“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
In today’s world of violence and uncertainty, good parenting is not a cup of tea. The foundational principle of a well functioning and active Sunday School Ministry is to assist parents in this great task of moulding their children to become more Christ-like. The Sunday School teachers should be living witnesses of Christ and be role models to their students. They should teach them the importance of prayer and sacramental life. Parents should make sure that they have daily Bible readings and family prayers at home.
Following the secular school calendar, our Sunday School year starts in early September and runs through the end of June. For each class, we follow the curriculum prepared by the Sunday School Board of the Northeast America Diocese of the Indian Orthodox Church. At present, our Sunday School has 65 students studying in Pre-K to 12th Grade. We have 14 regular teachers and 15 substitute teachers. Many of our teachers have passed the Teacher’s Training Certification (TTC) examination and are certified Sunday School teachers. The Sunday School is held every Sunday after worship from 12 noon to 1.30 pm. A general session is conducted for 30-45 minutes where songs, Bible verses and faith-related topics are taught. Exams are given to test Bible verse proficiency and Holy Qurbana studies. Cash awards are given to children who win the highest points in each group.
Every year is a stepping stone to help us rise higher in our glorification of God. Last year, 40 children from our Sunday School participated in the Area-level Combined Orthodox Vacation Bible School. Children from our Sunday School won so many prizes in the Area level and Diocesan level Competitions and excelled in Centralized Examinations. Five 12th graders won their Diplomas last year, out of which two were Diocesan level rank holders. Let us extend our gratefulness and applause, on behalf of our congregation, to all the parents, the Sunday School Principal and our dedicated Sunday School Teachers for their continuing efforts in the progress of this endeavour.
In recent years, our Sunday School has begun a few remarkable initiatives. We work hard to make these initiatives part of our Church's tradition. During the general session, children actively participate in a Charity Box Collection for the needy in the society. Last year, the collection from this box was pooled together with the additional support of a few well wishers to sponsor 3 children (2 girls and a boy) of 2 different orphanages of our Church in Kerala. Another initiative is part of our Christmas celebrations. During the holiday season, our children bring and distribute gifts to the deserving children of the Long Island area through the Salvation Army. There is nothing more Christ-like than loving and caring for all and that is exactly what our initiatives embody.
Educational trips are a perfect platform for students to bond, not only with their own peers but also with the teachers and adults who accompany them in a new spiritual environment. With this intention, our Sunday school arranged a 3-day spiritual trip to the Holy Transfiguration Retreat Center (HTRC) and St. Tikhon’s Seminary, PA. About 75 people, including children, under the leadership of our Vicar, Rev. Fr. Gregory Varghese participated in this Retreat. On Sunday, the Holy Qurbana was celebrated at the HTRC by our Achen in the presence of a group of Seminarians. Children and adults alike enjoyed this trip. It was truly a blessing for all those who could be a part of it. A very special thanks to all the youngsters of our Church who worked so hard to make this “Irutho” camp a great success.
Another great achievement this year was the opening of a new Sunday School Library. We bought books from St. Vladimer’s Seminary, St. Tikhon’s Seminary and St. Thomas Orthodox Seminary, Nagpur. Our plan is to mandate each Student to read minimum 5 books during a Sunday School year. Grade-appropriate books will be selected and distributed to the students in the class by their Sunday School teacher. In addition, every Sunday, during the general session, one student will speak for 5 minutes about a book she/he liked the most.
Three years in a row, under the leadership of the Sunday School, we prepared and released Mar Barnabas Newsletter in December, during the Dukhrono Perunaal of the late, lamented Mathews Mar Barnabas Metropolitan. We sincerely thank the Editorial Board for their initiative and hard work in producing this News Letter. Mathews Mar Barnabas Thirumeni was a man of prayer and still a role model to many. Thirumeni had led a humble and pious life, ignoring the power and popularity that he held and the richness of the culture in which he lived, and followed the path of the cross with utmost sincerity and dedication. For His Holiness, the Sunday school was a place where children and the youth are taught and shown that God loves them more than they can ever imagine, and that Jesus, their Savior and Lord is with them always. He strongly believed that the vision and vitality of the church of the future depends largely on the adequacy of the spiritual training our children are receiving today.
Our Sunday School functions under the dynamic Pastoral leadership of the Vicar, Rev. Fr. Gregory Varghese and the current Principal, Dr. Mini George. May the intercession and prayers of our Patron Saint, Mar Gregorios of Parumala be a guide and stronghold for us. May the heavenly light of Lord God Almighty and the protection of His guardian angels be on our Children and on this Sunday School for ever.
BIBLE VERSES TAUGHT DURING SUNDAY SCHOOL GENERAL SESSION 2020-21 SCHOOL YEAR
|Keep the Sundays Holy – Fourth Commandment
Exodus 20;8 - Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
|Sufferings are allowed in your life to strengthen you. (Pandemic- why do we suffer? )
1 Peter 5;10 - And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, establish , and strengthen you.
|Remember the Sick People in our prayers – Invite the Priest to pray.
James 5;14 – Is any among you sick ? Let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
|Prayer will heal the sick person.
James 5;15 – And the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
|God the Comforter.
St. Matthew 11;28 – Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
|God the Comforter.
St. Matthew 11;29 – Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
|God the Comforter.
St. Matthew 11;30 – For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
|Do not sin and loose the Eternal Life.
Romans 6;23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
|Have faith in God
Hebrews 11;1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
|Have faith in God
1 John 5;14 – And this is the confidence which we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
|Faith never fails
St. Mark 11;23 – Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what He says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
|Have Strong Faith in God
Psalms 125;1 – Those who trust in the Lord are like mount Zion, which can not be moved, but abides for ever.
|Honor your parents - 5th Commandment
Exodus 20;12 – Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
|Do not steal anything – 8th Commandment
Exodus 20;15 – You shall not steal.
|Never lie against anyone- 9th Commandment
Exodus 20;16 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
|Obey your Parents
Proverbs 1;8 – Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and reject not your mother’s teaching.
|Obey your Parents
Colossians 3;20 – Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
|Do everything with love
1 Corinthians 16;14 – Let all that you do be done in love.
|God is Love
1 John 4;8 – He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.
St. John 3;16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
St. John 13;34 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
1 Corinthians 13;13 – So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
|Love is so important.
1 Corinthians 13;1 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
St. Mark 11;24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.
Psalms 55;17 – Evening and morning and at noon, I utter my complaint and moan, and He will hear my voice.
Proverbs 22;11 – He who loves purity of heart , and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
|Respect your Teacher
St. Luke 6;40 – A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher.
Proverbs 20;1 – Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
|Making fun of others ? God will punish you.
Proverbs 17;8 – He who mocks the poor insults his maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
|Do you hate any one ? You will become an evil person.
Proverbs 17;13 – If a man returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.
|God is Merciful
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.
|God is our refuge
Psalms 46;1 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
|Do not fear, Stay strong.
Isaiah 41;10 – Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.