Saturday School at Rader UMC provides Christian education


Rader UMC Saturday School
Children and youth at Rader UMC work on a Saturday School project.

"Saturday School" at Rader UMC
One Saturday each month Rader UMC in the Mid-State District has "Saturday School" as their alternative to Sunday School. They meet for three hours focusing on one Bible story, have songs, puzzles, crafts, and games pertaining to that story. They close with a time of fellowship and a simple lunch prepared by the church members.

If you’ve traveled U.S. 63 through central Missouri, you’ve probably noticed a picturesque United Methodist Church on the east side of the highway. The classic white church with a steeple just adds to the scenic vistas of the highway. And the chapel-design of the building is still a great design for Sunday morning worship.

Other church activities, though, can be a little challenging.

“We only had one small room, about five by six, where we could have a Sunday school,” said Rev. Karen Alden.

When Alden first came to Rader UMC 13 years ago, there were 15 people in the church. Now there’s about 40 including some young families. Coming from a Christian education background, it was important to Alden that the children and youth in her church have Christian education opportunities. The solution: move things up a day.

Rader UMC now has “Saturday School” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. once a month. The ages range from four years old to young teens. The first one, which was in December, was attended by eight children and five teenagers. To solve the space issue, they just take over the sanctuary.

“We use the extra room in the aisle, and set up a table up in the chancel area,” Alden said. “We had to be creative, but it works.”

Alden knows that it is most common now for both parents to be working, and children to be involved in extra curricular activities, so making time for one more thing is difficult. That’s why the plan is to do the Saturday School only once per month. But by having it be three hours long, the educational offering can be similar in scope as to what a weekly one-hour program would be.

“We will have different learning activities based around the lesson for the day,” she said.

Lay member Sarah Falter is the leader of the Saturday School. Others have been eager.

“I’m there, but I wouldn’t need to be,” Alden said.

In addition to teaching, adult volunteers provide the lunch. There’s no kitchen at the church, so lunches tend to be crock-pot based, but that’s working well.

“The kids love it,” Alden said.