Youth & Family Ministries

Salem is bustling with children and families and we’re growing in Christ every day. We seek to nurture youth from birth through high school with traditional rituals like baptism and confirmation in addition to celebrating secular milestones such as honoring our new drivers.  As your child grows, they will learn more about God and grow in their faith with the other youth around them and mentors from the congregation.


“We are all about following Jesus alongside young people and their families. CROSS-generational ministry is at the heart of our life and work together at Salem.”


Salem’s Sunday school classes are held from 9:15am to 10:30am during the school year.

Salem offers Sunday School classes for children from the age of three through fifth grade. Each week children learn Bible stories, pray together, sing songs, participate in craft projects and activities, and engage in meaningful discussions about their faith. Sunday School classes are led by caring members of Salem, who have a heart for God and want to share their love for Jesus with the next generation.

Sunday School students are invited to participate in several special events and CROSS-generational activities throughout the year. In the past, some of these activities have included an annual Christmas program, a Lutherfest-celebrating our Lutheran heritage, an Epiphany celebration, the Way of the Cross presentation on Good Friday and a morning of “Learning to Pray” stations.

Salem Sunday school children are introduced to a variety of faith practices and outreach projects during the year. Individual classes have made palm branch crosses and seasonal gifts for Salem seniors and shut-ins, tied fleece scarves and blankets for a local social service agency and helped with many collections for other children and families in need.

For more information about Sunday School at Salem contact Gretchen Petrakis, Sunday School Superintendent, in the Salem Church Office at (309) 688-9212.

Salem offers age-appropriate faith formation activities for 6th, 7th and 8th graders through its Junior High ministry program “Faith for Life.”

We want to equip our young people to be engaged now and to embrace FAITH in Jesus Christ FOR LIFE! We provide 45-minute learning sessions led by our pastors weekly on Wednesday evenings during the program year followed by 45 minutes of small group conversation and activities with caring adults who serve as Guides throughout the Faith for Life process.

The curriculum for Salem’s Faith for Life program is a three-year cycle of topics, two years of which are focused on the Bible, and the third on Lutheranism, its heritage, mission and faith practices. The repeating three-year cycle, at a glance, is:

  • Year A: “Faith in Action”
  • Old Testament, Ten Commandments
  • New Testament, Lord’s Prayer

Salem Junior High students also meet together as a class on Sunday mornings for Sunday School from 9:15am-10:30am. Junior High Sunday School leaders for the 2017-2018 program year are Jason and Kelly Brinkman.

In addition to the learning component of Faith for Life, Salem junior high students participate in monthly fellowship opportunities including bowling, laser tag, roller skating, knockerball, lock-ins, day retreats at camp. They also serve as worship assistants and small group leaders at Vacation Bible School, lead the Way of the Cross on Good Friday each year, and participate in many other fun and faith forming activities.

For more information about the Junior High Ministry, contact Jill Goldhammer, Director of Youth and Family Ministry, (309) 688-9212 or at

Kappa Chi Mission Statement – A Kappa Chi student is…

  • A Kappa Chi student is committed to growing in faith in Jesus Christ.
  • A Kappa Chi student welcomes everyone.
  • A Kappa Chi student enjoys life together and knows how to have good, clean, fun.
  • A Kappa Chi student prays for, loves, and serves others.
  • A Kappa Chi student looks for opportunities to make the world a better place.

Salem’s High School Youth Group, Kappa Chi, meets from 9:15am -10:30am on Sunday mornings during the school year for Bible study, current events, faith development and community building. The Youth Room is located on the first floor just past the Social Hall - across from the pre-school classrooms. Current Kappa Chi Sunday School teachers are Jill Goldhammer and Regg Glawe.


Larry Olson, Dakota Road Music

Many of our high school students also enjoy a meal together at 6:00pm on Wednesday evenings during the school year at BREAKING BREAD. Dinner is followed by a Bible study from 6:45pm-7:30pm. Wednesday evenings give students an opportunity to dig a little deeper in their faith. T

In addition to Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, Kappa Chi students are involved in many fellowship and service projects throughout the year.

Breaking Bread Dinner is served at 6pm Wednesdays during the school year*. ALL ARE WELCOME – INVITE A FRIEND! *The Breaking Bread program takes a break during the seasons of Advent & Lent. Let your Salem family provide you and your family with great meal, caring conversations, and the blessings of being together in the middle of your busy week. A free-will offering is taken each week. To help with meals for BREAKING BREAD, please contact Jill Goldhammer in the church office. (309) 370-1692 or

Each summer, a variety of cross generational activities are planned to bring Salem families together. Some activities the Salem Family has enjoyed together in summers past include: The Art Garage, children’s museum trips, swim parties, family movies, Wildlife Prairie Park, Fired Up Pottery, & more. Fun in the Son activities are for children in pre-school through high school. Parents and other adults are always welcome and encouraged to participate. However, it is not necessary for older children to have a parent participate. As a general rule, children younger than 2nd grade should be accompanied by a parent, grandparent or other responsible adult unless other arrangements are made. Kappa Chi students may be available to accompany younger children for an activity. Please contact Jill Goldhammer in the church office to discuss special supervision arrangements if necessary.

Each February, Salem hosts this 24-hour servant lock-in for 3rd through 6th graders from a variety of local congregations in our conference. This annual event draws 150+ children and youth and includes worship with a nationally known Christian artist and hands-on small group service projects in the community, food, fellowship and fun. Small groups are led by high school students with support from adult youth leaders and volunteers from the Northern Conference. This is an incredible annual event for children.

Each Fall, the Northern Conference Youth Board leads 1st - 3rd graders “BE LIKE JESUS JUNIOR” service day. This service day is hosted at Salem in November.

Vacation Bible School is offered each summer at Salem for children three years through sixth grade. Students seventh grade and up are encouraged to serve as VBS leaders. Vacation Bible School is a week-long celebration of God’s love for us and the amazing grace He offers us! Activities include Bible stories, music, crafts, service projects and games, all of which are based on a fun theme that changes yearly.

Salem’s 2018 Vacation Bible School is Mon., July 30 – Fri., August 3. The theme this year is Rolling River Rampage. Salem Lutheran Church invites all children on a white-water rafting adventure to experience the ride of a lifetime with God! Along the river, children discover that life with God is an adventure full of wonder and surprise, and that they can trust God to be with them through anything. Relevant music, exciting science, creative crafts, fun recreation, and memorable Bible stories will help kids know that God is always with them as they ride the rapids of amazing grace! Participant and volunteer registration material will come out later this spring. We are currently recruiting members for our VBS planning team, coordinators for rotation stations and putting together a leadership team for pre-school through kindergarten as they will have their own program at VBS this year. We average well-over 100 participants each year at VBS and it really does take planning this far in advance to put our fabulous VBS program together. Please contact Jill Goldhammer if you are willing to be a part of a leadership team or coordinate a rotation station for the Rolling River Rampage.

MILESTONE MINISTRIES: Celebrate life’s most important moments with us… At Salem, we celebrate life’s most important moments, recognizing God’s presence in our everyday lives! We invite individuals of all ages to join us in our journey as we grow in faith and discipleship.

Baptism: This is the beginning step in a person’s lifelong faith journey. Through baptism we are welcomed into the Church and the Kingdom of God. If you are interested in baptism for yourself or for your child, you are invited to contact the church office to set up an appointment with one of the pastors.

Bible Presentations and Blessings: Salem recognizes that the Bible is an essential source of guidance throughout our faith journey. We celebrate God’s Word with our preschoolers and 3rd graders, as well as our youth when they enter Confirmation, by presenting them with an ageappropriate Bible and extending a blessing over them.

Backpack Blessings: This annual event marks the passing of the summer, and celebrates the beginning of the school year. Students of all ages are invited to bring their backpacks to the altar, where they receive a blessing and a small gift. Whether they are entering Kindergarten, or preparing to leave for college, this event reminds students that God is with them always.

First Communion: A child’s first communion is an important milestone event. We invite our 5th grade students and their parents to participate in instruction and discussion of the mystery of Holy Communion. After participating in this instruction, our young people are recognized during a worship service.

Affirmation of Baptism: This significant milestone affirms an individual’s baptismal faith to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) During seventh and eighth grade our youth commit to ongoing worship, education, fellowship and service to the world in the name of Jesus Christ. Confirmation instruction includes Bible study and the Lutheran Catechism and culminates in their Affirmation of Baptism in the spring.

Blessing of the Keys: When high school students become first time drivers, they step into new responsibilities and leave their younger years behind. Among ancient peoples, the rite of passage into adulthood has always been a quest connected to a more adult understanding of the world. Freedom, independence, adventure and the open road; all things our youth are excited to have, all things we want for our kids, and all things that scare us as our children grow up. At Salem we bless the keys of new drivers annually and provide them with a small gift to remind them of God’s presence with them. Every third year, we invite a police officer to spend a Sunday School hour with high school students and their parents during Sunday School to discuss the concerns and responsibilities of new drivers and answer questions.

High School Graduation: At the completion of high school, our youth are faced with choices about future life paths. Salem celebrates this milestone with a blessing in worship, a graduation reception and the gift of a handmade quilt, reminding them that God has a plan for their lives. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)