Monday, May 21, 2012

Let the children come to me

I have been reading an inspiring book called “Offering the gospel to children” by Gretchen Wolff Pritchard. Claimed by one reader as “a Christian educator who truly understands what it means to let the children come”, Gretchen shares her passion and creativity for sharing God’s story (“our story” as Westerhoff says) so that all the congregation can learn with children.

Gretchen speaks of her early experience of Sunday school teaching when she was a student in the 60’s:

“The Sunday school was run by a different person each year. There was no curriculum, teachers did what they could with what materials they could find or make up. The occasional energetic volunteer who tried to provide organisation and direction soon burned out. The space, in the basement, was dingy, cluttered, unsuitable for its purpose and unsafe. And I have heard the same story again and again from all across the church.

The canons of the Episcopal Church require that lectors and chalice bearers must be trained and officially enrolled or even licensed by the bishop. These ministries are simple, mechanical tasks, requiring minimal talent or training, but we care enough about the dignity of our liturgy and the holiness of work and sacrament to make sure that they are performed with skill and grace. But anyone can walk in off the street and teach Sunday school. No training is required, no license is conferred, and no recognition is given. Church school teachers to their work anonymously in the back hall or basement. Once the annual quota of volunteers had been filled, the congregation and the clergy with a sigh of relief happily hand over to them the whole business and do their best to forget about it for the rest of the year.

Years go by in some Diocese (I can name the Presbyteries where this is true too) without a single workshop for teachers and few have staff positions for Christian education.”

Sound familiar? Unfortunately not much has changed in 50 years…

1 comment:

  1. I have seen this in the Carey library - and oh to have the time to read it! This book is quoted in many others, including Children Matter ( where Scottie May has a chapter). Scottie also recommends this book in Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey.
    So glad you are having a great time :o)