Building and rewarding special talents through scholarships

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Building and rewarding special talents through scholarships

Children meet Christ through revamped Sunday school Share: At Parkway Heights United Methodist Church, each Sunday morning in September found young Michelangelos by the roomful, stretched out flat on their backs, painting their own versions of the Creation story.

On one particular Sunday morning, Zach chatted excitedly as he drew the stars. Beside him, Griffin solemnly concentrated on his depiction of the sea, and Kate smiled cheerfully as she worked on her representation of the sun and the moon.

To tell the truth, the work of these first- and second-graders bore little resemblance to the awe-inspiring Creation scenes Michelangelo painstakingly portrayed in the Sistine Chapel during a tortuous four-year period of the Italian Renaissance.

That's not the point, though.

Your priests, your words of gratitude - The Michigan Catholic

The opportunity to try matching brushstrokes with Michelangelo is just one of several innovative ways children at Parkway Heights experienced the Creation story during September. Children who were Michelangelos one week may have looked at creation the next week through the eyes of a scientist, conducting a variety of experiments that emphasize the complexities of the human body; the following week, they could have found themselves eating popcorn and watching a video, or using a computer to design high-tech images of creation or perhaps participating in a puppet show.

October workshops are focusing on a different Bible story, Noah and the ark. It's all part of a Sunday morning makeover at Parkway Heights: Children from kindergarten through sixth grade will study one Bible story each month, but will rotate to various workshops each week so they can experience the story in different ways.

We have wonderful, dedicated teachers, but they have needed new tools with which to work. I am convinced that it will help us bring children into vibrant, authentic relationships with God through Jesus Christ. Traditionally, Sunday school teachers have been asked to commit to a full year of teaching; with the Workshop Rotation model, they may sign up for as little as one month, teaching the same lesson to different age groups each week.

Each age group has adult friends called Shepherds, who provide continuity for the year by nurturing the children and accompanying them to their workshops every Sunday morning.

Planning for the shift in Sunday mornings began last November, when a member Children's Ministry Team began meeting weekly, praying for God's guidance as they considered alternatives. By January, the team had decided on Workshop Rotation, which was developed in the Presbyterian Church and has been adopted by many denominations.

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In late spring, preliminary designs were completed and work began, and by the end of August the Sunday school area was transformed into what is now known as the Upper Rooms. Children meet Christ "Jesus was most intimate with his disciples during the Last Supper in the Upper Room, serving them and instructing them," Topp says.

Walking up the stairs to the Upper Rooms, children enter a radically different milieu: The once-ordinary cinder-block walls of the stairwell have been recast to resemble the interior of a windswept structure from old Jerusalem.

At the landing, the standard cork bulletin board used to post information for years has been replaced by a substantial scroll, the message board of ancient times. When they reach the top of the stairs, children step through an arched entranceway and over the threshold of the Upper Rooms: The main hall leads the children to the Courtyard, the central meeting place.

There, against a backdrop of lush flowering trees and venerable stonemasonry, shepherds greet them as they gather for the opening session. From the Courtyard, children move out in groups to one of five workshops: Parables and Productions presents the Bible story of the day through drama, storytelling or puppet shows.

Reel Revelations is a Sunday morning movie theater, complete with fresh popcorn and relevant Biblical videos. How Great Thou ART provides colorful surroundings where children can express themselves through artwork and crafts.

Building and rewarding special talents through scholarships

Mega Bible Bytes provides a different forum for creativity, a station computer lab. The Courtyard is a multi-purpose workshop for science, cooking, games and other activities. The new system received high marks from children on opening day.

When we were done, we laughed, because our shepherd told us to unplug the campfire.African Mission Trip Taken by Local Physician. By Sheila Baltzell Below, hats made by the Sierre Leones.

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Building and rewarding special talents through scholarships

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