Twin sisters Anne and Camille Chestnut took something special along when they headed off to fifth grade this week.
Their backpacks were blessed at Hopewell United Methodist Church last Sunday.
Hopewell UMC Pastor Herb Cain explained that the concept of blessing backpacks isn't new. "I did it in my former appointment. It's new to this area but other churches have done it before," said Pastor Cain.
Some children brought their own backpacks for blessing. They were placed at the church altar upon arrival. The church also distributed backpacks to everyone heading back to class. The event wasn't just for young children. A number of teens and college students also received backpacks from the church.
The backpacks also came with a list of the supplies provided by the church and the symbolic meaning of each items. An eraser "is to remind you that we all make mistakes and that God erases our mistakes away." Highlighters are to "mark what is important to life and Jesus will highlight the way." They also received treats of candy - Smarties, Hershey's Hugs, and a lifesaver, inside the backpacks.
Each child was presented with the gift backpack. Pastor Cain prayed with each of the children. He also explained that some days, backpacks will be heavy, other days they will be light. But they will also be blessed. "God gives all of us jobs. Things to do to serve the world. You can serve God by going to school and being loving toward others. You will learn what you need for later in life," said Pastor Cain. "You are not just learning. You are also teachers. Kids have lots of stuff to teach grown ups. We need you in school and we need you in church."
A responsive prayer for the Blessing of Backpacks was also offered.
Children aren't the only ones who received special attention at Sunday's service. A special prayer was also held in honor of those who work in the schools.