I stood shoulder to shoulder with one of the elders from session looking at children of all ages playing on the new playground through the windows of the Fellowship Hall. We saw young teens sitting on the ‘super nova,’ it is kind of like a lilted merry go round that you can sit on, run on or lay on. Some of the young children were climbing on the arch while others went down the cork screw and one happy toddler spun ‘round and ‘round in the green
cup. The elder and I watch the kids and watch the parents gathered in small groups chatting while they also watched the kids. After a bit the elder looked at me, “You know, I wasn’t in favor of the playground, but it was the right thing to do.”
Now this elder didn’t oppose the playground because of a disinterest in children or because of meanness. The elder was very concerned about being fiscally cautious and the new playground represented a significant monetary investment for a church with many needs. We even had a playground and we don’t even have that many children – which about summed up the session’s resistance to investing monetary resources toward a new playground.
However the old play structure was mostly wooden so splinters were a constant worry and due to its age the structure was in constant need of repair. A task force of members from the Building & Grounds Committee and the Christian Education Committee had investigated options for replacing the old play structure. They enlisted the help of children and grandchildren to try out a variety of play structures in our area and in other cities. They were excited about a playground by the European group ‘Kampani’ because of elements friendly to children with disabilities and a design that encouraged cognitive development.
During its deliberation, the session decided that investing in a playground was a way for us to be both hospitable to the children we do have and hospitable to the children and families in our neighborhood. That’s what we saw that Sunday morning after church – our families lingering to let their children play, creating stronger bonds between the children and the families. It is what I see during the week almost every time I head to the church’s kitchen for coffee – neighborhood children with their parents enjoying the new structures. I don’t know if any of those families will find their way into the building on Sunday morning, but I do know that in providing a friendly, inclusive and safe play area the church is promoting healthy fun and a friendly welcome.
Maybe it is just a cup of cold water – but on a hot day cold water is a blessing.
Rev. Karen Pollan was born in Roswell, New Mexico – however, she says – “I am not an alien. I promise. My daughter, on the other hand, has serious doubts about this claim. That being said, I did experience the feeling of being alien throughout my growing up years because my military family was always on the move.” Her undergraduate education was in science and she eventually accepted a call to ministry. She has served churches in Texas, Oregon and New York and is currently serving at Delmar Presbyterian Church. She says: “I love any opportunity to wander and to wonder.”
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