Sami Pack-Toner column: A rummage sale in the crying room

Some of my first memories of church involve me lounging in the choir loft during the sermon.

I knew where the activity sheets were, what markers worked best, and how to position myself out of my mother’s line of sight. My peers and I would color, giggle, and whisper loudly.

I am sure this didn’t make everyone thrilled. And at the same time, my peers and I had ownership of that space and time. Now, as an adult and a pastor myself, I realize that my experience as a young child in a worship space is not common.

“Crying Rooms” came into vogue at the peak of the baby boom. This is a room near the sanctuary with windows to see worship and maybe even a speaker to hear worship. However, the group in worship can no longer hear a dysregulated child.

These have evolved a bit since the 1950s: newer churches offer a large lobby with even larger windows. Some caregivers really appreciate this kind of space. Others would rather the congregation be more understanding. Others will never step into a place of worship because of fear of judgment.

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