Welcome to St. Mark’s Christian Education Program

The goal of Christian Education at St. Mark’s is to provide a variety of open-hearted, innovative, functional, and creative educational approaches that connect us through our stories and experiences to each other and to the people who came before us.

Our understanding is that we (people of all ages and stages) are involved at many levels in a search for meaning, relevance, and community. We look to parish members for their invaluable input, their willingness to volunteer, their responses to surveys regarding the Sunday School program and adult classes, and their amazing support and encouragement throughout the year. Our thanks to all of you!

“I dreamed of a faith community that valued my questioning skeptical mind. I kept coming back because on my first visit I heard a sound, intriguing sermon that kept me thinking long after I left the building.” —Marilu

We have designed a program with the intention of including a variety of educational approaches. Our Sunday School program starts with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which uses a Montessori-like approach to introduce younger children to Bible stories. The Middle School and Senior High classes use an experiential method to explore the religious underpinnings of facing life issues. Adult classes range in method from experiential (Guild for Transformational Studies and Functional Education) to meditation to interactive instruction and in content from faith and the challenges of daily life to spirituality and what it means to be a skeptic. Each class holds out the promise of openly engaging one another in our life experiences so that, as we worship together, take and teach classes together, and serve the greater community together, we grow and thrive as a spiritual community.

Our program hopes to spark your interest in spiritual growth and renewed belonging to the St. Mark’s community. Our hope is that each of you says “yes” to a class that meets you where you are on your journey.

Christian Education Catalog 2020-21 [coming soon]

Adult Education

St. Mark’s Christian Education Program is preparing to launch the Adult Program for 2020-21 using Zoom technology to ensure we can gather safely throughout the year. As Christian Education co-directors, we believe our goal should be to provide as many rich and interesting adult education opportunities for the parish as possible as an important way to keep our community knitted together while we are operating remotely and virtually.

We are currently developing the Christian Education catalog and will provide online access to it through our Yahoo Groups listserv and the St. Mark’s website. The catalog will be available in early September 2020.

If you would like to teach a Zoom class and haven’t yet submitted your idea, please send a short blurb to us describing your course and including your preferred dates and time for the class as well as the leader/leaders who will guide your course. Once approved, we will do our best to accommodate your preferred dates and times. To be included in the catalog, proposals should be sent to Susan Thompson and Greg Niblett no later than August 15, 2020.

Throughout the year, we will continue to provide pop-up classes – classes that are formulated after publication of the Christian Ed catalog.  If you want to design and teach a pop-up class, please submit your ideas to Susan and Gregg. Once approved for content and timing, these classes will be announced to the parish.

We look forward to a year in which we have a growing sense of belonging as a church and as individuals within a thriving community. We hope our Christian Education classes will allow each of you to stay connected with old friends and discover new friends in our Zoom class communities, while continuing to grow spiritually.

Greg Niblett and Susan Thompson

Christian Education Co-Directors

Youth Education

St. Mark’s has a vibrant Youth and Family Ministries program that provides a creative space and supportive community in which children and their parents can grow spiritually. With specific emphasis on outreach, education, worship, and the arts, St. Mark’s youth are integrated into every aspect of our communal life. Learn more about the Youth and Family Ministries program at St. Mark’s here.

We are currently facing a challenge as a parish as COVID-19 becomes part of our daily lives and changes church as we have known it. Few conversations exist without referencing our sense of isolation, the ways in which we are protecting ourselves, and our concerns for our families and friends and the entire global community during this pandemic.

Children and youth feel and are expressing these concerns as well.  Now, more than ever, our students need connections with their peers and their teachers from church.

So, as lay leaders of Christian Education at St. Mark’s Church, we feel a great responsibility to ensure that our Sunday School classes for children ages three through Grade 12 continue to go forward; and, gratefully, we have the enthusiastic support of Rev. Michele Morgan and our outstanding teachers from Catechesis through Grade 12.

How will we do Sunday School during the pandemic?

For the safety of our children and youth and their teachers, Sunday School will be conducted virtually on Zoom for the foreseeable future. As we navigate this novel approach, remember it is new for you and your child as well as for the wonderful teachers who have agreed to guide your children and youth this year.

How do parents prepare for Sunday School this year?

STEP 1: If you would like your child/children to participate, fill out a Sunday School registration form for each child/youth in your household. Fill out either the Google Docs form or the Word document form; this is your choice. However, we can only provide access to Zoom to children whose parents have formally registered their children using one of these forms.

  1. Google Docs form: If you feel comfortable filling in the Google Docs form, that would be preferable because we can easily generate useful tables of information about participating children. All you need to do is to click on this Google Doc link https://forms.gle/4g8VvrmUPibnvVcH6 and then enter your information on all pages of the form. At the end of the form, simply click SEND and your information will be sent to us.
  2. Word Document form: Or, if you prefer, you can print the Word version of the Sunday School Registration (Permission and Release) Form, fill it out, and then scan and email it to Susan Thompson.

STEP 2: Load the Zoom.us app on the computer your child will use. After you register for Sunday School, teachers will send invitations to you before each Sunday class, using the email you have identified in your registration form. On the scheduled day and time for each class, you will scan the invitation and click on the line that says, “Join This Zoom Meeting.”

We can expect there will be initial challenges as households use the Zoom app (particularly if you are new to it), but over time, this vehicle becomes very easy to use. If you have two children in your household who will be “tuning in” to different teachers at the same time, you will need to use two different computers or smartphones. Younger children will need a parent to stay by their side for the duration of the class.

When will we start classes?

Classes will begin on September 20, 2020. Please see the details below to see who the teachers are for your child or children, the time for the Zoom classes, and how often those classes will meet (with the exception of Catechesis III, classes will meet every Sunday; however, the times vary across classes).

When will Sunday School classes NOT be held?

November 29 (Thanksgiving weekend)

December 27 through January 10, 2021 (Christmas, New Year’s, and Christian Education Weekend)

April 4, 2021 (Easter)

Note: On Banner Sunday (May 23, 2021), children, youth, and teachers will share virtual banners they have created to celebrate the learning and growth that has taken place in Sunday School throughout the year.

What classes are being offered?

Catechesis: A Montessori Approach to Spiritual Development

Catechesis Coordinator: Stephanie Deutsch

Catechesis I (Age 3 to Kindergarten) and Catechesis II (Grades 1 – 3)

Catechesis I and II will be combined for a Zoom virtual class that will meet weekly from 9 to 9:45 a.m. beginning on September 20, 2020. We will continue to offer children opportunities to experience God’s love through stories about Jesus and through the parables that he told. We will also learn about the books of the Bible, the land of Israel, and the Eucharist. Each class will end with a service that includes prayers, readings, and songs.

Day:  Sundays, except holidays

Time: 9-9:45 a.m.

Teacher:  Suzanne Wells (and others TBA)

Location: Zoom

Catechesis III (grades 4 and 5)

Catechesis III will meet via Zoom beginning September 20th and thereafter on the fourth Sunday of every month from 9 to 9:45 a.m. We will read passages from Genesis and Exodus recounting the stories of Creation, Leaving the Garden, the Flood, the Call of Abraham, and Joseph and his Brothers. Each class meeting will include time for prayer and reflection as the children progress toward a greater understanding of their role in moving themselves and their community closer to God.

Day:  The Fourth Sunday of Every Month, except holidays

Time: 9-9:45 a.m.

Teacher:  Paul Albergo, Stephanie Deutsch, David Trissell

Location:  Zoom

Middle School (Grades 6-8) and High School (Grades 9-12) Sunday School

For our middle and high school programs, we will convene classes by Zoom weekly. We will use the Teen Text curricula, one targeted to middle school students and one to high school students. In the context of a Zoom platform, we will focus on creating space and time where the participants in each age group know that their ideas and feelings matter and where they can explore issues that come up in their lives in a caring atmosphere. We aim to explore these issues in the context of the St. Mark’s Christian Education program, working together to learn Bible stories and discussing how students might inform or contextualize their own personal stories. We encourage students to actively participate and engage in games, exercises, and projects that create opportunities for learning about the Bible and sharing stories and whatever may be in their hearts and minds. In each case, the classes will provide an opportunity to build community and explore issues arising from the students’ emerging maturity.

Middle School (Grades 6 – 8)

Day:  Sundays, except holidays

Time: 11-11:50 a.m.

Teacher:  Mary Thuell, Katherine Rogers

Location:  Zoom

High School (Grades 9 – 12)

Day: Sunday, except holidays

Time: 11 – 11:50 am

Teachers: Kevin Flood, Tracy Councill

Location: Zoom

St. Mark’s Sunday School Program is coordinated by the lay-led Christian Education Program, guided by Co-Directors Greg Niblett and Susan Thompson. Please direct any question you may have about the Sunday School Program to Susan and Greg.

Our Christian Education History

Our Christian Education history at St. Mark’s began in the 1960s when Rector Bill Baxter wanted to bring experiential learning to our church. With Christian Education lay leaders, he provided rich and relevant educational programs for adults, teens, and older children based on the work of Charles Penniman, a mid-20th-century Episcopal theologian who wanted Christianity to assist people in their daily lives. Instead of focusing on Bible stories alone, Penniman took the teachings of scripture and developed a program, called Functional Education, that would provide people with ways to address the problems of life. Click here for a detailed exploration of Penniman’s ideas, with annotations from the tenth Rector of St. Mark’s, James R. Adams. Each year, we continue to offer courses at St. Mark’s using the Functional Education method.