New Life Church along Highland Drive in Everett recently renovated its children's ministries space. There's now a Pacific Northwest outdoors motif with a different theme for each of the three stories. They have the lush green valley, the woodlands -- complete with a ranger station -- and the snowy mountain summit.
On Nov. 3, the church celebrated the new "Kids Trek" space with a "trail party" of activities in all the rooms.
"We just wanted to transform it into something that would be really fun for kids," said Catherine Weholt, who oversees Sunday ministries for the first through fifth grades.
"Kids love it," she said. "It's quite a dramatic update. It's pretty cool."
The church wanted its venues to match its values, including services for children, said the Rev. Jim Romack.
Adult services have grown over time, and the church wanted the children's services to be more visible, he said. The children's spaces hadn't been updated in more than 20 years.
The church aims to give young people a place in the community where they feel loved and safe, and where they can just be kids, Romack said.
One of the church's families recently had a parent diagnosed with cancer, he said. After the service, people could be heard making plans to help. That kind of support is why the church exists, Romack said.
"When life happens, it matters even more," he said. "There's a huge network of family and friends."
Hundreds of children come to New Life, said the Rev. Susan Boucard. Recorded sounds play for each floor's theme: frogs, birds, wind.
"It's fantastic," said Jennifer McCoy, who brought her children, Sydney, 5, and Dylan, 10. "It reminds me of the Rainforest Cafe."
In one room, glitter-coated fall leaves dangled from the ceiling over child-sized arts-and-crafts tables.
Alpha Yepassis-Zembrou, 12, of Lake Stevens, made a Thanksgiving-themed placemat. His sister, Glory, 15, watched. She's been coming to New Life about seven years, she said. She liked the new look in Kids Trek.
"You feel like when you're coming in, you're entering this whole other world," she said.
Alpha placed big fall leaves between strips of clear, clingy paper. When his design was finished, a church staffer sealed the two sides together to make the placemat.
"It's a good thing for kids to learn about God," Alpha said. "They also have fun, too."
Ashley Rounds, of Lake Stevens, brought her children, Lincoln, 6, and Linnea, 4, to the trail party. Her husband grew up in New Life. She joined after they got married about 10 years ago, she said.
She asked Lincoln what he thought about the re-design. The little boy jumped up and down and clapped. He pointed to the blue-and-white cloud-patterned colored-filters in the overhead lights.
The church asked kids, including Lincoln, for ideas for the decorations, Ashley Rounds said.
"He said he wanted clouds," she said.
Vickie Granado brings her grown kids, nieces and nephews, and grandkids to New Life, she said. Granado supports the church's teachings that children who grow up in faith will face less struggles as teenagers, when they become harder to reach out to, she said, cradling an infant.
"There's so much love here," she said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449, firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Life church is at 6830 Highland Drive, Everett. Sunday services are at 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.. For more information, call 425-355-9330 or go to www.newlifecenter.org.
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