Meet Tabitha McCullough
Worship Center storytellers receive special training in the “Young Children and Worship” philosophy. Tabitha McCullough has been Westminster’s Storyteller since October 2013. Tabitha hales from Hill City, KS, and graduated from McPherson College, where she dual majored in Elementary Education and Theater. Employment with the Merry-Go-Round Theater, where she is the Assistant Company Manager, brought her to Auburn. Other trained storytellers include Audrey McNally, Linda Russell, Annette Bell, Lydia Marteney, Jill Fandrich, and Elizabeth Verdi. Storytellers are accompanied by trained greeters. There are always two adults with children, in accordance with Westminster’s Child Safety Policy.
The Worship Center is a mini-sanctuary in which young children can be with God, listen to God, talk with God, and hear the stories of God.
The Worship Center is for children ages 3 through 2nd grade. Children begin worship in the sanctuary with their families at 9:30am, then come into the Worship Center after the pastor’s Conversation with Children (approximately 9:45am). The Worship Center is staffed by two trained adults (a storyteller and a greeter) and is situated right outside the main church sanctuary.
The children learn to enter the Worship Center talking and walking quietly. It is similar to the way adults disengage from their hectic daily pace and enter the sanctuary expecting peace and reverence.
In the Worship Center, there is an air of quiet and reverence, and a sense of order, space, and church year time.
The goals of the Worship Center are that children learn to know God and to know that God loves them, that they be introduced to God’s presence through worship, and that they learn to respond to God’s presence in their own ways.
The stories come from Young Children and Worship by Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman, and the format is based on the Montessori education model.
In the Worship Center, the children learn experientially, in the context of worship. Their time together follows the same four-fold order for reformed worship which the rest of the congregation follows in the main sanctuary: Gathering, Hearing God’s Word, Responding/Giving Thanks, and Sending/Going Out.
The Gathering (a welcome and a song) is followed by a presentation of the Word. Stories are presented by the storyteller who uses wooden figures so the children can see as well as hear the story.
After the story has been presented, the children move into their time of Responding to God’s story. They may choose to work with a variety of art materials or to retell the stories themselves using the wooden figures.
Before leaving, the children gather in a closing circle (the Sending). Here the Bible is read, prayers are offered, and a simple “feast” is shared.
To conclude worship, each child comes to the Storyteller for a parting blessing “God go with you. Go in peace.”