Christian Education at Grace Church is for all God’s children
Christian education at Grace Church is approached not only through bible study, the children’s Sunday School lessons, the men’s group, the women’s lection group and the annual women’s retreat. Christian education occurs in the Pastor’s weekly sermons and in the lyrics of our hymns. Christian Education at Grace is enacted in our Youth Ministry, in our mission work and in our outreach into the community. Our commitment to social justice means we actively support ethical causes both within the local community and beyond. We try to integrate our core values, roughly encapsulated in the terms: “Community, Respect, Mission and Spirituality,” into all our services, lessons, activities, and meetings.
Sunday School for children of all ages
The children’s Sunday School schedule varies depending on the week and the month. It is posted in the weekly announcements section of the bulletin and the monthly newsletter entitled “Grace Notes.” We match the Sunday School schedule to the needs of the current membership. The schedule is flexible and able to change over time when necessary. We look for ways to innovate and energize Christian Education for all. We use a “multiple intelligences“ (Howard Gardner, Harvard University) approach to teaching, meaning that each person learns in a unique way. For this reason, we teach through as many different senses as possible, including hands-on, movement, song, visuals, etc. in addition to spoken word and active discussion in order to best reach all our learners. Our church leaders and teachers are trained in “Safe Sanctuaries” techniques and we follow the UCC recommended approaches to ensure our children and members truly experience our church as a sanctuary.
The traditional Sunday School lessons are scheduled during the academic year. “Rally Day,” held in early September, is a time when teachers are blessed and commissioned to begin their commitment to educating the children of the church and whichever friends or visitors may also attend the lesson. Children who are being promoted to the next higher Sunday School group are presented with bibles most appropriate to their age and reading level during this service. Sunday School lessons begin the following week and continue as consistently as possible until the end of the academic year in Framingham which is usually mid-June. The children plan their own special Christmas event and participate in our caroling outing. Traditionally, they have also planned their own special Children’s Sunday in the Spring. This event is the service for that week. Summer programs vary from year to year, but an effort is made to hold them outside weather permitting. Good weather allows the kids to move more freely outside and learn about all of God’s gifts to to us including the world around us.
The Christian Education Ministry Team is Ronda Yeomans, Daleen Perkins and Rob Lovewell.
“Camp Grace” Fun in the Sun!
Many thanks to everyone for teaming together to make “Camp Grace” a reality for the children this summer. These fun, casual, outdoor Christian Education sessions applied a “camping” approach to God. We need God just as much as we need Food, Water, Shelter and Friends in order to survive. Each week we explored how God is our food, our water, our shelter and our friend. The children spent time in song, prayer, and a hands-on activity each week focused on each of these themes. Mary even sneaked making s’mores in solar ovens into the curriculum, so we could not help but have fun.
Many thanks to Daleen Perkins for researching the many curriculum possibilities for the 2007-2008 Christian Education school year. After prayer, thought and deliberation, the Christian Education Ministry Team (CEMT) agreed that the “Come Join the Circle” curriculum would best meet the needs of our students, teachers, helpers and parents this year. This flexible curriculum uses multiple learning approaches including hands-on, music, service, food and games. Unit resources provide all we will need in terms of leader training and planning, materials lists, resource sheets, visual aids, a music CD and at-home resources for families.
Three CJC curriculum units have been purchased for use in the fall semester. The efficacy of the program will be assessed in December to determine whether we will continue with this approach in the spring semester.
The CEMT shifted the class grouping to better suit needs and resources. The children will be divided into two groups of 9 learners each. This approach ensures that child: adult ratios in both classrooms are less than 5:1 while allowing one less adult to staff classrooms each week than with the three group approach. The Primary Class will include the younger students, ages 3 to 8 years old, and will be led by one teacher with two helpers. The Primary Class will make use of both classrooms as needed. The Junior Class will be composed of 9 to 13 year old students led by one teacher and one helper. The Junior class will meet in the “Function Room” and use the kitchen for artwork, crafts or “messy” projects.
Over the course of any given month, the first Sunday of the month will continue to be “Family/Communion” Sunday with the children collecting the cans for the food pantry at the time of the offering. The second and third Sundays of the month will be “Traditional Classroom” Sundays where all the children will meet in the function room for an initial Opening Worship and then split into 2 age-based groups. The fourth Sunday of the month will be Story Teller Sunday. This will be a multi-age session which will begin with all the students meeting in the function room for Opening Worship. A “guest” teacher (or ministry team) will read a story (or describe what their ministry team does.) Then the guest may stay to lead an activity or return to the adult service. Some kinds of hands-on activity will follow which embodies or expresses the topic for the day.