Originally created 10/30/04

Woman ministers to children



Her bright-green smock adorned with three pockets, two hands and one heart is a pictorial shorthand for the preschoolers who make up Miss PattyCake's audience.

"Two hands to clap, one heart to love, a voice to sing, sing, sing" is all it takes to make "everyday a patty-cake praise day," she tells them.

Miss PattyCake, portrayed by Jean Thomason, of Mobile, Ala., will perform at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at Crawford Avenue Baptist Church, 507 Crawford Ave.

She travels across the country giving concerts most weekends. Her ministry is designed to teach children ages 2 to 5 and anyone else who will listen that God is their father "no matter how grown-up they are," she said.

Toddlers and preschoolers have unique developmental needs, she said.

"Once they get past 5, their needs change radically," Mrs. Thomason said.

A woman once asked her whether she was brainwashing the children.

"Of course, we are washing their hearts and minds with the freshness of the water of the Word," she replied.

A lyric soprano, Mrs. Thomason sang operatic rolls in college and later became a soloist.

She debuted the children's character about 10 years ago before her Mothers of Pre-Schoolers support group after a friend had suggested the idea. The friend, Integrity Music songwriter Nancy Gordon, already had composed some children's praise songs, including Patty-cake Praise.

After the performance, Mrs. Thomason's children's pastor told her that Miss PattyCake could really be big and fired up her ambition to talk to an executive at Integrity - her husband.

Chris Thomason, the vice president of creative at Integrity, told his wife that he couldn't go to the president of the company and tell him to listen to her, but if she thought the idea of Miss PattyCake was from God, she should keep singing, she said.

"Is this your idea, Lord? Should I step down to the children?" she prayed. The answer seemed to come back, "No, no, no you have graduated. You are moving up."

About a year later someone told the president about her "and the rest is kind of history."

Mrs. Thomason has since made nine videos, available through her Web site, www.misspattycake.com. The Recording Industry Association of America has certified her 1992 Easter video, Eggstravaganza, as Gold.

She traveled as a worship leader for the national Women of Faith conferences for six years. In 2000, "they let me put my costume on and I talked to almost 500,000 women" as Miss PattyCake, she said.

purposeful play

Who: Miss PattyCake

What: Ministry to 2- to-5-year-olds

When: 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6

Where: Crawford Avenue Baptist Church, 507 Crawford Ave.

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or virginia.norton@augustachronicle.com.