Church Etiquette For Youth, Part 1

In this day and age, churches overall have become more casual. That being said, this post may be slightly skewed, as I truly enjoy the formality and ceremonial part of a church service. My apologies in advance if this doesn’t apply to you. Also, this will be from a Christian point of view. If visiting a synagogue or attending any other religious service not affiliated with Christianity, the etiquette tips mentioned may or may not apply.

Now that the disclaimer is done, this post will focus primarily on church etiquette for youth. The underlying tone is about respect of a place of a worship.

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There are a few rules that are universal for both adults and youth.

  1. No hats inside of the building (sanctuary, nave, etc.) unless on a female. The hat must not be for practical purposes (baseball cap) if it is left on, and it must not block another person’s view.
  2. Electronic devices should be muted during the worship service.
  3. A person may elect to not participate in any part of the worship service that conflicts with their personal beliefs. By this I mean if you are visiting another church, and you do not wish to partake in Holy Communion, you do not have to. However, you do not have the right to interfere with the integrity of an event.

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For children, the old adage of “they are meant to be seen and not heard” is quite antiquated. There is, for Christians, one God. Not one for youth and one for adults. If a baby is crying nonstop, it is best for the parents or guardian to take the baby outside until he/she has calmed down. However, it is ok for coos or noise to be made. Also, it’s ok for the parent to quietly explain to his or her child what is taking place during the worship service. It’s how they learn.

Overall, children should remain in the pew. I’m a believer that kids should be in the sanctuary, but that is a personal choice, not an etiquette choice. That being said, it is perfectly fine if they stand, provided they aren’t blocking anyone’s view. Especially for young toddlers, a worship service is a long time to not be active. Alternative activities could be coloring, drawing, etc. I know some parents and grandparents may wonder if the reason they are taking kids to church is still applicable if the kids are just coloring. My answer? Yes. I know adults that will appear to listen in church and are really just thinking about football, and I know adults who draw the whole time because their mind goes a millions miles a minute. The same is true for kids.

I feel that kids should be respectfully dressed. The interpretation is up to the parents. However, as a few guidelines, nothings vulgar, nothing obscene, nothing excessively revealing. Also, keep is appropriate for the particular church you attend. Some churches are more casual. Some are more formal.

Children should be incorporated into the service, not excluded from it, to the extent that is appropriate for that denomination. I’m a United Methodist. For us, it is the parents’ decision on when a child receives communion. For other denominations, it is age-based. We allow both of our children to receive communion when we do; however, it would be inappropriate for us to do so at a church of another denomination.

Finally, it is appropriate for young kids and babies to be allowed to eat/drink in the sanctuary, provided they use spill-proof bottles and/or cups, unless noted otherwise. Likewise, it is perfectly fine for a mother to nurse her child in the sanctuary. Hungry babies simply don’t wait. I know some of these etiquette guidelines may be a little different than you expected. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, check back for Part 2: Etiquette for Older Youth.

Respect at Funerals

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I had nearly had this post written last night when my phone crashed. I was too emotionally spent to re-write it at that time, so it’s a day later than I had hoped for.

Yesterday was a hard day for me. I had the privilege of remembering a man’s life who was kind, beyond generous, caring, easy going, enjoyed copious amounts of coffee, hated blood, loved and respected the Lord, loved his family, friends and students who all equally loved him as much. We are all better off for having known Coach Perry Evans.

In truth, he was my first crush. (Yes, Garrett knows 😉 ) Though I had learned to tie my shoe at around 2 1/2, in Kindergarten I would purposefully untie them during gym so Coach Evans would tie them back. The fact he did it over and over and over only begins to show his willingness to do anything for others. He was a man of great character. Never were there kids who remained hungry, shoeless or unloved on his watch. The stories of him purchasing, with his own money, shoes for kids to play sports, food for kids to eat or giving them “jobs” to build their self-worth are nearly infinite.

The difference he made in the lives of others was apparent yesterday during his funeral service, as the attendees overflowed into the stands of the Sulphur Bluff gymnasium. So, in Coach Evans’s memory, I dedicate this post on funeral etiquette to his family.

  • As an attendee at a funeral, when the family enters, you should stand as you are able. Please remaining standing until the last family member is seated.
  • Silence (don’t just set to vibrate) all electronic devices. This goes for all one-time events (weddings, funerals, etc.).
  • At the end when saying your final good-bye to the deceased, it is ok to hug or acknowledge the family. However, this is not a requirement. People mourn in different ways, and that ok.
  • After the funeral, if you are going to the burial, make sure to turn on your lights so approaching cars know to pull over.
  • On that note, , pull over until the last car has passed.
  • The family will continue mourning past the first few initial days. I would suggest waiting until a couple of days have passed before bringing food unless you are a very close friend or extended family member. On a personal note, my mother-in-law really appreciated a gift of toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, plastic cups, etc. when my father-in-law passed away. As odd as this may seem, she didn’t want to have to deal with the issues of everyday life. This allowed her to stay home instead of running out for toilet paper.
  • If you would like to make a memorial donation, reach out to someone who is close to the family to ask for suggestions. However, if you know of something you feel would be appropriate, that is ok, too.
  • As always, a note of remembrance written to the family is appropriate.

Thank you for reading, as somber as this post is. If you have any memories of Coach Evans you would like to share, please feel free to do so.

Married Monograms!

In honor of #weddingwednesday, I wanted to touch base on married monograms. It’s easy to want to jump the gun and present your married monogram sooner than etiquette dictates; however, it really is best to save it for your wedding day – speaking of monograms, of course. Ahem.

Anytime before “I now pronounce you man and wife” is uttered, you should use your maiden monogram. Once those magic words are said, feel free to flaunt your married monogram! Just a few notes: the wife’s initial is first on about 99.999999999999% of things. In the rare case you are monogramming your beer mugs or anything similar, his initial would do first. Here are a couple of ways to use your married monogram.

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Now, what about if there’s a title, as in the case of stamps? Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “What about the rule that you never separate a man from his name?” Well, in this case, the “Mr. and Mrs.” trumps this rule. Thus, if there is a title, his name would go first.

So, to break it down: John Brown and Anna Brown.

You could write Mr. and Mrs. John Brown or Anna and John Brown. Their monogram would be ABJ, with the “B” larger than the other letters.

I’d love to know your thoughts! Do you monogram anything? Why or why not?

Southern Traditions, Mrs. Randall and Folklore

Growing up in the little community of Sulphur Bluff was very special to me. It was like a world by itself. So much so that I’ve had a hard time realizing my kids will be Wildcats instead of Bears. I’m slowly accepting that fact and have even become excited about it, but that’s a different post for a different day.

Today is about Southern Traditions, Mrs. Randall and Folklore. Mrs. Randall was a lady who substitute taught at The Bluff regularly. So much so that we (the students) all thought of her as another grandmother. She had a true presence about her and never seemed to age a day. She was tough as nails and kind as everything. She was also a God-fearing and God-loving woman who never hid the fact despite it being a public school. She didn’t have to talk about God non-stop for us to know her love of Him. She simply was who she was, and we saw it in her love of the students.

Now, I read a book once that said, “Nearly everyone in the South is Christian. However, we also have a few superstitions we hold on to, too.” That about sums it up. Heaven forbid you don’t eat black eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day, open an umbrella instead of the house or don’t say, “Bless you,” to someone who sneezed. Not as familiar with the last one? Because of Mrs. Randall, even if I don’t know the person standing behind me at Walmart, I say, “Bless you,” to them. And to be 100% honest, it’s not completely done out of kindness.

I was in middle school the first time someone sneezed and someone did not bless said person, Mrs. Randall nearly jumped out of her skin crying, “Stars and stripes, child (another favorite saying of hers), bless them before the devil gets their soul.” It’s stuck with me, needless to say. Of course, it is good manners, which is also why I’m writing about it on my etiquette blog. But it doesn’t stop at just that.

There are a few different tall tales as to why we bless someone when they sneeze, beyond etiquette. A common thought as to why we bless someone who sneezes dates back to the days of the Great Plague. However, Southern folklore has said that when someone sneezes, their soul separates from their body, and without being blessed, the devil can snatch it. Now, I believe this simply because when I sneeze, I’m pretty sure my eyes separate, too. Ok, ok. I don’t really believe it…or do I?

Folklore becomes engrained in us, and I’m actually proud it does. In a monogamous world, I wish we could find ways to celebrate our uniqueness without tearing down someone else’s uniqueness in the process. We should love the things that make us, us. I also love these traditions being passed down from generation to generation, as well as passing on the “why.” For this simple reason I will fondly think of Mrs. Randall when I say, “Bless you,” to someone after they sneeze….and hope the devil didn’t steal their soul.  🙂

 

 

As Easy As Pie

We inherit many things from generation to generation. Smiles, senses of humor, height, family china, family Bibles, etc. One of my favorite things that’s been passed down to me has little-to-no monetary value, but it is immeasurably valuable to me is family recipes. This past weekend I decided to cook some pies.

Now, in my household, pies are what the world revolves around. True story: When my nearly ninety year old grandmother starts to get full during a meal, she’ll stop eating to make sure she saves enough room for dessert. This sweet lady has, thankfully, never had diabetes or sugar issues. It’s a miracle, too, considering she sweetens even Lucky Charms. I think my body nearly went into a sugar shock once I learned that after I’d already started eating my cereal when I was staying with her once. Clearly, desserts, pies in particular, are important in my family.

In the South, pies are used to convey sorrow, joy and every emotion in between. They are proudly displayed at church pot lucks and are brought to homes to welcome new babies and comfort those who have lost loved ones. As easy as pies may seem to be, hence the saying “as easy as pie,” the immense number of recipes I have inherited for each type of pie seems to say differently, with subtle variations seemingly making big impacts in the results of the pie.

Debates in the pie world include everything from using cornstarch vs. flour to meringue vs. cream. Every family has their own “perfect” recipe for each part of the pie, including the crust, filling and meringue or cream.

As I combed over the many variations of a chocolate meringue pie I had received from my sweet granny, I realized no pie I make will ever be like hers, even if I followed each recipe to the T. She just knows “her” pie. She doesn’t need to measure each ingredient for the crust, because the recipe might warrant change, even by a teaspoon of flour, because of the weather. She cooks by feel and by heart, something I’m slowly learning to do. She’s taught me and given me so much over my life, but I’ve only started to realize how much she’s impacted who I am and my value system. I pray one day I pass on not only her recipes but her essence to my own daughter as we bake pies together.

In fact, a bit of that love is shared each time we bake for each other. It isn’t the ingredients but the time and care that we are putting into food that we give to others when we share our food with them. Not much is more Southern or hospitable than that. As I continue to go over various traditions, I hope you’ll join with me in sharing our food and our love with others.

What is your favorite thing to make for others?

As always, thank you for reading!
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