Tag Archives: Sunday School

Christian educators gather for resourcing event

by Lora Steiner, managing editor

One participant makes a creation scene out of homemade scented play dough.
One participant makes a creation scene out of homemade scented play dough.

About 50 Sunday school teachers from Franconia and Eastern District conference churches gathered on August 12 in preparation for the new school year.

Teachers met with other teachers of the same age levels and were led through a sample lesson in the new Shine curriculum, which is co-published by Brethren Press and MennoMedia.

Among the group was one person teaching for the first time, and two people who had taught for over 50 years.

The resourcing event was organized by the Franconia and Eastern District Conferences School for Leadership Formation. Perkiomenville (Pa.) congregation hosted the event and arranged logistics. Feedback from the day was very positive, and Christian educators in both conferences are looking forward to meeting again.

Jessica Hedrick, director of children’s ministry at Souderton (Pa.) congregation, offered a prayer at the event. It is printed here with permission, for all children as they begin a new year.

God, you took the children on your knee and blessed them when everyone else pushed them aside; help us to be fully present with the children in our homes, our churches, and our communities.

As we walk with the children on this journey of faith we know that you will give us everything we need.

Help us to see them with your eyes, so that we are not blind to their strengths or oblivious to their gifts.

Help us to love them with your heart, so that they may trust you more deeply and know you more fully.

Help us to listen to them with your ears, so that we may understand the significance of their thoughts and the value of their voices.

We are weak and imperfect, and we realize sometimes we may feel like we have failed.

Help us remember that you are a God who brings glory from the mess.

Help us to embrace the mess of our ministry.

When we do not have the answers, may the children be inspired by our faith.

When we make mistakes, may they see God’s grace at work in our lives.

When we feel too lost to lead, may they see our trust in your leading.

As we go into the rest or our evening, and then return home to our ministries, fill us with your Holy Spirit and renew our passion for your kingdom.

Surround us with your peace, love, and light so that we may shine brightly igniting the fire of your love in the hearts of the children.

May they see you in us and may we see you in them. 

Christian educators invited for encouragement and networking

by Gay Brunt Miller, director of administration

Jesus’ parting words to his disciples were to “Go… and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Over the centuries, the church has worked at making disciples in a variety of ways, with Sunday school being a significant model since the late 1700s. How best can we communicate the Good News of God’s love to our children and youth in this day and age?

Flyer

On Tuesday, August 12, from 7-9 p.m., there will be an opportunity for Sunday school teachers and others involved in Christian education and formation, in its various formats, to come together, to connect and encourage each other, and to share ideas and teaching tips as they work at sharing the Christian faith with upcoming generations. It will also be an excellent opportunity for those with less experience to learn from others.

Co-planner and Eastern District Conference Resource Advocate Marjorie Geissinger says, “It has been many years since we have sponsored a teacher training event for congregations from both Eastern District and Franconia Conferences. Smaller congregations often lack the personnel and resources for doing in-house training; this will be an opportunity for those attending from large and small congregations alike to benefit from the presenters as well as each other.”

The event, sponsored by the School for Leadership Formation of Franconia and Eastern District Conferences, will be held at Perkiomenville Mennonite Church, 1836 Gravel Pike, Perkiomenville, Pennsylvania. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for attendees to “browse and buy” MennoMedia resources, many of which will be available at a 20 percent discount. (Cash, check or credit cards will be accepted.)

Following a brief time of gathering and worship, attendees can engage in a sample lesson for the age group of their choice followed by time for conversation, questions, and sharing. Teachers will use MennoMedia’s new “Shine” Sunday school curriculum as the basis for these lessons, but it will also be a time to connect and learn.

“Building relationships across congregations for ministry and mission is a current priority for Franconia Conference,” says Jenifer Eriksen Morales, a LEADership minister and Franconia’s resource advocate. “I hope this gathering will be one opportunity to build bridges between Christian Education teachers and leaders across our congregations so they can share ideas and learn from one another. Questions that emerge may help shape a future resourcing event.”

Co-planners Eriksen Morales (jeriksenmorales@franconiaconference.org) and Marjorie Geissinger (marjgeissinger@gmail.com) are available to congregations for questions about Shine or other resources for Christian education.

To register for this event, go to franconiaconference.org/rsvp.

Creative invitation brings new life to Bally

by Klaudia Smucker, BallyBally-preschool

Bally Mennonite Church has always been a place where creativity has blossomed, but like many small churches, we have been facing declining numbers of children.  Our community preschool, which meets daily in our building ten months out of the year, has continued to flourish, but this growth hasn’t been reflected in our Sunday school program.

We had what looked like two main problems:  first, our Sunday school preschool class, which sometimes had just a couple preschoolers, was, for a while, combined with an older class and this wide age range seemed to be daunting for the children as well as the teacher; and second, despite many opportunities, we seemed unable to get our preschool families to come to church.

After one Sunday, when there were only one or two preschoolers, Kathryn Schoenly, the preschool Sunday school teacher, and Connie Jones, a parent of a preschooler and a board member for our community preschool, started brainstorming about what they could do to get more children here.

“The preschoolers do come to our Vacation Bible School in the summer,” Kathryn observed.  “I wonder if we could interest some of the parents in bringing their children to our Sunday school?”

“Could we just invite them to drop off their kids on a Sunday morning using the preschool entrance?” Connie wondered.

She mentioned it to the preschool board that same evening and Kathryn asked me what I thought about it.

“Go for it!” I said.  “What a great idea!”

Almost immediately, Kathryn made an invitation and sent it home with the preschool children.

The next week, two families accepted our invitation and brought their sign-up forms to preschool.  The following week, one more came, and Kathryn now has a regular class of about 7 preschoolers.

It is a win-win situation for us all.  Our Bally Community preschoolers get to hear about God’s love for them on Sundays and throughout the summer and preschoolers from our congregation have a full class on the same grade level.

We had a few kinks to work out, but as we recognize them, we try to learn from them.  When our worship services go longer, someone needs to remember to go downstairs and be ready to welcome the preschoolers.  Overall, it is exciting to see the smiling faces of all the preschoolers as they enthusiastically run into class: a safe, warm, and welcoming space.

And all because a couple of people were willing to think outside the box and let the Spirit move!