ANNIE: Readers' respond to children crying in church

July 4, 2014 

DEAR ANNIE: I had to respond to "Frustrated with Noise," who had a problem with children crying in church. Obviously, this person doesn't have children. How are these kids supposed to learn how to behave in church if their parents do not have them participate in the services? Yes, loudly screaming children should be removed until they can calm down, but otherwise the children should remain.

As a young mother, I attended church alone with my two young sons. Once, the baby started crying, and I did not want to leave my 4-year-old in the pew, and he was unwilling to leave with me. When I later apologized to the wonderful Franciscan friar who was the officiate that day, he simply stated, "No worries. He was just singing his praises to God." We should all take this attitude toward our youngest church members. -- Experienced Church Mom

DEAR MOM: Our mail was divided evenly on this one. Read on:

FROM FLORIDA: I am a children's pastor with many years of experience. Every church I have served in has had a fully staffed nursery with loving, trained volunteers and a well-equipped and exceptionally clean environment. But when we suggest parents take advantage of these services, some of them act as if we are trying to sell their children. It is the responsibility of the parents to realize that not everyone is overjoyed listening to their child cry, scream or otherwise disrupt the service.

FARGO, N.D.: As a pastor, I am keenly interested in knowing how people feel about having children in worship services. It is very important for people of all ages to be welcome during every worship service in the church. Any congregation or parishioner who feels otherwise needs to take a good look at the Bible. Jesus says, "Let the little children come to me!" Church is not a social club for adults. Church is a place where people of all ages are to be welcomed and loved unconditionally.

TEXAS: I liked your response, but here's the problem. Most churches are so desperate to get bodies in the door, they won't attempt to instruct parents in how to behave.

Instead of raising children, these parents are raising their own little center of the universe, teaching them that if they scream enough they'll get what they want.

BOSTON: My father was a minister. It was most troubling to him, too, dealing with this touchy subject. One Sunday morning while preaching, a child started crying. The mother got up to leave, and my father stopped speaking. A loud snore broke the silence. My father said, "I can preach over a crying baby, but not over the snoring of adults." There was applause as the mother sat back down.

To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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