“ Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it ” (Proverbs 22:6)
Sunday school should be seen as the backbone of any church and ours is no exception. Sunday school is the only institution that sustains a church. The church’s future existence depends on a well disciplined Sunday school. We often lament about the lack of attendance in the churches, but our experience is that carefully crafted and designed Sunday school activities would encourage students to come to church. Most often when children insist that they should go to church, their parents have no other choice but to follow suit.Our Sunday school children are the pillars of our Church. Therefore we take teaching of Sunday school seriously. We try to instill in them high moral values at an early age so that they will grow with it to be good citizens of the society in which they live in.
St. Peter’s Sunday school activities are mainly classified into two broad categories, Academic and Non-Academic. The academic part relates to the learning and teaching aspect of the Sunday school whereas the non-academic section deals with the extra curricular activities conducted in the church and beyond.
As of July 2012, we have classes from Baby Class (Age 3) to Grade 8 (Up to Age 15). There are 6 permanent teachers and a good number of occasional supply teachers. We strictly follow Malankara Syrian Orthodox Sunday school Association of North America syllabus in all grades except for the Baby Class & Kindergarten classes. Baby Class and Kindergarten students are taught prayers, simple bible stories and Qurbana songs as well as to color Bible related pictures and work with Bible related crafts/puzzles etc.
We conduct three exams per year. At the end of the Sunday school academic year we have a graduation ceremony. At this ceremony, all graduating students will be awarded with certificates, presents/gifts and chocolates. We also award trophies for three different categories, St. Athanasius Paulose Award, Academic Excellence Award & Best Student Award. The student who receives 100% mark in all three exams will receive the prestigious Mar Athanasius Paulose Award. Academic excellence award is strictly based on academic performance of the child in Sunday school ( as well as attendance) and the student who gets the highest mark for the 3 exams will be credited with this award. Best student award is based on the academic performance as well as student’s behavior and social interaction in the church. In order to qualify for this award, the student should satisfy 12 different criteria such as receive a minimum of 80% in the exams, should have good attendance, attentive in classes, keep their Sunday school binder in order and tidy, homework completion on time, participation in all Sunday school activities, be part of the choir, (for boys) participate in the altar as altar boys, (for girls) cover their head during Qurbano, etc. We normally conduct the annual Sunday school award ceremony in grand style.
The third Sunday of the month is set apart for English service, mainly for Sunday school students and the youth. To make Sunday school more interesting, on third Sundays we conduct bible related games like Bible Deal or No deal, Bible jeopardy, Who wants to be a millionaire bible scholar, Bible Wheel of fortune, Are you smarter than a St. Peter’s kid etc. to test the children’s ability to demonstrate their knowledge in the Bible in a fun way. The success of these programs prompted other churches from North America to request us to send them these games. A good number of those churches have already implemented our games as part of their Sunday school learning activities. On the third Sunday, the sermon is given by the Sunday school students, normally a senior Sunday school student and a junior Sunday school student simultaneously. We are the only church in the whole Malankara Archdiocese where a little child from age 4 to 6 delivers sermon to the congregation on a monthly basis. We encourage students to participate in this program at an early age so that they may not have any stage freight to convey any message across or not afraid to talk about God to any kind of audience in the future. And our experience thus far shows that it really works.
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