On Saturday, October 3, 34 New England region Sunday School teachers, superintendents and pastors convened at Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Church in Providence, RI, for a day-long teachers workshop presented by the Diocesan Department of Christian Education.
Members of the New England Region Superintendents Association (NERSA) were workshop sponsors and the Providence Sunday School gracious hosts, making the day a true collaboration of effort and devotion.
Department staffers Elise Antreassian and Eric Vozzy began the day with get-acquainted games including a “speed dating” round of general and church-related questions and then gave participants food for thought as they fielded questions from the Sunday School graduation exam (to the accompaniment of right and wrong answer buzzers). Participants then completed a Faith Shield, the answers for which formed the basis of a group prayer. All of the opening activities could be easily replicated in the Sunday School classroom, including the “thumb-balls” (soccer-like balls stamped with questions) tossed across the room at regular intervals that also got people talking.
With participants divided into grade groupings, the first session focused on a “teacher’s toolkit” and featured a review of curriculum how-to’s as well as other curriculum support resources, such as the children’s activity bulletins and weekly Scripture and Feast Day memo. The latter help connect the day’s lesson with the sanctuary so that everyone assembled is living the church calendar together. A session on tough questions that students ask prompted deeply felt discussion as teachers explored the best and most helpful answers. Clergy were particularly engaged in the process as they too share the challenge of fielding difficult questions of faith.
After a generous lunch provided by the Sts Sahag and Mesrob leadership team, the Department presented brief overviews of two important topics in a “the least you need to know” approach: the Bible and the Divine Liturgy. The workshop concluded with an open forum on a variety of topics: new resources, upcoming events, and the sharing of best practices. The highlight of the forum was an overview of the Department’s website resources and social media presence which, in keeping with the times, is a fast-growing focus.
Amid the warm farewells and enthusiastic promises to work together more closely, Holy Translators (Framingham) Superintendent Laurie Bejoian expressed everyone’s feelings perfectly: “What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday! We reconnected with old friends and discovered new ones. We laughed, learned, and nourished each other. A day truly inspired by the Holy Spirit.”