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Church hopes 'critters' help kids keep the faith

September 12, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

Cindy Reeder knows that sometimes it's hard to keep children interested in religion.

Reeder, the new education/program facilitator at First Christian Church in Hagerstown, says it's not impossible, just challenging.

This Sunday, Reeder will introduce Kingdom Critters - an obvious spin-off of the current Beanie Babies phenomenon, but with a twist.

"Religion doesn't have to be dull and boring. When did we decide that?" Reeder said.

The Kingdom Critters program aims to make religion relevant to a child's world. And right now, children are into Beanie Babies, she said.

"I will introduce one character a week, beginning with Faithful Felix Frog," Reeder said.

The cuddly critter comes with a Bible verse that is pertinent to the week's theme, Reeder said.

During the worship service this Sunday, Reeder will gather all the children of the church for the special Kingdom Critters program.

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Each child will get a collectible card that features a picture of that week's critter and a Scripture verse on the back, Reeder said.

"I will choose one child each week to then take a critter home with them, with the promise they will try to live out the Scripture text," Reeder said.

The child will return the next week with the critter and share his or her experiences with the congregation.

"I am working with Pastor Fred Harris who is correlating the Kingdom Critter message with his own sermon themes," Reeder said.

The idea came from a recent visit to a young pastor in Frederick, Md. That pastor was working on a similar project and Reeder immediately saw the value for reaching children.

A catalog supplied the critters. To start, Reeder has obtained 10 of those available. Not wanting to give away too much of the surprise, Reeder said future critters will include Hopeful Hezekiah Horse and Joyful Jonah Whale.

The first service featuring the Kingdom Critters will be at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the church at 1345 Potomac Ave.

"We have even come up with the perfect song to go along with the Kingdom Critters program," Reeder said.

The song is appropriately titled "All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir."

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