Welcoming Children develops a theology of childhood both from a theological perspective and from practical experience in children and youth ministry. The author draws insights from classic and modern feminist theologians, pastoral theologians, and contemporary cultural criticism to offer strategies for educational and liturgical practices in congregations that welcome children and contribute to their flourishing. Mercer outlines a feminist practical theology of childhood exploring five basic theological claims: 1) children as gifts and parenting as a religious practice of stewardship; 2) welcoming those who care for children; 3) children as fully human; 4) children as part of God's purposes; and 5) ackwledging and transforming the sufferings of children. Her compelling argument reframes ministries with children as processes through which the church can become the foundation for children forming identities that resist consumerist culture and instead walk in the ways of Jesus.
Joyce Ann Mercer is Professor of Practical Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary. Before joining the faculty at VTS, she served on faculties at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union, and at Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. Dr. Mercer has also served as a parish minister, hospital chaplin, and clinical social worker.