UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
Orthodox Christian Teacher Certification Program!
For weeks the teachers, who were also students of the program, had been working on assignments that Fr. Harry had given them in March and April. On Thursday April 27 and early Friday April 28 they made their way to the seminary at our Metropolia center for the sessions. The day began on Friday with Session I. The discussion centered upon the fact that we need to develop and expand Christian Education in parishes to include adult education, and ways of implementing it. We have some degree of youth education in our parishes but adult education is virtually non-existent except for a few parishes. Fr. Harry explained the graded assignments and the purpose of each question in all of the assignments. Details on structural implementation were presented, along with the need for creativity, and specifics as to what that might entail, questions that need answered before you begin, and changes that will need made along the way. After the several hour long session, the class broke to prepare for the evening service.
Bishop Daniel celebrated Vespers having the assistance of Deacon Nicholas Zachary, with the presence and prayerful participation of Archbishop Antony, Fr. Harry, the seminarians, and the teachers present. Bishop Daniel gave a sermon on Christian Education and how the Holy Spirit works in us and through us, not just in classes, but in the interaction between all the participants in their ministry. We are not to merely continue to “survive” but to live with meaning.
This was followed by a splendid supper prepared by Pani Maria Morozovska, and after all were being filled with sustenance for the body, Archbishop Antony gave a talk providing further sustenance for the soul, elaborating on Bishop Daniel’s thoughts. The power of the Holy Spirit is our ultimate certification. We were equipped through Chrismation through the ministries that we undertake in the Church. We are not to dichotomize our lives but have integrated lives, being living members throughout the week of the very Christ whose Body we are, and energized and driven to action by the power of the Holy Spirit whose temple we are. The message of both Bishops was that Christian Education is not something that just happens on Sunday, but something that happens throughout the week and throughout our lives.
Fr. Harry then reconvened in Session II with the teachers present. Discussion centered around development of a Christian Education ministry team in each parish, and how these will also have a role in the Metropolia Christian Education ministry in the future, but beginning with the present. More details as to how to get started and tools for Christian Ed. ministry were presented. Also discussed were how Christian Education interrelates to other ministries in the parish. Examples of what one will encounter in Adult Christian Education were given, as well as integrative social networking (i.e. Facebook pages, etc.). The central purpose of Christian Education, as with other ministries of the Church, but particularly this ministry, is discipleship leading to Theosis (salvific union with God).
Saturday began with a Divine Liturgy served by Fr. Harry and Fr. Deacon Nicholas, with seminarians and teachers present, followed by breakfast with discussion of a more personal nature with the teachers from the various parishes introducing themselves and speaking of their particular lives and ministries in the parish.
Session III convened with the discussion centering around practical matters of setting up or restructuring Church education programs, and expanding them in ways not thought of previously. Fr. Harry gave examples and pitfalls that will be encountered, the difference between very small, small, medium small, and larger sized parishes and obstacles to overcome and how to overcome them, differences in personalities, and pragmatic application. The boundaries of what could be and should be taught were discussed, and particularly, the bounds set by the Fathers of the Church. Examples of what if feels like to newcomers and roles beyond just teaching in a class that Christian Ed. ministry leaders need to take on were given.
Session III concluded and all went over for lunch. Following lunch with prayer and further discussion on parish life and education, certificates were presented in the seminary chapel. All departed equipped to further the ministry of Christian Education in our churches, and in our surrounding communities. May the Lord give us the strength to do His will and may we do it so that He may yield the increase in our communities. Christ is Risen!