Sunday School at St. Bede's
As C.S. Lewis pointed out, part of the function of a parish church is to bring the community together. Therefore, children's Sunday school is not a completely seperate activity from Sunday services. Children attend service up to the sermon hymn (just before the sermon), at which time they depart the santuary with the Sunday school teacher to enjoin in their own lessons and activities. On Sundays where Communion is given, they reconvene back in the santuary at the time to observe Communion.
There is only one class for all children, and each child serves in that class according to their abilities. Older children are asked to read, and all are encouraged to join the discussions.
Further all parish members are asked to particpate as teachers. The schedule and format is laid out by Father Dominic and our primary Sunday school teacher, Sue Ann, with the specific objective of making all children familiar with the Bible as a pre-requisite to engaging in the more philosophical and theological studies they will encounter in Bible Study.
Further, both Father Taranto and Deacon Williams occasionaly lead Sunday school! As Father Taranto said, "I don't want to know my parishoners for the first time at 21."
Sunday School Outline - Bible Reading Days
For the first years of childhood, the major objective of our children's Sunday School time is to give younger kids a chance to deepen their general familiarity with the major individuals, events and themes of the Bible. and to begin a program of Bible memorization. Studies undertaken according to this outline will allow familiarity with the Bible to grow in the students and provide some opportunity for thoughtful reflection and growth in the joyous discipline of Biblical worship.
While the outline of Sunday School may vary, the general outline most of the time is as follows:
Part One: Book of Common Prayer
Read from the Book of Common Prayer p.592 - A Shorter Form of the Morning Prayer service. The group will be invited to pray and to read the first two prayers. A chance for extemporaneous prayers will be offered. Close with the third prayer at the bottom of p.592
Part Two: Reading
Approximately 10-15 minutes of reading from the Children's Bible
Part Three: Discussion
The adult leader will ask those present to share one observation and/or question. If the question can be profitably discussed, the adult leader can either guide a discussion among the kids or provide the answer. or defer the question to a later time and/or direct the kids to ask Father Taranto.
Part Four: Memory Verse (not every week)
The class reviews the previous week's memory verse: repeating it himself and spending two minutes or so saying the verse in short clauses to help the other kids memorize it. If there is a verse for the following week.
Part Five: Closing Prayer
Read the closing prayer at the bottom of p.593.
Suggested Bibles for Children
The Beginner's Bible, Timeless Children's Stories
Preschool through 1st or 2nd grade.
Although not a Bible, this book retells a number of Bible stories from both the Old and New Testaments, and is suitable for new readers. Parents or older siblings can begin reading to preschoolers, and as the preschool age children learn to read, they can take over reading at an appropriate pace. This book serves to familiarize children with many of the major characters and events of the Bible.
Egermeier's Bible Story Book (Primarily a Condensation of Old Testament)
2nd Grade through 6th grade.
Also not a Bible, this book retells in a much more extensive manner the significant narratives of the Bible. It does not deal with doctrinal passages and texts directly (it lacks much of the O.T. Prophets and N.T. Epistles), but instead continues the process of familiarizing the young reader (or even as a review for adults) with the significant figures and events of the Bible. Completion of this book is a year is very doable for a strong reader, even at the elementary level, and at St. Bede's the expectation is that children will complete this book at least twice by the end of 6th grade. This book essentially allows the student to become familiar with about 90% of the narrative content of the Old Testament, Gospels and Acts in about 15-20% of the time required to read the narrative portions of the Bible itself.
New King James Study Bible
3rd grade on up.
Beginning in around 3rd grade, students at St. Bede's are assigned reading from the New King James version of the Bible. Selected portions of the Old and New Testaments are assigned, with the goal of completing the Old Testament at least once by the end of Jr. High, and the N.T. at least three times by the completion of Jr. High. This will provide the basis for appropriate instruction as young adults that will be undertaken in the high school years at St. Bede's.
We are in the process of creating the extra-biblical portion of the reading list, and hope to have it in place by the summer of 2012, but in Jr. High it is likely the readings will include Early Christian Writings, the Apostolic Fathers, Chapters in Church History, and possibly writings from Eusebius' Church History and Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English Church and People. The rationale for these readings is to immerse students in ancient religious literature so that they will develop as they mature the habit of relating their present faith to the faith, once for all delivered to the saints, of the ancient church. This way, they will not later have to learn to reflect on the significance of the work of God in earlier ages, they will grow up thinking about it as they study the Bible itself.