Four winners chosen to develop Marks curriculum

Four women from three provinces will meet at Church House in Toronto Nov. 25 to 27 to develop new Sunday School curriculum about the Marks of Mission.

The winning women of the Youth and Puppet Program, Binbrook, Ont. (L-R): Sharan Austin, Nancy Wilcox, Janet Cress, and Chris Devereux. Ms. Wilcox and Ms. Cress will attend the Toronto workshop.
The winning women of the Youth and Puppet Program, Binbrook, Ont. (L-R): Sharan Austin, Nancy Wilcox, Janet Cress, and Chris Devereux. Ms. Wilcox and Ms. Cress will attend the Toronto workshop.

Kate Saunders of Richmond, N.B.; Janet Cress and Nancy Wilcox of Binbrook, Ont.; and Kate Newman of Vancouver, B.C., won a General Synod contest that asked Canadian Anglicans for Sunday school curriculum relating to the Marks of Mission. The Marks are a ministry framework used throughout the Anglican Communion and a priority for the Anglican Church of Canada.

These four winners will collaborate to develop a brand new resource in an intensive weekend workshop at the national office in Toronto.

Their creative work will be guided by Susan Graham Walker, a noted facilitator and educator, who currently works as director of strategic planning and special projects for Prostate Cancer Canada. Ms. Walker, an Anglican, is also the co-author of God, Kids, & Us (ABC Publishing/Anglican Book Centre, 1996).

“I’m really happy to be coming to this workshop,” said Janet Cress, a 60-year-old retired teacher, in a phone interview. “I think putting all those heads together and coming up with a curriculum can only lead to positive things.”

Ms. Cress is skilled in cooperating with other leaders. She runs the Youth and Puppet Program (YAPP) with three other women—including Ms. Wilcox, a government employee—at Christ Church Woodburn Anglican in Binbrook. The two other YAPP leaders, Chris Devereux and Sharan Austin, helped write the curriculum but will not attend.

Five times a year YAPP puts on a special puppet program with the children at their church. This program includes a church education component as well as bake sales and other outreach programs to needy neighbourhood families.

YAPP’s submission presented their seasonal puppet events through the lens of the Marks of Mission.

Ms. Cress is interested in working work more with this framework. “My take on the Marks of Mission is that we’re trying to build character with our youth and to help them be better Christians,” she said.

Several provinces away, Kate Saunders of Florenceville, N.B., is preparing to make her second visit ever to Toronto. (The first was 16 years ago.)

“Coming from a community of 1,000, it’s going to be quite different,” she laughed. “I’m excited to see how it’s going to play out.”

Ms. Saunders, a 38-year-old elementary teacher, submitted a curriculum outline that used problem-based learning. In her proposal, young people identify problems in their community, find creative solutions, then engage stakeholders to make necessary changes.

“Rather than us telling kids what to think, let’s have them generate the ideas,” said Ms. Saunders. “I think as adults I think we can learn a lot from them.”

Ms. Saunders came to the Anglican church in her twenties. She was invited by a friend and as soon as she walked into St. John’s, Richmond Corner, she “fell in love” with the architecture, the lectionary, and the teaching.

Like Ms. Cress, she is learning about the Marks of Mission. She suggests that they may need to be adapted into kid-friendly language.

“I think that it’s a really good concept and I think it’s something that most people will be able to grab on to as we educate them,” she said. “They will be able to use them in their daily lives.”

Kate Newman, the fourth winner, is the youth, children, and family ministry coordinator at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver. She was born into an Anglican family, she said in an email, and she has a passion for children as “artists and apprentices in the faith community.”

Judges for the Sunday School competition were Ms. Walker; the Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary of General Synod; and Fiona Brownlee, Council of the North communications officer.

The Sunday School curriculum contest is one of three contests designed to promote the Marks of Mission throughout the Anglican Church of Canada. A song contest (now closed) invited Canadian Anglicans to submit music that related to the Marks. A future contest will focus on art.

For more information about the Marks of Mission and the Anglican Church of Canada’s initiatives, visit the website.

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