How Does Your Church Celebrate Mother's and Fathers' Day?

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A few years ago, a Ministry Q&A was posted on The Network seeking feedback on simple ways for churches to honor mothers and fathers. The discussion on the post encouraged churches to proceed with careful consideration.

In any given congregation there are people who are grieving. There are people with strained family relationships. There are people who wish things were different. These are just a few scenarios of many. There are also people who want to celebrate and honor these important relationships. So what's a church to do?

What does your church do (if anything) to celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day?

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Community Builder

Our church celebrates Mother's Day by celebrating all women. The children hand out carnations to every women during the service. We also, in our prayer, are intentional about mentioning all the various difficulties women may struggle with. 

Admin

Thanks for sharing, Angela! Grateful that your church is so inclusive. 

Participant

We also celebrate all women on Mother's Day and pray intentionally about difficulties women may struggle with. We always include prayers for those who have never been mothers, those who are unable to conceive, and those who are mother figures.  We don't do flowers--too many of our people have allergies to fresh flowers. We have given a token gift to all women such as a pen or bookmark--something anyone might be able to use.

Maybe by acknowledging that they know there are people struggling with different issues, and bringing an awareness to the fact that it is a hard day for some women. 

Admin

Great suggestion - thanks so much for sharing! 

We do acknowledge Mother's Day each year, in different ways. While we try to respect those in difficult circumstances, we also feel it's important to honour the mothers in our congregation and not "steal their joy" altogether. If we hand out a special gift (flower or chocolates) we do give it to all women. This year we are doing a Mother's Day prayer we've developed using something written from Amy Young ("Shout out to Mom"). We have a few expecting mothers in our church and they are over the moon right now and it's not really fair to ignore or downplay the day either. Whether or not it's a "Hallmark" holiday, it is being celebrated all across the country and it would be weird and awkward if the church just ignored it. Our world is broken, we know that. So taking time to celebrate the good is SO important!

Admin

Absolutely, Erin! Thanks for sharing what your church is doing. 

Community Builder

I once heard a sermon on Mother's Day that focused on all the feminine images of God in Scripture (i.e. Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, longing to gather his people as a hen gathers her chicks ... there are so many). It was excellent in considering the love of God, the love of our mothers, and how we reflect God's love to others.

Admin

Thanks for sharing, Bonnie!

Participant

We honor all women on Mother's Day with a small gift of some sort-- a keychain, bookmark, or something like that.  We used to do flowers, but there are many in our congregation who are allergic, so now use a different token of our appreciation.  We also make sure to include compassion for those for whom the day is difficult--those who wish to be mothers, those who have lost their mothers, or those who have had difficult relationships with their mothers, etc.  We usually include this in our Prayers of the People.

We will be printing and reading "The Wide Spectrum of Mothering" this year. Pdf download can be found at this link:

http://www.messymiddle.com/.../an-open-letter-to-pastors.../

 

Admin

Bill, 

Thanks for sharing this insightful, honest article. I appreciated her perspective. 

Staci

I wrote a blog post about this topic earlier this week. You can read it here: http://www.janicebuist.com/mothers-day-church/ 

I am in a great place in my life. My post doesn't come from bitterness or jealousy or other feelings that some might want to attach to honest words from someone in the minority on Mother's Day. 

I have been in churches that have read The Wide Spectrum of Mothering prayer that has already been referenced. And, it was fine and well-thought out and inclusive. 

The phrase in The Wide Spectrum of Mothering prayer that is about me reads: "To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children - we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be."

Might I be really transparent for a minute? For a few seconds while that phrase is being read/prayed, people might hurt for me that life has not turned out the way I longed for it to be. But I have yet to feel this mourning or sentiment from those in the church at any other time - not even after the service on a hard day like Mother's Day. It is more common that my struggle is not ever acknowledged in the church.

I have attended churches all over the US so my reflection is not based on one church. Universally, there is not consideration given for the ache of those that are single and desire to not only be married and have children, but carry a child within. The church is one of the hardest places to fit in as a women in her mid-30's without children - at all times of the year. Therefore, prayers like the phrase listed above can seem trite because it isn't something actively lived out in church (at least the 10 churches I have attended as an adult).

I think most things that happen in church that cause pain are done with good intention from those in leadership. I don't think leaders try to hurt others. I would challenge, though, if your leadership is making decisions that you are aware could potentially hurt or isolate others, it might be wise to pull in a few from the minority and include them in the discussion and planning. 

Those that are mother's will likely have the opportunity to be honored and acknowledged in other ways over Mother's Day weekend without a church worship service celebration or token gift. As one of my dear friends, who is also a pastor, said on her FB page, "Be gentle with each other this Mother's Day weekend." My hope is that gentleness and thought of others before self can be present in our churches this weekend. 
 

Participant

Janice, 

Thanks for your transparency and vulnerability.  May your words serve as a wake up call to a growing demographic in our churches. In our family oriented church culture we need to be sensitive to those who do not live within a family structure for whatever reason.  Mothers/Fathers day is only one time of many situations where the single adult is left on the sidelines or more troubling their grief overlooked. 

Every year, on Mother's Day, we do a Men's/Boy's Walk-up Choir to honor the women in our lives.  Every year, on Father's Day, we do a Woman's/Girls Walk-up Choir to honor the men in our lives.

Admin

Thanks for sharing, Mark. I remember my church doing this years ago as well and I always thought it was a neat tradition. 

Neither of these holidays have anything to do with Christianity. They were created by secular society to increase material consumption. The church is supposed to change society, not the other way around. So why celebrate it?

 

Admin

Thanks, Reg. I think there is potential for churches to find meaningful ways to honor these relationships, but perhaps it is not necessary on these days. It's been shown that church attendance is up on mother's day and father's day, so there is an opportunity to show hospitality. 

Community Builder

In our congregation ALL the ladies get a flower on Mother's Day, usually a carnation, whether they actually had kids or not.  The leadership figures that women who didn't marry and have kids shouldn't be penalized.  I don't remember what we decided to do for Fathers's Day.

Admin

Love this, Michele! 

Our church has given out carnations (to every woman, not just mothers).  We have the children hand them out at the door as people leave.  For the past couple of years we have handed out Fair Trade mini chocolates to everyone as they leave.  We acknowledge mothers in the congregational prayer being mindful of all kinds of mothers.  For Father's Day we have done chocolate, baking, etc.

Admin

I love the special care you've given to the details, like carnations for every woman and fair trade chocolate. Thanks for sharing, Lynnsey!

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