It took a lot of colour, coordination, and thinking like a kid, but after months of preparation, General Synod is launching the Compendium of the Church Mice, a free, year-long Sunday school curriculum that weaves in the Marks of Mission.
The compendium offers detailed lesson plans for the year’s Sunday school, including a party, puppetry, music, games, art, theatre, and even a nativity play. There are old craft favourites and new ideas, a trove of teacher’s resources, and a way for conversations to continue through The Community, the church’s online conversation space.
The curriculum is designed to start in September 2012, but teachers can jump in mid-year. It can be customized for large or small parishes, with optional seasonal challenges and big ideas to explore.
Kate Newman, the youth and children’s ministry coordinator at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, created the compendium. She brought to the work a passion for coaching children as “apprentices” in Anglican worship, as well as formal training in education, drama, and puppetry.
“I love this work,” said Ms. Newman. “I think children have amazing spiritual insight. They are naturally believers in God.”
The resource sparkles with Ms. Newman’s creativity and Christian know-how. In one of her favourite activities, children make icons with gold paper—an idea she developed with her art teacher mother.
Elsewhere she describes how to read the Gospel to children, reminding teachers they may have to explain the Holy Ghost to children who have never read the Bible but have seen all the Harry Potter films.
Ms. Newman was one of four women who won General Synod’s Marks of Mission Sunday school curriculum contest. Last November she joined Kate Saunders of Richmond, N.B., and Janet Cress and Nancy Wilcox of Binbrook, Ont., for a weekend workshop in Toronto. They brainstormed ideas for the curriculum, with help from facilitator Susan Graham Walker.
General Synod then hired Ms. Newman to write out the details. “I truly believe that this is one of the best projects that I have been involved with in my years at Church House,” said Lisa Barry, Anglican Video senior producer and leader of General Synod’s Marks of Mission team.
“With dwindling resources and never enough time, it is easy to lose sight of the precious young minds that are hungry for knowledge and inspiration,” Ms. Barry adds. “The Compendium of the Church Mice provides practical assistance.”
As a mother of two and a veteran Sunday school teacher, Ms. Newman knows the reality of church life. She believes church can build networks for children whose families may be strained by work or increasingly expensive housing—a common stress in her home city, Vancouver.
“I hope that through this resource, ultimately families will be strengthened by becoming part of the community in a meaningful way.” said Ms. Newman.
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