My Orthodox Family


Introduction (Ages 13-17)

" For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother, and sister and mother. "    - Matthew 12:50

My Orthodox Family , a parish-wide, self-study program, is designed to help us discover and develop ways we can continue to become living examples of Christ in our lives, while we help to build up society (i.e. “the world”).   We are responsible for our behavior in all the communities and “families” in which we live:   home, church, school, neighborhood, government, the environment, etc.   Our coming together as a community in Christ is the essence of our faith. “The word church, as we remember, means a gathering or assembly of people specifically chosen and called apart to perform a particular task.”  (Hopko, The Orthodox Faith II, Worship). No matter what our background, this is what binds us as Christians, and family members of His Holy Church.

The journey begins when Christians leave their homes and beds.   They leave, indeed, their life in this present and concrete world, and whether they have to drive fifteen miles, or walk a few blocks, a sacramental act is already taking place, an act which is the very condition of everything else that is to happen.   For they are now on their way to constitute the Church, or to be more exact, to be transformed into the Church of God.  - Schmemann, For the Life of the World

As Orthodox Christians in America, we are a diverse mixture of peoples from throughout the world.  Looking back on four or five generations, many of us can trace our families to immigrants from Greece, the Middle East, Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, Siberia and the Far East.   Traveling long distances, our ancestors established new families and communities on the North American continent.  They discovered here the same Orthodox faith that Native Alaskans had adopted in 1794 from Russian Missionaries to America.  In a little over 200 years, Orthodox parishes have populated North America with more than 4-5 million people!

Our parish communities today include many new people who have found their home in the Orthodox Church.   They or their ancestors have come from a multitude of nations—Irish, Italian, English, Scandinavian and German cultures from Western and Northern Europe, as well as a mixture of traditional cultures from Africa, Asia, Mexico, and South America.   We not only live in multicultural societies, but in multicultural parishes in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.   As Orthodox Christians in America, spending time finding out who we are and where we want to go as an Orthodox community will help us see ourselves as a part of our local, regional, national, and world communities.  Along with those roles comes responsibility.   Every person within the parish community has a role to play; from the newly baptized, to the oldest.   How we see ourselves and our role as a Family of God is critical to the survival of the parish, as well as the entire Church in this world.

As God’s children we are called to witness our faith.   We are called to understand who we are as Orthodox Christians, and to bear witness to God with our families and friends by being good neighbors, reaching out to help others, and standing up and protecting those who are being mistreated, or are victims of discrimination or prejudice.   We are also called to know and live our faith; to correct misconceptions and wrong information about our beliefs, as well as to respect people of other faiths.  

Overall Objectives of the Unit

Throughout the duration of this FOCUS Unit, teachers will find it helpful to keep two main overarching objectives in mind:

  • Identify ourselves as Orthodox people, bound together as a family in Christian Love.
  • Understand that, as faithful Orthodox Christians, we must commit ourselves to His Commandment to love one another through acts of compassion and charity to all of God’s people.

Objectives are things which the students should be able to do as a result of the session. Keeping the two main obj,ectives in mind can help us, as teachers, focus on the important fact that our parishes were established for the purposes of worship, community, mission, and good works for each other, and for those in the world around us.  

God made us His People through the sacraments of the Church.   We became God’s Children in Baptism.  He anointed us with the Holy Oil of Chrism and called us to be His People; to hear, understand, and proclaim His Word as God’s prophets; to protect and care for the world as His anointed Kings—clothed in the white garment of Holiness; and to offer up to Him everything we are and do as a holy gift and service, as gifts offered by priests.   God calls us to restore the world as the Paradise He created for His people in the Garden.   He calls us to everlasting life in His Kingdom.   It is through life in the Church that we become His holy people who are called to do His work in this world!

How the Unit is Arranged

The unit is comprised of six sessions of about 45 minutes each.  The first five deal with identity, self-study, and involvement within our parish; while the last focuses on our involvement within our communities. The suggested prayers are just that.   Singing the Troparion of the parish is certainly appropriate as an opening prayer, with the closing being whatever hymn or prayer is your parish tradition for gatherings.  Students at the youngest level should probably keep the same prayers throughout the sessions for consistency.  

The lessons have been developed based on five age levels:  ages 4-6, ages 7-9, ages 10-12, ages 13-17, and 18-older.  Every age level has its own individual lesson plan.  All the lesson plans contain the following parts:

  • FOCUS Unit Title, Lesson Title & Age Level
  • Lesson Objectives
    The lesson objectives are the things measurable by the teacher.  Through questions, discussion and activity participation teachers can measure whether students were able to fulfill these objectives. If they cannot, teachers will know that review or repetition may be necessary.
  • Materials
    Materials are the various items required to teach the lesson.   These include items such as craft materials and classroom Bibles.  
  • Resources
    Resources are items the DCE has provided for use while teaching the lesson.  These include printable icons, line drawings, handouts, liturgical texts, Bible stories, planning worksheets and many other kinds of professionally developed teacher resources to aide in teaching the lesson.  The resources have been categorized into two groups: Required Resources and Supplemental Resources.  Required resources are specifically referred to within the lesson plan.  Supplemental resources are generally useful in gathering background information.  Often, the supplemental resources will be links to external web sites and suggested books for the teacher to read.
  • Lesson Procedure
    This is a step-by step outline of how the session should go. Please be aware that some lessons require advance preparation--read lessons, prepare for them, and think prayerfully about them well before you meet students in the classroom.

Every Family Has a Story (Ages 13-17)

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Overview

Family is Love - Every family’s story is different and each generation tells a different story about its ways of life, its joys, and its hardships.
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Recall and orally share their own family ancestry with stories, music, and traditions
  • Draw/paste pictures of family members on a page in a unit scrapbook
  • Write shared oral family stories and add to scrapbook
  • Interview older parishioners to discover how they celebrated feasts in earlier times, what their church was like when they were children (either in North America or abroad), and how the parish interacted with the larger community
  • Record these interviews by journal, audio, or video
  • Begin a “Roots” Coffee Hour Project incorporating all above projects
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Materials

  • Handouts from Resource Section: 
    • Family Letter: My Orthodox Family
    • “Roots” Oral History
    • "Roots" Ancestor Map
    • “Roots” Project and Coffee Hour
    • Teaching Devices: Journaling
    • Teaching Devices: Personal Value Inventory
    • Interview forms for parish member interviews
  • Construction paper (9” x 12”) with holes punched with 3-hole puncher
  • White lined paper (8 ½” x 11”) with holes punched
  • Glue sticks
  • Pencils, pens, markers
  • Paper hole punch
  • Yarn cut into 6’ inch strips, three per student
  • Large world map for “Roots” Ancestors Map
  • Large foam board on which to mount world map
  • Scissors
  • Rulers
  • Thin yarn or string in varying colors
  • Thumbtacks
  • Sewn-in notebooks for journals
  • Video camera
  • Audio tape recorder, if video not available
  • Labels for names and captions in scrapbook and on journals
  • Dates and times prearranged with and announced by pastor or placed in parish bulletin for students to interview parish members about Feast Day traditions.
  • List of parishioners given by pastor
  • Icon for prayer
  • Materials sent in earlier by parents (see Resource Handout: Family Letter)
    • Pictures of family members and photos of special occasions, holidays, vacations, baptism 
    •  Ancestor story, family story, special occasion/holiday story
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
And save our souls, O Good One.


2

Discussion Starter-Bridge

  • Begin by asking the following: What do you love the most about your family? (Answers should reflect students' awareness of ways their families express their love.) As students answer, interject statements making comparison of family love with God’s love for us.
  • Ask: How does God show us He loves us? (Answers should reflect God’s love for us as His people—His giving us His Son, Jesus Christ, who taught us how to live in the Light of God’s love.)
  • Ask: How is our parish like a family? (Answers should reflect the family of God coming together each week in communion with Him. Also the care others show for each other.)
  • Continue by stating the following: Our families have ancestors who came from different parts of the world.What did you bring in today to share about your family history? (Allow students to share their stories and pictures.)
  • After students have shared their stories, continue by saying: Today we are going to begin the parish “Roots” Project we were asked to bring in materials for. Each of us is going to have a part in this project. We are first going to begin our own Family Memories Scrapbook with the pictures and stories we have shared today. Then, in the coming weeks, we will talk to people in our parish and ask them about their traditions. We want to record what we will learn about some of the past traditions of our parishioners. We will do this by interviewing, recording, and displaying. This will be part of a Parish Roots Project which we will present at coffee hour on ___________.

    Let’s get started!

3

Family Memories Scrapbook

  • Have students open their envelopes brought from home.
  • Have students place their family photos on the construction paper.
  • Write captions/labels identifying family members.
  • When students have arranged photos and captions, glue these to construction paper.
  • Have students write family stories on white lined paper.
  • Mount written accounts on construction paper and add to their scrapbook.
  • You can also have students expand their scrapbook. They may want to collect and bring in favorite family photos that tell a story about something family members like to remember: vacation trips, visits to grandma's house, cousins, special events (baptisms, weddings), etc. This can be an ongoing activity throughout the duration of the unit.
  • Distribute another piece of construction paper to each student and have them write their name and title, “Family Memories Scrapbook.”
  • Take 3 sections of yarn and string through holes. Tie into bows.

4

Oral History Project

  • Begin this project by stating the following: Today we are going to begin this project by planning to interview people in our parish about their past traditions. We would like to find out how they celebrated Feast Days and what some of their special traditions were, and maybe still are. Continue by stating that they may look at the parish list and choose whom they would like to interview. The remaining parishioners are to be assigned.
  • Interview questions are to be handed out to them (see attached form). They are to use one form per parishioner. They will have three weeks to finish their interviews. Explain that interviews are to be conducted at an arranged time and place and they are to be present to carry out their interviews at that time. If this is not possible, try to arrange for them to conduct the interviews by phone, or place the interview sheets in a parish bulletin and ask that they be completed and returned to the senior class by a pre-arranged date. Tell students they may NOT make arrangements to meet anyone outside of the parish setting without their parent’s and your knowledge!

5

Journals

Students may spend the last 5-10 minutes of each session writing their thoughts about what they have learned. For this study unit on our family and parish history and life, students may wish to use journaling as a way of recording things they want to remember about their history and church life. Students can decide if they want to share their journal entries or keep them confidential. Have the class set rules for these decisions and procedures and go over them so there is no mistake or misunderstanding. Review the Resource Handouts: Teaching Devices: Journalling and Teaching Devices: Personal Value Inventory

6

Wrap-up

As students are cleaning up and preparing for closing prayer, ask the following:

  • What do we love most about our families? (Allow student responses)
  • How do our families reflect God’s love for us? (Answers should reflect student understanding of God’s love and the parallels with the love of families.)
  • What do we plan to do over the coming weeks? (Answers should recall elements of “Roots” project—mapping parishioners’ countries of origin and finding out about their ancestors.

7

Closing Prayer

O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
And by virtue of Thy cross, preserve Thy habitation.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Life Together as a Family (Ages 13-17)

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Overview

Family Means Cooperation - Family members need to work together on rules, daily tasks, good habits, and relationships to “make families work” as a unit.
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • List and reflect upon the influences or people, both positive and negative, that provoke changes in our values, ethics and practices
  • Explain why some of our behaviors become stronger and others weaker
  • Relate the need for supportive relationships with persons holding like values to assist in the complex task of choosing directions and making the right choices
  • Make connections between family and parish family by tracing the history of families who were the foundation of Orthodoxy in America
  • Begin to research and construct a timeline of major events, families, and personalities important in the settlement and establishment of missions, churches, and monasteries of the Orthodox people in America
  • Continue to interview older parishioners to discover how they celebrated feasts in earlier times, what their church was like when they were children (either in North America or abroad), and how the parish interacted with the larger community
  • Record these interviews by journal, audio, or video
  • Continue work on “Roots” Coffee Hour Project incorporating all above projects
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Materials

  • Sewn-in notebooks for journals
  • Video camera
  • Audio tape recorder, if video not available
  • Labels for names and captions in scrapbook and on journals
  • Interview forms for parish member interviews
  • Butcher paper on a roll for time line.
  • Markers with large tips
  • Yardstick
  • Copies of family pictures and churches to decorate time line
  • Icon for prayer
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
And save our souls, O Good One.


2

Discussion Starter

  • Begin by asking the following: Who can remember what we said we love the most about our families? (Answers should reflect students’ awareness of ways their families express their love.) As students answer, reiterate statements made in last session comparing family love with God’s love for us. Ask: How does God show us He loves us? (Answers should reflect God’s love for us as His people—His giving us His Son, Jesus Christ, who taught us how to live in the light of God’s love.)
  • Continue by asking the following: How do our families help us? (Allow students to reflect and share their ideas, reflecting the emotional support parents and family members have for each other) Ask: How do our family members help us when we need it? (They listen when we need to talk about issues and problems we are facing. They offer guidance and support to help us through our difficult times.)
  • Ask: Are there times when people in our lives let us down? When has this happened to you? (Allow students time to reflect and share. You may have to begin the discussion by sharing your own life experiences with disappointments in those you have looked to for help or advice—a teacher, coach, leader who did not help when you asked, or offered advice you were not comfortable with.)
  • Ask: How did it make you feel?(Allow time for answers and discussion.)
  • Say: There are times when we feel those whom we turn to are not the best people to help us. Our teachers, coaches, leaders do not always share our love for God and His Church. Their advice may be contrary to our beliefs. How do we handle this? (Allow time for discussion.) How can we make sure that we are not influenced by this? (Our families or those whom we trust to hold the same beliefs should be those to whom we take our problems.) Ask: In our parish family, are there those who have helped us in any way? (Allow time for responses).

    Continue by saying: Do you think there are many in parishes who influenced others to become better members of Christ’s Holy Church? How about down through history? (Allow students to reflect on this as an outcome of the last question.)

3

American Orthodox Timeline

Materials:

  • Butcher paper on a roll, about 12-14” wide
  • Pencils
  • Markers
  • Yardstick

Resources:

  • Tarasar, Ercikson, Orthodox America, 1794-1976. Orthodox Church in America, 1975
  • Stokoe, Kishkovsky, Orthodox Christians in North America, 1794-1994
  • Erickson, Orthodox Christians in America, Religion in American Life Series

Note to the Teacher: Students may look up the events and use this as an ongoing project, or look at the time- line example given at the end of the session and discuss, add to or elaborate upon it. In the cooperative learning style, you may also divide students into several groups, each working on the “Roots” project and this activity. Again, this activity will probably take several sessions and can be an on-going project.

Activity Procedure:

  • Have all materials and resources ready, or have designated students get materials.
  • In the cooperative learning style, have students take the following roles in this activity:
    • Gofer (See first bullet)
    • Researcher(s)
    • Designer
    • Writer(s) of information
    • Decorator
  • Begin by saying: Today we are going to look at the history of Orthodoxy in America and how many sacrifices were made to lead us to where we are today. As we begin this project, I would like you to look at some of the books and an example of a time line. We can use this timeline as a guide, and also look up additional information in our sources to add to it. This, along with our other projects, will take a few sessions to complete. As we work on this, let us take time to discuss some of the people and events which influenced our Orthodox family in America.
  • Have students break assume their roles and begin work.

4

Oral History Project

They will have two weeks to finish their interviews. Explain that interviews are to be conducted at an arranged time and place and they are to be present to carry out their interviews at that time. If this is not possible, try to arrange for them to conduct the interviews by phone, or place the interview sheets in a parish bulletin and ask that they be returned to the senior class by a pre-arranged date. Tell students they may NOT make arrangements to meet anyone outside of the parish setting without their parent’s and your knowledge!

5

Journals

Using notebook paper, if there is time answer some of the wrap-up questions as journal questions.  Also see See Activity Handout:  Journaling and Personal Value Inventory (Grades 9-10 only)


6

Wrap-up

As students are cleaning up and preparing for closing prayer, ask the following (Students may also journal responses, if time):

  • Do you think our families help us in our everyday lives? How? (Answers should reflect support families provides in helping us make the right choices.
  • Do you always agree with what your parents wish for you or expect from you? How can you remedy any disagreements you may have with them? (Answers should reflect the need for open communication, prayer and meditation, as well as understanding of differences, and how cooperation provides for harmony.)
    •  
      • What do we plan to do over the coming weeks? (Answers should recall elements of “Roots” project—mapping parishioners’ countries of origin and finding out about their ancestors.)

7

Closing Prayer

O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
And by virtue of Thy cross, preserve Thy habitation.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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God’s Story and God’s People (Ages 13-17)

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Overview

God’s faithful family became God’s people - When God created people, He created family. Some of God’s people were faithful; others turned away from God. God sent His Own Son, Jesus Christ, to bring His people back to Him. Jesus taught us to repent, turn away from evil, and change our lives. Jesus also shows us how to care, to love, and to help one another.
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Research in the Bible, events of Gods people from the New Testament, the story of Pentecost
  • Prepare scripts for a breaking-news report
  • Role-play events as an evening t.v. news report of a breaking-news event
  • Videotape the news story for parish viewing during Roots Coffee Hour (optional)
  • Determine that these events marked the beginning of the Christian Church and our new lives as the family of Jesus Christ.
  • Connect the interviews and time lines researched with the lives changed by conversion during Pentecost.
  • Recognize the importance of our love for each other as God's people, and recognize that the diversity of peoples who were gathered when the Holy Spirit came down upon them is similar to our parish experience
  • Remaining Objectives--See Session 1 Collect and update interviews of parish members for Roots Project
  • Continue recording and reporting parish family stories of ancestors. (RootsOral History)
  • Continue work on Roots Map from interviews
  • Continue planning the Roots Coffee Hour Project
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Materials

  • FlashPaper: “Roots” Ancestor Map and Family Memories
    Album
  • FlashPaper: “Roots” Coffee Hour (Parish Event)
  • Paper
  • Bibles
  • Pencils
  • Glue stick
  • Construction paper
  • Copy machine
  • Overhead projector
  • Icon of Pentecost copied onto a transparency
  • Thumb tacks/tape
  • Family Memories scrapbook and materials (See Session 1)
  • “Roots” Ancestors Map (See Session 1)
  • Journals (See Session 1)
  • Interview forms for parish member interviews (See Session 1)
  • Icon for prayer
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
And save our souls, O Good One.


2

Discussion Starter-Bridge

  • Begin by asking the following: What did we discuss last week about families and those who have influenced us? (Answers should recall ways their families express their love, and how there are those who have influenced us, both positively and negatively.) As students answer, interject statements making comparison of family love with God’s love for us.
  • Ask: How does God show us He loves us? (Answers should recall God’s love for us as His people—His giving us His Son, Jesus Christ, who taught us how to live in the light of God’s love.) Continue by asking students to recall discussion about those in our parish family who have helped or influenced us.
  • Ask: What do you know about the community of the early Church--what it was like? (Allow time for students to think and answer.) Does anyone know what we call the event when the Church began? (Pentecost). Let's explore Pentecost and how it changed so many different peoples’ lives.

3

T.V. News Report

In the Cooperative Learning Style, each student will be designated a position/task and will execute it in an organized and “cooperative” manner, working together with others as a unit. As each person is assigned, he or she should set about a plan and work it to completion.
  • Have one or two students get supplies (Bibles, pencils, paper to write information and sketch, scissors)
  • Some students should then act as the researchers and begin to look up assigned Bible passages (Acts 2:1-47). Working in pairs, one should read aloud the events, while another acts as secretary and writes
  • When information is gathered, students should begin to put events in chronological order on their paper
  • A student who enjoys drawing can draw sketches to accompany the news story
  • While coordinating proper sequence of events and sketches, another one or two students can write out a news report script of the events surrounding Pentecost. They should imitate a news story, making it as real as possible
  • Students may want to conduct mock interviews with the Apostles and those who were present to get different points of view, such as: Peter, John, the Virgin Mary, those in the crowd who thought the Apostles were drunk when they began to speak in tongues
  • When researchers are finished they can begin to set up a studio with the icon of Pentecost on the transparency for the background
  • Roles of anchor, on-the-scene reporters, those being interviewed and the rest of the class as the crowd can be assigned/decided
  • Copies of the script can be made on the copier, if necessary
  • Have a practice run of the news broadcast and then the news report
  • Video tape to show at “Roots” Coffee Hour (optional)

4

"Roots" Ancestors Map

  • Continue mapping students’ ancestors’ countries of origin, 2 countries each.
  • Begin mapping parishioners’ ancestors’ countries of origin

5

Oral History Project

Continue Interview of parishioners by collecting finished interviews and updating those in progress. They will have two weeks to finish their interviews. Explain that interviews are to be conducted at an arranged time and place and they are to be present to carry out their interviews at that time, or by phone. Tell students they may NOT make arrangements to meet anyone outside of the parish setting without their parent’s and your knowledge!


6

Journals

Have students label date and write about their reactions to their activities today.

7

Wrap-up

As students are cleaning up and preparing for closing prayer, ask the following:
Students may also write responses in their journals (See above)

  • Ask: Discuss what happened at Pentecost. (Answers should reflect student understanding of the Holy Spirit bringing to the Apostles the wisdom to begin their work of spreading Christ’s Holy Church to all. The family of Jesus Christ was to bring love, cooperation, harmony, and God’s love for us as His People) How did the events we researched today compare to those of people in our parish family? (Answers should reflect insight into how people become part of God’s family in the membership of His Holy Church, loving and caring for each other, as families do, thus becoming His faithful people.)

8

Closing Prayer

O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
And by virtue of Thy cross, preserve Thy habitation.

 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Members of God’s Family (Ages 13-17)

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Overview

God's Holy Spirit Lives In Us - After Jesus’ Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, He sent God’s Holy Spirit to live in us. We receive the Holy Spirit and become members of God’s family when we are baptized. As God’s children, we are called to live together as God’s own people. How did the early Christians become “living temples” of God? How do we celebrate the new life in Christ in our parishes today?
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Reflect upon events of Pentecost, and the actions of God's people following the descent of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:41-47)
  • Discuss how St. Paul's words (Romans 12:1-21) relate to our interactions with people in our parish and community
  • Choose one section of St. Paul's letter and respond to it
  • Draw a poster, or create a mobile, an acrostic poem, and/or journal
  • Compare St. Paul's words in Romans 12 with Acts 2:41-17
  • Describe how St. Paul understands our life as Christians, both in the church and in our responsibilities to others in society
  • Continue American Orthodox Timeline (See Session 2)
  • Remaining objectives--See Session 1 and collect and update interviews of parish members for Roots Project
  • Continue recording and reporting parish family stories of ancestors (Roots Oral History)
  • Continue work on Roots Map from interviews
  • Continue planning the Roots Coffee Hour Project
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Materials

  • FlashPaper: “Roots” Ancestor Map and Family Memories
    Album
  • FlashPaper: “Roots” Coffee Hour (Parish Event)
  • Paper
  • Bibles
  • Pencils
  • Glue stick
  • Construction paper
  • Copy machine
  • Overhead projector
  • Icon of Pentecost copied onto a transparency
  • Thumb tacks/tape
  • Family Memories scrapbook and materials (See Session 1)
  • “Roots” Ancestors Map (See Session 1)
  • Journals (See Session 1)
  • Interview forms for parish member interviews (See Session 1)
  • Icon for prayer
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
And save our souls, O Good One.


2

Discussion Starter-Bridge

  • Begin by asking the following: What did we discuss last week about families and those who have influenced us? (Answers should recall ways students' families express their love, and how there are those who have influenced us, both positively and negatively.) As students answer, interject statements making comparison of family love with God’s love for us. Ask: How does God show us He loves us? (Answers should recall God’s love for us as His people—His giving us His Son, Jesus Christ, who taught us how to live in the Light of God’s love.) Continue by asking students to recall discussion about those in our parish family who have helped or influenced us.
  • Ask: How do you think it was when the Church first started? (Allow time for students to think and answer.) Does anyone know what event this is called? (Pentecost).
  • Say: Let’s explore what happened on Pentecost and how it changed so many different peoples’ lives.

 


3

T.V. News Report

In the Cooperative Learning Style, each student will be designated a position/task and will execute in an organized and “cooperative” manner, working together as a unit. As each person is assigned, he or she should set about a plan and work it to completion.
  • Have one or two students get supplies (Bibles, pencils, paper to write information and sketch, scissors)
  • Some students should then act as the researchers and begin to look up assigned Bible passages (Acts 2:1-47). Working in pairs, one should read aloud the events, while another acts as secretary and writes
  • When information is gathered, students should begin to put events in chronological order on their paper
  • A student who enjoys drawing can draw sketches to accompany the news story
  • While coordinating proper sequence of events and sketches, another one or two students can write out a news report script of the events surrounding Pentecost. They should imitate a news story, making it as real as possible
  • Students may want to conduct mock interviews with the Apostles and those who were present to get different points of view, such as: Peter, John, the Virgin Mary, those in the crowd who thought the Apostles were drunk when they began to speak in tongues
  • When researchers are finished they can begin to set up a studio with the icon of Pentecost on the transparency for the background
  • Roles of anchor, on-the-scene reporters, those being interviewed and the rest of the class as the crowd can be assigned/decided
  • Copies of the script can be made on the copier, if necessary
  • Have a practice run of the news broadcast and then the news report
  • Video tape to show at “Roots” Coffee Hour (optional)

4

  • Continue mapping students’ ancestors’ countries of origin, 2 countries each.
  • Begin mapping parishioners’ ancestors’ countries of origin.

5

Oral History Project

Continue Interview of parishioners by collecting finished interviews and updating those in progress. Students will have two weeks to finish their interviews. Explain that interviews are to be conducted at an arranged time and place and they are to be present to carry out their interviews at that time, or by phone. Tell students they may NOT make arrangements to meet anyone outside of the parish setting without their parent’s and your knowledge!


6

Journals

Have students label with the date and write about their reactions to their activities today.


7

Wrap-up

As students are cleaning up and preparing for closing prayer, ask the following:
Students may also write responses in their journals (See above)

 

  • Ask: Discuss what happened at Pentecost. (Answers should reflect student understanding of the Holy Spirit bringing to the Apostles the wisdom to begin their work of spreading Christ’s Holy Church to all. The family of Jesus Christ was to bring love, cooperation, harmony, and God’s love for us as His People) How did the events we researched today compare to those of people in our parish family? (Answers should reflect insight into how people become part of God’s family in the membership of His Holy Church, loving and caring for each other, as families do, thus becoming His faithful people.)

8

Closing Prayer

O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
And by virtue of Thy cross, preserve Thy habitation.

 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Being an Orthodox Christian (Ages 13-17)

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Overview

God Calls Us To Love All People - Our “neighbor” is any person who stands before us at any given moment. How we are known, recognized, or accepted as Orthodox Christians is tempered by how we approach or respond to other people. The very word “Orthodox” tells us what or who we are as people: a truly (and/or) correctly believing, acting, and worshipping people of God.
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Discuss and recognize that being Christians and being Orthodox should not isolate us from neighbors or strangers who are not
  • Describe what it means to be an Orthodox Christian in today's world and distinguish to what extent the Orthodox faith and practice shape identity
  • Name problems that people might face and tell how their faith helps them deal with them
  • Select one person from the parish interviews, or from the timeline study, and write about his or her life and contributions to the Orthodox faith, and Christianity
  • From research, compose a news report and add to the news video, or compose as a journal entry
  • Continue American Orthodox Timeline (See Session 2)
  • Remaining objectives--See Session 1 Collect and finish interviews of parish members for Roots Project Finish recording and reporting parish family stories of ancestors
  • (RootsOral History) Finish work on Roots Map from interviews Continue planning the Roots Coffee Hour Project
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Materials

  • “Roots” Ancestor Map and Family Memories
  • Album
  • “Roots” Coffee Hour (Parish Event)
  • Large butcher/chart paper
  • Bibles
  • Markers
  • Pencils
  • Tape
  • Lined paper
  • Worksheets with research questions
  • Video worksheet
  • Family Memories scrapbook and materials (See Session 1)
  • “Roots” Ancestors Map (See Session 1)
  • Journals
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Video interviews with parishioners for “Roots” Project
  • Video camera (if needed)
  • Worksheets for research, Good Samaritan Parishioner, Video
  • Interview forms for parish member interviews (See Session 1)
  • Icon for prayer
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Resources


Required Resources
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
And save our souls, O Good One.


2

Discussion Starter-Bridge

  • Begin by asking the following: Who can tell us about the events of Pentecost we researched and discussed over the last two weeks? How did it all present itself in our posters? (Point to posters.) How about our news report video?What were some of the things the Apostles taught the people to do? (Show reporter script. Answers should recall the coming of the Holy Spirit and the reactions of those present. Students should recall Acts 2:41-47 and Romans 12:1-21, where those who were baptized became as one body in Christ, selling their possessions and giving to those in need, sharing and caring for each other, providing hospitality, thinking humbly and not putting themselves above others.) As students answer, interject statements making comparison of family love with God’s love for us.
  • Ask: How does God show us He loves us? (Answers should recall God’s love for us as His people—His giving us His Son, Jesus Christ, who taught us how to live in the Light of God’s love.)
  • Continue by asking students to recall what has been discussed, pointing to the reporter scripts and notes. (Allow students to recall what they know, or ask what they would like to know.)
  • Ask: What do you think this means for us? What should we do to follow in the right path of Christ? (Allow time for students to react and give their predictions.) How is this difficult for us? (Allow time for students to elaborate. Answers should reflect the difficulties of being a caring person in today’s world; how, through peer pressure, it is difficult to be the one to take the initiative when someone needs help. Ask prompting and open-ended questions to continue the discussion like: When did this happen to you? Have you ever been in a situation (like seeing someone alone in the cafeteria, or someone being made fun of) and you were afraid to speak up?
  • Then, say: Today we are going to look up some of the sections in the Bible which tell us what we should do as well as look at some of the people we have researched for our “Roots” project to find those who are examples of what Christ want us to do. Let us recall the commandment Christ gave us, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:40). Let’s get our materials together and begin.

3

Research

The research and activities can be done in the Cooperative Learning Style. Each student will be designated a position/task and will execute it in an organized and “cooperative” manner, working together as a unit. As each person is assigned, they should set about a plan and work it to completion.

  • One student places chart paper on table or tape to wall for discussion notes.
  • One or two students get supplies (Bibles, books, markers, pencils, paper to write information and sketch, scissors, etc.--See above, Materials).
  • Two students should then act as the researchers and begin to look up assigned Bible passages (Luke 10:25-37 [The Good Samaritan], Matthew 25:14-30 [Parable of the Talents], Matthew 25:31-46 [Last Judgment] ). Working in pairs, students will be ready to read aloud when called upon. Students should also look over the footnotes at the bottom of Orthodox Study Bible, pp. 167, 66-67, which offer further explanation, and help in answering the guideline questions below.
  • One or two students, or the teacher can have The Way, the Truth, and the Life opened to pp. 35-36 for oral reading.
  • Homilies, Vol. I ,St. Nicholas of Zicha, p. 120 (optional)
  • Students will take turns reading for the selections above, answering the following guideline questions, while one or two other students write questions and answers on butcher/chart paper.
    • In Matthew 25: 14-30, what are the talents Jesus speaks of in this parable?
      • Gifts given to us by God.
    • What happened to the servant who did not use these talents?
      • The servant lost his talent to the servant who invested/used his
    • What will happen to those who do not use their gifts from God?
      • They will be cast “into utter darkness”
    • What is Christ trying to explain to us as Christians?
      • We are given gifts/talents by God to be used for good to multiply during the course of our lives. If we are lazy, ignore our talents, don’t see what we are given and fail to use them for good, they will never be used. This will cause us to be accountable to God, who will look at our work “after a long time” (meaning at our judgment)
    • In Luke 10:25-37 ,The Good Samaritan, what happened when the first and second men saw the beaten man lying by the road?
      • They passed him by.
    • Who finally stopped and helped the man? Was he showing the Commandment Jesus gave us in Matthew 22:40 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”? How?
      • The Samaritan. He was fulfilling the commandment because he took the time to help a stranger, and to be sure his needs were met.
    • Why do you think Jesus had two righteous men pass by the injured man, and a social outcast (Samaritan) be the one to rescue him?
      • Jesus was trying to show us that it is sometimes the mighty who claim to be righteous, but are “blind” and do not use the talents they have for good; and the least of mankind who “see” and live the law by using the talents given by God for good (“Love your neighbor as yourself.”)
    • What is the meaning of this parable for us? What is our role as Christians?
      • We must recognize those in need, and be ready to help them. We must not pass by, pretending not to see.
    • In Matthew 25:31-45, known as the Last Judgment, what did the King say to those on his right?
      • ‘I was hungry and you gave me food; thirsty and you gave me drink; a stranger and you took me in; naked and you clothed me; sick, and you visited me; in prison, and you came to me.’
    • What did those who were on the King’s right ask? What was the King’s answer?
      • ‘When did we do this?’ ‘When you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.’
    • What happened to those on the King’s right? On the left?
      • They inherited the kingdom, eternal life. They were sent to everlasting punishment.
    • What is Christ telling us? Look at p.69 (footnote)
      • This is not merely a parable but Christ’s account of the last judgment. He is about to be crucified, buried, and risen from the dead, but this is the account of the Second Coming, the universal judgment of all. It is the opening of our hearts before God, the accounting of our inner selves. If we do not live His Gospel, love those who are in need, and minister to them, we will be judged severely, as the King judged.
    • In St. Nicholas of Zicha’s Meatfare Sunday homily, he states: “The whole of this explanation that the King gave the sinners also has two meanings—an ourward and and inward” (p. 122). What do you think he meant by that?
    • Allow for students to elaborate. Some suggested answers: The outward is what we did in our loves to help those in need, and this shows what was really in our hearts. Our actions show our Christian love. We live the law, we ‘walk the walk’.

    • St. Nicholas of Zicha further states: “And so being unmerciful to Christ in their brethren, they were unmerciful to Christ in themselves.” We are to remember that our actions speak about ourselves, and that we will be judged according to our actions, for they tell ‘who we are’. In our next activity we will take a look as some of those we have been interviewing to see if they have shown us an example of those righteous who live their lives according to Christ’s commandment to ‘love one another’ . Are there people you have spoken with who have inspired you?
      • Answers should reflect the above, and lead into one of the following activities (report or journal)

4

  • Students will examine the video interviews and discuss those who have made an impression on them with their outpouring of love and caring for others.
  • Students will fill in the report worksheet on the person they have chosen. They may all work on the same person, or work individually on their own choice.
  • Students can further use the video worksheet and add a report on person(s)

    As a follow-up to their Video or for Journaling
    • Students may choose to journal answers to the questions above
    • Can also write on chart paper
      • Students may choose to make display on wall and also at “Roots” Coffee Hour

5

Roots Ancestors Map

  • Some students will finish mapping students’ ancestors’ countries of origin, 2 countries each.
  • Some students will continue mapping parishioners’ ancestors’ countries of origin. This should be finished by next session (5)

6

Oral History Project

  • Some students will finish up interviews of parishioners by collecting last of completed interviews and updating those in progress. These should be placed in a designated area, ready to display for “Roots” Coffee Hour.
  • American Orthodox Time Line (10 minutes) Some students will continue work on time line, following set guidelines, and using sources listed from Session 2

7

Wrap-up

As students are cleaning up and preparing for closing prayer, ask the following:

 

(Have chart/butcher paper with questions and answers tacked to a wall or bulletin board.)

 

What did today’s Gospel accounts show us? (Answers should reflect student understanding of love, call to use our talents, judgment) How do the writings we researched today and the Good Samaritan parishioners we talked about help us to overcome the difficulties of taking that first step? (Answers should reflect insight into how people should strive to live as the early Christians did, showing that oneness of mind and fullness of heart, loving and helping one another. We should not be afraid to stand up for what is right, and side and align ourselves with those who are shown to be righteous. We should begin to look around us and help those in need when we come in contact with them, as this is what we are called to do as Orthodox Christians, if we are to live the life we have been taught.)

8

Closing Prayer

O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
And by virtue of Thy cross, preserve Thy habitation.

 

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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The Work of God’s People (Ages 13-17)

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Overview

Following God in Our Lives - We are accountable to God for our lives and the lives of those around us. This determines the manner in which we govern ourselves and relate to others in society. As faithful Orthodox Christians, we reveal our commitment to God through our steadfastness, integrity, compassion, and responsibility for and to all God’s people. Community involvement is an important part of witness, mission, and outreach.
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Objectives

By the end of this Lesson, learners should be able to:

  • Identify community involvement as the primary means of evangelization and true Christian spirit, as preached by Our Lord, Jesus Christ
  • Discuss our accountability as Orthodox Christians to this community involvement
  • Assess how many peers regularly participate in parish and community activities: i.e. choir, church school, service in the altar, outreach activities, food bank, church and community social or sporting events, visitations with the elderly, sick, etc.
  • Plan and organize an ongoing community service program (for at least several weeks or for several visits) to help senior citizens in the parish or neighborhood, in ways that would make life easier for them
  • Within the parish family volunteer to help: serve coffee, assist those with physical handicaps, watch children during parish events, or volunteer a few hours a week at an existing social service agency, local Council of Churches, or charity
  • Work in a cooperative manner, sharing tasks and information
  • Utilize the internet (optional) for ideas
  • Remaining objectives--See Session 1 Finish planning the Roots Coffee Hour Project
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Materials

  • Large butcher/chart paper
  • Bibles
  • Markers
  • Pencils
  • Tape
  • Lined paper
  • Worksheets with research questions
  • Computer and internet access (optional)
  • Family Memories scrapbook and materials (See Session 1)
  • “Roots” Ancestors Map (See Session 1)
  • Journals
  • Marker
  • Materials to finish projects for “Roots Coffee Hour” (See Session 1)
  • Icon for prayer
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Procedure

1

Opening Prayer

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth
Who art everywhere and fillest all things.  
Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life:  
Come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity,
And save our souls, O Good One.


2

Discussion Starter-Bridge

Begin by asking the following: Who can tell about one of the Gospel readings we researched last week? Let’s review from our notes and video from last week:  

  •  
    • In Matthew 25: 14-30, what are the talents Jesus speaks of in this parable?
      • Gifts given to us by God.
    • What is Christ trying to explain to us as Christians?
      • We are given gifts/talents by God to be used for good to multiply during the course of our lives. If we are lazy, ignore our talents, don’t see what we are given and fail to use them for good, they will never be used. This will cause us to be accountable to God, who will look at our work “after a long time” (meaning at our judgment)
  •  
    • In Luke 10:25-37, The Good Samaritan, what is the meaning of this parable for us? What is our role as Christians?
      • We must recognize those in need, and be ready to help them. We must not pass by, pretending not to see.
  •  
    • In Matthew 25:31-45, known as the Last Judgment, what is Christ telling us? Look at p.69 (footnote)
      • This is not merely a parable but Christ’s account of the last judgment. He is about to be crucified, buried, and risen from the dead, but this is the account of the Second Coming, the universal judgment of all. It is the opening of our hearts before God, the accounting of our inner selves. If we do not live His Gospel, love those who are in need, and minister to them, we will be judged severely, as the King judged.
    Ask: What do you think this means for us? What should we do to follow in the right path of Christ? (Allow time for students to react and give their predictions.) How is this difficult for us? (Allow time for students to elaborate. Answers should reflect the difficulties of being a caring person in today’s world; how, through peer pressure, it is difficult to be the one to take the initiative when someone needs help. Ask prompting and open-ended questions to continue the discussion like: When did this happen to you? Have you ever been in a situation (like seeing someone alone in school, or someone being made fun of) and you were afraid to speak up? Ask: Have you ever participated in a community service program through your school, or with your family? What was it, and what was it like? (Allow students time to answer and reflect upon their experiences.) Say: Today we are going to review the Gospel of Matthew on the Last Judgement, which tells us what we should do to be true Christians. We will also examine specific ways we can accomplish this, as well as finish planning and setting up our “Roots” project.

    Let’s get our materials together and begin.

3

Research

The research and activities can be done in the Cooperative Learning Style. Each student will be designated a position/task and will execute them in an organized and “cooperative” manner, working together as a unit. As each person is assigned, they should set about a plan and work it to completion.
  • One or two students place chart paper on table or tape to wall for discussion, and gather supplies (Bibles, books, markers, pencils, paper to write information and sketch, scissors, etc.--See above, Materials).
  • One or two students act as researchers (Matthew 25:31-46 [Last Judgment]) from last week and be ready to read aloud when called upon. Students should also look over the footnotes at the bottom of Orthodox Study Bible, p. 69, which offer further explanation, and help in answering the questions on attached worksheet.
  • One or two students, or the teacher can have The Way, the Truth, and the Life opened to pp. 35-36 for oral reading and review.
  • One or two students may choose to either read over the material from OCMC and IOCC, or to use the computer and go on line to research the information. (See above for web site addresses)
  • One or two other students may work together on researching community charities provided by the teacher, or those possibly suggested by students.
  • One or two students will also work together to list ways students can help those within the parish community, along with the teacher.
  • As students complete their tasks, they will gather together to report their findings.
  • After each students or group of students has reported their findings, the class as a whole will do the following:
  • Answer the questions on the attached worksheet.
  • Decide what they 5 things would like to do as a group to help those in their
    parish community who are in need
  • Decide which charity/local community organization they would like to help
  • Choose what services to IOCC and/or OCMC they would like to offer

4

Journals

  • Students may choose to journal answers to the questions above

  • 5

    "Roots"

    Students spend time finishing up all aspects of their Roots Coffee Hour Project:  

    1. Roots Map
    2. Orthodox Time Line
    3. Oral History
    4. Video

    The Roots Coffee Hour should take place within the coming weeks. Extra sessions for planning should take place accordingly.


    6

    Wrap-up

    As students are cleaning up and preparing for closing prayer, ask the following:
    (Have chart/butcher paper with questions and answers tacked to a wall or bulletin board.)

    • In Matthew 25:31-45, known as the Last Judgment, what did the King say to those on his right?
      • ‘I was hungry and you gave me food; thirsty and you gave me drink; a stranger and you took me in; naked and you clothed me; sick, and you visited me; in prison, and you came to me.’
      • What did those who were on the King’s right ask? What was the King’s answer?
        • ‘When did we do this?’ ‘When you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.’
      • What happened to those on the King’s right? On the left?
        • They inherited the kingdom, eternal life. They were sent to everlasting punishment.
      • What is Christ telling us? Look at p.69 (footnote)
        • This is not merely a parable but Christ’s account of the last judgment. He is about to be crucified, buried, and risen from the dead, but this is the account of the Second Coming, the universal judgment of all. It is the opening of our hearts before God, the accounting of our inner selves. If we do not live His Gospel, love those who are in need, and minister to them, we will be judged harshly, as the King did.
      • What have we learned today about how we can commit ourselves to this task as Orthodox Christians?
        We can get involved in our parish and help those in need. We can become involved in our community by helping local charities in their work. We can help those fellow Orthodox Christians as well as others by supporting Orthodox charities worldwide.

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    Closing Prayer

    O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance.
    Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries;
    And by virtue of Thy cross, preserve Thy habitation.

    In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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