This webpage is for the people of the Toronto Conference for story sharing and networking.

A Story of

 Bellefair United Church

Toronto South Presbytery

 

The Young Christian Community (Sunday School) at Bellefair United Church has been growing tremendously.

We have tripled our attendance in just a few short months.  We moved away from the traditional Sunday School curriculum

We have tripled our attendance in just a few short months.  We moved away from the traditional Sunday School curriculum, and we now use a workshop rotation model, based on the book, Workshop Rotation:  A New Model for Sunday School, by Melissa Armstrong - Hansche and Neil MacQueen. There is a website that people can access for excellent resources: www.rotation.org.

 

Each month at Bellefair, we choose a theme, alternating between the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.  The first week is an open session for all ages.  In this session, the children are introduced to the story, and act it out, sings songs, retell it, etc.  For the next three weeks, our children rotate between 3 workshops based on the chosen theme. These workshops vary depending on the leader, and so far have involved storytelling, dramatic play, artwork, breadmaking, planting, news reporting, set designing, etc.

 

The benefits of this model are many.  At Bellefair, the leaders plan one session in their area of strength and teach it 3 times (with some adaptation to the different age groups).  Children get to do a number of activities each with a different leader based on the theme, and know what to look forward to the next week.  They become involved with the story, as they actively create around the theme.  We also have group leaders who stay with the children over the course of the month-long rotation.  We reimburse workshop leaders for materials, but have saved thousands of dollars that we would normally spend on traditional curriculum.

 

Planning and communication are the keys to this type of Christian education.  We use e-mail to reduce meeting times.  Many volunteers are needed for a successful rotation, but the commitment is short.  We have found that a number of our volunteers have stayed on and are willing to lead multiple rotations.

 

Planning and communication are the keys to this type of Christian education.  We use e-mail to reduce meeting times.

In building community with the children, we have also involved them in our worship.  At the beginning of each week, we put together our liturgy table, complete with altar cloths, candles, a childrenÔ³ Bible, a cross, and our offering chest.  The children also help plan the prayers, adding to a board of prayer requests as needed.  The opening gives us a time to spend together before the children move into their workshops.

 

We have also brought the Young Christian Community into the wider congregation with slide shows of each rotation, bulletin boards with photos of the events and overtaking two services for our Christmas pageants. This helps demystify what happens in the Young Christian Community, and helps us recruit new leaders.

 

If you have any questions about this model, please contact Louise Granahan at louise.granahan@tel.tdsb.on.ca

 

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Acknowledgements:

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(c) copyright 2001, 2002 by John Young-Jung Lee.  All rights reserved.