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Alison Faison

What does the Pew Research Center say about children and teens taking after their parents religiously?

We as parents or adults working with children and teens know that our actions stick in the minds of our children more than our words. If we create time to be with our children and teens, they notice. How does this act of being present figure into the Pew Research Center’s survey data about teens and their approach to religion and spirituality?

We learned from the March 29 – April 13, 2019 survey, that most teens (ages 13 to 17) shared the religious affiliation of their parents or legal guardians. Interestingly enough, 80% of children and teens identified with their parents’ Evangelical Protestant practice. Only 6% of Mainline Protestant children and teens identified with their parents’ practice. Those percentages reflect that parents of evangelical church congregations might put more pressure on kids to attend worship and fellowship events. It could also be the noted decline of family participation in Mainline Protestant congregations. “On the whole, U.S. teens attend religious services about as often as their parents do: 44% of U.S. teens say they go to religious services at least once a month, almost exactly the same as the share of their parents who say they attend monthly (43%).

When we look at the data offered by teens, we wonder how their faith-formation as a child affected the outcome. Did the family begin attending church when the child was young, and so the tradition or habit formed a grounded practice over time? Did they start attending with family when the child became a teen, as there were more social and spiritual events geared for teens? Other Pew Research cited that a strong factor in young adults returning to church was the presence of influential adults who connected with them during their formative years at church.

How does the pandemic factor into how families are attending church? Pew did another study in March 22, 2022 “More houses of worship are returning to normal operations, but in-person attendance is unchanged since fall.” Even with houses of worship open for in-person services and fellowship events, people are still connecting online. Last fall 2021, the online streaming declined and about one-third of the surveyed U.S. adults said that “they typically go to religious services once or twice a month.” Roughly one-in-five U.S. adult regular attenders reported that they had neither attended in person nor watched virtually in the last month.”

On September 11, Calvary Homecoming, 19 children and 20 youth attended the service. That tripled the in-person children/youth attendance Calvary consistently had throughout 2021 and part of 2022. For three weeks, we have been seeing this rise in participation.  We hope that community grows and inspires families, children, and teens to see their friends at church. As last Sunday’s sermon title said, “You can’t lead alone.” Moses needed Aaron to face Pharaoh, so that they could loosen the bonds of slavery and move toward a new life with the Hebrew People.

More to Explore

Talking with Kids About the Order of Worship in the Bulletin.

If I visited Calvary for the first time and had not been to a Presbyterian church before, I would want someone to help me understand what I was doing throughout the order of worship. This blog provides an example of how some churches annotate their bulletins so children, youth, and adults can learn more about why we choose to read, sing, pray, and listen at certain times during the worship service. Harvey Browne Memorial Presbyterian Church ( in Louisville, Kentucky offers a model of how to explain the order of worship. Being transparent about how we worship together is in line with our reformed tradition. We can read and interpret the Bible ourselves, as well as worship and say prayers with our own bodies. Many years ago, a priest would do all of this while the congregation sat or stood. It is important for parents to share with their children that all people have the freedom to contribute to a worship service. By singing, listening, praying, and sharing, we get to know each other and witness each other’s talents and inspiring work. Fellowship and education events are only part of the ways that we form our faith together. Participating in worship is what binds us together each Sunday, so that we can support each other at or outside of church during the week.

Support Trans Kids

Calvary Presbyterian Church continues to support transgender youth and adults. March 2023 is Transgender Awareness Month. We show our continuing support through messages such as, “Trans Lives Matter,” “Believe Trans Kids,” “Support Trans Kids,” and “Protect Trans Kids.” This blog will offer some insight into Presbyterian and San Francisco organizations that actively support and advocate for LGBTQI+ people. I hope that you will take time to read through these resources. There is hope. So many inspired people of all ages are working together for freedom, safety, and love. Now that I am raising two teens I have come to more clearly understand the context and reality that LGBTQI+ youth live in every day. It is crucial to support the growth and development of transgender children and youth who sense that their “gender identity does not correspond with, or sit comfortably with, the sex they were registered at birth.” That is the definition of transgender offered by Twinkl, an education website for children ages preschool to 8th grade. See more definitions at the end of this blog. Transgender children, youth, young adults, adults, and senior adults do not want to be "othered" as they are children of God. We want to believe, support, and protect them, so that they can live safely and freely without fear and shame. When adults do not see or support children or youth as they are, the risks of gender dysphoria and youth suicide increase. God created all of us in Their image. May we have the courage to send out Jesus’ message of love and acceptance to ourselves and all people.

2022 Annual Report