By Kim Walter
Trinity Lutheran Church in Stephens City is sponsoring the second annual "Blessing of the Backpacks" to be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Because of the church's current construction status, the event will take place at Jones Chapel on Mulberry Street. All school children, their parents, teachers and administrators are invited to participate.
The Rev. Cameron Keyser said he hopes more of the community will come out for the blessing. Last year, the turnout was small and mostly consisted of congregation members.
"We really want this to be a community event," he said. "You don't have to be from Stephens City, you don't have to go to our church ... we aren't even worried about denominations."
Keyser said he had heard of a number of churches doing a similar type of back-to-school blessing, and thought the area could benefit from it. He said he hopes it will be a chance to start a new school year off right by giving God's blessings to the coming academic work, and encouraging students to do their best as they move through the school year.
"This is an opportunity for us to really focus on education and where our gifts and knowledge comes from," he said. "We also want to look forward to the school year in a positive way."
Keyser said he believes in the separation of church and state, but also acknowledges God's constant presence. The event, however, is not a "casting of some divine hocus-pocus."
"Rather, [it's] the opportunity for us to give thanks for God's providence, and to remind everyone of God's presence in all aspects of our lives," he said. "It involves the students, parents, teachers, and school system officials -- everyone -- pledging to work together for each other's mutual benefit, and a successful school year."
Keyser describes the students' backpacks as their briefcase, gym bag, lunch box, junk hole, and, once in a while, the place where they actually cram a few books.
"It's their one constant companion during the school year," he said.
The event will include several prayers, readings and responses. Water will be sprinkled on the children and their backpacks. Keyser said it should last about 20 minutes.
Refreshments will be provided.
"We've had a sign out advertising it, but I'm worried people might assume that it's just for our church," he said. "That really isn't the case. If you find that it might be beneficial to your child, then we would love for you to come."
For additional information, contact Trinity Lutheran Church at 540-869-4019.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org