California youth are "udderly" happy with confirmation. They have COW--Catechism on Wednesday.
Students, mentors and pastors from three churches meet at St. Paul Lutheran, Lodi, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. three Wednesdays each month. Teachers meet on the fourth Wednesday for planning.
While memorization, worksheets, worship notes and study of Luther's catechism are still required, the work of COW takes place in small-group settings.
Evenings begin with dramatizations, song and large-group learning. Groups then go off with mentors to discuss the concepts, complete worksheets, review the memory verse and catch up with one another's thoughts. The whole group then reassembles for reminders, songs, prayer and a blessing.
Without COW, youth at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran, a small congregation in Galt, would lose much of the interaction they need, said Scott Minke, pastor. St. Paul's pastors agree, adding that COW helps youth realize that they're not alone on their faith journey.
And at Emanuel Lutheran Church, Lodi, they enjoy the "critical mass" COW provides. Attendance at COW runs close to 90 percent compared to 65 percent for previous classes. "We can really get excited and do things," said Jean Lebbert, Emanuel's pastor.
Servant projects are part of COW too. Last year the youth raised money to buy animals for needy families overseas.
Service also is an idea used at All Saints Lutheran Church, Lincoln, Neb. Past projects include volunteer baby-sitting for needy families, stocking shelves at a food pantry and delivering for Meals on Wheels.
Another confirmation idea comes from Grace Lutheran Church, Fort Washington, Md., where youth memorized personal Bible verses. They then made the verses into a banner that they presented to the congregation on confirmation day.
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