A YEAR WITHOUT SUNDAY SCHOOL


It seemed that we’d only just been celebrating at our new year party and getting to grips with the themes and activities for the beginning of 2020, when the shock of lockdown was upon us. Both Junior and Senior Sunday schools closed and we were all left at home wondering what was going to happen.

Our church families are an integral part of our church community and its children make a lively and vital contribution to its life. Their spiritual development is a key component of our usual weekly church services and meetings and there was a need to continue with some kind of regular support for them and their families.

Since lockdown it has been important to keep in touch with one another. Families and friends have been phoning, messaging, emailing and using video conferencing platforms in order to maintain that contact. With that in mind, regular emails were sent out to families with Sunday school children, initially just as a means of keeping in touch, but soon included links to useful websites offering family friendly faith-based ideas. Moving on from there, since April Sunday school ‘lesson plans’ have been emailed out to both Junior and Senior Sunday school parents to help them support their children’s spiritual development at home. Of course, these have been entirely voluntary but have been available as and when needed. Throughout 2020 we covered a number of topics….

Junior age children looked at some Old Testament characters and then went on to think about the themes of Harvest, Advent and Christmas. This was approached through the use of stories and practical activities. Families were sent crosswords, word searches and colouring sheets; craft ideas for pictures, collages and models, masks, friendship bracelets and crowns; recipe ideas; games such as ‘pairs’ and how to make a jigsaw. The aim was to provide activities that were light-hearted and fun to carry out.

Seniors started off by following the bible readings allocated to the Sundays they would have been attending Sunday school. Although based around bible study, opportunity was provided for families to discuss as many or as few questions provided and to support the study through practical application. For example, when studying Matthew 9: 35 – Ch 10: 8 ‘spreading the gospel through team work’ as well as questions to help with understanding the passage, they were also encouraged to talk about teams they supported or were in themselves. The children could then create an ‘advert’ for the role of disciple or decorate an old t shirt showing that they were on God’s team. This group then also went on to look at the themes as for the juniors, but at an appropriate age level.

After the first lockdown, families were sent a questionnaire asking how they would like to continue with Sunday school. There was even some tentative thought that we might be able to meet again as groups, albeit in a bigger space than the centre. Of all the suggestions sent out, an organised, socially distanced walk was by far the most popular. While some families were all ‘zoomed out’ and others not keen on meeting indoors, the majority were keen to meet outside if possible and also to continue to receive activities via email.

Two walks were organised, one for each age group and we managed to fit in one before the second lockdown. A group of Junior children and parents met outside the centre for a walk around High Elms. They were given craft packs with everything they needed for bark rubbings, leaf collection and picture making around the theme of autumn. Juniors who were not able to accompany us had their craft packs delivered to their homes so that they could take part with their families when convenient. You may have seen some of the pictures on this website. Christmas craft resources and ideas for all ages were posted out or hand delivered and again, you may have seen some of their work.

This brings us to 2021 and the third lockdown. So far two email shots have been sent out. In January, both Sunday schools followed the theme of ‘beginnings’ and in February, ‘hope’. The older children looked at bible references for each topic, while the younger ones looked more generally at what these words mean.

We attempt to apply what we learn from the bible into our everyday lives. For ‘hope’ we discussed the difference between a wishful thinking kind of optimism and the confident expectation that God’s promises for us will be fulfilled. For older children this was expressed in the prayer….

Lord Jesus, 
Hope overcomes,  
Hope heals,  
Hope restores   
Hope inspires, 
Hope conquers, 
Hope frees,
Hope is a gift from God. 
Through you, we praise
God for his steadfast love.

Amen

And for our younger children, we asked….when you pray, who do you hope is listening? God is listening but we have to talk to him in the first place for Him to hear. This was their prayer…

Prayer is like a Telephone 

Prayer is like a telephone 
For us to talk to Jesus 
Prayer is like a telephone  
For us to talk to God  
Prayer is like a telephone 
For us to talk to Jesus     
So pick it up and use it everyday.

(……..encourage the children to add their own prayer here.)

So, although Sunday school hasn’t met since last winter, we haven’t been idle! We’ve kept in touch, continued our learning and done some fun things!

Irene Dancer, February 2021