Ash Wednesday

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10. At noon and 6:30 p.m., Pastor Gage will be available in the Church to lead worshipers in prayer, music, contemplative silence and healing anointing. We will also have the opportunity to write down those burdens we want to shed during Lent, burn the paper and place the ashes on our foreheads. The ashes are a reminder of what we want to leave behind.

FASTING FOR LENT

We will again be “Fasting for our Church” during Lent this year. It’s simple. Give up one meal per week or day (or one treat such as your morning cup of coffee, or a whole day’s meals – whatever you are comfortable with). Take the time you would have spent eating that meal and instead take up a spiritual practice such as prayer, meditation, taking a walk, writing a letter or whatever makes you feel peaceful and calm. Keep track of the money you would have spent on the food or drink, and donate that money to the church to help pay for our ongoing missions and programs. Be sure to write on the check memo line or the envelope that this is for “Lenten fasting.”

DAILY DEVOTIONAL

A daily devotional will be sent out to our church email list with a short scripture passage, a prayer and tips for helping you find ways to begin shedding your life’s obstacles. A weekly printed edition will be available every Sunday in the Narthex.

Ash Wednesday

We will have Taize-style worship to mark Ash Wednesday at 7 p.m. Feb. 18. “Taize” [tah-zay] is a prayer service designed to achieve a contemplative state through music, chanted prayers and silence. Ash Wednesday is a time when we are invited to sit with the betrayals of our hopes for ourselves — the moments when we failed to hold to our commitment to the Christ who walks ahead of us on the way. We will write down those painful times when we separated ourselves from God, burn the paper, and use the ashes to mark ourselves with a sign of repentance and rebirth.

Bullying: What Area Schools Are Doing

At our February 16 session in the Bullying Education Series, we learned what a few regional elementary schools are doing to address bullying. Here is the description of one Safe School policy:

Safe School policy is a no tolerance document. When it comes to safe school violation, we deal with it immediately. The safety of our students is our #1 concern.

We focus on educating the student about proper behavior and give them a chance to implement change in their behavior before punitive consequences are put into place.

We take a proactive approach.

• Counselors teach character education and anti-bullying lessons in each class twice a month.

Grades K-2 – the curriculum used is the “Second Step Program, a Violence Prevention Program”
Emphasis is on empathy training, impulse control, problem solving, and anger management.

Grades 3-5 – we use the “Steps to Respect Program, A Bullying Prevention Program”
Emphasis is on respect, friendship, problem solving, self esteem, recognizing bullying, assertiveness, refusal skills, appropriate reporting (vs. tattling), responsibility

Grade 6 – “Second Step – Stepping Up” Program
Emphasis is on empathy, communication, bully recognition and prevention, emotion management, and problem solving.

This curriculum is data based and put out by the national Committee for Children.

• We teach additional lessons on relational aggression, personal space, and good character

• As needed, we offer small group help with learning social skills to help empower students who may need some extra instruction or training.

We have an active parental base here in the Valley so when problems arise, we engage parental support to help solve conflicts.

At times, we have had a box called “The Buddy Box” that we have put in the school library that allows students the option of reporting bullying anonymously, if they wish to. This serves to empower students to be able to get help and solve problems.

Cyberbullying Information

We talked about “cyberbullying” at the Bullying Education Series session on Feb. 9. Here are some links where you can find helpful information about discerning whether your child is being bullied through texts, emails or social networks; what to do about it; how to prevent it from happening; and how to report it.

* The Cyberbullying Research Center

* The federal government’s anti-bullying website’s Cyberbullying page

* Education.com’s booklet on Cyberbullying in pdf form.