The day always began at the Fairview Elementary School with the teacher reading ten verses from the Bible, alternating one from the Old with one from the New Testament. We bowed our heads and said the Lord’s Prayer. Then we stood, placed our hands over our hearts, faced the American flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
While Sunday school in Protestant churches remains popular, classes are less likely to be available to the youngest and oldest students, according to a recent analysis of Protestant pastors by the Barna Group.
In higher education discussions about how faith claims should relate to secular claims, Lutherans like to say that they are not like the Calvinists, who want to transform the latter to fit with the former.
I wish this book had been around 20 years ago. If I had read it when my daughters were small, it would have reassured me about some of my decisions, challenged me to make some different choices, and clarified my thinking about the difficult business of raising children in the faith.
Progressive Episcopalians have begun test-marketing a revamped version of the popular Alpha course that organizers say can harness publicity over an openly gay bishop to bring people into the church. Some 15 Episcopal congregations across the country were the first to use the “via media” (middle way) eight-week curriculum in February.
At an Alpha training conference in Detroit, a dozen people came forward to testify to the power of the Alpha program. One couple had been close to divorce when they encountered Alpha. The course inspired them to salvage their marriage and become active in a church.
With fall education programs getting under way and Sunday school teachers beginning another year of teaching, it may be disconcerting to hear this reading from James: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
Children’s sermons can be times for cuteness or for expressions of theological realism. Here is a story of such realism. Our parish’s intern was reinforcing the theme of the day’s lectionary lesson. He held up one sign that read WELCOME and another that said KEEP OUT, and let the children spell out the significance of both.