This year we have been getting used to having our two sons away at college. Where does the time go? As each kid moves out of the house and heads off into the world, we have to admit that there is some grieving. We have loved being parents to each of these kids and miss having them so much a part of our everyday lives. There is another emotion as they head off, too: gratitude. We feel blessed to have these “children” in our lives.

As we think about how our kids have gotten to be the fine young adults they are, we know that many people have contributed. We would have to give most of the credit, however, to the church communities that have embraced them. If we could give any advice to other parents, it would be to do whatever it takes to give your children the benefits of a loving church family. It often takes some work and time to help kids feel comfortable in a church. Our experience is that it is worth it. Off the top of our minds, here is a short list of benefits our kids have received from being active in a church community:

• Support from people of all ages who were interested in their lives and eager to help them.

• Examples of strong, healthy people they could emulate.

• Strong core values and help in learning how to make decisions.

• Healthy boundaries and the ability to say no to peer pressure.

• Leadership opportunities and experiences.

• Mentoring.

• Years of sitting through worship services taught them patience and how to listen and think more deeply.

• A sense of awe about creation and spirituality.

• A deep understanding that each of us have gifts to share with the world.

• An ability to talk and relate with people who believe differently.

• Respect for others.

• Antidotes for greed and shallow living.

• Experience in talking in front of large groups, within a supportive environment.

• And most importantly, their own faith in God who goes with them so they will never have to face anything alone.

We look forward to the next stages of relating to our children. We are grateful especially to the church that has given our children and our family so many priceless gifts.

The King-Nobles are lead pastors at First United Methodist Church, Normal. Contact them at