The Congregation at Duke University Chapel


photo of Phyllis

A few weeks ago in Sunday morning worship, we sang the hymn "My Hope Is Built." Whenever I hear this hymn, the sound of my mother’s voice still resonates in my head, and in my heart. I hear her pure soprano voice, just as if she is in the pew beside me, singing:
…On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

I sat beside my mother on the pew in church on Sunday mornings since before I can even remember. There was no nursery in my small, rural North Carolina church at that time and for that I am grateful. I can remember getting restless at times, especially during the sermon, but whenever there was singing, it fed my little soul.

The Duke Chapel Service of Worship bulletin proclaims, “The Chapel welcomes families with children.” It also goes on to let families know, “If at any time during the service your child needs a place for active play, please know there is a nursery in the Chapel basement.” Please note this is not a mandate for all children younger than five-years-old to stay in the nursery. It is my firm belief that children belong on the pews beside their parents, as this is where they learn. On the other hand, there are definitely children that need “active play” as the Bulletin states. Forcing them to sit in church when they are not ready could be detrimental to what they learn about church. Since every child is unique, the delicate balance of attending “big church” versus the nursery should be made individually by each family.

Please welcome any children who worship with us on Sunday mornings. Be supportive to their parents who are nurturing their children’s spiritual growth. All of us are the face of Christ to these children and families. Someday, they may look back and remember their mother’s sweet voice singing and praising God on Sunday mornings as they sat beside her on the pew. Or, maybe they will remember that special person in church who always greeted them with a kind voice and a smile. Let us all be a ‘solid rock’ for the families and children in our midst.